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Understanding makes the mind lazy.

Penelope Fitzgerald


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🦋 Bet you never did the Modesto Kid

This passage, from a Nov. 1960 letter from Billy to Brion, I am finding almost unbearably perfect, evoking disparate threads from Beckett to Carroll to Pynchon... This needs to be quoted in bold and with underlining (some editorial, some present in the "original"). Burroughs is pitching an idea for Brion to write in the voice of Hassan-i Sabbah, for Reader's Digest...

LOOK OUT at all times. See what was in front of you. Can a man see what is front of him with all his friends and enemies talking in his ear? Stop talking to yourself. Ah this shocks you? Listen: Words should be your servants. Use them. Do not let them use you. And when you do not need them send them to sleep. How to? Learn to know the word your servant. Look at words. Listen. Listen out at all time. Look and listen out at all times. Take any simple phrase like I am That I am. Repeat it. Now pass it back and forth through a sieve of punctuation. See the words changing meaning as the period rotates. Now change the position of the words. Now translate into other languages. You are stuck in word slots. You do not hear. Cut the word lines. And step out into silence. It is yours. It is everybody's. You do not see the trees when you walk down the street because of ‘The ’‘Word ’‘Tree’. Look at the word tree. Look? at the word tree. Look at? the word tree. Look at the? word tree. Look at the word? tree. Word look at the tree? Tree look at the word? Etc. Now look at the tree and you will see the tree not the word tree. You will begin to see everything sharp and clear like after a rain.

posted morning of Saturday, May 12th, 2012
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