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If he hadn't been so tired, ... he might have seen at the start that he was setting out on a journey that would change his life forever and chosen to turn back.

Orhan Pamuk


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Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

Hooked

At 32nd St. this morning I walked past a woman wearing a black t-shirt with a large colorful cross and the legend, "I'm Hooked on Jesus" -- as I walked to work, I thought variously of a little kid wearing a t-shirt with appropriate graphic that says "I'm Hooked on Phonics" (presumably included with the instructional kit his parents bought); a clueless 20-year-old hipster wearing a t-shirt that says "I'm Hooked on Junk"... then William Burroughs wandering around Hell's Kitchen 50 years ago with an anachronistic t-shirt that just says "HORSE" in big black letters...

(The clueles hipster was not supposed to actually use heroin, he was trying to make some kind of ironic statement.) (Did I mention I'm not too fond of message t-shirts?)

Did Burroughs call heroin "Horse"? I mainly remember him just calling it "Junk" but he used other names too. I was also thinking of an image of 80-year-old Burroughs in his bedroom in Kansas, visited by a visionary pegasus.

posted afternoon of August 16th, 2005: Respond
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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

“You haven't had your education yet.”

I've been enjoying having vivid dreams lately. I still do not remember nearly as many or as much of them as I would like, but the experience of dreaming them is very entertaining. It is starting to seem like an obvious choice to re-read Burroughs' My Education: a Book of Dreams, which is a pasting together of thirty years of his dreams, with some conversational writing in between talking about dreams, sometimes noting the circumstances of a dream, never analyzing the content of the dream. I read this quickly when it came out 14 years ago but did not, perhaps, let it sink in enough. Opening it now and looking at some of the dream passages, I notice Burroughs is not making any kind of effort to persuade me of the reality of the dream; instead he is flatly asserting he had this dream, and leaving it up to me to put myself in the dreaming head so that I can experience it.

I'm up in a room with a high ceiling and a door at one end. The room is full of light and has a feeling of being open and airy. I float up to the ceiling and bob along to the door and out. There is a porch or balcony over the room and now I am up under the porch about thirty feet off the ground. I move out from under the porch and pick up speed and direction.
Very little descriptive language, just a straight narration of the events in the dream. This is seeming at first glance like exactly the right way to present dreams. The style and furnishing of the room, the sensation of floating, the colors in my field of vision are all for me to experience for my own part as I in effect have the dream I'm reading about.

posted evening of April 22nd, 2009: Respond
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Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

These are the shoes that Bill wore...

...and Peter Ross has a bunch of other photography of the detritus of Burroughs' life -- reminds me in a way of the Museum of Innocence.

posted evening of January 19th, 2010: Respond
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Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Mr. Bradley Mr. Martin

It seems that M. was hurrying home after swallowing his mescaline tablet with hot tea in a cafe -- too cheap to support a hot plate you dig -- and he met B in the market and he had met B before but never seen him as hardly anyone does see him which is why he is known as El Hombre Invisible -- So B. said "Ah Monsieur M., Sit down and have a coffee and watch the passing parade...." and M. shook him off saying: "No! No! I must go home and see my visions" and he rushed home and closed the door and bolted it and drew the curtains and turned out the lights and got into bed and closed his eyes and there was Mr. B. and Mr. M. said: "What are you doing here in my vision?"

And B replied: "Oh I live here."

love
william burroughs
(letter to Allen Ginsberg, Oct. 30 1959)

posted evening of May 10th, 2012: Respond
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Friday, May 11th, 2012

Dear editor of Rub out the words,

Two things to consider:

  1. Most people who will be reading this book will know who Brion is without being told every time the name appears that it is Brion [Gysin] and likewise that it is [Maurice] Girodias...
  2. Even if that were not the case (and to be sure there are more obscure references that you clarify), the clarification could easily be done in a less intrusive manner than the bracketed insertions you use throughout, which tend to wreak havoc with the slack meter and the smooth readability of Burroughs' composition.
Other than that, on the other hand, it is a wonderful read, and a great resource to have on hand; so thanks!

posted evening of May 11th, 2012: Respond

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

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 May 12th, 2012: Respond
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