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Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

— William Blake


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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
➳ More posts about William S. Burroughs

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
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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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