Tag Archives | William S. Burroughs

The Photographs of William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs Photography

In a recent post I mentioned the January opening of the new photography exhibition Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs. I’ve just received a copy of the catalog and I’m planning a review of the volume in an upcoming post or on an episode of Coincidence Control Network.

In the meantime, here is a very insightful little overview of the show featuring the curators at The Photographers Gallery, London. While Burroughs’ paintings are well-known, his work as a photographer is just beginning to be examined and understood. This interview was shot during the installation of the exhibition and it reveals Burroughs’ work behind the camera to be both an extension of the cut-up techniques he developed with the artist and writer Brion Gysin, and the even earlier aesthetic lessons Bill learned as a boy studying the flower arrangements his mother created for their St. Louis home.

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Beat Punks: A Brief History of the Counterculture from William S. Burroughs to Kurt Cobain

PIC: Beat Punks (Da Capo Press)

PIC: Beat Punks (Da Capo Press)

An interview with Victor Bockris on his book Beat Punks

by Phil Weaver

I’m a huge fan of Victor Bockris’ book Beat Punks, a collection of interviews and photographs documenting the relationship between the Beat generation and the punk movement in the 1970s downtown New York scene. The book does a great job of illustrating the cross-pollination of two generations (’50s Beats and ’70s punks) that resulted in one of the most extraordinary cultural flowerings of the 20th century. I recently talked to Bockris about some of the ideas behind the book, and I was pleased to hear he’s about to begin work on a follow up with interlinking prose. He didn’t want to give away too much about the forthcoming book, so I proposed a general interview on the history of the counterculture’s clashes with the establishment in the mid-to-late 20th century. Burroughs was the through-line in a cultural revolution that began in the ’50s with the Beats, blossomed in the psychedelic explosion of the late ’60s, peaked in the ’70s with the Beat-Punk fusion, burned out in the neoconservative revolution of the ’80s and was briefly revived by Kurt Cobain and the alternative wave of the early ’90s.… Read the rest

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Al Jourgensen: Musical Innovator, Legendary Junkie…Alien Contactee?

ministry-al-jourgensenYou’d think with my level of obsessive music nerdiness I’d have read a bunch of musician biographies at this point in my life but you’d  be completely wrong. I listen to so many bands that there aren’t many I care enough about to devote that level of energy to, but being a fan since I was a teenager, Ministry: The Last Gospels According to Al Jourgensen was something I couldn’t resist. And it’s not like I read it because of the music really. I was more curious as to how a long time heroin addict is not only still alive after all these years but also continues to put out quality shit for the most part.

I remember reading an interview nearly a decade ago where he was talking about cleaning up off smack while recording and thinking to myself: errr, that guy was strung out back in the 90’s. I can’t vouch for his recent output but both Animositsomina and Houses of the Molé which came out in the early 2000’s were both surprisingly solid.… Read the rest

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William S. Burroughs ‘Sings’ REM and The Doors

Via Open Culture:

The nineties saw a lot of alternative bands not only wear their influences on their sleeves, but also bring them up on stage and into the studio. William S. Burroughs was one such luminary, appearing on Tom Waits’ 1993 The Black Rider, a collaboration with Kurt Cobain titled “Priest They Called Him,” and September Songs, a 1997 Kurt Weill tribute album featuring the likes of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed. In 1996, Burroughs got together with R.E.M. for a cover of their “Star Me Kitten” from ‘92’s Automatic for the People.


 

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DisinfoCast: 70: “Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’” – David S. Wills

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David S. Wills is the author of “Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’”, a book that explores the mostly lost history of Burroughs’ involvement with the Church of Scientology. Wills is also the founder of “Beatdom” (www.beatdom.com), a magazine devoted to Beat history and culture. Note: David called in from Cambodia and didn’t have a strong enough connection for a video interview.

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Superman is a Rocker: Robert Pollard and the Third Mind

PenetratingAbout six months ago, I spontaneously started contemplating the nature of using the cut up technique popularized by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin to tap into what they referred to as the “third mind”. This automatic introspection occurred while I was perusing through the incredibly brilliant re-assembled art books of Robert Pollard. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a Guided By Voices nut for quite some time, but I’ve never honestly written about this particular obsession or where it stemmed from before, and so I had an idea of combining these two things into one utterly bizarre piece of music writing.

Vivian, the editor of Redefine didn’t really get it, and neither did I consciously, but it was something I felt compelled to hash out nonetheless. Truth be told, I just don’t think any other writer did the band’s 2012 reunion albums justice, or had accused them of practicing a sort of unconscious witchcraft for that matter.… Read the rest

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The Time William S. Burroughs Became a Scientologist (And His Subsequent Dismissal of the Religion)

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.16.25 AMWilliam Burroughs first became attracted to the Church of Scientology because of its claimed ability to extinguish the wounds of bad memories. For nearly a decade (also what most consider his least artistic years), Burroughs followed the churches teachings in much the same way he sought out other “mind-expanding” techniques such as hallucinogens.

It would be L. Ron Hubbard’s “fascist tendencies” which led Burroughs to finally denounce Scientology via the Los Angeles Free Press.

You can read his collection of criticisms of the church in a free PDF: Ali’s Smile/Naked Scientology.

Excerpt:

Scientology is a model control system, a state in fact with its own courts, police, rewards and penalties. It is based on a tight ingroup like the CIA, Islam, the Mormons, etc. Inside are the Rights with the Truth. Outside are the Commies, the Infidels, the Unfaithful, the Suppressives. Rarely has this formula been expressed with such consummate effrontery, like you go into a store to buy a suit the clerk puts you in a Condition of Doubt, you work all night in the stock room and go around with a gray rag around your arm and petition the entire store to let you back in so you can buy something.

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Patti Smith’s Advice to Creative Youth

The ‘kernel of wisdom’ type speeches are usually a dime a dozen, but this one really hits the nail on the head. Everyone’s a poet, a musician, a painter in college. Those that are still at it a decade later may not necessarily be more talented than the ones that gave it up, or made a hobby out of it. No. They’re the ones that are hooked. Also, was there any irony in Burroughs suggesting to keep your name “clean”?

From Laughing Squid:

“You don’t do your work and say ‘I only want the cool people to read it’…”

In August 2012, punk’s grand dame Patti Smith was interviewed at the Louisiana Literature festival and doled out some fantastic advice to young creative people (truly it’s an inspiring listen for all creative types).

Video.

Patti Smith: Advice to the young from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

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Words of Advice from William S. Burroughs

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WSB haunts the entirety of counter-cultural curation like the grey eminence he was often portrayed as, but, it’s important to note that Burroughs rarely portrayed himself this way.

I thought I’d seen every Burroughs documentary, but this one was news to me.

Words of Advice: William S. Burroughs On the Road is  a 1983 documentary that finds the Beat Generation icon touring Scandinavia, signing books and giving readings of works like The Place of Dead Roads in his inimical, laconic snarl. Along the way, he waxes philosophical about cats, Hiroshima, Brion Gysin and the illusion of duality. He’s polite and hilarious throughout.

Here Burroughs bemoans the high cost of death in ancient Egypt:

Watch the full movie at the Snag Films website.

Stay Awake!

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William S. Burroughs Interviews David Bowie: Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman

BurroughsIn 1972 counterculture legend William S. Burroughs interviewed David Bowie for Rolling Stone. Thanks to Teenage Wildlife, the resulting article by Craig Copetas is once again available. Here’s a small excerpt:

Burroughs: Only politicians lay down what they think and that is it. Take a man like Hitler, he never changed his mind.

Bowie: Nova Express really reminded me of Ziggy Stardust, which I am going to be putting into a theatrical performance. Forty scenes are in it and it would be nice if the characters and actors learned the scenes and we all shuffled them around in a hat the afternoon of the performance and just performed it as the scenes come out. I got this all from you Bill… so it would change every night.

Burroughs: That’s a very good idea, visual cut-up in a different sequence.

Bowie: I get bored very quickly and that would give it some new energy.

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