observing from the center-point of our individual existence, the Universe is a measureless resonating domain of frequencies that are an open source that only gets transformed into this world as we think we recognize it after being accessed by our senses and entering our brain. There it is decoded/encoded/acoded who knows which or all and is assembled according to the dimensions of linear time and space, and, I would argue, our subjective cultural expectations. There seems to be a growing agreement at the heart of creation among those in service of the path of the divine, the scientific, and the artistic that the primary reality is one of wholeness, an indivisible unity that functions not unlike a living being, or (my favorite analogy) a coral reef. So, while we rush about, billions of us, interacting experientially with our environment and various objective events do, for all practical intents and purposes, happen to us in particular locations, on a subatomic level things are quite different. On a subatomic level Bohm proposes that all points in space become equal to all other points in space, they are nonlocalities. So, to quote John Lennon, “Nothing is real” and adding “And it wasn’t/isn’t there anyway!”
To sum up this section, the Universe is a unified source, an infinite, open, timeless, intricate quaquaversal frequency field in constant flux that appears to have objective form and material solidity when, and because, we observe it. And observe it we do. We observe it over and over, we are obsessed with recording it (just think of all those hundreds of paparazzi documenting J-Lo’s every move) and then we store it in monolithic museums, libraries, databanks. These huge repositories can act on a society’s behalf to symbolize anthropological recorders and our maintenance of them; our belief in their contents in turn functions as the batteries that charge up and energize the social hologram that we have assembled as consensus reality in order to give continuity, consistency, solidity, and even significant sense of meaning with enough consistency and reliability for us to function during life as biologically sentient beings. Nevertheless, it is our expectation that things will be the same, that a log will remain a log, and if enough of us keep “creating” logs as a matter of habit, eventually … yes … log jam; but it is still no more “real” despite the materiality produced by repetition. It is not a coincidence that in more established doctrinal/dogmatic religions worldwide; in so-called “primitive” tribal and/or shamanic cultures; in the rituals of public and secret Western magical and/or Masonic orders, or in the ecstatic rhythms and ancient beats of trance targeted music and chants that go with
them, repetition of key power words and phrases are as integral as is the phenomenon of call and response. Even at this deepest level of a relationship with the measureless frequency field, with the universe as a unified open source that has no locality, we are trying to solidify and maintain our sensory illusion(s). The purpose of these various “services” is to collectively reconstruct a social reality seamlessly with language, with words and names, with devotional submission to the power of its story, and thereby, ironically, to put into strict bondage through this habitual repetition, the essence of life itself. Why? In order to predict and control it. Often, unwittingly, we empower the people who claim continuity of descent by colluding in these rites. The real hidden doctrine handed down through the ages, the central agenda, is control. Why do those who control seek to maintain control? For it’s own sake. How do they control? By controlling the story, by editing our collective memory, conscious and unconscious. In many ways the edit is the invisible language of control and its corporate media allies. They cut and paste in order to separate us from each other by entrancing us with a pre- recorded reality that seamlessly isolates us in a world designed by those who would immerse us in service to their fundamentalist consumerism, simultaneously divorcing us from the Universe that is creation itself in an infinite pre-sensory source.
Page from the “magical diary” of Brion Gysin. Note the prophetic line about “Bagdad.” Burroughs was convinced, with Gysin, that cut- ups allowed “…the future to leak through.” From the collection of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
In Last Words, Burroughs writes of the enemy and their two weaknesses being firstly that they have “…no sense of humor” and secondly “They totally lack understanding of magic.”
“[…] writing is … not (just) an escape from reality, but an attempt to change reality, so (the) writer can escape the limits of reality”
-Last Words, William S. Burroughs.
In Last Words, Burroughs writes of the enemy and their two weaknesses being firstly that they have “…no sense of humor” and secondly “They totally lack understanding of magic.” Later he directs our attention to two other
enemy weaknesses in reference to dogmatic scientific modes of enquiry by pointing out that phenomena “…that occur only once…” will automatically be invalidated by virtue of their uniqueness and that they have an “…insatiable appetite for data.” We have seen that everything is indivisibly unified. That there really are no hard edges, no division between mental and physical worlds, or any worlds or dimensions animate or inanimate. Instead we have been introduced to a holographic universe of infinite interconnectedness that responds to the future beat of a shaman’s drum. It is fundamental to understanding how to operate and interpret the challengingly effective, modern, and magical exercises of Burroughs and Gysin with cut-ups as their foundation and words as the disputed territory. What we have been trained from birth to believe is a solid environment is only a tiny fragment of what is available to our perception. At the same time, the behavioral, political and anthropological history of our society and culture has been written and recorded by authors fulfilling an agenda of (and for) vested interests who do not have our well being at heart, leaving most of us trapped in their current description of the universe.
“No two actual entities originate from an identical universe … The nexus (lineage) of actual entities in the universe correlate to a growth by assimilation that is termed “the actual world”
-adapted with apology from Alfred North Whitehead, Process and
Back to the cafe. Experiments have shown we live a great deal of our lives “asleep,” filtering out sensory input. Film a street as its residents are going to work in the morning. Add in a police car going past afterwards in the editing suite. Play it back to those same residents later that evening. Asked if this is a recording of the morning, almost all will say “Yes.” They will also say they recall the police car going by. This is the phenomenon Burroughs was working with. Added to the fragility of our individual neurological recording devices is the age-old technique of suggestion. Yet, here we are faced with something perhaps even a little deeper: A conscious attack upon, and alteration of, consensus reality by a formularized ritual.
“In a pre-recorded universe who made the first recordings?” So asked Gysin and Burroughs. Further, if all we imagine to be reality is equivalent to a recording, then we become empowered to edit, rearrange, re-contextualize
and re-project by cutting-up and re-assembling our own reality and potentially, the reality of others. If this is true and effective, then a magical act is taking place. Simplified, magick has been defined as a method for changing reality in conformity with one’s true will, or as a methodical demystified process that allows us to force the hands of chance in order to make things we truly desire happen based upon, and within, purity of intent. Crowley said that magick has “The method of science, the aim of religion.” Brion Gysin talked of magick saying it was “…the Other Method, an exercise for controlling matter and knowing space, and a form of psychic hygiene.” So what happened to the café? If it were only suggestion, then it would have only discouraged the people in the street whilst William was walking about playing his tape. None of them might have been customers anyway. It was NOT necessary for the cafe proprietors to be aware of the “curse.” The premises closed and remained closed, followed by a series of brief failed businesses, long, long after William moved on to other activities.
“(The process) involves a reversal of our ordinary understanding that causes produce effects. The cause must precede its effect in (present) time, yet it must be presently existent in order to be active in producing its effect.” The Lure of God, Lewis Ford.
Of course, these modern upgrades of magical practice can be easily integrated into older traditions if one desires. For example, one could put the cut-out image into a brown paper bag with one’s invocation added in pencil, black pepper, broken glass, sharp blades, and vinegar and then throw it over one’s shoulder into a graveyard whilst walking away without looking back.
According to Gysin in Here To Go, William sometimes used two cassette recorders, one in each hand and occasionally even added his own voice repeating an incantation he had written to intensify the focus of his spell. One particular incantation ended up as part of the soundtrack of Witchcraft Through The Ages (AKA Haxan) an obscure, and really rather kitsch, Scandinavian silent movie for which Burroughs did the voice over, a quirky anomaly resulting from the fact that Beat filmmaker Antony Balch had the UK distribution rights. Part of it went something like this:
“Lock them out and bar the door,
Lock them out for evermore. Nook and cranny, window, door, Seal them out for evermore…”
In addition to tape-recorder magick William also employed a version of the cut-up photograph as additional sorceric firepower. On one visit, as he explained magick to me, he very generously showed me some of his journals. On one page he had stuck in two pictures. One was a black and white photograph of the section of the street buildings where the cafe was. Beneath it was a second shot of the same section of street, or so it seemed at first glance. However, upon closer examination he had very neatly sliced out the cafe with a razor blade. Gluing the two halves of the image back together minus the offending establishment. This same principle can be applied to people one wishes to excise from one’s life, and variations can be used according to your imagination and needs. Of course, these modern upgrades of magical practice can be easily integrated into older traditions if one desires. For example, one could put the cut-out image into a brown paper bag with one’s invocation added in pencil, black pepper, broken glass, sharp blades, and vinegar and then throw it over one’s shoulder into a graveyard whilst walking away without looking back.
Once one accepts a possibility that the Universe is holographic and that at the smallest subatomic levels all elements of phenomena can be affected by all others, then the probability of these operations being effective becomes far more credible. Indeed I would argue that a magical view of the Universe is the most likely description we have proposed so far as a species. In The Job Burroughs discusses silence as a desirable state. What he seems to imply is that words are potentially blocks, both by their linearity in our language system and the manner in which they narrow definitions of experiential events and actions. He says, “Words … can stand in the way of what I call nonbody experience.” He does not want to turn the human body into an environment that includes the universe. That would once more create limiting templates and maps of expectation that discourage new and/or radical explorations. Rationality and the fixed progression of physical biology narrow consciousness. One magical method he proposes is:
“What I want to do is to learn to see more of what’s out there, to look outside, to achieve as far as possible a complete awareness
of surroundings … I’m becoming more proficient at it, partly through my work with scrapbooks and translating the connections between words and images.”
-From “The Third Mind” interview with Conrad Knickerbocker 1967.
One pre-requisite of most Western magical orders is that the applicant/neophyte keep a daily magical diary in which they note their dreams, synchronicities, apparent resolution of temporal events and desires after magical operations. This is not so much just to document and vindicate the system being applied, as to create an ongoing awareness of the constant relationship we all actually have, moment to moment, with the other. In a universe where everything is, “interconnected, inter-dimensional and integrated,” or as Michael Talbot describes it, holographic, the acceleration of and practical collaboration with this interrelation of energies and their ability to assist us in affecting manifestations is more clearly revealed by methodical documentation. It seems that the more one acknowledges this confluence of mutability the more kindly its relationship to and with you. This interaction is the one symbolized by the number 23 in Robert Anton Wilson’s books and in the mythologies flowing throughout his and Burroughs’ fiction. It is not so much that the number 23 is a “magical” number that does “tricks” for the person who invokes it, it is more that the number 23 reminds us of the inherent plasticity of our inherited reality and our potential to immerse our self in that quality to our own advantage and possible well-being. It represents a magical vision of life rather than a linear and existential one. Significantly, Burroughs, like Kerouac and Gysin, kept dream diaries and journals, Gysin and Burroughs extending their range further by including cut-up texts, newspaper headlines, photographs, fictional routines and poems in a kaleidoscopic visualization of multi-faceted and layered “reality.” Burroughs suggests a practical exercise to amplify our appreciation of, and practical familiarity with, this manifestation:
“Try this: Carefully memorize the meaning of a passage, then read it; you’ll find you can actually read it without the words making any sound whatever in the mind’s ear. Extraordinary experience, one that will carry over into dreams. When you start thinking in images, without words, you’re well on the way.”
-The Third Mind
Brion Gysin “rubbing out the word” at The October Gallery, London 1981. Photograph © Genesis P-Orridge 1981/2003
It is not so much that the number 23 is a “magical” number that does “tricks” for the person who invokes it… It represents a magical vision of life rather than a linear and existential one.
On August 6th, 1981 I visited Burroughs in New York. He was living at 222 Bowery in the basement, a location fondly nicknamed and immortalized in various biographies as “The Bunker.” A book Burroughs introduced me to was Breakthrough by the Latvian paranormal investigator Konstantin Raudive. In his book, Raudive documents hundreds of “recordings” of the voices of the spirits of the dead. His method was unusual but simple: Attach a crystal receiver to an otherwise standard reel-toreel in the socket where a microphone would be plugged, hit record, and see what appeared on tape. What Raudive found was that within a wall of white noise and hiss, various intelligible sentences and messages that he believed were from souls in the dimensions associated with being dead, were audible. Given that we were meeting on “Hiroshima Day,” as Burroughs designated it, there was a feeling that perhaps quite a large number of dead souls might wish to breakthrough.