William S- Burroughs

The influence of Cut-up on my magical work

Reading over some of the bibliographic articles in thee Psychick Bible reminded me of my own history with the cut-up technique that William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin developed. In the spring of 1998, I had the fortune to take an English literature class that focused on the works of William S. Burroughs. The professor was one of those rare academics who was willing to take risks and offer something different from the standard fare you'd typically find in colleges. That course introduced me to William S. Burroughs and his writings, and changed my life. In Burroughs, especially his later works, I found an author I could identify with. Throughout his works were allusions to esotericism, and how to incorporate magic into writing, and how writing could shape space and time...and of course the cut-up technique. Ironically, I took the course because I wasn't sure what else to take, but taking it challenged me to look at writing and literature in a different way than I ever had, and it was ideal for a young occultist that was just beginning to explore magic from an experimental perspective.

When I think of the cut-up technique, I think of cutting up magazines and newspapers and my own writing and then gluing it altogether in my room, and later taking it and transcribing it to some story I was writing, while listening to the spoken word of William S. Burroughs, his dry crackling voice gleefully describing alien situations, weird sex, and evil old men out to conquer death. That was my first real work with cut-up and it was something I continuously experimented with over the period of about 4 or 5 years. I still do an annual collage or two each year (you can see one of the 2012 ones in this post).

I later began experimenting with cut-up via magical work more directly, actually using the altered state of consciousness to do an automatic cut-up sigil in the style of Austin Osman Spare's sigil work. These cut-up sigils were used for a variety of purposes including the two evocations I mentioned in my recent post about magic and proof. I found this approach to be highly effect because it literally involved a rewrite of reality. First I'd cut-up the conventional reality that had already been created, and then reform it into my own collage message to the universe, complete with a reformatted space and time. The universe has always been kind enough to respond and its a technique I use to this day.

What fascinates me the most about cut-up is how it can be adapted to a wide variety of mediums outside of writing. Art, sound, and video all offer potential explorations of cut-up, some of which have already been experimented with by various people. Cut-up is a mutable technique, a mutable form, and inspires mutation in general. It's flexibility, in terms of mediums, makes it ideal as a magical technique because its not restricted to a specific way to do it.

Here's to William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin for offering a new perspective on writing and in the process offering so much more!


Cut-up writing as a gateway to spiritual transmission

I've been reading Thee Psychick Bible for a little while now and came across an article by Genesis where he notes the following:

No matter how short, or apparently unrecognizable a sample might be in linear time perception, I believe it must, inevitably, contain within it the sum total of absolutely everything its original context represented, communicated or touched in any way; On top of this it must also implicitly include the sum total of every individual in any way connected with its introduction and construction within the original culture and every subsequent culture it in any way, means, or form, has contact with forever.

It's interesting perspective about cut-up and one that Burroughs alludes to in his own writings, but in not so explicit a manner. My own approach has favored the idea that the act of cutting up text frees it from its original author and meaning, and that the rearrangement of the text is the appropriation of it by the person doing the cut-up in order to create a new message, but I can also see validity in Genesis's approach to cut-up, especially if you apply the concept of spiritual transmission to cut-up.

Burroughs talks about how doing cut-up allowed him to catch divinatory glimpses of things that could occur, but it stands to reason as well that in a way you can't really cut out the original author of a text. You can rearrange the text, change the meaning, but there is still a connection of sorts to the author, to the original vision of the text. If we think of words as a means of connection with the author, not merely in terms of meaning, but in terms of an actual spiritual meeting with the author it changes our approach to text in some ways. We see it not even as a divinatory practice, but as a practice that allows us to meaningfully connect with the essence behind the writing. The rearrangement of text, and the reading become an invocatory practice that shifts us into an experience of transmission from a variety of sources.

It always fascinates me with how people approach a given technique and end up using it in different ways than others do. It demonstrates, to me, that magic is much more of an experiential process than anything else. Different people will have different methodologies and perspectives on how a technique works and all of them will be right.

Meeting the author through writing

I can't say all writing does this for me, but I've had a few experiences in my life where I've felt that reading the books of a given author has put me in touch with that author directly, in a way that I'd think of as spiritual transmission of sorts. It's actually happened with four different authors, although I've only actually met one of those authors in the flesh. The first author it ever happened with was William S. Burroughs. He was dead by the time I read his books, but reading his books put me in touch with the Old Man on the Mountain. Burroughs was there in the text, ready to come forth if the right person read his works. It's no surprise to me that his work has influenced my own approaches to magic, both in terms of textual magic and design and in other forms of practical magic. Even though I never met him in person, my encounter with him via text was one I've never forgotten. He is always there, ready to be found in his writing.

The second author and the only one I've ever met is Storm Constantine. I read her Wraeththu series and while it was a fantasy series, it was one that nonetheless felt channeled. My encounter with the spirit of Thiede, who became a permanent part of my pantheon was a powerful one, and subsequent books in the series have continued to embody that. But I also got a sense of Storm the writer and when I contacted her via email there was an immediate connection between us that is sustained to this day in the work we do together via Immanion Press. It's fair to say that Storm is one of those people I needed to meet in order to move forward with my calling and spiritual process.

William G. Gray is another author who's spirit I've encountered via his books. It's fair to say that there has been something of a spiritual transmission, at least in terms of how I approach the process of magic. Gray, in his own writing, is very systematic in his description of magical processes and I've felt his presence as I've read the books. In discussions with several people who actually knew him, I've described his presence and they've indicated it was an accurate description of him. I don't feel his presence as much now, because I think I've gotten the gist of what he wanted me to know via his writing, but as with Burroughs I can still sense his presence when I read his works.

The last author is one I've recently started reading, and I'm not sure if it's so much a spiritual transmission from him or just the fact that I can pick up something of William Gray's influence in the writing. I haven't met R. J. Stewart at this point, but when I read his writing I feel a sense of familiarity with it, and with the systematic descriptions that he provides, and it turns out that at one time he did study under Gray. So with this one I'm less certain as to whether its really a spiritual transmission or just the fact that there is some resonance in the writing that reminds me of the spirit of an author I have encountered.

I've met many other occult writers and read their books and I've gotten a lot from their works, but this kind of intimate connection is something that has been rare for me to experience. Have any of you had such experiences?

A Vision of Tomorrow

Each year I do a cut-up collage, which essentially serves as a magical enchantment for the next year. This particular magical working is inspired by William S. Burroughs, and I always make a point to listen to Burroughs when doing this working. This year's collage was dedicated to Bune as both an evocation of him for Wealth Magic purposes and also as a way of praising and raising attention about him.

At the same time this collage and the other one are magical workings for my businesses, or vision boards if you like. I'm in the process of rebranding for my main business, as well as working on the social media presence for Immanion Press, and I'm even doing some refining of magical experiments. It's a lot of work, but its also a lot of fun.

How this works is twofold. Your scissors is the tool of cutting. You cut any previosu meanings away when you cut the words and images out. Then when you put the collage together, you glue your meanings into the words and images, imprinting them with your desires. The glue is the imprint of meaning on the blank void of paper, bringing meaning with image and word to create an enchantment (or evocation) of the desired reality. You can fire the enchantment off a variety of ways, whether its via sex magic, or using your creativity as the firing mechanism, or showing it in a public space, with people sharing it as the firing mechanism.


Some thoughts on Linguistics and Magic, An interview with Sequential Tart, and Radio Show Reminder

Whew! That is one long title, isn't it? Interview With Sequential Tart

I was interviewed recently by Sequential Tart about Magic and the Self. I discuss some of my previously published works, but also some of my on-going work in identity and magic.

Some thoughts on Linguistics and Magic

I recently picked up Magic, Power, Language, Symbol by Patrick Dunn. I haven't cracked it open yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it, because one of my many interests in magical practice is the combination of it with Linguistics, as I've amply demonstrated in Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy, and Multi-Media Magic. It should come as no surprise to readers that my next book project will likely include something on language and identity in relationship to magic. The reason I'm not reading Dunn's book quite yet is that I'm currently reading a little book called Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein. I'm already impressed by this book and the author has inspired me to read up on Benjamin Whorf's contributions to Linguistics. In this book, the author looks at how punctuation can be used to evoke emotional states of empowerment and personal change. A colon, for instance, can be used to get noticed by people. And you know...he's right so far. As I've read this book, I've found myself nodding in agreement and underlining passages...and thinking...I've seen this focus on punctuation in multimodality before, but never phrased in such an elegant way. What pleases me the most about this book is that the author looks at how the placement of words, phrases, and punctuation can make all the difference in the mood evoked by that word and punctation usage...it's not NLP, but it is a study of the power of the word.

I think linguistics is one of those disciplines that magicians should start studying on day one of their magical practice. Because so much magical practice revolves around the almighty word, it makes sense that we should focus on the discipline that already studies how the word is used. One of my favorite authors, William S. Burroughs experimented frequently with the power of the word and how it could be used to shape reality. My own experiments with words have always proven to be fruitful: I even evoked my wife into my life using a collage and have occasionally evoked other people as well. Now that's magic at work!

I've always felt that writing is one of the most powerful mediums of magic. It conveys more than information. It conveys emotion, virtual environments, memes, concepts, viruses and so much more...and it's something we can experiment with fairly easily once you know the rules.

Radio Show Reminder

My next show will be today, September 9th at 8Pm Pacific standard time.

Subject : Change your Re-Action to Action!

Summary: Sometimes, whether we intend to nor not, we sabotage ourselves with our reactions. A reaction is a pattern of belief or emotion that causes us to act in a particular way. In this show, I will show how you can change your limiting beliefs and reactions into actions that help you manifest your imagination into reality.

Listeners can call into the show at: (646) 652-2830