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Saturday, March 16, 2013

JUNKY BY WILLIAM BURROUGHS: REVIEW

INTRO BY ALLEN GINSBERG

COVER PAINTING BY WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

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Published first in 1953 and a book  - actually all his books - I dipped in and couldn't read at the time I tried to read them just because it was Burroughs. No go. Yesterday and the day before my modem was out so I read Junky non-stop and was electrified.

Did you ever read a writer where you were hit suddenly by "that's exactly the way I think about that, the way I would have said it, the way I would have thought it?" That's me and horrors, I think the way Burroughs does, so no wonder I couldn't read him before. Now he felt like home. 

There is no plot. It is not a linear narrative. Just one event after another. Discontinuous. No drama. Burroughs has no style. What you see and hear is what you get.

Burroughs's writing is pared down, like Hemingway, but no noticeable influence, just the way he speaks, thinks, writes. If you have listened to him on youtube or read his interviews you can conjure up his voice as you begin reading. Everything is seamless. 

He has a dispassionate, indifferently contemptuous, contemptuously indifferent hatred of the law and government from first hand experience. It is cold, factual,correct without a trace of emotional outrage. He has a great amount of factual knowledge about it and about JUNK and the Junk Life. Without a sentence of preaching he reveals to you how our drug laws are for the benefit of those who enforce them and the prisons who confine the offenders.

There is a type of person occasionally seen in these neighborhoods who has connections with junk, though he is neither a user nor a seller. But when you see him the dowser wand twitches. Junk is close. His place of origin is the Near East, probably Egypt.....He is basically obscene beyond any possible vile act or practice. He has the mark of a certain trade or occupation that no longer exists. ...

So this man walks around in the places where he once exercised his obsolete and unthinkable trade. But he is unperturbed. His eyes are black with an insect's unseeing calm. He looks as if he nourishes himself on honey and Levantine syrups that he sucks up through a sort of proboscis.

What is his lost trade? Definitely of a servant class and something to do with the dead, though he is not an embalmer. Perhaps he stores something in his body - a substance to prolong life - of which he is periodically milked by his masters. He is specialized as an insect, for the performance of some inconceivably vile function. (112)

This is Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep, the monstrous Cthulhu is stirring and one of Burroughs factually reported dreams of weeds growing through the pavement of New York City has the power to create terror in your bones, for both these writers have a sense of clairvoyance that feels horrifying and accurate in its premonition. 

AND SO MUCH MORE

Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to an increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

JUDY GARLAND: OVER THE RAINBOW


What did Judy look like in this outtake? What we can hear is precisely what we can’t see and aren’t shown. My feeling is that Judy/Dorothy was supposed to cry during this scene, only not like this. Not this much and not this hard. Dorothy is finally going home, after all. She is sad about leaving Oz, but what’s calling her home is supposed to be stronger than the intimate bonds she’s forged on her odyssey. But the line between emotion and real pain—between the emotion you are asked to tread, to supply and to invent; to bring to a scene, and the real pain that shows up and intervenes; causing a breach in the fiction and a break in the breach (all the breaches that are enacted and received in a lifetime)—are devastatingly blurred. It’s too much for Judy, not Dorothy. It was often too much for her. These are Judy’s tears, not Dorothy’s, and they are not the result of the fiction of movies, but of the reality of having lived them and made them.

From Masha Tupitsyn's Beauty Talk


In “Kleptomania” I describe Garland’s voice as “a blue bird hitting the windshield of a car.”

What truth are our faces allowed to tell/show today? Think of how men instruct women to smile while they’re walking down the street. If Hollywood and mass media are any indication, nothing is faked and enacted more these days than a face, especially a woman’s. A woman’s face is something she has to fake almost all of the time—from the wearing of make-up to the surgical enhancement and modification of facial features, to the lightening of eyes and skin, to the concealment of age, to the facial expressions we make or don’t make. Faking is not only the modality par excellence of late modernity, the fake/r (not the real or original, as Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy demonstrates) is the thing to imitate and strive for. And based on the 21st century fiction and artifice of celebrity consumer culture, there is no greater truth than a successful lie. Than a lie that functions and succeeds in public, even if and especially when it inevitably performs its disclosure-as-lie and breakdown-of-truth as just another show (Reality TV). The lie (or the secret of ideology) is no longer something to conceal, for, in the era of cynicism and instant commodification, dissemblance is the only truth worth telling (living). Truth, along with reality, is merely a performance, and vice versa, performance is reality.
Before we believed that a lie was the truth, we believed that what we were seeing was real, which means we believed what we were told. The fiction was not meant to be interpreted purely as fantasy or pure-fantasy, but as the ultimate-real. However, now that we know that the fiction is a lie, that the truth is a lie, we have learned to approach it as such. We live in the name of truth, even though, and because we know, the name of truth is fiction. We tell ourselves that it’s not that we have a more dishonest or corrupt relationship to truth, it’s that we have a different kind of relationship with the lie. That is, with the staging of truth.


When I watched Garland’s performance of “The Man That Got Away” from A Star Is Born for this essay, I broke down in tears almost immediately. Garland’s heartbreak is my heartbreak. A heartbreak of women watching women. Women being women. It is my invisible (off-camera) face coming undone as it bears witness to the brave face another woman puts on for the whole world. Garland is giving us her heartbreak so that we can survive and better understand our own. 

Read the whole post from Masha Tupitsyn

EVER SINCE THIS WORLD BEGAN

Judy Garland Live at the LondonPalladium 1964