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The Now : An Essay by William S. Burroughs

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The Now : An Essay by William S. Burroughs Empty The Now : An Essay by William S. Burroughs

Post  iacchus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:25 am

Transcribed by: Sasha LeBaron
14 May 2003

DE is a way of doing. It is a way of doing everything you do. DE simply means doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage which is also the quickest and most efficient way, as you will find as you advance in DE.

You can start right now tidying up your flat, moving furniture or books, washing dishes, making tea, sorting papers. Consider the weight of objects exactly how much force is needed to get the object from here to there. Consider its shape and texture and function where exactly does it belong. Use just the amount of force necessary to get the object from here to there. Don't fumble, jerk, grab an object. Drop cool possessive fingers onto it like a gentle old cop making a soft arrest. Guide the dustpan lightly to the floor as if you were landing a plane. When you touch an object weigh it with your fingers, feel your fingers on the object, the skin, blood, muscles, tendons of you hand and arm. Consider these extensions of yourself as precision instruments to perform every movement smoothly and well. Handle objects with consideration and they will show you all their little tricks. Don't tug or pull at a zipper. Guide the little metal teeth smoothly along feeling the sinuous ripples of cloth and flexible metal. Replacing the cap on a tube of toothpaste... (and this should always be done at once. Few things are worse than and uncapped tube, maladroitly squeezed, twisting up out of the bathroom glass drooling paste, unless it be a tube with the cap barbarously forced on all askew against the threads). Replacing the cap let the very tips of your fingers protrude beyond the cap contacting the end of the tube guiding the cap into place. Using your fingertips as a landing gear will enable you to drop any light object silently and surely into its place. Remember every object has its place. If you dont find that place and put that thing there it will jump out at you and trip you or rap you painfully across the knuckles. It will nudge you and clutch at you and get in your way. Often such objects belong in the wastebasket but often its just that they are out of place. Learn to place an object firmly and quietly in its place and do not let your fingers move that object as they leave it there. When you put down a cup separate your fingers cleanly from the cup. Do not let them catch in the handle and if they do repeat the movement until fingers separate clean. If you dont catch that nervous finger that won't let go of that handle you may twitch hot tea across the Duchess. Never let a poorly executed sequence pass. If you throw a match at a wastebasket and miss, get right up and put that match in the wastebasket. If you have time repeat the cast that failed. There is a always a reason for missing an easy toss. Repeat the toss and you will find it. If you rap your knuckles against a window jamb or door. If you brush your leg against a desk or a bed, if you catch your feet in the curled-up corner of a rug, or strike a toe against a desk or chair go back and repeat the sequence. You will be surprised to find how far off course you were to hit that window jamb, that door, that chair. Get back on course and do it again. How can you pilot a spacecraft if you can't find your way around your own apartment? It's just like retaking a movie shot until you get it right. And you will begin to feel yourself in a film moving with ease and speed. But don't try for speed at first. Try for relaxed smoothness taking as much time as you need to perform an action. If you drop an object, break and object, spill anything, knock painfully against anything, galvanically clutch an object, pay particular attention to the retake. You may find out why and forestall a repeat performance. If the object is broken sweep up the pieces and remove them from the room at once. If the object is intact or you have a duplicate object repeat sequence. You may experience a strange feeling as if the objects are alive and hostile trying to twist out of your fingers, slam noisily down on a table, jump out at you and stub your toe or trip you. Repeat sequence until objects are brought to order.

Here is student at work. At two feet he tosses red plastic milk cap at the orange garbage bucket. The cap sails over the bucket like a flying saucer. He tries again. Same result. He examines the cap and finds that one edge is crushed down. He pries the edge back into place. Now the cap will drop obediently into the bucket. Every object you touch is alive with your life and your will.

The student tosses cigarette box at wastebasket and it bounces out from the cardboard cover from a metal coat hanger, which is resting diagonally across the wastebasket and never should be there at all. If an ashtray is emptied into that wastebasket the cardboard triangle will split the ashes and the butts scattering both on the floor. Student takes a box of matches from his coat pocket preparatory to lighting cigarette from new package on table. With the matches in one hand he makes another toss and misses of course his fingers are in future time lighting cigarette. He retrieves package puts the matches down and now stopping slightly legs bent hop skip over the washstand and into the wastebasket, miracle of the Zen master who hits a target in the dark these little miracles will occur more an more often as you advance in DE... the ball of paper tossed over the shoulder into the wastebasket, the blanket flipped and settled just into place that seems to fold itself under the brown satin fingers of an old Persian merchant. Objects move into place at your lightest touch. You slip into it like a film moving with such ease you hardly know you are doing it. You'd come into the kitchen expecting to find a sink full of dirty dishes and instead every dish is put away and the kitchen shines. The Little People have been there and done your work fingers light and cold as spring wind through the rooms.

The student considers heavy objects. Tape recorder on the desk taking up too much space and he doesnt use it very often. So put it under the washstand. Weigh it with the hands. First attempt the cord and socket leaps across the desk like a frightened snake. He bumps his back on the washstand putting the recorder under it. Try again lift with legs not back. He hits the lamp. He looks at that lamp. It is a horrible disjointed object the joints tightened with cellophane tape disconnected when not in use the cord leaps out and wraps around his feet sometimes jerking the lamp off the desk. Remove that lamp from the room and buy a new one. Now try again lifting shifting pivoting dropping on the legs just so and right under the washstand.

You will discover clumsy things you've been doing for years until you think that is just the way things are. Here is an American student who for years has clawed at the red plastic cap on English milk bottle you see American caps have a little tab and he has been looking for that old tab all these years. Then one day in a friend's kitchen he saw a cap depressed at the center. Next morning he tries it and the miracle occurs. Just the right pressure in the center and he lifts the cap off with deft fingers and replaces it. He does this several times in wonder and in awe and ell he might him a college professor and very technical too planarian worms learn quicker than that for years he has been putting on his socks after he puts on his pants so he has to roll up pants and pants and socks get clawed in together so why not put on the socks before the pants? He is learning the simple miracles ... The Miracle of the Washstand Glass... we all know the glass there on a rusty razor blade streaked with pink tooth paste a decapitated tube writhing up out of it... quick fingers go to work and Glass sparkles like the Holy Grail in the morning sunlight. Now he does the wallet drill. For years he has carried his money in the left side pocket of his pants reaching down to fish out eh naked money... bumping his fingers against the sharp edges of the notes. Often the notes were in two stacks and puling out the one could drop the other on the floor. The left side pocket of the pants is most difficult to pick but worse things can happen than a picked pocket one can dine out on that for a season. Two manicured fingers sliding into the well-cut suit wafted into the waiting hand and engraved message from the Queen. Surely this is the easy way. Besides no student of DE would have his pocket picked applying DE in the street, picking his route through slower walkers, dont get stuck behind that baby carriage, careful when you round a corner dont bump into somebody coming round the other way. He takes the wallet out in front a mirror, removes notes, counts notes, replaces notes. As rapidly as he can with no fumbling, catching note edges on wallet, or other errors. That is a basic principle which must be repeated. When speed is crucial to the operation you must find your speed the fastest you can perform the operation with out error. Don't try for speed at first it will come his fingers will rustle through the wallet with a touch light as dead leaves and crinkle discreetly the note that will bribe a South American customs official into overlooking a shrunken down head. The customs agent smiles a collector's smile the smile of a connoisseur. Such a crinkle he has not heard since a French jewel thief with crudely forged papers made a crinkling sound over them with his hands and there is the note neatly folded into a false passport.

Now some one will say... But if I have to think about every move I make ...You only have to think and break down movement into a series of still pictures to be studied and corrected because you have not found the easy way. Once you find the easy way you dont have to think about it will almost do itself.

Operations performed on your person... brushing teeth, washing, etc. can lead you to correct a defect before it develops. Here is student with a light case of bleeding gums. His dentist has instructed him to massage gums by placing little splinters of wood called Inter Dens between the teeth and massaging gum with seesaw motion. He snatches at Inter Dens, opens his mouth in a stiff grimace and jabs at a gum with a shaking hand. Now he remembers his DE. Start over. Take out eh little splinters of wood like small chopsticks joined at the base and separate them gently. Now find where the bleeding is. Relax face and move Inter Dens up and down gently firmly gums relaxed direct your attention to that spot. No not getting better and better just let the attention of your whole body and all the healing power of your body flow with it. A soapy hand on your lower back feeling the muscles and vertebrae can catch a dislocation right there and save you a visit to the osteopath. Illness and disability is largely a matter of neglect. You ignore something because it is painful and it becomes more uncomfortable through neglect and you neglect it further. Everyday tasks become painful and boring because you think of them as WORK something solid and heavy to be fumbled and stumbled over. Overcome this block and you will find that DE can be applied to anything you do even to the final discipline of doing nothing. The easier you do it the less you have to do. He who has learned to do nothing with his whole mind and body will have everything done for him.

Let us now apply DE to a simple test: the old Western quick draw gunfight. Only one gun fighter ever really grasped the concept of DE and that was Wyatt Earp. Nobody ever beat him. Wyatt Earp said: It's not the first shot that counts. It's the first shot that hits. Point is to draw aim and fire and deliver the slug an inch above the belt buckle

That's DE. How fast can you do it and get it done?
It is related that a young boy once incurred the wrath of Two Gun McGee?. McGee? has sworn to kill him and is even now preparing himself in a series of saloons. The boy has never been in a gunfight and Wyatt Earp advises him to leave town while McGee is still two saloons away. The boy refuses to leave.

"All right" Earp tells him "You can hit a circle four inches square at six feet can't you? all right take your time and hit it." Wyatt flattens himself against a wall calling out once more "Take your time, kid."

(How fast can you take your time, kid?)

At this moment McGee? bursts through the door a .45 in each hand spittin lead all over the town. A drummer from St. Louis is a bit slow hitting the floor and catches a slug in the forehead. A boy peacefully eating chop suey in the Chinese restaurant next door stops a slug with his thigh.

Now the kid draws his gun steadies it in both hands aims and fires at six feet hitting Two Gun McGee? squarely in the stomach. The heavy slug knocks him back against the wall. He manages to get off one last shot and bring down the chandelier. The boy fires again and sends a bullet ripping through McGee?'s liver and another through his chest.

The beginner can think of DE as a game. You are running an obstacle course the obstacles set up by your opponent. As soon as you attempt to put DE into practice you will find that you have an opponent very clever and resourceful with detailed knowledge of you weaknesses and above all expert in diverting your attention for the moment necessary to drop a plate on the kitchen floor. Who or what is this opponent that makes you spill drop and fumble slip and fall? Groddeck and Freud called it the IT a built in self-destructive mechanism. Mr Hubbard calls it the Reactive Mind. You will disconnect IT as you advance in the discipline of DE. De Brings you into direct conflict with the IT in present time where you can control your moves. You can beat the IT in present time.

Take the inverse skill of the IT back into your own hands. These skills belong to you. Make them yours. You know where the wastebasket is. You can land objects in that wastebasket over you shoulder. You know how to touch and move and pick up things. Regaining these physical skills is of course simply a prelude to regaining other skills and knowledge that you have and cannot make available for your use. You know your entire past history just what year month and hour everything happened. If you have heard a language for any length of time you know that language. You have a computer in your brain. DE will show you how to use it. But that is another chapter.

DE applies to ALL operations carried out inside the body ... brain waves, digestion, blood pressure and rate of heart beats ... and that is another chapter...

"And now I have stray cats to feed and my class at the Leprosarium."

Lady Sutton-Smith raises a distant umbrella...

"I hope you find your way ... The address in empty streets..."
iacchus
iacchus

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Post  Khephra on Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:20 pm

iacchus wrote:Mr Hubbard calls it the Reactive Mind.

Mister Hubbard?!? Suspect affraid

Fucktard, nitwit, charlatan or sociopath spring to mind a lot faster than 'Mister'. Wink

Are Taoists Chaotes in disguise? vice versa?

_________________
"Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic's passion for God with the activist's passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing." - Andrew Harvey
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Post  iacchus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:34 pm

It seems that Burroughs was kinda alright w/ Hubbard. I blame it on his old age when he read Dianetics.
Of course, he might have been positively predisposed towards a fellow sci-fi author, although I hate to think of old Bill enjoying any of the horrid space-opera pablum Hubbard wrote.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that Burroughs didn't think to much of Crowley when they met briefly. Ruined my fantasies of two of my heroes in their twilight years, rolling about in an opium fueled bout of man lust.

Oh well.

Aside from that:
I have been reading some interesting Taoist thinkers that predate Lao-Tzu. Technically they are Yangists, really. After digesting them some, I will look forward to a discussion of it all w/ you.
iacchus
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Post  Khephra on Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:43 pm

Burroughs & Hubbard? ...

Thus, over thirty years ago Burroughs had developed viral tropes of genetic mutation, genetic algorithms, binary code as genetic information of the human organism, computers and viruses, i.e., concerns of present-day artists, many of whom have Laurie Anderson's contagious ditty running through their heads: 'language is a virus, oooooo'. Although the old man of the Beats seems to grow younger against an increasingly pervasive backdrop of viral tropes and technological rhetoric, it is best to temper thoughts of prophecy when listening to Anderson's pop praise song because it just so happens to be a paean to L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and the Church of Scientology.

Burroughs' notion of the virus had developed through his engagement with a series of organismic theories, the first one being the General Semantics of Count Alfred Korzybski, the second the orgone theories of Wilhelm Reich, and the third the Dianetics of Hubbard. The first two theories were an important source for the uncanny bodies familiar to Burroughs' readers, bodies capable of amoeba-like osmotic ingestion of other bodies as though their entire surface had become orifice, bodies with the gelatinous consistency of protoplasm, entire bodies, in other words, that mimicked cells. Culminating with Naked Lunch, these goo bodies were the culture in which Burroughs' first variety of virus grew, what I call the usurper virus, one that overtakes completely through the pathologising of Burroughs' self-described gay erotics of becoming one and the same, through the monomaniacal drives of junk and sex, through an association with the global metaphors of cancer, or through incorporative operations of metaphoricity itself. Dianetics, on the other hand, influenced the virus' first major mutation in his writings immediately following Naked Lunch, creating a new virus that shifted from its formerly crass amoeboid behaviour to a differentiated and technically sophisticated entity and, most importantly, to something that functioned so similarly to language that it became language.

This capacity for and of language was a product of the combined effect of Hubbard's engrams and the Dianetic demon, namely, of inscription and voice. Furthermore, it was fused at every point with communications technologies which recorded absolutely everything into the core of cells, took over the internal broadcasts prefiguring the voice, and rendered people inveterate senders or receivers. On an evolving historical backdrop of twentieth century psychotechnologies (in the non-Cartesian framework of organismic theories, psychophysiological), the movement from Burroughs' usurper virus to its mutation is repeated in the transformation of Korzybski's psychogalvanic tests, used to assert the existence of psychosomatic responses, to Scientology's E-meter, something akin to a lie detector used to 'clear' the 'aberee' of engrams. In the same manner Reich's atmospheric orgone energy became intermixed in the post-war period with both the mutative background radiation of above-ground atomic testing and the mind-control transmissions of telecommunications.

In addition, the functional inscriptive and transmissional attributes of actual viruses - their organic-inorganic threshold status mimicking the requirements of writing to find a living host in order to reproduce, the biolinguistic segmentations of genetic code with syntax and phonetics, and the sociality produced by their communicability - came to find their technologies within Burroughs' practices (with Brion Gysin) of literary cut-ups and tape recorder experiments, attempts at recording sub-vocal speech, and the tech specs in his writings afforded by wiz-kid lover Ian Sommerville. Indeed, Burroughs occupies a place of historical importance with his insistence that the endophasic and mnemonic psychotechnologies of modernism be practically realised. That this occurred at the same time that other concurrences of language and technology lodged at the cellular level moved from being couched in organismic theories to those of genetics, also places Hubbard and Burroughs at the heart of the historical shift from mechanics, with its modernist surface-rendered cuts and wounds and sutures, to a mechanistic genetics and all it can grow, engineer, communicate or infect.

By the time Burroughs read L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, it must have seemed very familiar, for here was not only the third in a sequence of influential organismic theories, but one obviously influenced by his first love - Korzybski's General Semantics. It was also a theory whose pathological sphere was practically limitless, eagerly ascribing all those areas to which Korzybski granted a benign existence a veritable plague of evil agency: the 'engram', an entity highly conducive to the (fallen) personifications that constituted Burrough's character studies and equally susceptible to the heroics of a correspondingly expanded therapeutic that constituted the cornerstone of Hubbard's pretentiousness and popularity.

For Hubbard, the engram is, most simply, an injurious or otherwise painful moment literally recorded, not as memory, but into the cell as a 'definite and permanent trace left by a stimulus on the protoplasm of a tissue' (D, 87). The recording is done within the cells themselves and 'is not a memory; it is a cellular trace of recordings impinged deeply into the very structure of the body itself'. The recordings themselves contain absolutely everything and would be very much 'like phonograph records or motion pictures, if these contained all perceptions of sight, sound, smell, taste, organic sensation, etc.' (D, 87). If these engrams stay in place and are not 'discharged' through therapeutic means, they will predispose the individual to psychosomatic illnesses, mental disorders and always something less than complete psychophysiological sanity. The therapeutic process basically entails discovering these recordings and playing them back over and over again until these lose their power, become boring and are shifted out of the reactive mind into regular memory banks where they will do no harm. When Burroughs first read Dianetics he wrote to Ginsberg that therapy was a way to 'simply run the tape back and forth until the trauma is wiped off. It works'.
(link)

_________________
"Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic's passion for God with the activist's passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing." - Andrew Harvey
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Post  iacchus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:12 pm

I can't blame Burroughs for being open to ideas found in Dianetics, considering it was all watered down and thinly veiled O.T.O. ideas.
I had no idea he thought so highly of the work though, having only seen a few passing references to Hubbard in some of Burroughs later works (dream diaries and such).
I still think Burroughs would find the current Scientology corporation disturbing and abhorent.
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