In the meantime, we can still be contacted via :
Thank You !
In the meantime, we can still be contacted via :
Thank You !
“The purpose of Art, the function of Art – of all creative thought as I see it – is to make people aware of what they know but don’t know that they know…” – William S Burroughs
At last finished transcribing my original ‘The Paintings of William S Burroughs’ article-cum-interview from back in 1988 – completed ‘Apprentice to an Apprentice’ on Terry Wilson, his time with Brion Gysin and after – and steadily drawing together material for our memoir/scrapbook ‘The Final Academy Revisited’
We have been in touch with a number of individuals concerning possible contributions of either archive or new, original material, and have to say so far we have been touched by the enthusiasm and generosity of spirit we have met with in most cases…
Some people we are still waiting to hear back from, some leads we need to follow up, and some ideas need to be developed a little further yet – but if the response so far is anything to go by this should turn out to be a unique memento of a powerful creative nexus that still echoes and resonates to this day!
We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge everybody who has offered their advice and encouragement so far, as well as possible contributions: a big ‘Hello!’ to Joe Ambrose, John Coulthart, Eric K Lerner, John May, Mogg Morgan… and Thank You as ever to Paul A Green, Spencer Kansa, Charlotte Rogers and Raoul V!
There will be further updates in due course…
THE DREAMING HILL
“…These burning pools, the level meadows fringed with shuddering reeds, the long dark sweep of the forest on the hill, were all clear and distinct, yet the light seemed to have clothed them with a new garment, even as voices from the streets of Caermaen sounded strange, mounting up thin with the smoke. There beneath him lay the huddled cluster of Caermaen, the ragged and uneven roofs that marked the winding and sordid streets, here and there a pointed gable rising above its meaner fellows; beyond he recognised the piled mounds that marked the circle of the amphitheatre, an the dark edge of trees that grew where the Roman wall whitened and waxed old beneath the frost and rains of eighteen hundred years.” (From ‘The Hill of Dreams’)
Arthur Machen’s rumination on living in Caerleon (‘Caermaen’), the small town where he grew up, and with which he had a rather intense relationship. He tore himself away, realizing that if he didn’t leave he would dream his life away; something in him would sicken and become incapable of action. The heartache and melancholy underlying his taking on adult responsibility would always subtly influence his writing. He went the way many have gone before and after him: to London where he worked at becoming a ‘man of letters’.
He would often return to his first and native home, even if it was just in his imagination:
“Well, from the heart of this London atmosphere I was suddenly transported in my vision to a darkling, solitary country lane as the dusk of a November evening closed upon it thirty long years before. And, as I think that the pure provincial can never understand the quiddity or essence of London, so I believe that for the born Londoner the country ever remains an incredible mystery. He knows that it is there—somewhere—but he has no true vision of it. In spite of himself he Londonises it, suburbanises it; he sticks a gas lamp or two in the lanes, dots some largish villas of red brick beside them, and extends the District or the Metropolitan to within easy distance of the dark wood. But here was I carried from luminous Oxford Street to the old deep lane in Gwent, which is on the borders of Wales. Nothing that a Londoner would call a town within eight miles, deep silence, deep stillness everywhere; hills and dark wintry woods growing dim in the twilight, the mountain to the west a vague, huge mass against a faint afterlight of the dead day, grey and heavy clouds massed over all the sky. I saw myself, a lad of twenty-one or thereabouts, strolling along this solitary lane on a daily errand, bound for a point about a mile from the rectory – (From ‘Things Near and Far Away’.)
Arthur Machen wrote that he imagined ‘The Hill Of Dreams ‘from the single stimulus of a shard of blue Roman enamel’. It was at least a point of contact with the material world during a quest of ‘high theurgic magic’ more in keeping with the Spirit of the world of the Greek Magical Papyri than his own and one which he pursued with a ‘fine desperation’. Lucian Taylor the hermit boy, is transported to the ‘Hill of Dreams’ and experiences another dimension of time and place, which Machen conjures up with extraordinary poetry and vividness. It is not surprising his protagonist finds it hard to return to a cold, mundane reality.
The Ghost-Trap is the definition and the limit of meaning
The Ghost-Trap is the place wherein we haunt ourselves
The Ghost-Trap is remembering to forget
The Ghost-Trap is a container for our fears
The Ghost-Trap is the echoing of unfulfilled Desire
The Ghost-Trap is made up of the very substance of absence
The Ghost-Trap is the incubator of the Babe of the Abyss
The Ghost-Trap is a cancelled index of possibilities
The Ghost-Trap is a Stone Tape being erased, slowly
The Ghost-Trap is the irritation that forms an imperfect black pearl that no-one wants, not at any price…
The Ghost-Trap is the very essence of The Stumbling Block
The Ghost-Trap is the shadow that remains after the heat, the flash, and the blast
The Ghost-Trap is drawing a line, and then erasing it
The Ghost-Trap is the calm at the eye of the Storm
The Ghost-Trap is Beyond Good and Evil
The Ghost-Trap is The Space Between
The Ghost-Trap is never the same twice
The Ghost-Trap is a hole in the soul
The Ghost-Trap is decadent and symmetrical
The Ghost-Trap is how you disappear out between Midnight
The Ghost-Trap is Not True, and must never be Permitted
The Ghost-Trap is the emerald Beginning and End of Word
The Ghost-Trap is infinitely hot and infinitely dense
The Ghost-Trap is what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object
The Ghost-Trap is a Black Mirror within the Triangle of the Art
The Ghost-Trap is a circle of fire, lit against the Night
. . . . .
Image: Emma Doeve + Words: Matthew Levi Stevens
Emma Doeve with her three most recently completed works: ‘The Curvature of Time’, ‘The Passing of The Secret’, & ‘The Ghost-Trap’. Drawn from sketches & studies that were originally part of the ‘Dreams In The Witch House‘ project, they were completed at the end of June and had their first outing at the event ‘Arte: An Elemental Happening’ in Bristol.
‘The Curvature of Time’
‘The Passing of The Secret’
‘The Curvature of Time’ & ‘The Ghost-Trap’ will form part of our ongoing collaboration, ‘The Book of Dark Things’, of which more details will follow soon…
A rainy afternoon in Bristol and at Odd Fellows Hall, once host to one of the ‘friendly societies’ operating in the UK (set up to protect and care for their members at a time when the Welfare State and the NHS still belonged to the future), Matthew delivers an outstanding talk on the writer William S Burroughs as part of the Event ‘Arte: An Elemental Happening’
[ photo: Mogg Morgan of Mandrake, with Thanks ]
What would he have thought of it all, WSB? Definitely an ‘odd one out’ in his own time – even though he found his own company of other ‘odd fellows’, and has since trailed a substantial following of both outsiders and insiders of society. He needed a powerful magic of his own (with some shamanic help) to navigate through the Magical Universe. The thing he feared most – and justifiably so, considering his history – was the threat of Possession. Being called ‘genius’ – or at least possessed by genius – by Norman Mailer did not banish the spectre or the fear. Being possessed by a virus of language was one thing, possession by the ‘Ugly Spirit’ another. During a sweat-lodge purification ceremony in an attempt to ‘evict the Ugly Spirit’, Native American Medicine Man Melvin Betsellie described it as “a spirit with a white skull face, with no eyes and sort of… wings”, Burroughs knew all he could do was attempt to write himself out of trouble.
In so doing – and how successful he was in the end cannot be known, old age overtook him – he took his own possession of the literary world. The Medicine Man who told him about the look of the thing, impressed him with his “strength and heart”. He felt persuaded that when you see such an enemy, it’s “just a matter of, well, if you see it on the outside, it’s no longer inside.”
Whether that’s true or not, William Burroughs rendered apprehensible the Ugly Spirit through his writing, a thing without eyes which is powerfully at work in the world – perhaps more now than ever…
An A5, 44 page chapbook giving the text of ‘The Magical Universe of William S Burroughs’ – as well as ‘The Forgotten Agent’, a reminiscence of Matthew’s first and last meetings with Burroughs – was made available for the ‘Arte’ Event in Bristol.
Some copies are still available directly from WhollyBooks, price £5. If you would like a copy, please email us with your details and we can provide a PayPal Invoice. All copies are of course Signed, and a dedication can be added on request.
‘The Book of Dark Things should not then be read primarily as an account of actual rituals performed & travels undertaken, but as an exploration of the role of the imagination and the power of dreams to transmute the familiar nature of our surroundings into something strange and wonderful.’
‘The Curvature of Time’ – Preparatory Sketches:
The Curvature of Time
wraps threads and tatters of memory
around you like a winding-sheet…
Each night that you sleep, and set sail upon Other currents,
Other tides – go down into the Darkness
as if your body had been lowered into the grave,
dark Mother Earth from whence you came
The Curvature of Time
will steer the course of your life
on mingled black currents of memory & forgetting…
“Life is a shadow with violence before and after
It is spirits, fighting”
You who were once ridden, are you now ready to ride?
Take leave of your shell – sit up, I tell you! Sit up and make ready I say!
(He folds the paper, with her name on it – he folds the paper and he draws the signs, traces the lines and makes the anointing)
The World Turned Upside Down!
The boat is coming
to carry your soul to the Other Lands,
beyond the Far Horizon,
over the Edge of the World
The Curvature of Time
Like a bride called to your wedding, like a guest to the feast, raise yourself up and be ready I say!
(He draws the lines – he makes the sign – he calls and chants, starts his dance)
The portal is open and the way is clear –
And the drumming, and the rattle,
and the scourging and the song
spirit-vessel here to carry us on
The Curvature of Time
‘She Travels’ – Study:
‘In such moments of exhaustion & surrender, the sensible spirits are drawn in great commotion as if to quit the body corporeal for some other vessel that will carry them Up & Out & On across the Curvature of Time, White Darkness shadowed by the light of a Black Sun, strange absences made solid in unknown Spaces Between, as to make all our questing metaphysic seem but tracing childish patterns in the familiar sands of our nearest shore.’
. . . . .
Images: Emma Doeve + Words: Matthew Levi Stevens
Here is a little taste of ‘The Magical Universe of William S Burroughs’, from my article for ‘Chaosphere’ #4 and in advance of my presentation at ‘Arte: An Elemental Happening’ in Bristol at the end of the month…
‘When I first met William S Burroughs in London at the time of ‘The Final Academy’ in 1982, I asked him about Magic, and whether he would care to recommend any books on the subject. Without hesitation he mentioned Dion Fortune’s ‘Psychic Self-Defense’, even though he qualified it as “a bit old-fashioned”. At that time I was beginning to move in the ‘Temple ov Psychick Youth’ [sic] circles around Psychic TV, who were key players in organising ‘The Final Academy’ series of Events – a scene that was steeped in the same fascination with Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare that would also fuel the emerging ‘Chaos Magic’ current – and so Burroughs’ recommendation did indeed seem ‘old-fashioned’, but as he began to talk of Black Magic and Curses in North Africa, travelling with Medicine Men up the Amazon, and describing his experiments with tape-recordings and playback on the streets of London’s West End and in the midst of the 1968 Chicago Democrat’s Convention and ensuing riots, I realised that for Burroughs this was UTTERLY REAL. He told me about a dream that he had as a young man, working as an exterminator in Chicago: of watching from a helpless out-of-body point of view floating above the bed as his body got up and went out with some unknown and sinister purpose that he was powerless to influence… with a shudder, he told me that possession was “still the basic fear.”
A little while after, Burroughs asked me if I would like to ‘get some air’ with him, I think while preparations were being made for a photographer or interview set-up (my impression being that he liked to avoid the ‘fuss’ inevitably involved in such situations). As he took me round the block, we talked about books: he was delighted to discover that I had read his beloved Denton Welch, also J W Dunne’s ‘An Experiment With Time’ – I had been lucky enough to find them in my old school library, and both had been a tremendous influence on him in different ways. He talked about different kinds of perception, and I heard for the first time his famous remark that the purpose of all Art & Writing is “to make people aware of what they know but don’t know that they know!” He described the famous ‘Walk Exercise’, in which you try to see everybody on the street before they see you – “I was taught this by an old Mafia don in Chicago… sharpens your ‘Survival IQ’… It pays to keep your eyes and ears open” – as well as an on-the-spot illustration of the theory of Cut-Ups as Consciousness Expansion:
“As soon as you walk down the street like this – or look out the window, turn a page, turn on the TV – your awareness is being Cut: that sign in the shop window, that car passing by, the sound of the radio… Life IS a Cut-Up…”
I mentioned ‘Real Magic’ by Phil Bonewits (which I had just read in the ‘Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult’ cheap paperback edition!), and he acknowledged that it had “some good information” – but he was much more enthusiastic about ‘Magic: An Occult Primer’ by David Conway, which he discussed with the same enthusiasm as Reich’s Orgone Theories, the possible uses of Scientology Auditing techniques and the E-Meter, and his own experiments with Cut-Ups and their extension into film and tape-recorder (including the notorious ‘Playback’, where street-recordings are made, Cut-Up, and then played back – on location – to cause disruption, often accompanied by the taking of photos: Burroughs actually described it to me as “Sorcery”!) – and I realised that he thought of all of them as tools for deprogramming and self-liberation: in some cases, to subvert the methods of the Control Machine and its various agencies, and turn the weapons they would try and use on us back on ‘Control’ itself…’
By way of a PS: During the late 1980s living in London for a while I was in regular contact with Terry Wilson, author of ‘Dreams of Green Base’, ”D’ Train’, and ‘Here To Go: Planet R101’ with Brion Gysin. At the time he was working on what would eventually become the first part of his novel ‘Perilous Passage’, dealing with his time as Brion Gysin’s informal secretary, friend, collaborator, and “apprentice to an apprentice” (Gysin’s words!)
With additional material, the book eventually appeared as ‘Perilous Passage, The Nervous System and the Universe in Other Words’ back in 2004 by Synergetic Press, but was just reprinted earlier this year (see: http://www.synergeticpress.com/books/perilous-passage/ )
Here is a brief excerpt from ‘Soul-to-Soul: Matthew Levi Stevens talking to Terry Wilson’, which will be published shortly by WhollyBooks:
Tell me about your new novel, which you’ve almost finished?
Well… I’ve got about a hundred pages of it. Where it will go from here I don’t know, I mean… if it’s the same size as GREEN BASE and ‘D’ TRAIN then there won’t be too much more!
It’s called PERILOUS PASSAGE – I think! – and it’s… well, really ‘D’ TRAIN focused entirely on the relationship between the two people, two heads, and this is a lot wider in scope… I mean it mentions other people, other characters come in who are not mentioned in ‘D’ TRAIN, it generally describes the whole area in which that situation was happening.
There’s a particular emphasis about the time of… the character called ‘Bedaya’, his death… subsequent events. It’s not so internalised, in other words.
‘D’ TRAIN is more to do with the dialogue between two characters whereas PERILOUS PASSAGE is more concerned with the overall picture?
Yes, ‘D’ TRAIN is pretty much a totally elliptical transcription of consciousness, non-linear… as I say, PERILOUS PASSAGE is a little more down-to-earth – maybe! It’s difficult to know, it’s not focussing on those two characters in the same way… much more concerned with Bedaya and all his works.
Do you think of writing as an act of magic?
Well, I think it is.
You are quoted as talking about the Cut-Ups – and writing generally – as a form of exorcism
That simply came from one of my observations in HERE TO GO where I was saying that William’s texts – once they brought the Cut-Ups into the tape-recorder are, cutting up tapes and whatnot – William’s texts increasingly became like spells and very much exhibited a preoccupation with exorcism…
[excerpt from an Interview conducted 28th June 1988]
. . . . .
“He entered the shadow, treading softly, and let the track lead him away from the world. The night became full of whisperings…”
– Arthur Machen, ‘Midsummer’ (from the collection ‘Ornaments In Jade’)
And so to bring things up to date a little…
Once again WhollyBooks made the trip to Hay-on-Wye for ‘How The Light Gets In’ @ The Globe and the Literary Festival, do the rounds of the bookshops and indulge in the usual wheeler-dealing (Hello to our friends @ Addyman, Hay Castle, The Poetry Bookshop, and Richard Booth – as ever “a pleasure doing business with you!”)
As well as meeting up with Old Friends like Jeannie Crane and Paul A Green, we also drove down through the Black Mountains to Caerleon as part of our long awaited Arthur Machen Pilgrimage; and then the Ewyas Valley to where Father Ignatius founded Llanthony Abbey @ Capel-y-ffin, and Walter Savage Landor built his Tower to mark as he believed the spot “where the Ark touched the Mountain”
Photo: Matthew Levi Stevens & Emma Doeve, reflection in the sitting room window of Arthur Machen’s old house in the Welsh village of Caerleon, taken on a suitably cold, gloomy, wet day!
Available Now & Coming Up:
At long last the eagerly awaited anthology ‘Occult Traditions’ (edited by outstanding academic magus Damon Zacharias Lycourinos for Numen Books) is available! Featuring contributions from Christopher A Plaisance, David Rankine, Gwendolyn Toynton, Ioannis Marathakis, Melissa Harrington, Sorita d’Este and Others, as well as several penetrating pieces by Damon and ‘Akephalos: Being an Attempted Restoration of the Rite of the Headless One, according to the Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist’ by our very own Matthew Levi Stevens.
‘Occult Traditions’ is already being described by reviewers as the one essential ‘must have’ book of the year, and is available to order now: http://www.amazon.com/Occult-Traditions-Damon-Lycourinos/dp/0987158139
. . . . .
Our appearance on Cork University Radio’s ‘Words On Top’ (our first ever podcast!), talking to the very lovely Frank K Hanover, can now be heard online here: http://www.mixcloud.com/ellie22/wot/
. . . . .
A Review of ‘Rub Out The Words: The Letters of William S Burroughs 1959-1974’ by Matthew Levi Stevens can be seen in ‘Beatdom’ #11, which is available from: http://books.beatdom.com/?page_id=175
. . . . .
‘Chaosphere’ #4 will be out any day now, featuring ‘The Magical Universe of William S Burroughs’ by Matthew Levi Stevens – exclusive Artwork ‘Mercury Risen’ by Emma Doeve – and contributions from Michael W. Ford, Jason Sorrell, Nerine Dorman, Venger Satanis, David Lee Grind, Babalonshi Biab Od Micma, Dana Fairchild, J. Poirot / Dualkarnain Siyah-Chal, and others…
Further details will be available from Frater Nicht here soon: http://chaosphere.org/
. . . . .
‘Musick That Heals You Of Time (In Memory of COIL)’ by our very own The Plague Doctors is included in the compilation ‘Sacredly Silver and Equally Gold – A Sidereal Tribute to Coil’ (includes contributions from Adam Stalker, Basajun, Danny Hyde’s Electric Sewer Age, Gerechtigkeits Liga, Testing Vault, and many more!), which is now available as a 3xCD set…
For more information see: http://www.club-nihil.com/coil/
. . . . .
‘Arte: An Elemental Happening’ – a Day of Magickal Ritual, Art and Performance by Misha Newitt, Jake Stratton Kent and Charlotte Rogers – will be taking place Saturday, 30 June 2012 @ Oddfellows Hall 20 West Park, Cotham, Bristol, BS8 2LT
Buses from Bristol Templemeads are the 1 and 54 (both leaving from the TJ stop) getting off at Bellgrave Road about 3 minutes walk from the venue.
Time Line (ish) of Events:
Jake Stratton Kent 1-1:30
Ruth and Mark Ramsden 1:30-2:30
Paul A Green 3:30-4:30
Matthew Levi Stevens 5-6
Magickal Open Mike 6-8
Details of Exhibiting Artists:
John Power (artist author of ‘The Nu Tantras of Uttarakaulas’ )
Emma Doeve (showing new artwork from ‘The Book of Dark Things’, as featured in the recent ‘Dreams In The Witch House’ show and short film)
Spencer Kansa (who although unable to attend in person will be showing a video compilation of collages accompanied by his ‘Whore of Babalon’ OST)
Tickets now available at the Underworld Apothecary: http://underworld-apothecary.com/new_events.php
. . . . .
In addition to preparations for Bristol, we are further immersing ourselves in the Weird & Wonderful World of Leonora Carrington & Leonor Fini (especially after particular finds in Hay!), and will shortly be Posting further material on these Two Serious Ladies…
Work has begun on an Anthology based on ‘Dreams In The Witch House’, with Artwork & Writings, inspired by the works of Arthur Machen, H P Lovecraft, the fiction of Kenneth Grant, and the darker side of the Women Surrealists – further details regarding the format, names of contributors, size of edition, etc., will be Posted as they are confirmed…
And in closing for Now: discussions have begun regarding a more long-term project that might be realised with the help & support of Raoul V – whose not inconsiderable Archive we are in the process of cataloguing – relating to Act of Faith, their friendship with Coil, and other aspects of the various intersecting & overlapping counter-cultures whose history they shared…
Photo: Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson & Geff Rushton (‘John Balance’) of COIL, Beverley Road London W4, taken by Raoul V in 1984.
It is very early days yet, but news will appear here on WhollyBooks as soon as any further details or developments are confirmed.
Best Wishes to All for Now:
Emma Doeve & Matthew Levi Stevens
Around three months ago now my oldest friend Raoul V had a terrible accident at home, falling headlong downstairs and landing on his head, knocking himself out and being rushed to hospital. For a while he was in a coma, and things were touch-and-go…
Raoul was also my partner in Act of Faith, a band which included Gavin Semple as guitarist (before he would go on to his Austin Spare researches), and contributions from Mouse, in between her own post-PTV band, Feast of Hunger, and forming Fire+Ice with Ian Read. (Other collaborators & ‘fellow travellers’ included local boy Antony di Franco of JFK, a pre-Scanner Robin Rimbaud, and ex-music journalist turned Aleister Crowley Scrapbooker Sandy Robertson, and there were also friendships with Brian Lustmørd, Derek Jarman, and Terry Wilson.)
Meeting TG in their final year was a major catalyst for us, as for so many others; then befriending Geff as he moved in with Sleazy to start their new life together – witnessing their struggles with Gen and breaking away from PTV & TOPY to concentrate on COIL.
In the same way that Geff & I bonded readily, Raoul & Sleazy always seemed to have a natural affinity: I know he gave Raoul all sorts of advice & help – with photography, the use of his old TG tape-player ‘sampler’ (the one that Chris Carter had built – he also gave as a Korg MS20 synth of TG ‘vintage’), and wound simulation make-up (!), and together they worked on a variety of short film/video & photographic projects (some of which were never shown outright, but ‘sampled’ for other projects).
Although Raoul had lost touch with Geff & Peter in recent years – along with pretty much anybody else he had known during the ‘Post-Industrial’ 80s in London – I know he was as shocked and saddened as the rest of us by their deaths. The news of his fall was a particularly eerie & unsettling déjà vu after the way Geff had passed over…
I am delighted to say that Raoul is now sufficiently recovered that he was able to visit with Emma & I this afternoon, as the above photo attests, and although he still has problems with amnesia, balance, blurred vision, concentration & forgetfulness, the doctors are now saying that there is no reason why he shouldn’t make a full recovery in time.
One unexpected by-product of this is that Raoul has decided to place his not-inconsiderable personal Archive at our disposal so that it can be properly Catalogued. We have already begun scanning letters, photos & publications, as well as Raoul’s own original Artwork, and there are also audio materials.
Although obviously it is still very early days, a number of possible projects are already under discussion. Rest assured, any potentially interesting developments will be announced here in due course!
Best Wishes to All: Matthew & Emma/WhollyBooks, & The Plague Doctors