| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.

View
 

main street

Page history last edited by main street 11 years, 3 months ago

 

Daily literary quote on today's igoogle homepage:

 

 

 

I don’t care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.  The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it.

 

-          William Burroughs

(American Novelist)

 

A certain amount of...hmmm...what would one call it....prestige? Identification? Embarrassment? comes along with being quoted on igoogle.  It's like when a book supposedly gets read by Oprah and someone puts that big round sticker of Oprah Winfrey approval on the cover...

 

Is it possibly pop culture canonization?  And what would Burroughs think of this?  More later...just wanted to acknowledge the eerie feeling it gave me when I saw it a few moments ago...

 

--- -- ---- -

Red Bull and vodka: dangerous road.

 

---- - - - -- - - -- -

 

Thought I could Walk on Water.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - - -- - - -

 

Portrait of My Semester....

 

(cut-up of pencil drawing/Burroughs seminar notes/photographs)

 

 

 

---------------

 

Ohhhh....it says "Pull To Open"

 

-------      -           - - - - - --  --------- - - - -

 

Meditation on Education

 

"Our educational system is: find what someone can do and give him an opportunity to do it.  Not many are competent on a policy level" (132).

 

It's clear in The Place of Dead Roads that Burroughs commentates on the meaning of education, and what sort of educational system complements the human being who must be free from the patterning, the control, the scanning reality.  The Johnson educational system supports the original root of the word educate, which comes from the latin "educo, educere: to draw out, lead out, foster."  The Johnsons have a system in which each is encouraged to explore his/her true passion or talent through opportunity.  The draw-back in that?  None - except when applied to education as I have been conditioned to think of it and use it: as an age 5-22 process of filling-in or hypothetical practice, eventually ending in a degree - the purpose of which is to fill life with a job to fill life with money to fill like with stuff.  "Education" in modern American terms implies that the mind and the body are empty shells to be filled, rather than the original root of the word (and Burroughs use of it), which implies that we are all capable of being extraordinary and, whats more, capable of discovering and quite literally drawing out those qualities via our own exploration.  Imagine the possibilities of a reality with the tools (such as books, art, conversation) and opportunities to explore our physical/intellectual/spiritual selves.  

 

In literal Burroughs context: IMAGINE it.  And then it just might be!

 

another excellent quote on education:

 

"Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers" (Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac)

 

 

necessary conditions for the contemporary American classroom:

 

FEAR

                  CONTROL

 

     FEAR

 

                         C O N T R O L

 

 

FEAR CONTROL?

 

CONTROL FEAR?

 

control control control control control control control control control control control control control control control control control

 

ever get that feeling as a kid that a word, any word, suddenly seems completely absurd and you're not even sure if its a word anymore or what it means or even if it has a meaning?

 

control control control control control control

 

 

 

 

My Education (So Far)

 

 

 

Five.

 

 

We sit in cross-legged silence

as Miss Rohr circles around us.

Laces on a shoe that is not mine

twist and tangle in my hands.

She comes closer.

Shame burns in my fingers, on my cheeks:

I can’t do it.

My hands shake and loop these

laces into a mess of knots.

Miss Rohr looks down, raises a brow.

She walks away.

 

 

Eleven.

 

 

The lockers are assigned in

alphabetical order.

I crouch on the floor below

R. Munce.  He smells.

I try to hold my breath and

balance on my platform flip-flops.

I smear concealer across my forehead

until the magnetic mirror reveals

a pale, smooth surface above over-plucked

eyebrows.  The bell rings.

 

 

Sixteen.

 

 

The auditorium is full.

I look out from the stage

at all the flowers and proud faces.

Another round of applause dies,

my name is called. 

I rise and cross the stage.

The superintendent hands me a check

for a thousand dollars.

I shake his hand and hope my finger

doesn’t smell like vomit as he whispers,

“Good luck changing the world.”

 

Twenty.

 

 

I stand on the roof of Kendra’s white Chevy,

pound another Miller Lite and

drop the can to the ground.

Sunlight warms the back of

my neck and my bare, dirty feet.

One dangles over the side of the car.

I crack open another beer and

We cheer to I don’t know what as

Bittersweet Symphony plays on

someone’s stereo across the field

of blissful drunks.  Tomorrow, 

it will probably rain.  So this,

this is enough for now.

 

 

 

 

    ----------------------------------------                            --------------------------------                             --------------         - --------- -

 

 

Most Vivid Dreams also the Most EXtreme

 

I dream every night; most mornings, I remember at least some vision or feeling from the dream.  1-2 dreams per year are so vivid I remember them forever (or at least so far).  As I go back over the cntent of those most haunting dreams, I notice that they are either highly pleasurable or nauseatingly terrifying.

 

Last night:

 

I'm hiding out in a lean-to in the woods with my family.  We're at the top of a hill, and the leaves around us are all brown and drying; it must be fall.  I can feel a tension; someone is coming to get me, take me away, and execute me by hanging.  Without telling anyone I leave in the middle of the night and travel out of the woods and across a narrow gravel road onto another hill, this one covered in grass and shrubs.  It's warmer out here, but still so close to where I came from; and yet it's taken me several hours to get here.  I crawl up a path among all the shrubs and bushes and find a male slave also crouching in the bushes; he works the land we're on.  I somehow make him go unconcscious and steal his clothes and put them on, hoping to disguise myself so I won't be found and taken away.  The master comes to get his slaves at the end of the day and sees that I'm a stranger; a woman comes shortly and takes me back to the woods where my family is hiding.  She explains that there's no way out of execution, and that I'll be taken away the next day.  I go around the back of the shed and start sobbing; a group of motorcycles drives up the hill somewhere and I see and hear them go past me.  Then I get up and go back around the shed to the lean-to; the woman has hanged my dog, Ruby; Ruby is laying ont he ground with a broken neck, eyes bulging out and blood gushing out into a puddle below her head.  My other dog, Barkley, is curled up next to a tree nearby looking at me with concerned eyes.  My mom is crouched in another corner, crying, saying "I knew it had to happen; I just wish it weren't Ruby." 

 

(Wake up)

 

So, sex and violence are what make up my most vivid dreams (this probably the most vivid and violent I've had this year).  Sex and violence are also two of the most restricted areas, bound by the law and the conscience (and the conscious).  They are prime areas of exploration for space/time travel...(more to come; going to class)

 

 

 

-------------------------

 

Zine

          Zeeen

                    Seen

 

A Scene:

 

Conception is trauma. 

 

I've been working on cut-ups of posts and dream scenes; I now want to incorporate the alien objectives in The Place of Dead Roads - each objectie ot be cut up and juxtaposed against the cut-ups I have already.  I also want to cut up some of the scenes in my notes (meaning the original words, quotes, scratch-outs and drawings).  Could someone let me know if whatever program we are using to make the zine would let me scan these last parts in?  Or is a creative reproduction of the original in my near future...

 

---------  ---------------  -----     ------------------------------------------- - - - - - -  -    -     -         -         -             ----

 

Shel Silverstein?!

 

"What’s happening, Fats?" says Roy with joy, "I’ve come to state my biz.

I hear you’re hip to the perfect trip. Please tell me what it is.

For you can see," says Roy to he, "that I’m about to die,

So for my last ride, Fats, how can I achieve the perfect high?"

"Well, dog my cats!" says Baba Fats. "here’s one more burnt–out soul,

Who’s looking for some alchemist to turn his trip to gold.

But you won’t find it in no dealer’s stash, or on no druggist’s shelf.

Son, if you would seek the perfect high –– find it in yourself."

                                     -----------------------------

 

 

"And what is the medium corresponding to air that we must learn to breathe in?

 

The answer came to Kim in a silver flash...

 

 

 

Silence" (The Place of the Dead Roads 40).

 

 

Homeroom full of middle school kids.  After morning announcements, the secretary over the loudspeaker asks for a moment of silence.  12 seconds pass until I hear a giggle or a whisper.

 

Driving to the grocery store with a friend.  Conversation goes dead and silence sets in.  One sits calmly looking out the window; the other starts talking about the weather.

 

Friday night - roommate gets out of the shower and gets dressed.  Realizes she has no plans for the night or the weekend.  The thought is so unbearable after twenty minutes that she drives 3 hours home and doesn't return until Monday.

 

 

Space travel is mind travel without the conditioning or the idea of separation among mind-body-spirit.  Or without any completely formulated ideas (as if there is such a thing).  Silence is awkward and scary because it beckons you to drift outside the norm, with no promise that you can ever go back to what was the norm.  

 

Silence-->space time travel-->observer-->?

 

Burroughs keeps taking me back to the same question: what do you do and where do you go after even the most brief moment of silence takes you somewhere and back...only you can't really go back?

 

 

Will keep traveling for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-----------

 

It was like waking up

After some

Post-modern

Brain-washing

Drug-induced

Apathy and

Saying Oh God,

What have I been

Doing all this time

And waiting for

An answer until

You hear someone

Say Sweet Heart,

Here is your wonderful

World and you look

Around but no one

Is there and then

Realizing that

You are the only one

Speaking,

That you and the

World you see could all

Be this feeling

called God.

 

 

--------------------------------------

 

just came across this conversation from senior year in high school...probably could have used some Burroughs at the time:

 

 

qazplm341: whats going to happen is that at age 21, you are going to have an epiphany that passion does not matter in this world. All the time you have spent working and stressing have been to achieve what society values as important...wealth, status

qazplm341: passions do not matter at all

qazplm341: and you will want to get a good job, so you can make money, so you can have a good house, live comfortably, take your children on ski trips, and retire

Omeko789: look what the system has done to you, chen

Omeko789: its broken you

qazplm341: you are trying to break the system

 

 

Auto response from Omeko789: out, out brief candle!  life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 

 

qazplm341: this system does not break

 

 

 

T-minus 5 weeks and 2 days until i'm 21...somehow I don't think chen will be right...

 

 

 

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------       ----------------------------------------------------

Dreams: Worlds Without Labels

 

 

A hundred pages into Cities of the Red Night I realized that I had shifted from reading what seemed like a more traditionally written novel into some sort of sex-crazed dream world that transcended place and time and identity.  And so the book read like this until the end, and as I got more accustomed to Burroughs and his fantasy/reality fusion worlds, I questioned certain things less and less.  For the most part, as we discussed last week, this meant labels –  labels of time, space, and sex.  The amount and variety of sex in this piece stripped my conscious, at least for the time being, of this labeling game that I play in everyday life; it’s the game that supports my scanning of reality and any time I view something or someone as a fixed identity rather than a constantly-changing one (or none at all).

 

 

Last week I also started a dream log.  I’ve only written down a few, but I’ve noticed that they read similarly to how a lot of Burroughs’ work reads (especially in Cities of the Red Night).  The settings and chains of events seem so unrealistic; and yet, the visions and feelings I had during the dreams were more vivid and real than what I experience in my day-to-day scanning processes.  Here is what I’ve remembered so far:

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 3/24

I was in a house – a boarding house – in a downstairs corner bedroom with a narrow wooden staircase leading up to another room.  My friend Adam and I are on the bed and we are in a room where, at the foot of the bed, there is a laser security line which someone has to be observing at all times.  It’s weird and we notice this, but we try to go to sleep, sideways on the bed, with no covers.  Another acquaintance JP is on the bed too, and in the middle of the night he takes me and runs upstairs with me.  Adam follows and we’re both screaming and scared but then someone takes Adam and JP has me and I know something bad is going to happen.  Wake up.

 

 

Another dream I don’t remember.

 

 

Wednesday, 3/25

Dreamt that it was the night of Scott’s 30th birthday party.  All my friends from the ski team were at a house on some dark back road – I think it was Kat’s.  I was being really rude to Kat because I couldn’t go to the party since I was under 21 and she could go because she was 21.  Kat, Jack, and I get in Kat’s car to go run errands and it is not light out for some reason.  We go to home depot parking lot and discuss getting a tractor to cut all our lawns next year and split the cost.  Then we head back to Kat’s house…

 

 

Friday, 3/27

I’m in a train station and it’s raining.  There are a lot of people around, rushing every where.  My train isn’t leaving for a while, so Courtney and I decide to put our luggage down at a table in a restaurant upstairs in the station.  Part of the station is outside and part of it is inside, but to get from one end to the other there are paths of confusing stairways and we keep getting lost.  Suddenly we hear our train called for boarding and we can’t find our way back to the restaurant to get our stuff.  Everyone speaks French and finally we find the restaurant and I worry my things won’t be there anymore.  They are, but Courtney’s aren’t.

 

 

Sunday, 3/29

 

 

AP Lit outside in a circle with high school teacher, Mr. Budd.  The building looks like and insane asylum and someone is looking down at us from a window on the second-highest floor.  Feeling anxious but I don’t know why…

 

 

Sitting in a restaurant with family (or friends)?  We all take a turn picking a card with a word on it out of a basket in the center of the table.  I don’t know what anyone’s card says, including my own; it doesn’t seem important.  Alex, the waiter/a kid from my high school walks over to fill drinks and he picks a card; it says “Love.”

 

 

 

 

These are by no means the craziest dreams I’ve had, and yet they’re weird enough that they don’t seem like they could happen on just any day.  These dreams transcend time and place and social environments so that they don’t make sense factually…but they make sense – logically, physically, emotionally – so strongly when I’m experiencing them that I feel like they are a reality more real than the one in which I participate and observe in my waking life.  I wonder, if one can learn to control his dreams, if he could cut up the world in his waking state to see it through the mind of a sub-consciously driven observer.

 

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------   -------------------         ---- --      -------------------

 

Can Word drown out the Word?

 

 

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live in peace

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live in peace

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live in peace

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live in peace

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live in peace

 

 

My yoga instructor gave the class some advice last week on how to silence the chattering monkey; for some of us, concentrating on the sound and feel of breath is not enough to drown out the chatter.  The sound of my breath alone could not overcome the word; the sound of repeated words of the same chant, however, could.  What does this mean?  What might it mean for Burroughs?

 

 

If I repeatedly chant these lines, whether out loud or in my head, I notice that I do not think about what the words mean; my mind is not even tempted to go off into a tangent about if I’m healthy or what peace is or anything like that.  The repeating sounds of the words resonate, though.  In such a way can word drown out the word for me.  And yet concentrating on sound that does not come from the word as I’m used to it cannot yet drown out the ongoing chattering in my head – a concrete (haha) example of my addiction to the word.  Letting sound in the form other than the word as the word plays us drown out the chattering monkey of words seems to me a much more practiced art.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

ragged rocks, to be Sure, but no slippery slope...

 

----------------------------------------------

 

 

The last words I have jotted down in my notebook from yesterday are:

 

 

 

Participant and observer at same time -- how do we do this?!?!

 

 

 

I’m not sure, but I’ll take a crack at it.  The dichotomy between these two states of being in the world gets very interesting when I think of it in terms of Burroughs.  His explorations of how to be both of these certainly keeps in tune with a theme of his works so far – that some sort of balance needs to be lived in order to minimize suffering.  I can’t be a participant without any sort of critical (whether it be good or bad) observation of myself; otherwise, I don’t see any point in me having, for instance, consciousness.  And yet to live strictly as an observer of the system in which I live would be (a) impossible (because by living in it I participate in it) and (b) isolating (which, in my experience, becomes frustrating and unbearably depressing – but this could also be because it used to be my condition to negatively criticize everything and everyone, including my Real world and my Self).

 

 

 

Last night, I was watching Into the Wild and thinking about all this.  There were a few different trains of thought going on in my head:

 

 

 

First, how Chris McCandless made the jump from one extreme of the participant-observer spectrum to the other: from being a student at a prestigious university to a man with no formal identity, no money, and little connection to any form of Society.  If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s a clip that demonstrates the shift from (or perhaps the simultaneous existence of) participant/observer:

 

 

YouTube plugin error

 

 

He recognizes the falsity of his life and relates it to the “false being within,” and ultimately decides that he has to break all ties with society (and his role as participant) to achieve some sort of spiritual purification.  I can’t help but think of Burroughs here: he travels to find that fix, to break out of certain systematic processes of living in Society.  He cuts up to find the true meaning in things.  This character cuts up the story of his life so far to kill the falsity, to find the real within.  He becomes primarily an observer, and goes into physical and spiritual isolation.

 

 

 

Living this cut-up doesn’t sustain him, though (as living through one part of the dichotomy will never satisfy and sustain).  Isolation is temporary, which brings about the question of what to do after critically observing and then throwing oneself back in as a participant. 

 

 

 

The shift that has to take place for this is internal, and requires both constant, critical observation (whether positive or negative) and active participation.  Chris dies before he can test this out, but his story reminded me of my own experiences in living out this dichotomy.  I thought about the first time I saw this movie, in early May of last year.  My feeling after watching it was that I had to drop everything, cut myself off from the false world in which I’d been trapped and find something that felt real.  So I did; I traveled, abandoned my cell phone, met interesting strangers, experienced a spiritual renewal of sorts.  I needed that; after playing the role of observer and doing so in a very critical way, I felt that I could no longer live with myself if I continued to participate in Society.  Last night, as I watched the film again, I not only reflected on the story in the screen but my own participant-observer journey.  I realized how in this moment, in nearly every moment, I am a participant in the same Society in which I was last year.  And yet, the observer in me feels no falsity of the self.  I thought about what it means for me to be going home for the summer, to one of the most materialistic, trapped places I’ve ever been…and to feel like I can stay pure in spirit while living in and participating in such a world.  World-making relies on perception and the interior Self; suffering in this world minimizes when participant and observer work together, when they harmonize.   

 

 

-------------------------------

 

scratch that; working on something new.

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

“When you stop growing you start dying.  An addict never stops growing.”

                                                                                    - Junky prologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I transitioned from reading Junky to The Yage Letters, I couldn’t help but see crucial differences in what seemed like William Burroughs’ essential nature; that is, his location and way of life had changed so that he seemed like two different selves while telling his stories.  The sensation of looking at oneself from outside the body can be consuming and terrifying, but also a way of teaching and learning.  There are many differences in the drug use and world-views of the Burroughs who writes Junky and the one who composes The Yage Letters, and yet with exegesis and cut-ups it becomes clear that the existential crises (and therefore discoveries) of William Burroughs are more or less consistent.  To give an imaginary Burroughs and Burroughs readers insight into the transitional growth and shrinking of the man who narrates these texts, I propose a series of letters between the Burroughs who writes Junky and the Burroughs who composes The Yage Letters.  The following topics are the ones that I am most interested in exploring:

 

 

 

-          The concept of pleasure; how it is achieved and how long it can last

-          The “cellular alteration” of a junky and its role in the spectrum of death and life

-          “Stasis horrors” of Burroughs in Yage Letters in comparison to the stasis of characters in the world that has become his reality

-          Space time travel and the constant desire for change, for growth

  

 

 

I am more or less trying to use language as a means to my own space time travel the way Burroughs believes that language is a medium through which one can transform his reality.  I’ll become the Burroughs starving for his next junk fix, delirious from junk sickness, and finally realizing that what he wants more than junk is kick.  I’ll also become the Burroughs from Yage, the space and time of the self when he searches around South America for that final kick, explores space time travel and the rejection of where and who he is, and sees his reality in “hammocks swinging over the void” (51). 

 

 

 

I will integrate cut-ups of crucial statements in each of the texts with my own interpretation of what Burroughs is thinking of feeling to create what seems like correspondence between two completely different people, even though both will be extracted from just the one Burroughs.  The claimed “permanent cellular alteration” caused by junk plays an interesting role in the creation of these Burroughs personas; the reality of addiction is most fundamentally in the cells, which means that even when Burroughs goes through all these different experiences in Junky and Yage, his cells-sells-selves-self remains permanently altered.  More importantly, his cells make up his self, and by the end of the letters I create we’ll be able to see more shared experiences and views from both texts than stark differences. 

 

 

 

Cut-ups of passages about his stasis horrors will give the most insight into Burroughs’ frustrations with reality/Reality.  The stasis horrors are not only his urgent and panicked need to get out of his location (in Yage); they are also (I see this after cutting-up) the fear of dying or, as Burroughs refers to dying, “when an organism reaches maturity” (Junky 137).  I think there is an undeniable connection between the stasis horrors in Yage and Burroughs' constant references to death and its link to the cessation of growth.  Burroughs doesn’t want to stop growing; it would mean eternal stasis (or at least stasis until death).

 

 

 

This is all over the place right now, but I’m excited.  Letters have that confessional, diary-like quality; they often express insights that even the composers of the letters would not realize without writing them down to another person.  This series of letters will be just as personal and honest as The Yage Letters, except they will, through cutting-up, make links between different texts and experiences.  The form will be handwritten – cut-outs, scribbles, illustrations, margin notes included…

 

 

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

So I looked up that clever little Nike commercial:

 

 

"The purpose of technology is not to confuse the brain, but to serve the body."

 

Talk about a loaded statement.  It's interesting to think about what I've read of Burroughs so far in terms of this piece of the script - especially when technology feels like some sort of fix I'm always chasing "to make life easier, to make anything possible."  Really, Bill?  This commercial was clearly made after Burroughs travels through space and time only to make discoveries of the horrors of being and living in a reality constructed and bound by processes of need.  I realize it's just a commercial, but if technology is the junk that it's portrayed as in these images, I don't buy that it can be turned around in a switch of consciousness (or Nike) to "serve the body." 

 

Unless, of course, technology and art overlap at some point...which perhaps they do, for Burroughs. 

 

Dream Machine?

 

 

 ------------------------------------------

 

(quote below by Chuck Palahniuk.  Couldn't help but throw it up here.  It's in reference to the routines in which we get caught, but also seem to cradle us by making us think there's some routine - or Routine - to reality that could actually be a good thing.) Today is February 4th.

 

 

 

"The

     World

Is

   Your

              Cradle

 And

   Your

 

Trap"

 

 

 

 

0 For 2

 

 

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside, when all else falls away.

 

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in empty moments.

 

 

-          Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

 

 

“Stasis horrors.”  That’s what Burroughs calls this get-me-the-fuck-out-of-this-place-because-I-can’t-stand-where-I-am feeling he gets repeatedly on his journeys through South America.  In the Yage Letters, I can feel his frustration and his panic of stasis; I can feel how trapped he is inside his locations and inside the world – most importantly, inside himself.  It’s interesting that he lists so many poor qualities about the places he visits – the smells, the grunge, the irresponsibility – and yet admits to Ginsberg through his letters that he often leaves a place from some vague panic that seems quite unrelated to his actual surroundings.  He writes of the horror of “just being where I am” in Tingo Maria, recalls the time he had to suddenly leave Lima:

 

 

 

“This feeling of urgency has followed me like my ass all over South America.  I have to be somewhere at a certain time (in Guayaquil I dragged the Peruvian consul out of his house after office hours so I could get a visa and leave a day earlier)

 

 

 

“Where am I going in such a hurry?

            …I don’t know.  Suddenly I have to leave right now” (49)

 

 

 

It’s interesting that Burroughs doesn’t have this same degree of panic in Junky as he expresses in the letters.  Also interesting that he doesn’t know exactly why he’s freaking out.  It’s as if the stasis of time and this forced time he has with himself is unbearable.  Burroughs can’t stand to be with his self in the here and now and Real.  No wonder he searches for the “space time travel” yage seems to offer him.

 

 

 --------------------------------------------------------------

 

On (Unconscious?) World-Making

 

 

All right, so this “simply being” thing I mentioned earlier…not so simple.

 

 

 

And after reading the rest of Junky, I can safely say that using junk doesn’t appeal to me.

 

 

 

World-making through altering my perception still does

(on that note, check this out for a subjective experience ).

            But trapping myself in a system of need does not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a girl to do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

We learn from Burroughs that his solution (or at least next step) is to go find some other substance to open his world, something better than the “momentary freedom” he gets from kick.  While becoming a junkie put a straightjacket of control over Burroughs’ life, he thinks that yage or something else may open his world.  I’m skeptical for Burroughs, though…nervous, if you will.  He seems to recognize that it’s not just junk that ties you down; it’s systems of desire for certain substances, highs, experiences, etc.  If the anxiousness comes from the processes that ultimately control those who give in to desire, would it not be best to refuse desire?

 

 

 

Perhaps.  What I remember from the very little knowledge I have of Buddhism, happiness comes from neither refusing desire nor completely indulging in it, but finding a balance.  I do not believe that one can completely refuse desire; this goes against (dare I drop this in here?) a human being’s essence.  I do believe that one can have some control over his desires and over the way he makes his world from those desires.  I was fascinated by the contrast we discussed in class – by the ease and delicateness with which Burroughs describes the scene with the boy in the hotel as opposed to the intense analyses of struggles he has with junk.  Other authors may write entire novels on the psychological, physical, and emotional complications of being a homosexual; for Burroughs, his sexuality in this scene is completely natural and complication-free.  He gives into desire, but he does not give into the complicated, controlling system of analysis that others may attach to this certain desire.  In such a way he creates his own world.

 

 

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

On Subjective Experience and My Recent Departure from (Followed by Return to) 

R e a l

           i t

         y

 

 

In response to discussion yesterday, I’ve been contemplating the ways in which I’ve come into and out of subjective experiences in the past year.  Here are the brief descriptions of what I can remember of those experiences:

 

 

 

May 2008

One week out of school, one day after my 20th birthday, one long-lived world view completely shattered.  I visited my brother in Montana and stood on the side of a huge river as he fished.  I remember how terrified I felt in the presence of the mountains, the river, the empty space.

 

 

 

Two weeks later, a similar experience in my backyard.  Laying there, completely unaware of objective time; I remember my heart pounding in my back and warmth on my face.

 

 

 

June 2008

Allihies, Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland.  Walking to school from my host family’s house, every flower, every scent, every sound of a crashing wave felt a thousand times stronger than ever before.  Objective time had also been magically sucked away by some vacuum.

 

 

 

December 2008

After writing a paper in my apartment for two days straight, I walked outside.  By the time I turned onto Beaver Ave. I stopped and felt as if I were going to faint.  My body had no connection to the sidewalk, my mind had no association with the things happening around me: everything looked and felt absurd except what I could feel in my own body.  I looked around and knew at that moment that the only real/Real thing in the scene was me. 

 

 

 

Although I placed myself in each of these situations; I don’t think I was specifically looking for any out-of-body experience.  As the experiences went on, they had more to do with how I felt in my body rather than how I felt about the objective world.  As I felt in my most recent subjective experience, the most “real” thing that exists is one’s own body and the sensations felt within it.

 

 

 

I think Burroughs gets this.  The most striking instances for me in Junky were not so much those of him seeking out junk, but those that describe what it was like to be on it.  For Burroughs, relativity contributes to reality.  “Perhaps all pleasure is relief,” he states in the prologue.  Perhaps.  To feel the pleasure of relief, then, you must be dependent on constantly breaking the conventions of your own life.  Burroughs uses junk for relief; Ludlow used gateways to twist his perception of the objective into the subjective.  I chased everything new (or so it seemed).  That last subjective experience, though, that this-is-me-I-am-real-and-everything-real-is-within-me altered consciousness on the side of Beaver Ave. during finals week is perhaps proof of the ability to go within, perceive with the subjective eye, by simply being.

 

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

21 January 2009

 

As the date and time of this post may indicate, I’ve been struggling with exactly what to say about my reaction to Ludlow’s writing.  The content is rich, for sure; the language and sentence structures are indicative of the seemingly out-of-this-world experiences he describes; the guy’s got voice…so what’s my problem with him?

 

 

 

In this case, skipping to the last part of the book gave me some insight.  Ludlow tells us throughout The Hasheesh Eater of the consciousness-altering experiences one can have when on drugs…or by simply witnessing and being in the setting of something naturally majestic.  My question in class yesterday, however, was this: what the hell am I supposed to do to experience the Beauty that life has to offer if I (a) don’t want to be high all the time and (b) don’t want to keep chasing down aesthetically pleasing scenes outside of myself – essentially, don’t want to keep chasing down any sort of high?  And what is it, exactly, that makes me crave more than what is merely comfortable?  Well, my dearest Ludlow, I never thought it would happen, but you’ve actually given me a few leads to answering these questions.

 

 

 

In “The Visionary...,” Ludlow hints at what I dare call the bigger picture of this book, or the underlying meaning of all these stories.  He expands on the reasons why we as human beings (or me as “main street”) are drawn to stimulants:

 

 

 

“There is one ground upon which the righteousness of the tendency toward stimulants may be upheld without the fear of any dangerous side-issues, namely, the fact that it proves, almost as powerfully as any thing lower than direct revelation, man's fitness by constitution and destiny by choice, for a higher set of circumstances than the present.”

 

 

 

I want more than the numbing everyday schedules, the bland perception of the world (my world), and the comfort I take in settling under certain circumstances.  It’s not the high I can get from drugs that I crave, but the “broader being, deeper insight, grander views of Beauty, Truth, and Good,” according to Ludlow.  These things can be temporarily gained through eating hasheesh or experiencing some sublime natural force…but what about the times in between?  This is the primary tension that I (you me we) experience in those moments – the feeling that there is some greater way of experiencing the world, and no constantly satisfying gateway to that experience from somewhere simply within ourselves. 

 

 

 

But wait!  Ludlow continues (as many a wise man has in his writings) to hint at this wonderful ability of the human being to experience grander, more beautiful views through communing with what happens to essentially be his own self.  Nature and Art are mediums through which we can experience a deeper meaning of life.  Ludlow refers to these with a sense of total (sexual) immersion, an insistence upon going above that standard of mediocrity.  It’s up to me to expand my world, no?

 

 

 

p.s.: Transcendentalism, anyone?  What I would do to be a fly on the wall if Whitman, Emerson, and Ludlow took a trip to the apothecary together…

 

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

20 January 2009

 

wooohhoooooo up and running.

finally.

hopefully.

i think?

 

definitely liking the stash right now...

Comments (2)

Steam Engine said

at 4:26 pm on Mar 24, 2009

As someone who knows very little about yoga, I have a question: Do you find that the physical movements and exertion of yoga is also helpful to silencing the chattering monkey? Or is it simply the chanting (word) that helps? I'm also curious if other chants would be similarly effective as the one you have posted (or chants in foreign language or complete jibberish). Interesting post.

main street said

at 2:15 pm on Mar 31, 2009

I've found in my practice that sounds silence the chattering monkey more effectively (at least for me) than words. A fundamental teaching in yoga is the breath; I'm instructed to breathe in a way so that I can hear and feel my breath, not just let it go shallow as I go through all the different poses. As for the movements themselves, they help to get me in touch with the physical body - the aches, pains, neutral sensations - and in a way silence all the physical chattering. They promote awareness of the body; for me, so far, they don't help me to silence the mind. The "advanced" work in yoga, though, is silencing the mind chatter, not necessarily being able to do the craziest poses. It's really hard most of the time!

You don't have permission to comment on this page.