“When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” –William S. Burroughs (b. February 5, 1914)

Yes. Hello. Feb 5th is the date of novelist William S. Burroughs’ birth. Coilhouse should really show the man some love. W.S.B. double feature, anyone?

First, The Cut-Ups, a mesmeric and disorienting experimental piece Burroughs put together with filmmaker Antony Balch (aided by multi-disciplinary art firebrand Brion Gysin and others) in 1966. Over the course of twenty minutes, it plays out in very much the same vein as Burroughs’ literary cut-ups, only with multiple sensory layers of headfuckery. (Read more about the film here / the generalized concept of cut-ups here.)

(Via Scott Spencer.)

Second, a clip from the 1983 documentary Burroughs, wherein the birthday Billy reads aloud and acts out the horrifically funny Dr. Benway passage from Naked Lunch. Co-starring Jackie Curtis as the nurse! (And check out this amazing photo of Gysin, Curtis, and Burroughs together. Dawww.)

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

2 Responses to ““When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” –William S. Burroughs (b. February 5, 1914)”

  1. Nadya Says:

    Just watched the Balch cut-up clip. Amazing. And I love that photo of Gyson, Curtis, and Burroughs just chillin’. Definitely some awesome people hanging out together!

    So, this reminds me of a story. Last year, I went to a festival of interactive media and art called Eyeo in Minneapolis. It’s a really inspired conference about generative art, data visualization, new media, etc. I went last year with Ian, Nicole, Binx, Jonathan and Ella.

    Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin spoke there about their projects, including one called Shuffle: a performance piece where the script was generated in real time by computer algorithms that recombine phrases from works by Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. I asked Ben Rubin after the talk if he was influenced by Burroughs’ cut-up method, and he said wasn’t familiar with. My friends from Ardent, who I attended Eyeo with, weren’t familiar with it at the time, either.

    I thought that was interesting, because Burroughs himself had “rediscovered” the cut-up method after the Dadaists first employed it in the 20s. I love the idea that this technique gets repeatedly lost and discovered by a new generation. I tweeted Burroughs’ quote “when you cut into the present the future leaks out” with an #eyeo hashtag, and dozens of people from the conference retweeted it. Even though most people probably weren’t familiar with the context, it summed up the spirit of the conference to me and many others.

  2. onno ennoson Says:

    make your selection of written words.
    make jpg´s out of sentences,parts of it or single words.
    put it into a slideshow.
    play at random on stage or where ever.
    read it aloud from your screen.

    was using this kind of method in my
    “persistence show” @ donaukrems festival 2010/austria.

    btw:it was gysin who “rediscovered” the cut-ups.
    one of many presents,wsb got from him…

    “nothing here now but the recordings”