Notes and Quotes – Disembodied Poetics Series – William S. Burroughs

– Notes and Quotes –


Taken from the William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

Disembodied Poetics lecture series (1975-1989)

at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics,

at Naropa University, Boulder, CO.


 1975.1.1.Loka Interview


1976.7.22.Class on Writing Sources

1979.8.8.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 1

1979.8.10.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 2

1979.8.13.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 3

1979.8.15.Reading (Gay Gun)

1980.8.11.Lecture on Public Discourse

1982-7-23.Conference Workshop

1984.7.4.Class (Ginsberg reads from Nova Express)

1985.7.28.Reading (The Place of Dead Roads) (The Cat Inside)

1986.6.25.Class – Technology and Ethics of Wishing



1975.1.1.Loka Interview:

Dictators: “Self-limiting evil” (5:15)


Crystal skull (7:55)


Audience question: “Do you think there is such a thing as an ego.” (attacked and protected) (7:45)

“What do you mean by the ego? Draw me a picture of the ego.” . . . . “Your ego is that part, very small part of your psyche with which you consciously identify.” (8:25) (It’s not a tendency. It has a neural location undoubtedly around the mid-brain.” (9:10) (exists in dreams, the “you,” the “I”)


Buddhism/Samsara (14:00)


Dream reactions, battle fatigue syndrome (PTSD) (17:15)


“You have to be prepared to prove at all times that you’re somebody that you’re not, because you’re not you driver’s license, you’re not your name, you’re not your label, but you have to have a pocketful of documents to establish something that isn’t truth.” (21:50)


Social crimes: crime, unemployment, drugs (30:40)

“The problems I’m talking about can be traced back to the industrial revolution, to the process whereby making money became the primary object and in order to do that you wanted as many consumers and producers as possible which of course led to overpopulation, led to exhaustion of resources, and all the inflation, to all the insoluble problems that we’ve had.” (31:10)


“Any problem is insoluble once it’s posed as a problem. Once it becomes a problem it’s already insoluble.” (31:55)


“It’s inevitable that with increased technology, they’re going to develop more and more efficient weapons.” (34:55)


Technology: neither good nor bad, has no responsibility (36:45)


The object of war is the win:“No war happens unless someone thinks they can win.” (38:00)


U.S.: limited nuclear war (38:30)


Bombing Hiroshima (responsibility): ?Robert Oakmont, ?Oppenheimer (39:40)


“Money is something you have and someone else needs and doesn’t have. Now, if you think of money in those terms you will see that any sharing of wealth is nonsense because money depends on not having it. It depends on not having. If there were no poor people, there would be no rich people.” (44:25)


Population size influences economic viability


Net energy usage: using more money to get less (47:00)


Breaking down of the monetary systems: “The time is going to come when no amount of money can buy anything.” (48:30)


Propping up currencies: “No major currency can be allowed to collapse at this point.” (49:00)


“Don’t put your dirty karma on me.” (1:03:25)




Slow-downs, speed-ups, overlays, words/voices, and so on . . .

Words may be produced by anything that may not appear to produce words (24:20)

“Every little breeze seemed to whisper Louise . . . and the very trees . . . (24:31)


Handbook of Psychic Discoveries (Swartz) (30:50)


Either/Or/More (24:55)


100,000 phrases (28:15)


“Voiceprints are as individual as fingerprints . . .” (30:20)


Dream slang: “An ounce of heroin is a beach. You can lay around in it for a month. And a camel is dream slang for ‘fuck’.” (34:00)


Working for the CIA = Working for the Pickle Factory, bad spots and quandaries (41:20)


“Watch what you say over the phone, the cucumbers are listening in.” (42:10)


Like Kerouac: Let the associational process lead you (48:10)


Voices as sound currents (54:50)


Silence and permutation (58:45)


“Use anything, Bible, Shakespeare, anything you want.” (1:08:20)


“I wouldn’t like to speak for Allen about his basic motivations particularly.” (1:10:00)


“Why are you going away from your self so much and not using your own words?”

“Now, listen, man. What words do I have?” (1:10:10)


“Any writer is using all sorts of other words.” (1:10:35)


“I simply mean that there is no sharp line.” (1:12:30)


“I think a writer should keep his eyes open.” (1:14:25)


“The cucumbers came from Jung.” (1:24:20)


“It’s always been my feeling that it’s much more dangerous to shut the door than to leave it open.” (1:28:15)


“Cut-ups are happening all the time.” (1:30:00), “Life is a cut-up.”



1976.7.22.Class on Writing Sources:

“An important point here is the misconception that the writer creates in a vacuum using only his very own words.” (0:10)

“The writer does not own words any more than a painter owns color. So let’s dispense with this originality fetish.” (0:20)

“Is a painter committing plagiarism if he paints a mountain or landscape that other painters have painted?”(0:25)

“There’s a phrase that I lifted. All writers are plagiarists, steal anything in sight.” (1:25)


Waking lab animals during R.E.M. sleep (symptoms of sleeplessness) (5:50)

“Ten days of dream deprivation leads to convulsions and death.” (6:10)

Dreaming: essential to health and wellbeing.

“Dreaming is a biologic necessity for all warm blooded animals.” (7:10)


“Art is an elaboration of the dream process.” (7:35)


Plato’s Republic: may have been advocating a program of extermination (7:55)


The writer’s own words are his least interesting source. (8:50)


Cut-up phrasing lecture (10:00 – 18:00)

Conversation, dreams

Writing vs reading and transcribing


Tape recorder, model for one of the functions of the nervous system

Look, listen, and transcribe, and forget about being original


“Who are you without jewelry?” (12:40)

“The temple reeked of time, principle, and agents in force.” (17:55)


Unexplainable voices of extraneous on tape (21:00):

Repeating song (playback on tape)

Hearing voices (diagnostic indication of schizophrenia)

[???Rory] Three theories to account for the voices (21:55): electromagnetic energy imprints on the tape generated by the unconscious minds of the researchers or people connected with them, extraterrestrial origins, or the dead.


A slip of the typewriter, voice, pen: “Always something to pay attention to. It may be what you really meant to say.” (22:20) (ex: The voices come/cum some/sum from the dead.)


A patient logging memories as the doctors try to save him: “A round of drinks, he dies on the table.” (25:25) “The patient can hear when he’s unconscious.” (15:40)


Silence is recommended during an operation. (26:25)


Joke: A couple adopts a French baby and take French lessons so they’ll understand the baby when it comes out. (27:00)


Either/Or thinking (30:00)


Aural/Objective/Recorded memory-bank input: seeing a lampshade as a dog head, gleaning English language meanings from Arabic radio transmissions, sensory deprivation, etc


“The only thing not prerecorded in a prerecorded universe is the prerecordings themselves or to put it another way, the only thing not predetermined in a predetermined universe is the predeterminer. We are listening to prerecordings of prerecordings to infinity. However, by listening to and processing a prerecording you nullify its impact as a controlled instrument. What might have shocked your grandmother into a cataleptic state is dismissed with a weary shrug by teenagers today.” (35:20)


“As soon as any data is widely disseminated by the media it loses its shock impact in time.” (36:30)


Bender: considers voices as important as nuclear physics (37:15)


“There are certain things we humans are not permitted to know, like what we are doing.” (37:50)

“Scramble him like an egg before he hatches.” (38:05)


Magnets and magnetic tape: Suppose a magnetic device could wipe out human memory-tape. (38:35)


Audience member’s dream: “Go you your golden shackle.” (42:50)


Audience: “Joan of Arc heard voices, the Buddhists would say, big deal, go back and listen for a couple of hours before they throw you on the stake.” (45:45)


Sharp disagreement with the Buddhists:

Everything should not be paid attention to (including materials for writing)

Burroughs: If they tell him not to pay any attention to the voices, he doesn’t pay attention to those telling him not to listen. (46:40)


Audience under sleep deprivation phrase/mantra: “peanut butter alligator underground kindergarten spider” (47:40)


Magical conception of the universe: “I would say that nothing happens unless somebody or some force intended it to happen. That will is what makes things happen.” (1:01:40)

“What moves you is your will.” (1:20:20)


Meditate: “Do nothing.” (1:09:00)


Dreams: “If you have no recollection of them, I don’t know how you can compare them.” (1:09:50)


Crystal skulls (1:10:00)


Occupational consciousness variation (1:16:30)


“The goal of enlightenment is not necessarily the goal of the writer.” (1:19:45)


“How do you not know you aren’t dead already?” (1:28:10)


“Writers I don’t think have ultimate goals.” (1:49:30)


Audience: “I don’t want to sound like a pimp at a picnic here.” “Christ said he was the word.” (1:56:00)


“Anyone who doesn’t change his mind, well, just isn’t keeping his mind open.” (2:12:45)



1979.8.8.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 1:

Book List:

Brion Gysin (The Process)

Denton Welch

A Short Trip Home

Jaws 2


An Outcast of the Islands

Under Western Eyes

Lord Jim

Great Gatsby

The Treasure of Sierra Madre


Pictographic vs aleographic: “Now, reading an alphabetical language we tend to lose sight of the fact that the written word is an image and that written words are images in sequence (7:10)


“You may find that your interest in one of these books at just the right time when you intersect with these books at just the right time well may be months or years from now. And there’s another very important factor that may interfere with your appreciation of the book and that is preconceived standards or expectations. You are looking for something in the book that is not there and lose interest when you don’t find it. The book does not conform to your preconceived standards.” (9:40)


Personifying the weather (10:35)


“When you read, you’re seeing a film, and when you don’t see anything, you won’t read the book. Now, ask yourself exactly how this film is being evoked, how successful he is in making you see and experience what he is writing? And I am postulating that the function of art, and I include in this category, creative work in science, that is, creation in the widest sense, is to put us in touch with what we know and don’t know that we know. You can’t tell anybody anything he doesn’t know already.” (12:25)


People living on the seacoast knew earth was round, but believed earth was flat because the church said so . . . (13:10)

Cezanne’s attacked by umbrellas

Joyce’s Ulysses, aiding people to see self-consciousness


Cut-ups: “People felt that it wasn’t fair to produce writing with a pair of scissors.” (14:00)

Accused of plagiarism and unintelligibility


The Wicker Man: “The worst kind, a religious cop.” (16:45)


Students: “Everything seems to mean something.”

Burroughs: “Well, everything does mean something.” (15:15)


Synchronicity: The man is not following you, he’s just in the same [time] groove as you are.



“Lightning always strikes twice in the same place. If you meet one rude clerk, that is a warning that you will meet another.” (20:35)


“Winning and losing come in streaks.” (21:15)


Stephen King, The Shining: “Redrum” is murder spelled backwards, took Burroughs three days to notice, “I’m ashamed to say.” (22:40)


Lord Jim: “Pat”, “Tap” on the shoulder, warning from Captain Destiny


The Great Gatsby:

Improbably romantic heroes: “Heroes must die, by and large, otherwise they lose their heroic quality.” (33:00)

“Suppose Gatsby had married Daisy. Here he is a bit paunchy, and drinking too much, and putting on his tuxedo to attend some dull party, old sport. Spurious, in essential, ghost, like the Duke of Windsor. So he would have lost his heroic quality if had he lived.” (33:25)


The shabby dream, American dream is a 1920’s party, and the 19th century dream is the distinction of being white, colonial values


Brighter yet more limited universes, require the mid-wife of a narrator (36:20)


Gatsby and Lord Jim: “Both writers are chronicling a white world.” (42:55)


“Toward the end Jim begins fuck up.” . . . . “Of course, he fucked up in many ways.” Should have killed Cornelius and the Raja (48:35)


“That seems to me to be one of the marks of a good book is if you can reread it.” (54:15)


If heroes don’t die, what can you do with them? (59:20)


The Treasure of Sierra Madre: better film than book (1:19:30)


Generally speaking, as far as films go, the less talk the better. Do not make long speeches in film.” (1:26:45)



1979.8.10.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 2:

Picaresque: Jane Bowles, Celine, Denton Welsh, and Burroughs

Julian Jaynes


Lord Jim: I George didn’t die (heart attack), there wouldn’t have been a story. (1:20)


“All Conrad’s characters seem to be unwillingly enlisted in the cause of fiction, and no wonder, because that means trouble. No trouble, no story.” (3:20)


Most influenced by Josef Conrad and Denton Welch (8:20)

Under Western Eyes: Councilor McCoolan and Rasimov: Inspiration for interview between Carl and Dr. Benway in Naked Lunch (half finished sentences, nearly identical endings)


Anti heroes (14:45):

Pilot parachutes from a plane leaving the passengers to crash

Titanic: steward dresses in drag gets into the life boat

(Twilight’s Last Gleaming)

Mexican bus driver smoking cigarette with leaky can of gas next to him, ignites, opens the door and jumps out, ran from thirty machetes . . .


Celine (scene): On a boat in Africa, the other passengers suspect him of pimping and pederasty (16:40) “Vive le France!” “Their hesitation saved me.”


Denton Welch: A Maiden Voyage and A Voice from a Cloud (18:40)

Welch in school, writing a chapter of a ghost story: “This is the only assignment I’ve ever enjoyed or remembered.” “Borrowing from the Bible, I wrote The Hair on My Flesh Stood Up.” (19:05)


Paintings: Cows in the grass

“What happened to the painter’s paradise? Click. A camera can do it better.” (31:40)

“Every artist is practically his own school.” (31:55)



“What invention could blast the writer out of sequential narrative?” (32:10)

Tape recorder: “Click. A tape recorder can do it better.”


Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (39:20)

Hearing voices, perhaps as hallucinations

Consciousness = Ego

The “I” is as much illusion as the god that ruled the bicameral man (45:10)


Dietrich’s followers believe the media put the snake in the mailbox to discredit cinema.” (49:20)


Most common aural hallucination: someone calling your name (52:50)


Bicameral minded (hearing the voice of god): Socrates came way after the breakdown of the bicameral mind giving way the human “consciousness.” “They didn’t need any philosophy if they’ve got the voice of god inside.” (59:15)


Early mythological heroes had no “I” until Odysseus, and the breakdown of the bicameral mind (1:00)


“Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” (1:06:25) “Everything is illusion.”



1979.8.13.Class on Creative Reading Pt. 3:

Alistair Crowley: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

Contrary to the invitation to license . . .


Paul Bowles


Anthology: Famous dreams in literature (10:45)


The Green Hat (12:00)


The Wild Party (couplet): Punch-drunk fighter: “After he’d had his tenth scotch, a man to be careful of and watch, and when he was mixing gin and rum, a man to stay well away from.” (13:45)


The Haunted and the Haunters or The House and the Brain (1859)

Edward Bulwer-Lytton



Turn of the Screw

???The Fermin Child

Flannery O’Conner

Tennessee Williams


Snows of Kilimanjaro

Hemingway: “With the top of his head blown off, he couldn’t have made a very good looking corpse. He was always talking about good looking corpses.” (23:15)

“Hemingway was certainly a man who was imprisoned in his own style.” (23:20)

Considered to be a master of dialog. Burroughs disagrees, “Nobody talks that way except in Hemingway stories.” (23:40)


The most atrocious conceit in the English Language:

Dreiden on smallpox: “Each little pimple had a tear in it to wail if all its rising did commit.” (24:15)


Hemingway: “The whole in the front of his head where the bullet went in was about the size of a pencil. The whole in the back of his head where the bullet came out was bigger enough to put your fist in if it was a small fist and you wanted to put it there.” (24:30)


“All best sellers are not necessarily bad books.” (24:55) The Shining, The Godfather (shameless P.R. for the mafia, all these charming old gentlemen, power)


Two main formulas for the best seller: Something people know something about and want to know more about (mafia, insides of Hollywood, a hospital), and the menace and the removal of the menace (Jaws, plague stories, disaster stories) (25:30)


The Day of the Jackal: an assassin attempting to hit Charles de Gaulle (26:35)

“If Kennedy’d had bodyguards like de Gaulle had, they wouldn’t have got him.”


The Magus, John Fowles (28:50)


Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice (impasses of physical immortality)


Bats, rats, cats, birds, and so on (30:25)


Beat Not the Bones (33:25)


Science Fiction: general lack of verisimilitude and conviction (34:00)


Fury, Henry Kuttner (34:10)


Marion Zimmer Bradley (Ruin of Isis) (39:15)


The Terminal Man, Michael Crichton (40:10)


The Gangs of New York, Herbert Asbury: “The draft riot in 1863 in New York City, there were about 5,000 people killed and whole sections of New York were burned down, and that was actually the beginning of the New York City police. See, the police could not contain the riot, and they had to call in the army, and they opened up with grapeshot on the crowd, but if the police had been able to contain it, they might have stopped it with 40 or 50 casualties. So after that the police force of New York was completely remodeled and is now an occupying army as it were that it prepared to deal with just such a situation.” (41:30)


The Witchdoctor’s Apprentice (43:45) (seven year birth control pill)


“Money doesn’t give a shit about the public good. All it gives a shit about is more money.” (45:00)


General Semantics (47:00) (lots of arguments are purely verbal, they don’t mean anything)(an instrument to save you a lot of time)


Alistair Crowley: He may have been a great black magician, but he wasn’t much of a writer. (52:00)


You Can’t Win, Jack Black: “She didn’t like talk and she didn’t like talkers.” (58:00)


Cloning (1:00:00)


“We still don’t have the nouns.” (1:10:00)


Synchronicity (in the time groove): “Coincidence does not mean anything.” (1:10:30)


Writing for theater/plays (1:12:45)

“They come at an inconvenient time. They sort of louse up your evening. I’d rather see a film than a play.” (1:13:10)


Junky: “Apamorphine reregulates the metabolism so you don’t need drugs or alcohol or whatever.” Natural production of endorphin stops, receptors are blocked. Acupuncture as treatment to produce endorphin. (1:14:45)

“They were never interested in a cure.” (1:17:00)


Revisions vs first-thought-best-thought (1:21:25)


Soft Machine use of cut-ups: “Writer’s can get interested in a technique and carry it too far.” (ex: James Joyce, spending 20 years writing a book [Finnegan’s Wake] no one can read. Shuffling pieces of paper words, similar to cut-ups) (1:22:35)


1984: “It’s not a very accurate prophecy for a novel.” (1:25:00)


Writing is fifty years behind painting (1:26:45)


Montage method: jumbles of fragments (1:27:00)

“Life is a cut-up” (1:27:45)


What do you want from life?: ‘It’s too general a question. What you want and what you get are two different things.” (1:32:50)


Is reprise progress?: “Writers get their material from all sorts of places.” Hard to know to know where the material comes from. (1:34:20)



1979.8.15.Reading (Gay Gun):

Pt. 1:

Twilight’s Last Gleaming: Dr. Benway with the plunger, sterilized?, no time, cocaine cut with Sani-Flush (2:25)


Pt. 2:

Oppenheimer, Shiva, no one feels worse that folks who feel bad about doing it.” (32:51)

Calculated risk, whose calculations?


. . . the days when a silver dollar bought you a sumptuous meal or a good piece of ass . . . (34:40)


The archetype smells of the sea, opium, or thunderbolts: “One whiff and you never forget it.” (35:00)


“Rock and roll adolescents storm into the streets of all nations. They rush into the Louvre and throw acid in the Mona Lisa’s face. They open zoo, insane asylums, prisons, burst water mains with air hammers, chop the floor out of passenger plane lavatories, shoot out lighthouses, turn sewers into water supply,” . . . . “administer injections with bicycle pumps,” . . . . “they shit on the floor of the United Nations and wipe their ass with treaties, pacts, alliances.” (53:40)



1980.8.11.Lecture on Public Discourse:

Philip Oppenheimer: “We have become Shiva, destroyer of worlds.” (3:50)


Patriotic to support nuclear power without reason…

Chain-reactions, accumulated damage to the genetic pool, correlation of low-level radiation to cancer

William Buckley Jr.: infected with latent ideological bias, the master of the meaningless sentence (6:50)


Alama Gordo (meaning?)


“I can’t summarize and talk at the same time.” (8:35)


Ginsberg: “. . . deescalate the hysteria . . .” (10:50)


Obsolete bombs: the plutonium lasts, but the bomb components only last about 10 years, or are otherwise stored in a mountain in Sante Fe, NM…


“I don’t understand your question.” (14:15)


Armageddon: “I wouldn’t venture to an opinion.” (15:30)


Opinion of the ERA and women’s movement: “Of the what?” (16:50)


On Extraterrestrial intelligence: Speculation: “. . . we are a danger to ourselves and perhaps to others in the cosmos.” (19:55)


Interspecies communication (20:55)


Audience reminds, the US government gave up investigating UFO’s in 1969: “Well, that’s what they said anyway. I don’t believe anything about what they said, really.” (21:45)


On writing: “I am completely at liberty, that is, they don’t make any changes.” (23:55)


On publication: “I don’t think there are any taboo subjects left.” (25:00)


Don Juan in dream: Make an effort to see your hands, attepm to control the dreams (26:50)


Dreams: biologic necessity, without dreams the person shows sleeplessness (28:00)


Decline of literacy?: “I don’t understand the word.” “The book market has never been better.” (29:10)


“Where naked troubadours shoot snotty baboons . . .” (31:20)


Mindfulness: the act of being aware of what you’re doing at all times. (36:20)

Dropping things being a reaction to mindful distractions


?Three bodies (audience question):

Astral: Air

Mental: Earth

Water: Water


“I don’t foresee anything. I’m not setting myself up as a prophet here.” (43:10)


Physics majors: “Anybody can make an atom bomb now.” (43:25)


“As soon as you have a drug, it is immediately possible for a chemist to make drugs with the same potentials, but a great deal stronger. For example, quinine . . .” (50:20)

“It’s not much of a trick for a chemist.” (50:55)


Morphine: All animals have been addicted, with the exception of cats who are allergic


Anything that is physiological is also psychological (51:45)


Morphine – Endorphin = Agonizing (52:20)


“I personally subscribe to the theory of reincarnation.” (53:15)


“Well If you can control the economics of a country, you’re not very far towards controlling their behavior.”


Stroboscope: pulses of light to evoke hallucinations (1:01:40)


“The idea that dreams are completely illogical is of course is not true at all.” (1:03:30)


How many people have read Marx?: It isn’t how many have read it, but how many people are affected by it. (1:04:50)


Television: Continual input, ?flicker creates hypnosis (1:10:30)


Journey through the Secret Life of Plants (1:12:00)


Selling the “happening” rather that the book or the canvas (1:19:00)


Shibumi (book): America and Russia putting cancer causing agents in the food (1:22:50)


Mother Company: fising petroleum and energy prices (1:23:00)


Cut-up/montage method of writing (1:24:45)


Mélange of fragments, nothing sequential


“There is a tendency with writers, I think, to get too hung up on an experimental line of writing so that they don’t get back to coherence where they can be read.” (1:27:20)



1982-7-23.Conference Workshop:

Bullfighter vs bullshitter (1:00)


“Fitzgerald wrote the jazz age but he never found his own way back.” (1:42)


Dualism of being actor and chronicler at the same time (3:40)


Writers are bad by nature (4:00)


Kerouac: “On the surface, Kerouac was a nonviolent person and completely non-hostile. His sneaky writer tricks surfaced in other ways.” (4:25)


There is no trust fund, no Burroughs millions, no Russian countess, the inventor wound up with zilch (more interesting and romantic) (4:45)


Kerouac: He’s going to write Burroughs a trust fund (6:30)


Writers’ gap: Not fighters, but talk of fighting


“Any writer stands completely revealed in his writing.” (8:30)


Kerouac at 20 years old, had already written a million words (9:00)

Traveled, but never really felt comfortable outside of America (9:50)

Anti-biographical: Insidious blurring of the line between fact and fiction (11:00)


European “Wonder Year”: a year of impoverished experience before taking over the family business (12:00)


Of Christ: Ye shall know them and not by their disclaimers (12:50)


Medieval peoples living on the seacoasts “knew” the earth was round, but “believed” the earth was flat (13:20)

Galileo got into some quite serious shit by saying the earth was round, still is . . .


“One you get the breakthrough, there’ a general increase in general awareness.” (13:50)


Kerouac didn’t like “cut-up” writing (“I do this in my mind.”) (14:30)


Burroughs blasting paintbags all over painted wood, no one can foresee the results, impossible, big bang theory of creation (15:20)


“The whole fucking shithouse is suddenly ripped apart and revealed as a backdrop.” (15:55)


Blow a hole in time with one rifle shot


Cut-up writing: “What better way to evoke the writer than to cut and rearrange his very own words?” (18:40)


“Kerouac always said that the first version is always the best. Well, that seemed to work for him.” (19:55)


Deterrent to writing: “The amount of bad writing you’re going to have to do before you do any good writing.” (20:55)


“I personally destroyed at least a thousand pages.” (21:25)


Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake: (20 years) The great book no one can read (21:45)


The devil’s bargain (Conrad: fool’s bargain) (Hollywood, rich wife, bestseller): Kerouac was never approached, never laid himself open to the bargain (22:00)


Making the bargain is the ability from there on out (22:35)


Welcome to the biggest closet in the Mediterranean . . . (23:40)

See, in his haste to sign, he didn’t even read the large print . . .

Doesn’t say anything about making the author a good writer. The devil deals only in quantitative merchandise. (23:40)


Razor’s Edge: profoundly uninspirational book (25:20)


Hemingway: sold out to Hollywood for a safari (25:35)

Snows of Kilimanjaro

Relieving the Major who stinks of death

The story about death was Hemingway’s specialty, and he let Hollywood come in and put a happy ending on it. (26:30)

Pilot flies in with penicillin.


I don’t do much socializing

A daily column would be murder



The fear of falling means nothing to a fish. (30:30)


Our link with space is dreams. (31:25)


“I can’t understand you.” (32:35)


“What’s the dream?” (33:50)


“I’ve always found dream communication to be brief and cryptic.” (34:35)


Kerouac: “He’s dead, my dear. Don’t you know that? He dies about twelve years ago.” (40:35)


Ezra Pound: “He was a cranky person.” (41:45)


Count Alfred Korzybski (orders of abstraction; “The map is not the territory.”), the meaning of abstract meaning, the either/or proposition . . . (43:50)

Purely verbal arguments that are quite unnecessary and time wasting. (45:05)


Table: It’s not the word “table,” it’s not the label. (46:25)


Blade Runner scenes triggering psychotic reactions (48:30)


“I have a few ideas, but I’m not sure.” (50:15)


Dreams: preparing us for future information (51:00)


Article: ???Jonnay: Cold-blooded animals do not dream, perhaps in part to their neural tissue being renewal (52:30)

“Although, no one knows, really.” (52:35)


“There’s no way of knowing.” (54:50)


“Your conception of someone has got very little to do with the person.” (55:15)


“Bad habit. There’s no question of it.” (58:00)


20’s-30’s: “We are living in a much freer America.” “A nigger was a nigger. A Mezican was a Mezican. And a homosexual was a fuckin’ queer, and that’s it!” (58:45)

More free partly due to the beat movement.


“All we’ve done is send people to the moon in an aqualung. Useful, but we’ve still got another step to go.” (1:00:20)


Overpopulation, depletion of resources


Scientists more artistic, artists more scientific, arbitrary divisions


Not into music (1:03:00)

“It doesn’t interest me terribly.”


“Everybody smokes pot, I take a drink now and then, and I smoke cigarettes.” (1:04:40)


All artists are talking about space, all at is a link to space, another preparation, you might say. (1:05:45)



1984.7.4.Class (Ginsberg reads from Nova Express):


Basic techniques of Nova:

Blowing up the universe . . . (3:00)


“When you answer the machine you give more recordings to be played back to your enemies.” (4:05)


Subliminal Kid (runs the streets)


“Writing arm” (doctor who writes morphine prescriptions) (5:15)


The center of the galaxy is a black hole, makes sense in terms of Shakespeare, a big floating dream which will disappear (7:00)


Walking around with attention to detail (Burroughs) vs walking around half unconscious (Ginsberg) (12:25)


Ginsberg: “How do you notice what you noticed?”

Burroughs: “How would I know?” (15:10)


Life is a cut-up: “Every time you look out the window, or walk down the street, you are exposed to random processes.” (27:40)


“A writer doesn’t write in a vacuum.” (28:10)


“I have destroyed at least a thousand pages.” (32:10)

“Why does it have to be destroyed?” (32:40)

“Why, it’s terrible.”


Four drafts: first sketch, rewrite . . .

Kerouac: first is best . . .



Copping/selling out:

Hemingway selling out Snows of Kilimanjaro to Hollywood (38:40)


(In the previous lecture, Tim Leary raised his hand and asked, if you sell out is there a way back?)


(Audio track ends abruptly)



1985.7.28.Reading (The Place of Dead Roads) (The Cat Inside):

Pluggers, cigars, “None of your tricks on traveling men.” (12:35)


“Thank Joe it wasn’t a dud. God doesn’t know what buttons to push.” . . . . Scientists design a super soldier: “No job too dirty for a fucking scientist.” (22:45)


The president is holed up . . . (25:00)


“He gives America the finger. ‘I got mine. Fuck you. Every crumb for himself.’” (27:25)


Emerging like the phoenix without the inconvenience of being burned. (29:35)


“White Jews. None of that Galician trash.” (29:50)


“Well, as one menstruating cunt said to the other, ‘I guess it’s in the rag . . .’” (30:55)


Electronic devices to produce arhythmical heartbeats (33:05)


Dr. Benway: “My Dr. Benway really shines forth as a model of responsibility and competence by comparison.” (33:50)


Cancer: “It’s malignant, boy. Let’s go.” (34:10)


Dirty joke: Salesman and old woman removing prosthetics on train: “Anything you want?” “You know what I want. Take it off and throw it up here.” (38:00)


“I can’t send an ambulance unless I know what’s wrong with her.” “She’s having a heartattack!” (39:10)


Burn Unit: “His hands are securely tied by $200,000 a year.” (40:50)


17th century London: “Kill all the bloody lawyers!” (42:15)

“What are we waiting for? A hospital bed? Kill all the fucking croakers!” (42:35)


“I think he needs an operation.” “Hell, yes! A gut-ectomy!” (42:50)


The Cat Inside (43:40)


Atom Bomb: Couldn’t wait to drop it on the evil east, the yellow peril (45:45)


The counselor: Southern gentleman, natural orator, “Naturally full of bullshit.” (46:05)


Dogs: “What went so hideously wrong with the domestic dog? Man molded the domestic dog in his own worst image. Self-righteous as a lynch mob, servile and vicious complete with a vilest coprophagic perversions, and what other animal tries to fuck your leg?” (1:00:35)

“I am not a dog hater. I do hate what man has made of his best friend.” (1:01:20)


“A cat’s rage is his own. It’s beautiful! All his hair standing up and crackling with blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering . . .” (1:01:30)


Dogs: “A self-righteous occupied snarl.” (1:01:50)

“A dog’s rage is not his. It’s dictated by the trainer . . .”


Man fined $200 for killing a stray cat in his microwave oven: “A case that screams for Egyptian justice.” (1:02:30)



1986.6.25.Class – Technology and Ethics of Wishing:

“All wishes must be unconditional.” (7:20)


Responsibility/Ethics of wishing: What’s necessary to realize the wish?


The Monkey’s Paw: a monkey reaches into an coconut or box for a reward, but can’t get his hand out because he’s too dumb to let go of what he’s got (19:55).

(People shouldn’t interfere with fate, their wishes will only bring them unhappiness.) (8:30)

(One of the stupidest wishes: Ask for money. Wishing for a gift like second-sight has more sense than wishing for money. (21:05))


“There’s almost no wish you can make that isn’t very very dubious indeed.” (13:25)


No surgery for the dead.

“No luck in getting a lost cat back.” (16:00)


“The title alone, The Wishing Machine, that’s a real winner.” 16:50)


A book so great nobody can stand to read it. (20:50)


“It’s happened to me many times that someone had to tell me something ten times before I finally heard it.” (23:50)


Observation of perception: everything you see has a special meaning to you because you see it. (24:05)


Belief in ESP (25:20)

“It’s a question of clicking in.” (26:15)


“He isn’t following you. He’s just in the same time group.” (26:45)


Guy who wanted to kill Burroughs because he thought he was the devil: “He either found Jesus or Jesus found him.” (27:40)


“Separatists in all direction performing their own atrocities and absolutely justified in doing so at least in their own unwavering opinion.” (29:10)


L. Ron Hubbard’s “rules” on lying (30:00)


“It isn’t the truth that hurts. It’s the blatant lie.” (30:40)


What would you write if you were on a desert island? In great detail, a ship to come and pick me up.


Writers may also write to keep it from happening.


Hemingway: “Writing is remembering accurately.” (35:20)


“A writer’s never going to catch up to the present . . . the present moment.” (35:45)


Innumerable false starts, thrown away a thousand pages at least. (38:25)


Do a lot of bad writing to do any good writing (38:50)

Shakespeare, end of Titus Andronicus


“I never did anything so stupid as to wish for money.” (41:30)


Quoting a seer: “The person who throw the curse is a hysteric, and the victim is a paranoid.” (42:49)


Henry Miller: “Who writes the great books? It isn’t we who sign our names. What is an artist is a man with antennae who knows how to hook up to currents in the cosmos or whatever. Who is original? Everything that we are doing, everything that we think exists already and we are only intermediaries.” What he’s saying is that a writer is an interpreter, a mapmaker, a transcriber, and he says a writer shouldn’t think too much. (44:40)

(conscious front brain linear thinking)


“We could have the “Wishing Hour” on TV.” (48:45)


Writing down dreams: Wakes up about ten time in the average night without ever sleeping through. (52:00)


Too lazy to get up and it’s cold, the dream is gone in the morning


“Sometimes I can’t read my own writing in the morning.” (52:55)


“National ‘American’ soul”: Appalling with it’s vagueness (54:00)


Soul: electromagnetic field(s)


The individual is no more their body than the pilot is the plane.


Dutton: An Experiment with Time


Not dreaming about the event, but the time in the future (57:05)


“This is something I do not want to happen, therefore I will not write it.” (1:01:00)


Listening to a hunch (bad feeling) (1:04:00)

Hunch vs dream, hunches in dreams . . .


Basic rule of life: “Good things and bad things come in series. The only rule of gambling which is ???? when you’re winning and quit when you’re losing. Or a Jesus Christ said, ‘To him that has to be given from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he has.” (1:06:25)


A seemingly “bad” day is not the day to take chances (1:7:20)


Defending yourself against injurious attacks (1:11:40)


“How do you know that you aren’t dead already?” (1:12:00)


“You shouldn’t be clinging on to an individual ego, a me.” (1:13:10)

Like Hearst: obsessed with immortality


Schopenhauer, cancer causing agents, New York Times article: “That’s fascinating. If I’dve seen it I definitely would’ve cut it out.” (1:15:35)


“Maybe possessed by genius, but not possessed genius. Nobody possesses genius.” (1:23:35)


“Writers are notoriously bad judges of their own work.” (1:25:55)


When people won’t see, there’s nothing you can do. (1:32:15)




“It’s hard to believe Christ was ever a full-time carpenter. He was arguing in the synagogues when he was nine years old.” (1:50)


Of course, the devil’s bargain is always a fool’s bargain.” (2:00)


Commandment: “Thou shall not be such a shit you do not know you are one.” (4:30)

“Is there anyone in this room that has ever said to himself, ‘My god, I acted like an absolute shit.’? If so, let him stand forth so that we may acclaim a latter day saint. Don’t anyone look at me!”


Retarded reporter: anything you’d like to do over?

What did you say? No. Don’t repeat it.

“I’m lucky if I get through a day without something going wrong.” (5:15)


Commandment: “Thou shall not drop an atom bomb or shit one out in the first place.” (6:20)


Of Robert “Opie” Openheimer: “If you get an atom bomb from a friend, your only enemy is a dud.” (6:40)


A-bombing Hiroshima: “Thank god it wasn’t a dud.”

“What god are you thanking for Hiroshima, Openheimer?” (6:50)

Prediction: a chain reaction that would ignite the atmosphere. (7:30)


Pentagon: “Nobody does more harm than folks who feel bad about doing it.” (8:25)


The all-purpose bedtime story: “Some trillions of years ago, a sloppy, dirty giant flicked grease from his fingers. One of these gobs of grease is our universe on its way to the floor. Splat. ‘Clean it up woman,’ growled the giant for he was a male supremacist.” (9:00)


Words of advice:

“Good things and bad things come in streaks.” (9:40)

“You never know where your streak ends. If you did it would be too easy.”

“Never interfere in a boy and girl fight.”

“Beware of whores who say they don’t want money.” They want more money.

“If you are doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch, get it in writing. His word isn’t worth shit. Not with the good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

“If after being exposed to someone’s presence, you feel as if you’ve lost a quart of plasma, avoid that person.” “We don’t like to hear that word ‘vampire’ around here. We’re trying to improve our P.R.” (Vampires always take more than they leave.) “Sure a war is better than a cancer, but who wants either one?”

“Avoid fuckups.” (11:30) “A fool is bad news and it rubs off. Don’t let it rub off on you.”

“Do not proffer sympathy to the mentally ill. It’s a bottomless pit. Tell them firmly, ‘I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal FOOL.”

“Avoid confirmed criminals. They are a special malignant strain of fool.” (Norman Mailer involved with Jack Henry Abbott)

“If there are any aspiring young thieves in the audience, don’t ever try and hit a Chinaman. He will die before he gives up his money.” (“Fluck you! (13:55)) Immortal Bard (Shakespeare): “Stay not on the order of your going but go at once.”

“Every soul is worth saving to a priest, but not every soul is worth buying. You can take the offer as a compliment.” (14:50) “Who wants to be the richest guy in some cemetery?” “Old fool sold his soul for a strap-on.”

“There are no honorable bargains.” (16:15)


Titanic: “We’re going down like gentlemen. *glug glug glug*” (17:40)

A man disguising as a woman to get into a life boat: “His identity is not yet known, though, it will in good time. This man still lives. Surely he was born and saved to set for men a new standard by which to measure infamy and shame.” (19:00)


“Doctor, when I die I want to be buried in the same coffin with you.” (26:35)

“Fuckin’ croaker wouldn’t give me a goofball.” (27:15)

“He asked what an American flag means to me. I tell him, ‘Soak it in heroin, doc, and I’ll suck it.’ He says I got the wrong attitude. You should see the chaplain get straight with Jesus.” (27:25)


“Mother charges in with a loaded hypo.” (29:30)


“Benway shines as a model of competence and responsibility.” (31:15)


“Why don’t you jet propel on your stinking farts?” (32:40) “Cancer does stink.”


“Son, in this life everyone gets exactly what they want and exactly what they deserve. People tend to believe it so long as they are getting what they think they deserve.” (33:00)


Dirty joke: Salesman and old woman removing prosthetics on train: “Is there anything you want?” “You know what I want. Take it off and throw it up here.” (33:30)


“A nameless, mummyless asshole.” (38:35)


“Some disgruntled former employee sneaks into your tomb and throws acid in your mummy’s face. Or sloshes gasoline all over the place and burns the shit out of it. ‘Uh oh, somebody’s fucking with my mummy. And brother you are fucked.’ Mummy’s are sitting ducks. No matter who you are, what can happen to your mummy is a pharaoh’s nightmare. The dreaded mummy bashers.” (40:15) “No nukes is good nukes to a mummy.” (41:00)


“I think we might all believe in a magical universe because that’s about the only thing that can save the Earth at this point, a miracle.” (44:05)


“The hospital lavatory has been locked for three hours solid. I think they’re using it for an operating room.” (44:35) (Massage the heart with a plunger. Shouldn’t it be sterilized? Very likely but there’s no time.) (Some pustule drug addict has cut my cocaine with Sani-Flush.)