The Burroughs Proceedings : a cut-and-paste adventure

During the long, lonely summer of 1993, I read a biography of William S. Burroughs by poet Erica Jong called The Devil at Large. This was really my first exposure to Burroughs.

My second exposure to Burroughs came in the form of a song he did with the collection of artists known as Material. A really wonderful mix of musical styles and sounds, their album Hullucination Engine on the Axiom label features a song "Words of Advice" co-written and spoken by Burroughs himself.

With a very haunting and powerful voice, Burroughs continues to offer something to the world. Whether you can understand or relate to what he writes is irrelevant in the scheme of things if you simply realize the effect he has had on the written word.

One of his experiments , called the "cut-up" has influenced me. It involves cutting up pieces of one text, then re-arranging the language to form a new text. It allows for the poetic instinct inside to take hold rather then the critical, intellectual side. And a tremendous amount of interesting phrases, poems, and story ideas emerge from them.

In the summer of 1994 I started my own experiments with "cut-ups." I started on two separate projects: one where I cut-up pages of texts from my own collection of writings, and second, I took a discarded book and randomly highlighted words on a page, without reading the text itself. With all of the highlighted words on the page, I pieced them together in multiple ways finding delightful language along the way.

From those original phrases (in bold), I then started to extrapolate to see where i could go with them. The words flowing around the original phrases are the product of my normal writing mindset.

If anyone is curious about this project of mine or would like to comment on my work, feel free to email me.
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copyright © 1996 Matte Elsbernd