Performative Reenactment of “Cassette Tape Recorder as a Magickal Weapon”
Austin Pratt, 2013 via William S. Burroughs, 1968
“It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin – music, sculpture, writing, painting – and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results. Paintings were originally formulae to make what is painted happen. Art is not an end in itself, any more than Einstein’s matter-into energy formula is an end in itself. Like all formulae, art was originally functional, intended to make things happen, the way an atom bomb happens from Einstein’s formulae.”
- William S. Burroughs
“Port of Entry: Here is Space-Time Painting.” Brion Gysin: Tuning in to the Multimedia Age. 2003.
“Cassette Tape Recorder as a Magickal Weapon,” William S. Burroughs
Described by Performance Artist Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE
“What Bill explained to me then was pivotal to the unfolding of my life and art: Everything is recorded. If it is recorded, then it can be edited. If it can be edited then the order, sense, meaning and direction are as arbitrary and personal as the agenda and/or person editing. This is magick. For if we have the ability and/or choice of how things unfold—regardless of the original order and/or intention that they are recorded in—then we have control over the eventual unfolding. If reality consists of a series of parallel recordings that usually go unchallenged, then reality only remains stable and predictable until it is challenged and/or the recordings are altered, or their order changed. These concepts lead us to the release of cut-ups as a magical process.
[Once, eating at a café in London], “William was treated with great disdain, with rudeness beyond belief. Crass, crude, rude, nasty and aggressive, insulting behavior quite beyond the acceptable pale of manners. Such was the rudeness and unpleasantness experienced by William that he swore never to eat there again. But, more than that, his disgust and anger was so intense and intentional, so unforgiving and angry in the moment that he felt quite compelled to experimental ‘sorcery’ (his word to me, take note). What form did his curse take? Here follows the first lesson in contemporary intuitive and functional magick.
“William took his Sony TC cassette recorder and very methodically walked back and forth in front of the offending café, at breakfast time and other times of the day, making a tape of the ongoing street noises that made the sonic background of its location. A field recording encapsulating a typical day via street sounds. Next he went back to his apartment and at various random places on the same cassette he recorded ‘trouble noises’ over bits of the previous recordings. These were things like police car sirens, gunshots, bombs, screams and other types of mayhem culled primarily from the TV news. Then he went back to the café and again walked up and down the street outside playing the cut-up cassette recording complete with ‘trouble noises’. Apparently the tape does not need to be played very loud, in fact just a volume that blends in so that passers-by on the other side of the street, or a few feet away would not notice the additional sounds as implanted fictions. This process was repeated several times, quite innocuous to any observer. ‘L’hombre invisible’ at work. Within a very short time, the café closed down! Not only did it close down, but the space remained empty for years, unable to be rented for love, or money.
“Consensus reality is, just that, an amalgamation of approximate recordings from flawed bio-machines. The background noise of our daily lives is almost as equivalent of a flimsy movie set, unfolding and created by the sum total of what people allow to filter in through their senses. This illusory material world, built ad hoc, second to second is uncommon to us all. It will only seem to exist whilst our body is passing through it. After that its continued existence is a matter of faith.”
BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Genesis. “Magick Squares and Future Beats: The Magical Processes and Methods of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin.” Trans. Array Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. Richard Metzger. 5th ed. New York: The Disinformation Company Ltd., 2007. 103-118. Print.
On Wednesday, February 27, 2013, I will be reinterpreting Burroughs’ 1968 act, but with a benevolent twist. I will be positively reinforcing an establishment I feel is deserving of magical “unfolding” and “editing”.
Only just in it’s infancy, Reno’s urban farming project, Lost City Farm is a symbol of regeneration and health in Reno’s current cultural progression. Obviously, because of the service he received, Burroughs’ victim probably didn’t need his “help”, and would’ve gone out of business sometime. Lost City, in this regard, probably doesn’t need any help either. The plot has already been acquired, a city ordinance allowing urban farming has been proposed and passed, and donations and services are already coming in from the community. In my action, I will positively alter the reality of a business that might otherwise thrive anyway.
By Wednesday, I will have methodically recorded the natural sounds of the farm as it is now, and “cut-up” this time, instead of “trouble sounds”, life-affirming ones; “vitality sounds”. I will then come back and proceed to innocuously play this new recording, in the environment in which it was recorded, with the intention of magically and purposefully editing the reality of Lost City Farm. Art=Magic; Life=Art.
[Join the Facebook event]