Aldous Huxley’s LSD Death Trip

Aldous Hux­ley put him­self for­ever on the intel­lec­tual map when he wrote the dystopian sci-fi novel Brave New World in 1931. (Lis­ten to Hux­ley nar­rat­ing a dra­ma­tized ver­sion here.) The British-born writer was liv­ing in Italy at the time, a con­ti­nen­tal intel­lec­tual par excellence.

Then, six years later, Hux­ley turned all of this upside down. He headed West, to Hol­ly­wood, the newest of the New World, where he took a stab at writ­ing screen­plays (with not much luck) and started exper­i­ment­ing with mys­ti­cism and psy­che­delics — first mesca­line in 1953, then LSD in 1955. This put Hux­ley at the fore­front of the counterculture’s exper­i­men­ta­tion with psy­che­delic drugs, some­thing he doc­u­mented in his 1954 book, The Doors of Per­cep­tion.

Huxley’s exper­i­men­ta­tion con­tin­ued right through his death in Novem­ber 1963. When can­cer brought him to his death bed, he asked his wife to inject him with ”LSD, 100 µg, intra­mus­cu­lar.” He died later that day, just hours after Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion. Three years later, LSD was offi­cially banned in California.

By way of foot­note, it’s worth men­tion­ing that the Amer­i­can med­ical estab­lish­ment is now giv­ing hal­lu­cino­gens a sec­ond look, con­duct­ing con­trolled stud­ies of how psilo­cy­bin and other psy­che­delics can help treat patients deal­ing with can­cer, obsessive-compulsive dis­or­der, post-traumatic stress dis­or­der, drug/alcohol addic­tion and end-of-life anx­i­ety. The New York Times has more on this story.


Ken Russell’s Altered States

We’re all try­ing to ful­fill our­selves, under­stand our­selves, get in touch with our­selves, face the real­ity of our­selves, explore our­selves, expand our­selves. Ever since we dis­pensed with God we’ve got noth­ing but our­selves to explain this mean­ing­less hor­ror of life.”
–Eddie Jessup

It’s a tes­ta­ment to the sheer will­ful­ness of John Corigliano’s chal­leng­ing score that dur­ing a view­ing of Altered States (1980) the sound­track mirac­u­lously holds its own against Ken Rus­sell’s visual orgies of Para­janov­ian icono­graphic tableaux, each esca­lat­ing in insan­ity as we delve head-long (and nightmare-deep) into a highly sub­jec­tive hero’s jour­ney from hope­less­ness towards redemption.

Though Paddy Chayef­sky’s script cov­ers sev­eral years in the courtship, mar­riage, and sep­a­ra­tion of two dri­ven Ivy league aca­d­e­mic pro­fes­sion­als, pro­tag­o­nist Jes­sup (William Hurt) painfully and glar­ingly can not bring him­self to say “I love you” to his part­ner until the last line of the movie. If the L-word’s con­spic­u­ous absence hangs over the resul­tant daz­zlingly brazen hal­lu­ci­na­tory pro­ceed­ings, Jes­sup is haunted in his state of arrested devel­op­ment by another word that fills the wounded neg­a­tive space left in a soul lack­ing love: “ter­ri­ble,” both a defin­ing word and world­view that Jes­sup declares at the film’s out­set of hav­ing con­tracted dur­ing his father’s drawn out death of cancer.


One day I thought I heard him say some­thing. I got up and leaned over him, my ear an inch away from his lips. ‘Did you say some­thing, Pop?’ Then I heard the word he was des­per­ately try­ing to say, a soft hiss of a word. He was say­ing… ‘terrible.’…Terrible. So the end was ter­ri­ble, even for the good peo­ple like my father, so the pur­pose of all our suf­fer­ing was just more suffering.”

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Lis­ten­ing to Corigliano’s tracks on their own, divorced from Russell’s ver­tig­i­nous com­pli­men­tary imagery, it is easy to imag­ine that you are lost within a con­found­ing, con­fus­ing, cold, and harsh uni­verse that may never truly make sense.

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TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show

Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party blew the dust out of New Yorker’s air ducts for four odd years from 1978 to 1982. The hour-long live, unscripted show took advan­tage of New York’s early-ish cable access world — a world man­dated by a deal that cable net­works could have their lit­tle monop­o­lies as long as the pub­lic was granted free access to a cer­tain per­cent­age of air­time. It’s a deal still going on all across Amer­ica today, and after watch­ing a lit­tle TV Party, you’d be a damn fool not to get involved. You see, TV can be fun, and you can make it! As for TV Party — essen­tially a show­case for what O’Brien and friends thought of as cool — it’s not for every­one. But those who like bizarro tele­vi­sion, the down­town New York scene of the day, or cult movies and TV with a cap­i­tal C (Liq­uid Sky or Robin Byrd’s porno talk-show, for instance) will get a seri­ous kick from this exper­i­ment in ‘social­ist TV’ — the TV show that’s a party, but it could also be a polit­i­cal party.

The Sub­limely Intol­er­a­ble Show aired Jan­u­ary 8th 1979, with O’Brien (writer, Warhol-ite and once New Wave gad­about) loosely hold­ing the reins — flog­ging the horse or let­ting it stum­ble down rocky inclines, how­ever he, his guests, audi­ence or callers saw fit. Aired in black and white, the night’s guests included Comp­ton Mad­dox and John Moses play­ing weird gui­tar tunes, Klaus Nomi singing opera, and Andy Sher­noff cov­er­ing the Beach Boys, (backed by Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic fame). Down­town direc­tor Eric Mitchell plays a clip of his movie Kid­napped while plug­ging the New Cin­ema The­ater, direc­tor David Sil­ver and Kate Simon do ‘White Peo­ple Talk About Reg­gae,’ and finally Deb­bie Harry, Chris Stein (also of Blondie and later offi­cial co-host of TV Party) and Richard Sohl help O’Brien with the viewer call-in seg­ment while pass­ing a joint.

Accord­ing to O’Brien’s TV Party web­site, David Let­ter­man once told Paul Scha­ef­fer on air that “TV Party is the great­est TV show any­where, ever,” and for those of us now corn-fed on the GMOs that are Two and a Half Men and their ilk, it’s hard to argue. The show thrives on O’Brien’s heart­felt dif­fi­dence (hard to man­age, true) and an anything-can-happen dan­ger­ous­ness that’s impos­si­ble to fake. It appears effort­less because in many ways it was, semi-professionals aided and abet­ted, and total ama­teurs did lit­tle things like; oper­ate cam­eras and run sound. In fact the first five or ten min­utes of Sub­limely Intol­er­a­ble have no sound at all, noth­ing but ran­dom pops (as peo­ple scurry to fix the prob­lem) and (also accord­ing to the TV Party web­site) Jean-Michel Basquiat typ­ing super-graphics like “Oh no! No sound! Fuck!” Top-notch scen­ester enter­tain­ment makes up for defi­cien­cies O’Brien encour­aged. Mad­dox and Moses’s pre-ironic ironic num­bers bub­ble dan­ger­ously, with O’Brien and Deb­bie Harry et al danc­ing in lab coats. Klaus Nomi’s unearthly soprano aria and equally alien demeanor are stun­ning and bizarre. Sher­noff is cool enough — while point­ing out how even the most insipid Beach Boys song comes with a super-sharp chord pro­gres­sion — and direc­tor Mitchell seems baf­fled and is baffling.

White Peo­ple Talk About Reg­gae rides a dan­ger­ous edge; the audi­ence mocks, Simon and Sil­ver seem defen­sive talk­ing about the ‘music of uplift­ment,’ and then a joint starts mak­ing the rounds. The joint stays for the ‘viewer call-in’ seg­ment which always closed the show. It’s emblem­atic of the off-the-rails genius of the show. Sure, the tech­no­log­i­cal aspects are junk, and per­for­mances or inter­views hit-or-miss, but let­ting uncen­sored live callers on the air is pure gold. O’Brien and crew are unas­sum­ing in their great­ness — they’re the cool kids at school who’ll actu­ally accept you (even though you know you’re a total geek) just because they’re self-secure — shin­ing as they wade through call after call ques­tion­ing their sex­ual prac­tices and eth­nic­ity. This stuff is not for the eas­ily offended, but it’s a tes­ta­ment to the power of a slick hand will­ing to let the chips fall wherever.

The first 10% of this show sums up what we don’t get on TV any­more. Tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. TV Party was live and impro­vised, and this meant casual dis­as­ter. This early episode gets off to an artis­ti­cally ago­niz­ing start–the sound per­son is late, over­dos­ing on drugs or both. Or it was the bro­ken down equip­ment. Once the sound kicks in the show gets lively. Comp­ton Mad­dux, a droll singer song­writer, is backed up by Deb­bie Harry and Glenn; the unique futur­ist soprano Klaus Nomi does one of his post-modern arias; Adny Sher­noff, of the Dic­ta­tors, plays the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School” backed up by pom pom girls Tish and Snooky, the Manic Panic design­ers. Down­town leg­end direc­tor Eric Mitchell announces the open­ing of the now famous New Cin­ema the­ater and shows a clip from his film “Kid­napped” with Arto Lind­say, Dun­can Smith and Anya Phillips. Brit direc­tor David Sil­ver and pho­tog­ra­pher Kate Simon do the “white peo­ple talk about reg­gae” seg­ment. Blondie’s Chris Stein and Deb­bie Harry and the Patti Smith Group’s Richard Sohl drop in to smoke a reefer and take calls from all the cra­zies in cable land. Chris explains all this isn’t chaos, it’s art.


Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Aaron Dilloway

WEDNESDAY 2/20/2013 10pm-4am
WIERD is proud to present a live per­for­mance by
Gen­e­sis Breyer P-Orridge and Aaron Dil­loway
With DJs Anarexia, Tesco Jane, Frankie Teardrop
Home Sweet Home 131 Chrystie St. @ Delancey NY

Aaron Dil­loway has been releas­ing and record­ing music since the age of 16. He was a mem­ber of exper­i­men­tal bands Couch, Galen and Uni­ver­sal Indi­ans. He is a for­mer gui­tarist and tape manip­u­la­tor for the exper­i­men­tal band Wolf Eyes, which he left in 2005 to live most of that year in Kath­mandu, Nepal. While his wife did her grad­u­ate work there, he roamed the streets record­ing every sound he could, many of which are used in his recent record­ings and performances.

Cur­rently he runs the noise record label, record store and mailorder Han­son Records, which he began in Brighton, Michi­gan in 1994. Han­son then moved to Ann Arbor, Michi­gan for sev­eral years, before finally set­tling in Ober­lin, Ohio, after a brief return to Ann Arbor. He per­forms solo using eight track tapes and vocal sounds, and records mod­u­lar syn­the­sizer music as Spine Scav­enger. Recently, he has played with an ever-changing cast of sound artists under the name The Nevari Butch­ers. — hansonrecords.net/

Gen­e­sis Breyer P-Orridge (b. Neil Meg­son) is a musi­cian and artist whose career began in Hull, Eng­land in 1969. She was a found­ing mem­ber of the hugely influ­en­tial bands Throb­bing Gris­tle (founders of Indus­trial music) and Psy­chic TV.

In 1993, P-Orridge began the art/life project of becom­ing a sin­gle pan­drog­y­nous entity along with her (now late) wife Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge. — genesisbreyerporridge.com


Keep Off the Grass, Anti-Marijuana Propaganda Film

KeepOffGrass

Mom dis­cov­ers her son’s stash. Instead of smack­ing him sense­less, his chain-smoking, booz­ing dad lec­tures him on the dan­gers of pot smok­ing. Tom decides to dis­cover the Truth for him­self and learns a harsh les­son before decid­ing to “Keep Off The Grass”.

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Keep off the Grass is a edu­ca­tional film writ­ten, pro­duced and directed by Sid Davis. Like all of Sid Davis’s films they were made very heavy hand­edly. Tom gets in trou­ble when his mother finds a joint in his room. Instead of pun­ish­ing Tom, his father chal­lenges him to learn more about mar­i­jua­nas evil effects on soci­ety. Nobody gets killed in this Sid Davis film, yet Tom still learns a harsh les­son after being mugged by drug­gies and learn­ing that his best friend sells pot to school chil­dren. One of the last Sid Davis films to focus on drugs.


Vi Subversa — Poison Girls — She’s a Punk Rocker U.K.

Vi Sub­versa real name Frances Sokolov San­som (born 20 June 1935, Lon­don) was the singer and gui­tarist of UK anarcho-punk band Poi­son Girls. She was born of East-European Jew­ish par­ents. She spent two years in Israel in the late 1950s, before return­ing to the UK. She had two chil­dren, Pete Fender (born Daniel San­som, 1964) and Gem Stone (born Gemma San­som, 1967) who were both mem­bers of the punk bands Fatal Microbes and Rubella Bal­let.
Poi­son Girls

Vi’s first pub­lic singing was not with Poi­son Girls; it was as part of The Body Show at Sus­sex Uni­ver­sity in 1975.

In 1979, at 44 years old and a mother of two, Vi Sub­versa released the first sin­gle with the Poi­son Girls. Her lyrics were writ­ten from a rad­i­cal fem­i­nist punk perspective.

She is fea­tured in the doc­u­men­tary film She’s a Punk Rocker.

She’s a Punk Rocker U.K.”: A doc­u­men­tary by and about punk rock women.

Punk women changed the pub­lic face of females. It was very uni­ver­sally empow­er­ing for women. The story of punk could almost be a women’s lib­er­a­tion story.

Doc­u­men­tary direc­tor and punk rocker Zil­lah Minx reveals the true punk rock his­tory from the women who were there. This doc­u­men­tary tells the story directly from the punk women who cre­ated the punk scene in UK. These are the punk women on the streets of the UK. Before the Sex Pis­tols appeared on TV and revealed an under­ground punk world, to the pub­lic. These are the women punks who shocked the world. This is their story of being punk told in an oral his­tory format.

Fea­tur­ing: Poly Styrene (X-ray Spex), Gee Vaucher (Crass), Eve Lib­er­tine (Crass), Gaye Advert (The Adverts), Helen Of Troy (FU-2), Julie Burchill (jour­nal­ist), Vi Sub­versa (Poi­son Girls), Honey Bane (Fatal Microbes), Lulu Moon (Evil I), Car­o­line Coon (jour­nal­ist), Zil­lah Minx (Rubella Bal­let), Michelle (Brig­andage), Olga Orbit (Youth in Asia), Net­tie Baker (jour­nal­ist, poet), Ruth & Janet (Hagar The Womb), Rachel Minx (Rubella Ballet)


William S. Burroughs Reading Junky

Above is an illus­tra­tion by artist ~cal­tron (Isam S. Prado) of William Bur­roughs’ novel Junky.

“The ques­tion is fre­quently asked: Why does a man become a drug addict?
The answer is that he usu­ally does not intend to become an addict. You don’t wake up one morn­ing and decide to be a drug addict. It takes at least three months’ shoot­ing twice a day to get any habit at all. And you don’t really know what junk sick­ness is until you have had sev­eral habits. It took me almost six months to get my first habit, and then the with­drawal symp­toms were mild. I think it no exag­ger­a­tion to say it takes about a year and sev­eral hun­dred injec­tions to make an addict.”

Six years before he pub­lished his break­through novel, Naked Lunch (1959), William S. Bur­roughs broke into the lit­er­ary scene with Junky (some­times also called Junkie), a can­did, semi-autobiographical account of an “unre­deemed drug addict.” It’s safe to say that the book wouldn’t have seen the light of day if Allen Gins­berg hadn’t taken Bur­roughs under his wing and edited the man­u­script. The book, orig­i­nally pub­lished under the pseu­do­nym “William Lee,” was dis­trib­uted by Ace Books, a pub­lish­ing house that tar­geted New York City sub­way rid­ers. Below, you can lis­ten to Bur­roughs read­ing a three-hour abridged ver­sion of the text.

The ques­tions, of course, could be asked: Why did you ever try nar­cotics? Why did you con­tinue using it long enough to become an addict? You become a nar­cotics addict because you do not have strong moti­va­tions in the other direc­tion. Junk wins by default. I tried it as a mat­ter of curios­ity. I drifted along tak­ing shots when I could score. I ended up hooked. Most addicts I have talked to report a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence. They did not start using drugs for any rea­son they can remem­ber. They just drifted along until they got hooked. If you have never been addicted, you can have no clear idea what it means to need junk with the addict’s spe­cial need. You don’t decide to be an addict. One morn­ing you wake up sick and you’re an addict.”

If like me, you can not get enough of William Bur­roughs, I invite you to stay with us a lit­tle longer and watch the fol­low­ing 1983 doc­u­men­tary by Howard Brookner. At the begin­ning of it, you will be able to see William S. Bur­roughs’ first appear­ance on Amer­i­can national tele­vi­sion. Appro­pri­ately, it was on the irrev­er­ent, late-night com­edy show, Sat­ur­day Night Live. I hope you enjoy it.


Drugs Are Like That

Anita Bryant (famous Florida orange juice and anti-gay spokes­woman) nar­rates this film that tries to sim­plify its drug abuse mes­sage with an anal­ogy of kids putting together a con­trap­tion out of Lego blocks.

Although the metaphors often don’t make sense, the visual impact of the film is stun­ning and could eas­ily be quite pop­u­lar with indi­vid­u­als con­sum­ing illicit drugs. Also, like most anti-drug films, this could be a tempt­ing intro­duc­tion to drugs for some youths yearn­ing to escape their “bor­ing” lives or to rebel against their parents.

We’ll laugh about this tomor­row.
It’s times like this I hope will fol­low me.
i hope they fol­low me. i hope they fol­low me. oh oh i hope they fol­low me.


The Junky’s Christmas

Christ­mas, William S. Burroughs-style. The Junky’s Christ­mas, a clay­ma­tion mir­a­cle writ­ten and nar­rated by William S. Bur­roughs. Pro­duced by Fran­cis Ford Coppola.

Sud­denly a warm flood pulsed through his veins and broke in his head like a thou­sand golden speed­balls. “For Christ’s sake,” Danny thought, “I must have scored for the Immac­u­late Fix!”

There is no inten­sity of love or feel­ing that does not involve the risk of crip­pling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel with­out defense or reserve”
— William S. Burroughs

After a shoot­ing spree, they always want to take the guns away from the peo­ple who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a soci­ety where the only peo­ple allowed guns are the police and the military.”

William S. Burroughs

Grant Morrison: Sigil, Magick, Wanking

Magic, for me, is a work­ing tech­nol­ogy for explor­ing alter­nate real­i­ties, break­ing down behav­ioral pro­grams, com­ing to an under­stand­ing with Death and hav­ing a laugh,” said Grant Mor­ri­son.

Mor­ri­son has cre­ated some of the world’s coolest comic books over the past three decades, with a sprawl­ing body of work that includes orig­i­nal works like The Invis­i­bles, We3 and The Filth as well as fresh, imag­i­na­tive takes on famil­iar char­ac­ters such as Bat­man, Super­man and the X-Men. His work was influ­enced by the writ­ings of Robert Anton Wil­son, Aleis­ter Crow­ley and William Bur­roughs and Morrison’s prac­tice of Chaos Mag­ick.

Mor­ri­son con­sid­ers him­self a magi­cian, and not the rabbits-from-hats kind – mag­ick with a “k” style sor­cery. He’s been con­duct­ing occult rit­u­als since age 19, writ­ing Sig­ils, sum­mon­ing var­i­ous enti­ties and gods and such. There is an under­stand­ing in Chaos Mag­ick, share with the likes of Gen­e­sis Breyer P-Orridge, that life is mag­ickal. It may be mag­ickal in a nihilis­tic, incom­pre­hen­si­ble way but it is still mag­ickal, and not just sub­ject to the laws and assump­tions of New­ton­ian sci­ence. Chaos Mag­ick is the mag­ick of the quan­tum cen­tury: where energy and mat­ter inter­sect and trans­mute into the other. Results are what count not the Belief. Belief is a tool, not a strait­jacket. It is malleable.

Pop Magic” is an arti­cle writ­ten by Mor­ri­son, where he expli­ans his views on Sig­ils and prac­ti­cal rit­u­als that actu­ally work. It is part of “The Book of Lies”. Part of it was in the author web­site. Click on the Sigil above to get the full arti­cle in PDF format.

You can say I’m fuck­ing nuts,” says Mor­ri­son, “but any­one can find these rit­u­als online, and if you’re too scared to do them, you’re the one who believes in the devil, not me.”