There’s going to be a big new William Burroughs show opening next week in Hamburg, at the Deichtorhallen (from March 15 – August 18), curated by Udo Breger and Axel Heil – “The exhibition’s goal is to make tangible, in review, and for the first time within Europe on such a scale, the visionary volatility of William S. Burroughs‘ literary output, while at the same time showing the impact of his ideas and philosophy on a wider network of authors, musicians, composers, painters, photographers, video artists and film-makers. The curators (and the Director of the Deichtorhallen, Dirk Luckow) will be speaking (introducing the show) on Friday night.
This, hot on the heels of (last year’s) Austrian show, Cut-ups, Cut-ins, Cut-outs (see this recently-posted video). That exhibition (which opened on February 7) is currently on view at The International Center of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
and a new one (in Houston, Texas), see here
Andrew O”Hagan’s piece on the Beats (principally, Kerouac – it’s a nominal review of Joyce Johnson’s new memoir and the On The Road movie), in the New York Review of Books , is a must-read. “Kerouac and the Beats”, he writes, “more than any other school or group or tradition in American letters have spawned a miasma of retellings in every genre”…”the Beats..were..part of the process by which fictionality became entwined with everyday selfhood…with the Beats it was always about their lives”. He goes on to make some pretty trenchant remarks about that old saw – the Beat Generation and sexism – “We might put the male chauvinism down to the times, but what of the Women Beware Women aspect (?)”, he asks (and) “We don’t judge writers, even very holy, freewheeling, ones, on how they treat their wives and children, or how they cheat on their girlfriends. We look at the work and accept what miracles we can, on their own account mainly, but also in lieu of moral perfection…”
Ronald L Collins and David M Skover, in their new book, Mania – The Story of the Outraged and Outrageous Lives that Launched a Cultural Revolution, put it more succinctly – “It was a world where, by and large, men were verbs and women objects”.
Collins and Skover, both University law-professors (and co-authors of 2002’s The Trials of Lenny Bruce), obviously focus a good deal on the legal issues (the “Howl” trial, Naked Lunch, the interface between legislation and morality, questions of personal responsibility, free speech). Their book (just out) has had some enthusiastic early reviews. From Kirkus Review – “A balanced history, sometimes admiring, sometimes blistering..” (and) Karl Woolf, at CCLaP (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography) – “This is an outstanding book for those curious about the Beats, but (who) don’t know where to start” (Woolf also notes that it features “a comprehensive bibliography of novels, poetry, biography, newspaper articles and academic criticism”). Some may be put off by the book’s easy “novelistic” form and the initial focus on Beat “scandal” (Lucien Carr-David Kammerer (inevitably!), Joan Burroughs (likewise, pertinent to the case), “death, drugs and depravity” – the “mania” of the title) – but that’s doubtless what will sell copies. “The madcap savage world of the Beats is laid out in spades”, Publisher’s Weekly, somewhat breathlessly, crows. The authors will be appearing in Washington D.C., March 10, New York City, March 14 and Charlottesville, Virginia, March 23rd.
Early word on Richard Hell‘s memoir (due out March 12) – I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp – looking back to 1976 – “Allen Ginsberg once liked my looks on the street and invited me over..I declined without hesitation, automatically, never having felt much rapport with Ginsberg from his writings, and because it wasn’t in my range to give encouragement to a gay guy trying to pick me up, though it didn’t bother me.” Richard would soon become Allen’s upstairs neighbor (in the legendary “poets building” at 437 East 12th Street). This dismissal here should not be taken too simplistically. We’ve already charted the connection from the “Blank Generation” to the “Beats” – here – (here‘s Daniel Kane’s scholarly article on “Hell’s roles in the late sixties and early seventies as a small-magazine publisher and poet”) and Richard speaks eloquently about his relation to Beat culture in Maria Beatty’s 1989 documentary, Gang of Souls.
He will be reading from the book at City Lights, March 25.