Burroughs and Ginsberg Q & A Berlin 1976 – 3

The 1976 Ginsberg-Burroughs Berlin transcription continues from here, and concludes here 

AG: Yeah, I think (Oswald) Spengler has a great funny point, in talking about the decline of the West, he said that what happens to some cultures is that the central technique of the culture finally becomes boring and the young people don’t learn it anymore and it simply withers away by itself –  (to WSB) do you remember? I  don’t know where I’ve seen it..

WSB:  “I’ve never heard it, but I..

AG:…he (Spengler)’s prophesizing that sooner or later it might be that a complex scientific technology might become ennuyant, boring, people might become more interested in rock ‘n roll, or sex, or dancing, something involving themselves directly and their bodies and minds directly, rather than pure abstraction.

WSB: It does happen. As I said, it has happened repeatedly in history.  Like, that’s the way changes come about, rather than through any direct revolutionary action

Student: So you would say it’s then revolution of consciousness?

WSB: Of course.

AG: What is a “revolution of consciousness”?

Student: Just ignoring the impermanent out of existence

AG: One method of ju-jitsu,  (an) ancient method, very old, (a) very very old way

WSB: Well usually, by the time it’s operative, it isn’t even ju-jitsu, there’s no opponent there, or maybe the opponent is no longer operative.

Student: But how does one learn this ju-jitsu? We’re all glued to tv and we’re glued to magazine and books.

AG:  Well Bill’s project, say, for cutting up..

Student: Yes

AG: ..for cutting up is a direct exercise in cutting out of that kind of consciousness by rearranging it in such an unusual order, that it’s like putting a feedback into the mechanism and making it blow its own fuse, you just feed it back to itself.

Student: Like the Moka Bar? [playback technique]

AG:   Another classical way is simply ignoring the universe by stopping it, by simply sitting down and observing the breath. Like, traditional meditation (it’s said is) one very ancient way… Not by.. It’s not really by ignoring it.. What it is is observing it  rather than acting, rather than reacting, rather than constantly reacting paranoically,  simply sitting and observing the paranoia rise and fall until the paranoia itself evens out, remains but becomes more transparent . It is no longer necessary to react, no longer the cause of anxiety. Does that make sense? I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying..

Student: Yes I think about it , although, although I think , hmm, it doesn’t hold true for complex strategy because..  imagine you were coming into trouble as you often were probably, then you have the difficulty to convey this trouble or the difficulties you have to other people and then in your view of consciousness, probably you won’’t be bothered at all, because you.. you..as you said, well, you’re just observing it, you don’t do anything, you’re disengaged

AG:  Well but ..You observe it but you also see its mechanisms

Student: Okay , you realize it

AG:  And you realize , actually, what it finally boils down to, which is very important,  that,  you realize how much you yourself are the cause of the trouble, rather than external objects. See, our desire is to blame the trouble on somebody outside of ourselves constantly. In fact to displace the anxiety of existence itself and blame society or the police or the father or the mother or displace anxiety about momma-poppa and blame authority or anybody, the academy, the state, the police.. This is universal. The problem is to disengage from reactive resentment against the universe itself, see how much of one’s paranoia-anxiety is anxiety about the universe and how much is actually paranoia about the police and that will change in different societies and different situations, but I would say a good deal of the paranoia of the “Sixties, or the resentment of the ‘Sixties, a good deal of that was related to the entire universe rather than to Vietnam, or Stalin, or whoever .. you know

So the problem was (in Germany and in America) how much of the rebellion of the ‘Sixties was a practical reaction to an actual threat and how much of it was an impractical hysteria – and the usefulness of cut-up, or meditation, or any form of observation, is to begin to get down to what is the actual basic problem and not get confused by symbols. Like, the very simple..  the most obvious image which anybody can understand is the bull  – if you wave a red flag in front of the bull, like, the the bull has the red flag and doesn’t realize that the real enemy is the man waving the red flag. so most of our reactions are reactions to the red flag, and it might be good for the bull to first sit down with the flag for twenty minutes!  It’s exactly what I mean – to just sit down and look at the flag for twenty minutes and watch how it works and see that there’s a hand behind it, you know.

WSB: If he looks away from the cloth for even a second, the bullfighter’s in very great danger. That is one of the signals He’s learning. And a bull that’s ever been fought can’t be fought again. You knew that, didn’t you? They’ll  kill the bullfighter right away

AG; Oh, they go for the bullfighter instead of the flag. So, in other words..

WSB: Even in those fifteen minutes they learn, they’re beginning to learn. They don’t have time to learn

AG: So in order to actually analyze, to analyze the actual problem, see behind the red flag, see behind the hallucination,  the hallucinatory image, the hallucinatory word, the hallucinatory idea, the hallucinatory conception, you have to sit down and observe it , observe the whole process, then maybe make an action

Student: But that means you have to get rid of any influences you have to be, as Burroughs puts it in his work, throughout his work, you have to be independent.

AG: Yes

Student: So how do you get independent then?

WSB: By looking at it. Get back to the.. now you find out.

tape ends here

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