William Burroughs. Cut-up

Cut-up? E’ un metodo di (de)costruzione del testo. Consiste nel ritagliare i brani di una o più pagine già scritte da altri, darle una nuova sequenza e farle diventare qualcosa di diverso, di proprio e di originale. Talmente originale che si può fare tranquillamente a meno anche di citare la fonte primaria. Metodo, questo del cut-up, che ha per immediato predecessore la famosa ricetta dadaista di rimontare a caso le parole riprese, per esempio, da un articolo di giornale. William Burroughs lo sperimentò in alcune delle sue opere, come è il caso di Strade morte (Elliot, 2008 – titolo originale: The place of dead roads). Dato per reso, la recensione di seguito è stata estesa secondo formula cut-up. Di mio, come conviene, è il montaggio (e pochissimo altro). Consiglio di leggere l’articolo mandando di sottofondo l’audio del video che troverete di seguito. Ne ricaverete, probabilmente, l’effetto straniante che Burroughs prediligerebbe.

miro renzaglia

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw1U4EJdtgs

«Qualche volta i sentieri durano più delle strade»: così aveva sentenziato William Burroughs ne Le città della notte rossa, primo capitolo di una “trilogia della tarda maturità” di cui fanno parte anche Terre occidentali e, appunto, Strade morte, che torna in libreria, grazie alla casa editrice Elliot, a 25 anni di distanza dalla prima uscita in Italia nel 1983. William Burroughs (nella foto sotto a destra con David Bowie) è universalmente considerato il nume tutelare della Beat Generation insieme a Jack Kerouac e Allen Ginsberg.

William Seward Burroughs – sfrenato omosessuale, pecora nera di buona famiglia, anarchico, tossicodipendente da eroina e alcol, nichilista e scrittore brillante – è stato il santo patrono e il principe delle tenebre della Beat Generation. Il suo capolavoro, pioniere della Neo-avanguardia, è Naked lunch (Pasto nudo), psico-grafico-descrizione degli effetti della droga e di ogni perversione sessuale, sconvolse il mondo letterario e provocò un punto di riferimento per ogni sentenza di oscenità emessa da qualsiasi Corte suprema. Un eroe- ribelle, simbolo anti-autoritario di tre generazioni di giovani disillusi. Esploratore, in arte e vita, del più profondo abisso di terrore.

Di Strade morte, protagonista è Kim Carson, pistolero lettere di Rimbaud e ultraomosessuale («Is Kim Carsons based at on Kit Carson?», gli fu chiesto. E lui: «Not at all. Kit Carson was back at the beginning of the 19th Century and this is way after that, the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th Century. He has nothing in common with Kit Carsons…»).

Kim, il suo evidente alter ego, è un ragazzo selvaggio che manda odor di puzzola e di arance morte, viaggiatore nel tempo e nello spazio: dall’eroico Far West agli abissi siderali di galassie inesplorate, seminatore di morte, distruzione e vendetta o, per meglio dire: giustizia. Al suo fianco, la Famiglia Johnson: un vecchio modo di dire del Sud (America) per definire gli irregolari, i non riconciliati. Quelli che, stufi dell’inganno proto-Matrix, scandiscono maledizioni contro ogni religione dogmatica; i petrolieri e i magnati di stampa e propaganda; reazionari e conservatori; contro i persecutori del libero pensiero; i sostenitori di ogni misura atta a rimbecillire il prossimo; contro quelli che preferiscono sodomizzare le donne (meglio se religiose…), anziché gli uomini ancorché virili; e contro, soprattutto, i manipolatori della parola.

Oh! la parola: «My basic theory is that the written word was actually a virus, hat made the spoken word possible. The word has not been recognized as a virus because it has achieved a state of stable symbiosis with the host…» (La mia teoria di base è che la parola scritta è effettivamente scaturita da un virus. Non è riconosciuta come virus perché è stata assimilata stabilmente e in maniera simbiotica dal suo ospite…).

E qui, la parola converrà darla, sia pur per stralci, al libro nell’originale:

THE PLACE OF DEAD ROADS (extract)

«The only thing that could unite the planet is a united space program… the earth becomes a space station and war is simply out, irrelevant, flatly insane in a context of research centers, spaceports, and the exhilaration of working with people you like and respect toward an agreed-upon objective, and objective from which all workers will gain. Happiness is a by-product of function. The planetary space station will give all participants an opportunity to function.

For three days Kim had camped on the mesa top, sweeping the valley with his binoculars. A cloud of dust headed south told him they figured him to ride in that direction for Mexico. He had headed north instead, into a land of sandstone formation, carved by wind and sand – a camel, a tortoise, Cambodian temples – and everywhere caves pocked into the red rock like bubbles in boiling oatmeal. Some of the caves had been lived in at one time or another: rusty tin cans, pottery shards, cartridge cases. Kim found an arrowhead six inches ling, chipped from obsidian, and a smaller arrowhead of rose-colored flint.

On top of the mesa were crumbled mounds of earth that had once been houses. Slabs of stone had been crisscrossed to form an altar. Homo sapiens was there…

Somebody made this arrowhead. It had a creator long ago. This arrowhead is the only proof of his existence. Living things can also be seen as artifacts, designed for a purpose. So perhaps the human artifact had a creator. Perhaps a stranded space traveler needed the human vessel to continue his journey, and he made it for that purpose ? he died before he could use it ? He found another escape route ? This artifact , shaped to fill a forgotten need, now has no more meaning or purpose than this arrowhead without the arrow, and the bow, the arm and the eye. Or perhaps, the human artifact was the creator’s last card, played in an old game many light-years ago. Chill of empty space…

As soon as an article goes into mass production the company does not want to know about a simpler better article, especially if it is basically different. So a number of very good inventions are scrapped and forgotten. We can extrapolate that the same formula applies to living organism once they have accepted the supposition that living organisms are artifacts created for a definite purpose. There are no cosmic accidents in this universe. I mean of course the universe which we see and experience. No reason to think that this is the only universe. This universe is probably a minute fraction of the overall picture, which we will not have time to see. And if we saw it it would be, to our limited perceptions, completely incomprehensible, which is why we can’t see it. (A phenomenon must be to some extent comprehensible to be perceived at all.)

So at the outset is a breakthrough that makes a new technology possible and an efflorescence of inventions good and bad. Then one of these models, and not necessarily the best one, goes into mass production and that’s it. No more changes, no more basic innovations … just technical improvements. There is no basic difference between Kitty Hawk and a modern jet liner.

Now apply this concept to living organisms… Look at Homo sapiens… Before they went into mass production there must have been some good models lost in the shuffle and for what ? Look around you on the street and what do you see, a creature that functions at one-fiftieth of its potential and is only saved from well-deserved extinction by an increasingly creaky social structure… So let’s go back and take a look. …

The magical theory of history: the magical universe presupposes that nothing happens unless someone or some power, some living entity will it to happen. There are no coincidences and no accidents. A chaotic situation is always deliberately produced. Ask yourself who or what sort of creature could benefit from such a situation. Even in the crudest economic terms there are those who profit from chaos… speculators, black marketeers, ultimately warlords and bandits…

Now look at the whole of human history and pore-history from this viewpoint. Look at it spread out spatially before you…

Mechanical devices exteriorize the processes of the human nervous system.. A tape recorder externalize the vocal function, a computer externalizes one function of the human brain, the faculty that stores processes data. See human history as a vast film spread out in front of you. Take a segment of film.

The only thing not prerecorded in a prerecorded universe is the prerecordings themselves: the master film. The unforgivable sin is to tamper with the prerecordings. Exactly what Kim is doing. Acting through his representatives like Hart or Old Man Bickford, God has prerecorded Kim’s death…

So our local war revolves around a basically simple situation: a conflict between those who must fo into space or die and those who will die if we go. They need us for their film. They have no other existence. And as soon as anyone goes into space the film is irreparably damaged. One hole is all it takes. With the right kind of bullet, Kim thought, with that little shiver…

A strange pistol in his hand… wild Pan music… screaming crowds… Kim’s pistol is cutting the sky like a torch. Chunks of sky are falling away. The music swells and merges with shrieking wind…

Yes we can lose any number of times. They can only loose once. They say a silver bullet can kill a ghost. Garlic could kill a vampire if it was strong enough and he couldn’t escape, trapped for example in an Italian social club. So what bullet, what smell can rupture or damage or immobilize or totally destroy the film ? Quite simply, any action or smell not prerecorded by the prerecorder, who stands outside the film and does not include himself as data.

Castaneda would describe it as a sudden eruption of the Nagual, the unknown and unpredictable, into the Tonal, which is the totality of prerecorded film. This violates the most basic laws of a predictable control-oriented universe. Introduce one unforeseen and therefore unforeseeable factor and the whole structure collapses like a house of cards.»

Strade Morte, scritto in pieno reganismo, anticipa la crisi della democrazia, la deriva securitaria, denuncia l’uso criminogeno e depauperante delle politiche sanitarie (un’autentica ossessione per Burroughs…), il pervertimento dei valori fondanti del suo Paese.

Radicale nell’andare alla radice del crollo del Mito Americano.

miro renzaglia

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