céline’s prose style explained, plus more from normance . . .

. . . Normance is a full-throttle grotesquery. The prose rears up at the reader like an exploding grenade, pumping shards of hate and disgust into the air, the pages littered with the fallout of sentences and word shrapnel. The novel lacerates linear narrative, leaving grammatical scars and the broken bones of syntax. What plot there is is lost in invective and fire-and-brimstone prose. Louis/Ferdinand – the novel’s narrator – trapped in a Paris apartment block, under siege during an air-raid by Allied forces during April 21-22 1944, dodges bombs, falling masonry, spastic dancing furniture, occasionally giving a slap to his girlfriend Arlette/Lili, while all the time aiming his own verbal volleys at Jules the hunchback, pervert sculptor he believes is directing the aerial assault and who has fingered Louis/Ferdinand as “a Kraut, a spy! A traitor!” Huddled under a table or squeezed into the concierge’s office, the inhabitants of the apartment block do anything to survive. The characterization of the narrator, the thug Ottavio, and the monstrous and eponymous Normance force the reader to question how far humanity will go – and how low individuals will stoop – to stay alive. The apartment block is an apocalyptic version of Georges Perec’s building in Life: A User’s Manual, but whereas Perec’s building had its rooms exposed to view, as if the façade had been carefully taken down by the author, Céline’s apartment block has had its floors and ceilings ripped out by Allied ordnance; indeed, Normance could be subtitled Death: A User’s Manual. Normance resists categorization, resists the history of the novel. 

  

. . . Exclamation marks mirror the bombs’ detonations, used together with Céline’s trademark use of ellipses … which pepper the paragraphs and act like punctuative landmines, these explosive points !!!!! – even before he became politically ostracized – placed Céline beyond the confines of French literature, beyond even his near-contemporary and un-familiar Jean Genet. This anti-academic approach made  Céline a hero to a new generation of American writers such as Jack Kerouac (the prose velocity), William Burroughs (use of the ellipsis and view of humanity), and Tom Wolfe who – in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – took Céline’s experimentation in punctuation to the limits of English grammar: 

  

Sandy hasn’t slept in days::::::how many::::::like total insomnia and everything is bending in curvy curdling lines. 

  

—just then—

 

FEEOOFEEOOFEEOOFEEOOFEEOOFEEOOFEEOO
¡WHOP!

 

—Cassady—twenty feet away across the beach road has suddenly wheeled and fired the four-pound sledge hammer end-over-end like a bolo and smashed the brick on top of the fence into obliteration, fifteen feet from the Mexican. 

Compare to Céline’s:

I can hear him!… ‘grrumph!…hraah!’ there’s a rattle in his throat…he’s got a bit of a cold…see, I’m being precise… you don’t care about the little details? well, tough luck!… I’m not going for artistic effect, that “almost-like-life” stuff! I was there, and while there I saw the following sights! that’s my motto!

Other writers, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Philip Roth, and Ken Kesey, have also claimed Céline as an influence. But try to place Céline in a school of writing and your task becomes near impossible. The closest I can get is some awful hybrid writer/monster: Henry Miller + William Burroughs + Pierre Guyotat but that would be without Miller’s ego and Burroughs’ archness. If Zola is an obvious forerunner, then Pierre Guyotat – albeit from a reverse political pole – is the heir to Céline’s incendiary prose and explosive style. We can even see Céline’s influence on contemporary writers: Dan Fante’s A Gin-Pissing-Raw-Meat-Dual-Carburetor-V8-Son-Of-A-Bitch from Los Angeles is straight Céline “stinking ammoniac piss-sodden tippling snitching thieving spying abominable agitator” filtered through Bukowski. Céline defies and denies the canon, is resistant to history and political correctness.

. . . Is Céline a racist? An anti-Semite? A Nazi sympathizer and apologist? A collaborator? A misanthrope? Is he a novelist? A pamphleteer? And do these questions really matter when his prose is still shocking and fresh and a whole new generation of readers will have access to the phantasmagoric Normance? What Céline offers the reader is a fresh yet ugly take on human weakness, violence, and suffering – far from accusing the good doctor of  treason, we should applaud him for his honesty. Céline doesn’t blink when faced with human excess and pride – his prose may be rebarbative but it is necessary. Like William Burroughs, Céline preferred felines to human beings (the narratorof Normance worries more about the whereabouts and fate of his pet cat Bébert than he does the suffering of his neighbours). Ultimately, both Burroughs and Céline were moralists, their experimental styles and inflammatory prose became their means to deal with the 20th century’s absurd terrors. Despite the dodgy politics, Céline is an unflinching chronicler of humanity’s ethical depravity and moral relativism.

…they talk about love, in verse, prose, or songs, they can’t help themselves! the nerve! and always procreating! unloading fresh Hell-spawn on the world! and then speechifying! and their endless promises! … constantly swollen with pride! drooling and strutting around! only when they’re prostrate, dying, or sick do they lose a little of their human vileness and become poor beasts again, and then you can stand do go near them… 

 

—from Steve Finbow, “Roaring Up from the Depths”

 

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/roaring-up-from-the-depths/

Cover Image

 

Ferdinand versus Jules “the jerk-off artist”:

— Hey, Jules! Hey, Jules!

He could at least answer!

— You try calling him!

He gestures to us to leave him alone… he’s sulking… brooding…

— Leave me the fuck alone!

I can hear him clearly… between two tremendous bombs… a moment of calm… he wants a drink! Ah, a drink?… he’s outta luck!

The whole garden is flaming, all the shrubs…

It’s amazing that he doesn’t catch on fire, and his gondola and platform with him! considering the waves of sparks!

— Hey bozo, in the cart! jump! weirdo!

He called me a Kraut, a spy! a traitor! I can talk trash as well! all the names in the book!

— Faggot! hey, faggot!

— Please, Ferdinand! Take it easy!…

Always trying to calm me down! me, so tolerant and fair!… me, who he’d offended horribly! and publicly! and intentionally!…

— I hope your Jules roasts, the pig! the sub-pig! you were in on it together? tell me you were! admit it!

— No, Louis, calm down! Of course not!

— I hope that bozo of yours roasts! your fondler! I’d like to see him glazed in the flames all right! he’s poised for it! right into the pot!

Vrrouum! vrroum!

You’re probably finding me monotonous… I’m imitating the ruckus… what can I do? that’s how it is, period!… twenty squads fly over us, seething…

Ah! the windmill is leaning! and us! our whole building!… a powerful puff of air!… up above, Jules pitches against the rail, I think he’s going to crash through… no! he slams into it and ricochets off to the other side… he was thirsty, the gondolier now it must be a bit worse! he must have no tongue left!… it’s a dry wind from Levallois! even in our room, we’re baking in this heat!… especially our eyes! our eyes! our eyelids won’t close!… I’m not making it up!… the people who were there will tell you: an eruption! fifty… a hundred bomb craters spurting into the sky!… and not just in the sky, all around! and the windmill still isn’t burning! you want proof: Jules in all his glory on his skates! look how he maneuvers! and pivots! swerves! but he doesn’t break the barrier!… no! no!…

— Nut-job! Lunatic!

I howl at him!

He’s really taking a ride! his little platform is swaying, pitching, rolling and he’s still riding it in his gondola! from one railing to the other!… and in a hell of a wind! it’s blowing in from the Renault factory! from the west, a real oven! tornado after tornado! I’m not making any of this up! all the outskirts are an eruption… not just one little neighborhood!… the factories are torching!… the clown in his crate catches it all… right in the face! he’s a lot more exposed to the wind than we are… the whole windmill is leaning into the wind!… the whole frame… and the big strut and the ladder!… him up there, he rolls with the swells, pitching, then he shoots off again! if the platform really tips, that joker’s going to take a dive! in the lilacs! in the fire-and-phosphorous lilacs! jeez , he catches the railing! pivots! and off again! ah, he’s the acrobat of the elements! if he were overcome with rage, he’d fling himself off!… all the same I’m insulting him good and plenty! he tacks straight up against the swell… seems to me… I think… really!… they played a trick on him bringing him up there… or did he ask his pals to bring him? isn’t that the question?… there are strange forces at work, frequency waves, and more!… nothing would surprise me seeing how Jules behaves! the way he hangs onto his traffic light… acrobat artiste!

— Jump, you vampire!

There’s a little lull… the windmill straightens up… but the wind starts up again from the other side, towards Dufayel… a terrible aftershock!… this quake, I think this is it!

Sail, ship’s pup

The wind is up

I sing to him… he doesn’t give a fuck!… he throws himself against the other rail! his torso, face and nose are lit up… he’s all you see above Paris… naturally, being so high in the air! take a look at all the sparks hitting him! gust after gust!… even for us in our room, what swarms pouring in the window! crackling over us! we should have caught on fire too! we’re as lucky as Jules!

— I’m thirsty, Lili!… aren’t you thirsty?

She doesn’t answer… I shake her… I pick her up in my arms…

Aren’t you thirsty, Lili?

All she’s watching is Jules!… her eyes are glued to him! Jules up there, doing acrobatics with the bombs! I yell at him!

— Go on, chickie! dive!

It’s true, he’s stalling, the jerkoff artist!… I’m spurring him on!… he takes off at a zigzag, starts over! what a scene!… he’s never gonna break the rail!… and it’s flimsy too…

 

read more from Normance:

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at long last: céline’s last novel, normance, now translated into english!

 

The last of Céline’s novels to be translated into English, this account of an air attack on Paris during World War II shows a hallucinatory, altered space in which human aggressions, appetites, and suspicion come boiling to the surface in preposterous dimensions. A frantic narrator, in search of complicity, relates the story of an apocalyptic ballet that leaves reason and order in shreds, as bombing turns Montmartre into an underworld teeming with dirty deeds, while our guide resists the inhumanity with animal desperation and robust hilarity. Céline animates the events with the exuberance and speed of his narrative style, fully developed and uninhibited, and fully his own. 

—from http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/catalog/show/576 


“By 1943, Céline’s only

disappointment

was that the war had not been

destructive enough.”
 

Andrew Hussey, “Death Sentences” 

In the early hours of 21 April 1944, the combined might of the British and US air forces launched a series of raids on the northern edges of Paris. It was the first time the city had been bombed since the First World War. The assault went on for two days and the results were horrifying a convent destroyed, entire apartment blocks wrecked, more than 600 people killed, and the quarter of Montmartre drenched in sewage and blood. From the Allied point of view the raid was high-risk and possibly counterproductive: the Normandy landings were only months away and the bombing might have made an already volatile population even more pro-German. In fact, the raids infuriated ordinary Parisians, and gave Marshal Pétain reason to rail against the brutality of the Allied forces.

 

It is those deadly nights that are the background for Normance, here published in English for the first time and not really a novel, but rather a highly poeticised account of life at street level under the onslaught. There is no real story as such, but rather a nightmarish description of a group of neighbours in Paris  loosely based on Céline and his entourage  who find themselves bombed out on to the streets of the city and into a mini-apocalypse. They drink, argue, search for a lost cat, and look for shelter in the Métro and the local bar. The prevailing tone of delirium and ever-present danger makes this no easy read: Céline’s prose is elliptical and staccato, driven by the nerve-shredding tension of surviving a city under siege. Most crucially, the text is written with all the demonic and feverish logic of a hallucination. The effect is mesmerising; in a translation that is fluid, elegant and faithful to the original in both tone and meaning, Céline more than justifies his reputation as one of the best writers of French prose of the 2oth century, on a par with Proust and Camus.

 

This book is also both compelling and disturbing because it was written by and from the point of view of a virulently pro-Nazi anti-Semite. Céline became famous in the 1930s as the author of the bestselling Journey to the End of the Night, an account of Parisian lowlife that was praised by Gide, Trotsky and Orwell. By the end of the decade, Céline was notorious as the author of a series of “pamphlets” that called for the extinction of the Jewish race and argued for Hitler as the saviour of Europe. He welcomed the arrival of the German forces as “a necessary tonic”, writing: “If you really want to get rid of Jews then you need racism: and it must be total and inexorable. Like complete Pasteur sterilisation.”

 

By 1943, Céline’s only disappointment was that the war had not been destructive enough. Unsurprisingly, by the time he came to write Normance, he was one of the chief targets of the Resistance, which posted small black coffins to warn him that he was under sentence of death. When the war was over, Céline barely escaped a firing squad, retreating to his lair just outside Paris after a spell in prison, snarling and unrepentant, muttering still about Jewish conspiracies and the end of the world, his hatred clearly more pathological than political.

 

But this is precisely why it is essential to read hiswork. Normance uncovers the real emotional climate of Paris during the Occupation in all its ambiguous, terrible complexity. This is shocking only because the English-speaking countries have never taken seriously the deep reservoirs of poison that ate away at French political life in the 1930s. But the signs had already been there in the art of the period  in a generation that hated the French Republican tradition enough to betray it. By this logic, Céline is not only a great writer, but a prophet, one of the truest and most authentic literary voices of the French 20th century.

 

—from New Statesman, June 4, 2009

http://www.newstatesman.com/2009/06/celine-normance-french-paris

 

the opening of Céline’s Normance:  

Telling it all after the fact . . . easier said than done! . . . much easier! . . . After all, you can still hear the echo . . . baboom! your head’s spinning . . . even seven years later . . . your mug . . . time’s nothing, memory’s what matters . . . that and all the world’s infernos . . . all the people we’ve lost . . . the sorrows . . . your pals scattered . . .the nice ones . . . the not-so-nice ones . . . the forgetful ones . . . the blades of the windmill . . . and the echo that’s still beating you down . . . it’ll still be there when they dump me in my grave! . . . Talk about a wind! . . . I’ve had it up to here! . . . the old belly, too! . . . kaboom! . . . I feel it . . . it sinks in . . . my bones quivering, right there in my bed . . . I won’t lose you, though! . . . I’ll catch up with you somewhere or other, down the line . . . that’s all you need! character! . . . rags in the wind! . . . that’s for sure . . . baboom! . . . I’m telling you, they brought me back up! . . . I was telling you they carried me back like Marlborough . . . you know? when they put him in the ground? . . . me, I was in the air . . . with four . . . five knights and ladies-in-waiting . . . Lili told me . . . all seven flights! . . . I’d fallen down the elevator shaft, ’cause the door was open . . . no! . . . further than that . . . I fell even further! . . . into the cellar! . . . Baroom! . . . calling out for Lili! . . . calling out for Bébert . . . calling out for everyone! . . . they’d gathered me up outside . . . the four knights and ladies, to take me back up to my place . . . it’s nothing new, all this baroom, baroom stuff! . . . been going on since ’14, to tell the truth . . . November ’14 . . . baroom! . . . I was thrown into the air by a shell, thrown! . . . lifted right up! . . . I mean a big one! a “107”! . . . on my mare, “Demolition”! in the rear-guard! . . . Saber shining! . . . talk about a wind! I was flying away! . . . just get a load of him! . . . it’s the memories that really unnerve me! . . . you’ll see . . . I’ll gather them all up! . . . I’ll fly away! . . . I won’t keep anything from you! . . . tattered rags of ’14 . . . of ’18 . . . ’35 . . . ’44 . . . I count . . . I recount! . . . I recapture it all! . . . like on the day when we used to count the linens to make sure nothing had gone missing! . . . like the notes on Jules’s bugle! . . . off you go! . . . tatters blowing this way! . . . tatters blowing that way! . . . underpants! . . . C sharp! . . . handkerchiefs! . . . I’ll unjumble it all for you! . . . you won’t believe my quick little hands . . . such deftness! . . . I’ll put it all back! . . . in perfect shape! . . . you’ll be delighted! . . . I’ll really do it right! . . . a piece here . . . a piece there! . . . Baroom! . . . a huge quake rocks the whole Goutte d’Or area! . . . Grandes-Carrières too! What am I saying? Out to Dufayel! . . . and even farther! higher up! my head’s spinning! Oh, and Sacré-Cœur! La Savoyarde, the great bell, the space gong! . . . you heard of it? the Butte

’s big alarm bell! . . . the house quaking! . . . so you can imagine, me, with my spinning head! . . . and they brought me back up! with good intentions! they told me! . . . home again! the building’s seven stories high! I should have told them: you’re hurting me! there were six of them . . . Ottavio, Charmoise . . . Mr. Vluve and Madame Gendron and Arlette . . . I’d fallen down the shaft . . . right onto the elevator car! . . . it’s a good thing the goddamn car was stopped on the sixth floor! . . . any lower and the fall would’ve killed me! . . . I’d only taken a twenty-foot dive! . . . could’ve broken every bone . . . cracked my skull open again!
. . . they asked me: You okay? “you okay” . . . very clever!
— No, I’m not! How’s Bébert?
That’s how I am, body and soul . . . my concern . . . my first thought: my cat.
— Forget about Bébert . . . what about you?
They were worried, especially Ottavio and Charmoise, they knew what bad shape I was in, first of all overworked as hell! and then, excuse me! whack! black and blue! cracks! bruises! . . . they could see! . . .

— No fractures, darling? anything fractured?

I’m a doctor, right? I am, yes! I couldn’t even open my eyes! . . . I’d fallen right on my eyebrows! . . . split the sockets right open! nothing else broken, though! No, just bleeding all over my face . . . especially at the temples . . . I was dripping everywhere . . . real beat up, you might say! . . . a little lower and I could’ve killed myself . . . say the car was on the first floor? . . . I’m telling you! . . . my luck! . . . but I’d had a hell of a blow to the head! . . . dizziness! pulsating! . . . I was throwing up because of it, in my bed! . . . fucking everything up! and I knew it! . . . too bad! courage first! . . . I sneak a peak out of one eye, I have a look around . . . the dresser’s not against the wall anymore . . . the little fucker’s waltzed off! . . . right out the door . . . gone dancing out onto the landing! . . . the building shaking like crazy! what an uproar! all the landings rattling!

— So, Lili? Lili? what happened? the dresser took off?

They’re all answering me at once . . . I can’t understand a thing . . . I’m still buzzing too much . . . there I am, flat on my bed . . . It’s not just the dresser . . . there’s other furniture doing a polka to the door . . . bumping into each other and stomping on each other’s feet! . . . it’s the bombing . . . she’s a frisky little one, our dresser! . . . here she is, coming back towards us down the hallway! . . .

So I was telling you, Ottavio, Charmoise, and Mr. & Mrs. Gendron carried me back to my bed…They found me on the sewer grate in front of Jules’s place . . . Arlette is making me some chamomile tea . . . Arlette, that’s Lili . . . she’s the most loving of loving souls, really! Arlette Lili . . . she has to try and keep her balance with that cup full of tea! . . . the hallway’s rolling . . . surging . . . from one end to the other . . . She better keep away from the dresser . . . but look, Lili’s agility incarnate!

— Some chamomile, Ferdinand? Some chamomile?

They all insist I drink something hot . . .

— What, Ferdinand? What?

I can’t tell if it’s the shock or what, but everybody seems even more stupefied than I am, all my pallbearer friends . . . all they can say is, What, Ferdinand? . . . what? . . . what? . . . I can hardly hear them . . . what? . . . what? what? And I’ve got some of my own noises to worry about . . . I already told you . . . like the bombs! boy, are they coming down! cluster after cluster! And then there’s not just that dresser shimmying in the hallway, there’s the rumble of the cannons and Lili with her cup . . . ping! ping! . . . it’s all settled, it’s over, no more alarms . . . but Jesus! the bombs! . . . they’ve got timers, a delay on them, apparently . . . Baboom! it’s really something! . . .

–Lili! Lili!

I call her.

— To hell with your cup!

I don’t want her to leave me! . . . I don’t want her to go back down to Jules’s place! We have enough water, we have enough milk! If not, we can do without it!

My eyes are gummed up, lined with blood, swollen shut . . . she kisses me, she kisses everything! blood, eyebrows, my split brow . . . my temples . . . she licks me oh so gently, that’s adoration for you . . . she really loves me . . .

You often get adoration like that when your life is slipping away . . . 

 

 

 

 

Ferdinand & Bébert

Ferdinand & Bébert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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el hombre invisible waxing prophetic on the coming anarchy

William S. Burroughs’ fiction repeatedly posits a world of global anarchy, or even outright warfare . A recurrent motif is a pitiless guerrilla gang of savage wild boys fighting the agencies of police states (and even armies from other planets!). One has only to dip into a book like Robert S. Kagan’s The Coming Anarchy to see just how terrifyingly plausible some of Burroughs’ mordant imaginings are. Here are the opening sections of Burroughs’ The Wild Boys:


 

THE WILD BOYS

William S. Burroughs
 
 
The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead
 
(Grove Press, New York, 1971)
 
 
Contents
 
Tío Mate Smiles
 
The Chief Smiles
 
Old Sarge Smiles
 
And Bury the Bread Deep in a Sty
 
The Penny Arcade
 
Peep Show
 
Le Gran Luxe
 
The Penny Arcade Peep Show
 
The Miracle of the Rose
 
A Silver Smile
 
The Frisco Kid
 
The Penny Arcade Peep Show
 
The Dead Child
 
"Just Call Me Joe"
 
"Mother and I Would Like to Know"
 
The Wild Boys
 
The Penny Arcade Peep Show
 
The Penny Arcade Peep Show
 
The Wild Boys Smile
 
 
 
Tío
Mate
Smiles
 
 
The camera is the eye of a cruising vulture flying over an area of scrub, rubble and unfinished buildings on the outskirts of Mexico City.
 
Five-story building no walls no stairs … squatters have set up makeshift houses . . . floors are connected by ladders . . . dogs bark, chickens cackle, a boy on the roof makes a jack-off gesture as the camera sails past.
 
Close to the ground we see the shadow of our wings, dry cellars choked with thistles, rusty iron rods sprouting like metal plants from cracked concrete, a broken bottle in the sun, shit-stained color comics, an Indian boy against a wall with his knees up eating an orange sprinkled with red pepper.
 
The camera zooms up past a red-brick tenement studded with balconies where bright pimp shirts flutter purple, yellow, pink, like the banners of a medieval fortress. On these balconies we glimpse flowers, dogs, cats, chickens, a tethered goat, a monkey, an iguana. The vecinos lean over the balconies to exchange gossip, cooking oil, kerosene and sugar. It is an old folklore set played out year after year by substitute extras.
 
Camera sweeps to the top of the building where two balconies are outlined against the sky. The balconies are not exactly one over the other since the top balcony recedes a little. Here the camera stops . . . ON SET. It is a bright windy morning China-blue half-moon in the sky. Joselito, the maricón son of Tia Dolores, has propped up a minor by the rain barrel and is shaving the long silky black hairs from his chest in the morning wind while he sings
 
"NO PEGAN A MI0." ("DON’T HIT ME.")
 
It is an intolerable sound that sets spoons tinkling in saucers and windowpanes vibrating. The vecinos mutter sullenly.
 
"Es el puto que canta." ("It is the queer who sings.")
 
"The son of Dolores."
 
She crosses herself.
 
A young man rolls off his wife despondently.
 
"No puedo con eso puto cantando."
 
("I can’t do it with that queer singing.")
 
"The son of Dolores. She has the evil eye."
 
In each room the face of Joselito singing "NO PEGAN A MIO" is projected onto the wall.
 
Shot shows an old paralyzed man and Joselito’s face inches from his screaming "NO PEGAN A MIO."
 
"Remember that he is the son of Dolores."
 
"And one of Lola’s `Little Kittens.’ "
 
Tía Dolores is an old woman who runs a newspaper- and-tobacco kiosk. Clearly Joselito is her professional son.
On the top balcony is Esperanza just down from the mountains since her husband and all her brothers are in prison for growing opium poppies. She is a massive woman with arms like a wrestler and a permanent bucktoothed snarl. She leans over the balcony wall.

"Puto grosero, tus chingoa de pelos nos soplan en la cocina."

("Vulgar queer, your fucking hairs are blowing into our food.")

Shot shows hairs sprinkling soup and dusting an omelet like fine herbs.

The epithet "grosero" is too much for Joselito. He whirls cutting his chest. He clutches the wound with an expression of pathic dismay like a dying saint in an El Greco painting. He gasps "MAMACITA" and folds to the red tiles of the balcony dripping blood.

This brings Tía Dolores from her lair under the stairs, a rat’s nest of old newspapers and magazines. Her evil eyes rotate in a complex calendar, and these calculations occupy her for many hours each night settled in her nest she puffs and chirps and twitters and writes in notebooks that are stacked around her bed with magazines on astrology . . . "Tomorrow my noon eye will be at its full." . . . This table of her power is so precise that she has to know the day hour minute and second to be sure of an ascendant eye and to this end she carries about with her an assortment of clocks, watches and sundials on thongs and chains. She can make her two eyes do different things, one spinning clockwise the other counterclockwise or she can pop one eye out onto her cheek laced with angry red veins while the other sinks back into an enigmatic grey slit. Latterly she has set up a schedule of "ojos dulces" ("sweet eyes") and gained some renown as a healer though Tío Mate says he would rather have ten of her evils than one of her sweets. But he is a bitter old man who lives in the past.

Dolores is a formidable war machine rather like a gun turret, dependent on split-second timing and the reflector disk of her kiosk, she is not well designed for surprise encounters. Enter the American tourist. He thinks of himself as a good guy but when he looks in the mirror to shave this good guy he has to admit that "well, other people are different from me and I don’t really like them." This makes him feel guilty toward other people. Tía Dolores hunches her cloak of malice closer and regards him with stony disapproval.
 
"Buenas días señorita."
 
"Desea algo?"
 
"Sí . . . Tribune . . Tribune Americano . . ."
 
Silently pursing her lips she folds the Herald Tribune and hands it to him. Trying not to watch what the woman is doing with her eyes, he fumbles for change. Suddenly his hand jumps out of the pocket scattering coins on the pavement. He stoops to pick them up.
 
A child hands him a coin.
 
"Gracias . . . Gracias."
 
The child looks at him with cold hatred. He stands there with the coins in his hand.
 
"Es cuanto?"
 
"Setenta centavos."
 
He hands her a peso. She drops it into a drawer and pushes the change at him.
 
"Gracias . . . Gracias . . ."
 
She stares at him icily. He stumbles away. Halfway down the block he screams out
 
"I’LL KILL THE OLD BITCH."
 
He begins to shadowbox and point pistols. People stop and stare.
 
Children scream after him.
 
"Son bitch Merican crazy man."
 
A policeman aproaches jerkily.
 
"Señor oiga. . ."
 
"OLD BITCH . . . OLD BITCH."

He lashes out wildly in a red haze blood cold on his shirt.

Enter a pregnant woman. She orders the Spanish edition of Life. Looking straight at the woman’s stomach, Dolores’ eyes glaze over and roll back in her head. "Nacido muerto" ("Born dead") whispers Tío
Pepe who has sidled up beside the woman.

On "sweet eye" days she changes her kiosk to a flower stall and sits there beaming the sweetest old flower lady of them all.

Enter the American tourist his face bandaged his arm in a sling.

"Ah! the American caballero wishes the Tribune. Today I sell flowers but this paper I have kept for you."

Her eyes crease in a smile that suffuses her face with gentle light.

"Aquí señor, muchas gracias."

The paper smells faintly of roses. The coins leap into his hand.

Giving him the change she presses a coin into his palm and folds his fingers over it.

"This will bring you luck señor."

He walks down the street smiling at children who smile back . . . "I guess that’s what we come here for . . . these children . . . that old flower lady back there . . ."

Enter the woman whose male child was born dead. She has come to buy a flower for his grave. Tía Dolores shakes her head sadly.

"Pobrecito."
("Poor little one.")

The woman proffers a coin.

Tía Dolores holds up her hands.

"No señora . . . Es de mío . . ."

However, her timing schedule necessitates a constant shift of props and character . . . "My sweet eye wanes with the moon" . . . That day the tourist reached his hotel in a state of collapse for a terrible street boy followed him from the kiosk screaming

"Son bitch puto queer, I catching one clap from fucky you asshole."

Sometimes half her booth is a kiosk and the other half a flower stall and she sits in the middle, her sweet eye on one side and her kiosk eye on the other. She can alternate sweet and evil twenty-four times a second her eyes jumping from one socket to the other.

Confident from her past victories, Tía Dolores waddles out onto the balcony like a fat old bird.

"Pobrecito"
. . . She strokes Joselito’s head gathering her powers.

"Tell your maricón son to shave in the house." With a hasty glance at three watches, Dolores turns to face this uncouth peasant woman who dares to challenge her dreaded eye.

"Vieja loca, que haces con tu ojos?"
sneers Esperanza. "Tu te pondrás ciego como eso." ("Old crazy one, what are you doing with your eyes? You will blind yourself doing that."

Dolores gasps out "TÍO PEPE" and sinks to the deck by her stricken son.

And Tío Pepe
pops out tying his pants in front with a soggy length of grey rope. Under a travesty of good nature his soul is swept by raw winds of hate and mischance. He reads the newspapers carefully gloating over accidents, disasters and crime he thinks he is causing by his "sugestiónes." His magic consists in whispering potent phrases from newspapers ". . . there are no survivors … condemned to death … fire of unknown origins … charred bodies …" This he does in crowds where people are distracted or better, much better right into the ear of someone who is sleeping or unconscious from drink. If no one is around and he is sure of his flop he reinforces his "sugestiónes" by thumping him in the testicles, grinding a knuckle into his eye or clapping cupped hands over his ears.

Here is a man asleep on a park bench. Tío Pepe  approaches. He sits down by the man and opens a paper. He leans over reading into the man’s ear, a thick slimy whisper.

"No hay supervivientes."
The man stirs uneasily. "Muerto en el acto." The man shakes his head and opens his eyes. He looks suspiciously at Tío Pepe  who has both hands on the paper. He stands up and taps his pockets. He walks away.

And there is a youth sleeping in a little park. Tío Pepe  drops a coin by the boy’s head. Bending down to pick up the coin he whispers . . . "un joven muerto." ("a dead youth." )

Several times the vecinos shoo him away from a sleeper and he hops away like an old vulture showing his yellow teeth in a desperate grin. Now he has picked up the spoor of drunken vomit and there is the doll sprawled against a wall, his pants streaked with urine. Bending down as if to help the man up, Tío Pepe  whispers in both ears again and again . . . "accidente horrible" . . . He stands up and shrieks in a high falsetto voice . . . "EMASCULADO EMASCULADO EMASCULADO" and kicks the man three times gently in the groin.
 
He finds an old drunken woman sleeping in a pile of rags and claps a hand over her mouth and nose whispering . . . "vieja borracha asfixiado." ("old drunken woman asphyxiated.
 
 
Another drunk is sleeping in dangerous proximity to a brush fire.
 
Tío Pepe  drops a burning cigarette butt into the man’s outstretched band squatting down on his haunches he whispers slimily . . . "cuerpo carbonizado . . . cuerpo carbonizado . . . cuerpo carbonizado . . ." He throws back his head and sings to the dry brush, the thistles the wind . . . "cuerpo carbonizado . . . cuerpo carbonizado . . . cuerpo carbonizado . . ."
 
He looks up at Esperanza with a horrible smile.
 
"Ah! the country cousin rises early." While he croons a little tune.
 
"Resbalando sobre un pedazo de jabón      Slipping on a piece of soap se precipito de un balcón."    fell over a balcony.
 
Esperanza swings her great arm in a contemptuous arc and wraps a wet towel around the balcony wall spattering Tío Pepe , Dolores and Joselito with dirty water. Sneering over her shoulder she turns to go inside.
 
The beaten team on the lower balcony lick their wounds and plot revenge.
 
"If I can but get her in front of my kiosk at 9:23 next Thursday. . ."
 
"If I could find her borracho . . ."
 
"And I will have her gunned down by pistoleros . . ."
 
This boast of Joselito is predicated on his peculiar relationship with Lola La Chata. Lola La Chata is a solid 300 pounds cut from the same mountain rock as Esperanza . She sells heroin to pimps and thieves and whores and keeps the papers between her massive dugs.
 
Joselito had a junky boy friend who took him to meet Lola.
 
Joselito danced flamenco screeching like a peacock. Lola laughed and adopted him as one of her "Little Kittens." In a solemn ceremony he had suckled at her great purple dug bitter with heroin. It was not uncommon for Lola to service customers with two "Little Kittens" sucking at her breasts.
 
As Esperanza turns to go inside six pimpish young men burst through the door in a reek of brilliantine and lean over the balcony screaming insults at Joselito.
 
This brings reinforcements to the faltering lower balcony. Tio Mate stalks out followed by his adolescent Ka El Mono.
 
Tio Mate is an old assassin with twelve deer on his gun. A thin ghostly old man with eyes the color of a fadedgrey flannel shirt. He wears a black suit and a black Stetson. Under the coat a single action Smith & Wesson tip up forty-four with a seven-inch barrel is strapped to his lean flank. Tio Mate wants to put another deer on his gun before he dies.
 
The expression a "deer" (un "venado") derives from the mountainous districts of northern Mexico where the body is usually brought into the police post draped over a horse like a deer.
 
A young district attorney just up from the capital. Tío Mate has dropped by to give him a lesson in folklore.
 
Tío Mate (rolling a cigarette): "I’m going to send you a deer, señor abogado."
 
The D.A. (he thinks "well now that’s nice of him"): "Well thank you very much, if it isn’t too much trouble . . ."
 
Tio Mate (lighting the cigarette and blowing out smoke): "No trouble at all señor abogado. It is my pleasure."
 
Tio Mate blows smoke from the muzzle of his forty-four and smiles.
 
Man is brought in draped over a saddle. The horse is led by a woodenfaced Indian cop. The D.A. comes out. The cop jerks his head back . . . "un venado."
 
Tio Mate had been the family pistolero of rich landowners in northern Mexico. The family was ruined by expropriations when they backed the wrong presidential candidate and Tio Mate came to live with relatives in the capital. His room is a bare, white cell, a cot, a trunk, a little wooden case in which he keeps his charts, sextant and compass. Every night he cleans and and oils his forty-four. It is a beautiful custom-made gun given to him by the patrón for killing "my unfortunate brother the General." It is nickel-plated and there are hunting scenes engraved on the cylinder and barrel. The handles are of white porcelain with two blue deer heads. There is nothing for Tio Mate to do except oil his gun and wait. The gun glints in his eyes a remote mineral calm. He sits for hours on the balcony with his charts and instruments spread out on a green felt card table. Only his eyes move as he traces vultures in the sky. Occasionally he draws a line on the chart or writes down numbers in a logbook. Every Independence Day the vecinos assemble to watch Tio Mate blast a vulture from the sky with his forty-four. Tio Mate consults his charts and picks a vulture. His head moves very slightly from side to side eyes on the distant target he draws aims and fires: a vulture trailing black feathers down the sky. So precise are Tio Mate’s calculations that one feather drifts down on to the balcony. This feather is brought to Tio Mate by El Mono his Feather Bearer. Tio Mate puts the feather in his hat band. There are fifteen black years in his band.
 
El Mono has been Tío Mate’s Feather Bearer for fiveyears. He sits for hours on the balcony until their faces fuse. He has his own little charts and compass. He is learning to shoot a vulture from the sky. A thin agile boy of thirteen he climbs all over the building spying on the vecinos. He wears a little blue skullcap and when he takes it off the vecinos hurry to drop a coin in it. Otherwise he will act out a recent impotence, a difficult bowel movement, a cunt-licking with such precise mimicry that anyone can identify the party involved.

El Mono
picks out a pimp with his eyes. He makes a motion of greasing a candle. The pimp licks his lips speechless with horror his eyes wild. Now El Mono is shoving the candle in and out his ass teeth bare eyes rolling he gasps out: "Sangre de Cristo . . ." The pimp impaled there for all to see. Joselito leaps up and stomps out a triumphant fandango. Awed by Tio Mate and fearful of a recent impotence, a difficult bowel movement , a cunt-licking, the pimps fall back in confusion.

Tío Paco now mans the upper balcony with his comrade in arms Fernández the drug clerk. Tio Paco has been a waiter for forty years. Very poor, very proud, contemptuous of tips, he cares only for the game. He brings the wrong order and blames the client, he flicks the nastiest towel, he shoves a tip back saying "The house pays us." He screams after a client "Le service n’est-ce pas compris." He has studied with Pullman George and learned the art of jiggling arms across the room:

hot coffee in a quiet American crotch.

And woe to a waiter who crosses him:

tray flies into the air. Rich well-dressed clients dodge cups and glasses, bottle of Fundador broken on the floor.
Fernandez hates adolescents, pop stars, beatniks, tourists , queers, criminals, tramps, whores and drug addicts.
Tio Paco hates their type too.

Fernandez likes policemen, priests, army officers, rich people of good repute. Tio Paco likes them too. He serves them quickly and well. But their lives must be above reproach.

A newspaper scandal can mean long waits for service. The client becomes impatient. He makes an angry gesture. A soda siphon crashes to the floor.

What they both love most of all is to inflict humiliation on a member of the hated classes, and to give information to the police.

Fernandez throws a morphine script back across the counter.

"No prestamos servicio a los viciosos."
("We do not serve dope fiends.")

Tio Paco ignores a pop star and his common-law wife until the cold sour message seeps into their souls:
"We don’t want your type in here."

Fernandez holds a prescription in his hand. He is a plump man in his late thirties. Behind dark glasses his eyes are yellow and liverish. His low urgent voice on the phone.

"Receta narcótica falsificado."
("A narcotic prescription forged.")

"Your prescription will be ready in a minute señor." .

Tio Paco stops to wipe a table and whispers . . . "Marijuana in a suitcase . . . table by the door" . . . The cop pats his hand.

Neither Tio Paco nor Fernandez will accept any reward for services rendered to their good friends the police.

When they first came to live on the top floor five years ago Tio Mate saw them once in the hall.

"Copper-loving bastards," he said in his calm final voice.

He did not have occasion to look at them again. Anyone Tio Mate doesn’t like soon learns to stay out of Tio
Mate’s space.

Fernandez steps to the wall and his wife appears at his side. Her eyes are yellow her teeth are gold. Now his daughter appears. She has a mustache and hairy legs. Fernández looks down from a family portrait.

"Criminales. Maricónes. Vagabundos.
I will denounce you to the police."

Tio Paco gathers all the bitter old men in a blast of sour joyless hate. Joselito stops dancing and droops like a wilted flower. Tío Pepe and Dolores are lesser demons. They shrink back furtive and timorous as dawn rats. Tio Mate looks at a distant point beyond the old waiter tracing vultures in the sky. El Mono stands blank and cold. He will not imitate Fernández and Tio Paco.

And now Tia Maria, retired fat lady
from a traveling carnival, comes out onto the lower balcony supporting her vast weight on two canes. Tía Maria eats candy and reads love stories all day and gives card readings the cards sticky and smudged with chocolate. She secretes a heavy sweetness. Sad and implacable it flows out of her like a foam runway. The vecinos fear her sweetness which they regard fatalistically as a natural hazard like earthquakes and volcanoes. "The Sugar of Mary" they call it. It could get loose one day and turn the city into a cake.

She looks up at Fernandez and her sad brown eyes pelt him with chocolates. Tio Paco tries desperately to outflank her but she sprays him with maraschino cherries from her dugs and coats him in pink icing. Tio Paco is the little man on a wedding cake all made out of candy. She will eat him later.

Now Tio Gordo, the blind lottery-ticket seller, rolls his immense bulk out onto the upper balcony, his wheel chair a chariot, his snarling black dog at his side. The dog smells all the money Tio Gordo takes. A torn note brings an ominous growl, a counterfeit and it will break the man’s arm in its powerful jaws, brace its legs and hold him for the police. The dog leaps to the balcony wall and hooks its paws over barking, snarling, bristling, eyes phosphorescent. Tia Maria gasps and the sugar runs out of her. She is terrified of "rage dogs" as she calls them. The dog seems ready to leap down onto the lower balcony. Tia Mate plots the trajectory its body would take.

He will kill it in the air.


Tio Pepe throws back his head and howls:

"Perro attropellado para un camión." ("Dog run over by a truck.")

The dog drags its broken hindquarters in a dusty noon street.

The dog slinks whimpering to Tio Gordo.

González the Agente wakes up muttering "Chingoa" the fumes of Mescal burning in his brain. Buttoning on his police tunic and forty-five he pushes roughly to the wall of the upper balcony.

Gonzalez is a broken dishonored man. All the vecinos know he has much fear of Tio Mate and crosses the street to avoid him. El Mono has acted out both parts.

Gonzalez looks down and there
is Tio Mate waiting. The hairs stand up straight on Gonzalez’s head.

"CHINGOA."

He snatches out his forty-five and fires twice. The bullets whistle past Tio Mate’s head. Tio Mate smiles. In one smooth movement he draws aims and fires. The heavy slug catches Gonzalez in his open mouth ranging up through the roof blows a large tuft of erect hairs out the back of Gonzalez’s head. Gonzalez folds across the balcony wall. The hairs go limp and hang down from his head. The balcony wall begins to sway like a horse. His forty-five drops to the lower balcony and goes off.

Shot breaks the camera. A frozen still of the two balconies tilted down at a forty-five-degree angle. Gonzalez still draped over the wall sliding
forward, the wheel chair halfway down the upper balcony, the dog slipping down on braced legs, the vecinos trying to climb up and slipping down.
 
"GIVE ME THE SIXTEEN."
 
The cameraman shoots wildly . . . pimps scream by teeth bare eyes rolling, Esperanza sneers down at the Mexican earth, the fat lady drops straight down her pink skirts billowing up around her, Tia Dolores sails down her eyes winking sweet and evil like a doll, dog falls across a gleaming empty sky.
The camera dips and whirls and glides tracing vultures higher and higher spiraling up.
Last take: Against the icy blackness of space ghost faces of Tio Mate and El Mono. Dim jerky faraway stars splash the cheek bones with silver ash. Tio Mate smiles.
 
The
Chief
Smiles
 
 
Marrakech 1976 … Arab house in the Medina charming old pot-smoking Fatima drinking tea with the trade in the kitchen. Here in the middle of a film to find myself one of the actors. The Chief has asked me to his house for dinner.
 
"Around Eight Rogers."
 
He received me in his patio mixing a green salad thick steaks laid out by the barbecue pit.
 
"Help yourself to a drink Rogers." He gestures to the drink wagon.
 
"There’s kif of course if you want it."
 
I mixed myself a short drink and declined the kif.
 
"It gives me a headache."
 
I’d seen the Chief smoking with his Arab contacts but that didn’t give me a license to smoke. Besides it does give me a headache.
 
The Chief’s cover story is an eccentric old French comte who is translating the Koran into Provencal and sometimes he will pull cover and bore his guests catatonic. You see, he really knows Provençal and Arabic. You have to study for years on a real undercover job like this. The Chief wasn’t pulling cover tonight. He was expansive and "watch your step, Rogers" I told myself, sipping a weak Scotch.
 
" `I think you are the man for a highly important and I may add highly dangerous assignment, Rogers.’ You fell for that crap?"
 
"Well sir he is impressive," I said cautiously.
 
"He’s a cheap old ham," said the Chief. He sat down and filled his kif pipe with one hand. He smoked and blew the ash out absently caressing a gazelle that nuzzled his knee.
 
"’Gotta stay ahead of the Commies or everybody’s kids will be learning Chinese.’ What a windbag."
 
I endeavored to look noncommittal.
 
"Have you any idea what we’re doing here, Rogers?"
 
"Well, no sir."
 
"I thought not. Never tell them what you want until you’ve got them where you want them. I’m going to show you a documentary film."
 
Two Arab servants carry out a six-foot screen and set it up ten feet in front of our chairs. The Chief gets up turning switches adjusting dials.
 
A jungle seen through a faceted eye that looks simultaneously in any direction up or down . . . close-up of a green snake with golden eyes . . . telescopic lens picks out a monkey caught by an eagle between two vast trees. The monkey is borne away screaming. I can feel a probing insect intelligence behind the camera, pyramids ahead fields and huts. In the fields workers are planting maize seeds under the direction of an overseer with staff and headdress. Close-up of a worker’s face. Whatever it is that makes a man a man, all feeling and all soul has gone out in that face. Nothing is left but body needs and body pleasures. I have seen faces like that in the back wards of state hospitals for the insane. Faces that live to eat, shit and masturbate. Satisfied with the inspection the camera moves back to observe group patterns of the workers. They are moving through a three-dimensional film of the operation that covers them with a grey sheen. Occasionally the overseer adjusts a slow worker with his eyes.
 
Next take shows a room in the temple suffused with underwater light. An old priest naked to his pendulous dugs and atrophied testicles sits cross-legged on a toilet seat set in the floor. The seat is cushioned with human skin on which are tattooed pictures of a man turning into a giant centipede. The centipede is eating him from inside legs and claws grow through screaming flesh. Now the centipede is eating his screaming mouth.
 
"Criminals and captives sentenced to death in centipede are tattooed with those pictures on every inch of their bodies. They are left for three days to fester. Then they are brought out given a powerful aphrodisiac, skinned alive in orgasm and strapped into a segmented copper centipede. The centipede is placed with obscene endearments in a bed of white-hot coals. The priests gather in crab suits and eat the meat out of the shell with gold claws."
 
The old priest looks like a living part in an exotic computer. From festering sockets in his spine fine copper wires trail in a delicate fan. The camera follows the wires. Here in a little copper cage a scorpion is eating her mate. Here the head of a captive protrudes through the floor. Red ants have made a hill in his head. They crawl in and out of empty eye sockets. They have eaten his lips away from a gag. A muffled scream without a tongue torn through his perforated palate showers the floor with bloody ants. In jade aquariums human rectums and genitals grafted onto other flesh . . . a prostate gland quivers rainbow colors through a pink mollusk . . . two translucent white salamanders squirm in slow sodomy golden eyes glinting enigmatic lust . . . Lesbian electric eels squirm on a mud flat crackling their vaginas together . . . erect nipples sprout from a bulbous plant.
 
"They know an aphrodisiac so potent that it shatters the body to quivering pieces. The Sweet Death is reserved for comely youths and maidens. This wonderful old people had a rich folklore. Well I happened onto this good thing through a Mexican shoe-shine boy . . . Yoo- hoo Kiki. . . Come out and show Mr. Rogers how pretty you are . . ."
 
Kiki stands in a doorway smiling like a shy young animal.
 
"Now that lad . . . he’s a doll isn’t he? . . . is one of the best deep trance mediums I have ever handled. Through him I was able to teleport myself to a Mayan set and bring back the pictures. The whole thing was so frantic I cooled it all the way in my reports. All I said was it looks like a lovely WUP. That’s code for Weapon of Unlimited Potential . . . He’s hotting up now."
 
The old priest rocks back and forth. The wires stand up on his spine and his eyes light up inside. His lips part and a dry insect music buzzes out.
 
"It’s known as singing the pictures. The principle is alternating current. That old fuck can alternate pain and pleasure on a subvocal perhaps even a molecular level twenty-four times a second goading the natives around on stock probes in out up down here there into the prearranged molds laid down in the sacred books. A few singers can deliver direct current and they are only called in an emergency. The control system you have just seen broke down. This happened quite suddenly a whole generation was born that felt neither pain nor pleasure. There were no soldiers to bring captives from other tribes since soldiers would have endangered the control machine. They relied entirely on local criminals for the pain and pleasure pictures. As a last resort they called in the Incomparable Yellow Serpent."
 
The Serpent is carried in on his amber throne blue snake eyes skin like yellow parchment two long serpent fangs grafted into the upper jaw. As the current pulses through him he begins to rock back and forth. He shifts from A.C. to D.C. A thin siren wail breaks from his lips now open to the yellow fangs.
 
DEATH DEATH DEATH
 
The pictures crash and leap from his eyes blasting worker and priest alike to smoldering fragments.
 
DEATH DEATH DEATH
 
A thin siren wail rises and falls over empty cities. "This secret of the ancient Mayans which few are competent to practice.
 
When comes such another singer as the Old Yellow Serpent?"
 
"Now the Technical Department think we are all as crazy as our way of life is reprehensible.
 
" `Bring us the ones that work’ they say `facts, figures, personnel.
 
" `Put that joker DEATH on the line. Take care of Mao and his gang of cutthroats.’
 
"I was privileged to assist in a manner of speaking at the Yellow Serpent’s last broadcast in Washington D.C."
 
Room in the Pentagon. Generals, CIA, State Department fidget about with that top secret hottest thing ever look open line to the President Strategic and NATO standing by. The Old Yellow Serpent is carried in by four marine guards. He begins to rock back and forth. He breathes in baby coos and breathes out death rattles. He sucks in wheat fields and spits out dust bowls.
 
"He’s just warming up," says the CIA man to a five- star general.
 
The Old Serpent shifts to D.C. blazing like a comet.
 
DEATH DEATH DEATH
 
The pictures lash and crackle from his eyes.
 
DEATH DEATH DEATH
 
A wall blows out and spills screaming brass eighteen floors to the street.
 
DEATH DEATH DEATH
 
And now the Serpent swings his whip in the sky.
 
Here lived stupid vulgar sons of bitches who thought they could hire DEATH as a company cop . . . empty streets, old newspapers in the wind, a rustle of darkness and wires.
 
In the night sky over St Louis the Mayan Death God does a Cossack dance shooting stars from his eyes. The Chief smiles.
 

on 9-11, some more from el hombre invisible…

On the seventh anniversary of 9-11, William S. Burroughs’ darkly comedic vision of worldwide terrorist anarchy seems sadly appropriate—and perhaps necessary: Burroughs gives us a much-needed measure of distance so we can look at our current plight from a fresh perspective.

From William S. Burroughs’ The Soft Machine:

It was a transitional period because of the Synthetics and everybody was raising some kinda awful life form in his bidet to fight the Sex Enemy—The results were not in all respects reasonable men, but the Synthetics were rolling off that line and we were getting some damned interesting types by golly blueheavy metal boys with near zero metabolism that shit once a century and then it’s a slag heap and disposal problem in the worst form there is: sewage delta to a painted sky under orange gas flares, islands of garbage where green boy-girls tend human heads in chemical gardens, terminal cities under the metal word fallout like cold melted solder on walls and streets, sputtering cripples with phosphorescent metal stumps—So we decided the blue heavy metal boys were not in all respects a good blueprint.

I have seen them all—A unit yet of mammals and vegetables that subsist each on the shit of the other in prestidigital symbiosis and achieved a stage where one group shit out nothing but pure carbon dioxide which the other unit breathed in to shit out oxygen— It’s the only way to live—You understand they had this highly developed culture with life forms between insect and vegetable, hanging vines, stinging sex hairs —The whole deal was finally relegated to It-Never-Happened-Department.

"Retroactive amnesia it out of every fucking mind screen in the area if we have to—How long you want to bat this tired old act around? A centipede issue in the street, unusual beings dormant in cancer, hierarchical shit-eating units—Now by all your stupid Gods at once let’s not get this show on the road let’s stop it."

Posted everywhere on street corners the idiot irre-sponsibles twitter supersonic approval, repeating slogans, giggling, dancing, masturbating out windows, making machine-gun noises and police whistles "And you, Dead Hand, stretching the Vegetable People come out of that compost heap—You are not taking your old fibrous roots past this inspector."

And the idiot irresponsibles scream posted everywhere in chorus: "Chemical gardens in rusty shit peoples!!"

"All out of time and into space. Come out of the time-word ‘the’ forever. Come out of the body word ‘thee’ forever. There is nothing to fear. There is no thing in space. There is no word to fear. There is no word in space."

And the idiot irresponsibles scream: "Come out of your stupid body you nameless assholes!!"

And there were those who thought A.J. lost dignity through the idiotic behavior of these properties but he said:

"That’s the way I like to see them. No fallout. What good ever came from thinking? Just look there" (another heavy metal boy sank through the earth’s crust and we got some good pictures. . .) "one of Shaffer’s blueprints. I sounded a word of warning."

His idiot irresponsibles twittered and giggled and masturbated over him from little swings and snapped bits of food from his plate screaming: "Blue people NG conditions! Typical sight leak out!"

"All out of time and into space."

"Hello, Ima Johnny, the naked astronaut."

And the idiot irresponsibles rush in with space-suits and masturbating rockets spatter the city with jissom.

"Do not be alarmed citizens of Annexia—Report to your Nearie Pro Station for chlorophyll processing— We are converting to vegetable state—Emergency measure to counter the heavy metal peril—Go to your ‘Nearie’—You will meet a cool, competent person who will dope out all your fears in photosynthesis—Calling all citizens of Annexia—Report to Green Sign for processing."

"Citizens of Gravity we are converting all out to Heavy Metal. Carbonic Plague of the Vegetable People threatens our Heavy Metal State. Report to your nearest Plating Station. It’s fun to be plated," says this well-known radio and TV personality who is now engraved forever in gags of metal. "Do not believe the calumny that our metal fallout will turn the planet into a slag heap. And in any case, is that worse than a compost heap? Heavy Metal is our program and we are prepared to sink through it. . ."

The cold heavy fluid settled in his spine 70 tons per square inch—Cool blocks of SOS—(Solid Blue Silence)—under heavy time—Can anything be done to metal people of Uranus?—Heavy his answer in monotone disaster stock: "Nobody can kick an SOS habit—70 tons per square inch—The crust from the beginning you understand—Tortured metal Ozz of earthquakes is tons focus of this junk"—Sudden young energy—I got up and danced—Know eventually be relieved—That’s all I need—I got up and danced the disasters—"

Gongs of violence and how—Show you something— Berserk machine—"Shift cut tangle word lines—Word falling—Photo falling—"

"I said the Chief of Police skinned alive in Bagdad not Washington, D.C."

"Switzerland freezes all foreign assets."

"Foreign assets?"

"What?—British Prime Minister assassinated in Rightist coup?"

"Mindless idiot you have liquidated the Commissar."

"Terminal electric voice of C—All ling door out of agitated—Ta ta Stalin—Carriage age ta—"

Spectators scream through the track—The electronic brain shivers in blue and pink and chlorophyll orgasms spitting out money printed on rolls of toilet paper, condoms full of ice cream, Kotex hamburgers—Police files of the world spurt out in a blast of bone meal, garden tools and barbecue sets whistle through the air, skewer the spectators—crumpled cloth bodies through dead nitrous streets of an old film set—grey luminous flakes falling softly on Ewyork, Onolulu, Aris, Ome, Oston—From siren towers the twanging tones of fear—Pan God of Panic piping blue notes through empty streets as the berserk time machine twisted a tornado of years and centuries—Wind through dusty offices and archives—Board Books scattered to rubbish heaps of the earth—Symbol books of the all-powerful board that had controlled thought feeling and movement of a planet from birth to death with iron claws of pain and pleasure—The whole structure of reality went up in silent explosions—Paper moon and muslin trees and in the black silver sky great rents as the cover of the world rained down—Biologic film went up . . . "raining dinosaurs" "It sometimes happens . . . just an old showman" Death takes over the game so many actors buildings and stars laid flat pieces of finance over the golf course summer afternoons bare feet waiting for rain smell of sickness in the room Switzerland Panama machine guns in Bagdad rising from the typewriter pieces of finance on the evening wind tin shares Buenos Aires Mr. Martin smiles old names waiting sad old tune haunted the last human attic.

 

The Soft Machine by bradallen.

Many readers have read only one book by William Burroughs, Naked Lunch. And many don’t realize that Naked Lunch is actually a kind of gateway or “prequel” to his Nova Trilogy, three experimental novels which, like Naked Lunch, were assembled from Burroughs’ “The Word Hoard,” a series of manuscripts Burroughs wrote in Tangier, Paris and London between 1953 and 1958. The Nova trilogy is comprised of The Soft Machine (1961), Nova Express (1964), and The Ticket That Exploded (1962). After their initial publication, Burroughs revised The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded, while leaving Nova Express in its original form (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nova_Trilogy).
 

Here’s the opening section of William S. Burroughs’ The Soft Machine:
 
Dead on Arrival
 
I was working the hole with the sailor and we did not do bad. Fifteen cents on an average night boosting the afternoons and short-timing the dawn we made out from the land of the free. But I was running out of veins. I went over to the counter for another cup of coffee. . .in Joe’s Lunch Room drinking coffee with a napkin under the cup which is said to be the mark of someone who does a lot of sitting in cafeterias and lunchrooms. . . Waiting on the man. . . "What can we do?" Nick said to me once in his dead junky whisper. "They know we’ll wait. . ." Yes, they know we’ll wait. . . There is a boy sitting at the counter thin-faced kid his eyes all pupil. I see he is hooked and sick. Familiar face maybe from the pool hall where I scored for tea sometime. Somewhere in grey strata of subways all-night cafeterias rooming house flesh. His eyes flickered the question. I nodded toward my booth. He carried his coffee over and sat down opposite me.
The croaker lives out Long Island. . . light yen sleep waking up for stops. Change. Start. Everything sharp and clear. Antennae of TV suck the sky. The clock jumped the way time will after four P.M.
"The Man is three hours late. You got the bread?"
"I got three cents."
"Nothing less than a nickel. These double papers he claims." I looked at his face. Good looking. "Say kid I known an Old Auntie Croaker right for you like a Major . . . Take the phone. I don’t want him to rumble my voice."
About this time I meet this Italian tailor cum pusher I know from Lexington and he gives me a good buy on H. . . At least it was good at first but all the time shorter and shorter. . . "Short Count Tony" we call him. . .
Out of junk in East St. Louis sick dawn he threw himself across the washbasin pressing his stomach against the cool porcelain. I draped myself over his body laughing. His shorts dissolved in rectal mucus and carbolic soap, summer dawn smells from a vacant lot.
"I’ll wait here. . . Don’t want him to rumble me. . ."
Made it five times under the shower that day soapy bubbles of egg flesh seismic tremors split by fissure spurts of jissom. . .
I made the street, everything sharp and clear like after rain. See Sid in a booth reading a paper his face like yellow ivory in the sunlight. I handed him two nickels under the table. Pushing in a small way to keep up The Habit: INVADE. DAMAGE. OCCUPY. Young faces in blue alcohol flame.
"And use that alcohol. You fucking can’t wait hungry junkies all the time black up my spoons. That’s all I need for Pen Indef the fuzz rumbles a black spoon in my trap." The old junky spiel. Junk hooks falling.
"Shoot your way to freedom kid."
Trace a line of goose pimples up the thin young arm. Slide the needle in and push the bulb watching the junk hit him all over. Move right in with the shit and suck junk through all the hungry young cells.
There is a boy sitting like your body. I see he is a hook. I drape myself over him from the pool hall. Draped myself over his cafeteria and his shorts dissolved in strata of subways. . .and all house flesh. . . toward the booth. . .down opposite me. . . The Man I Italian tailor. . . I know bread. "Me a good buy on H."
"You’re quitting? Well I hope you make it, kid. May I fall down and be paralyzed if I don’t mean it. . . You gotta friend in me. A real friend and if."
Well the traffic builds up and boosters falling in with jackets shirts and ties, kids with a radio torn from the living car trailing tubes and wires, lush-workers flash rings and wrist watches falling in sick all hours. I had the janitor cooled, an old rummy, but it couldn’t last with that crowd.
"Say you’re looking great kid. Now do yourself a favor and stay off. I been getting some really great shit lately. Remember that brown shit sorta yellow like snuff cooks up brown and clear. . ."
Junky in east bath room. . . invisible and persistent dream body. . . familiar face maybe. . . scored for some time or body. . .in that grey smell of rectal mucus. . . night cafeterias and junky room dawn smells, three hours from Lexington made it five times. . . soapy egg flesh. . .
"These double papers he claims of withdrawal."
"Well I thought you was quitting…"
"I can’t make it.*’
"Imposible quitar eso."
Got up and fixed in the sick dawn flutes of Ramadan.
"William tu tomas más medicina?. . . No me hágas casa, William."
Casbah house in the smell of dust and we made it . . . empty eukodal boxes stacked four feet along the walls . . . dead on the surplus blankets . . .girl screaming . . . vecinos rush in…
"What did she die of?"
"I don’t know she just died."
Bill Gains in Mexico City room with his douche bag and his stash of codeine pills powdered in a bicarbonate can. "I’ll just say I suffer from indigestion." coffee and blood spilled all over the place, cigarette holes in the pink blanket… The Consul would give me no information other than place of burial in The American Cemetery.
"Broke? Have you no pride? Go to your Consul." He gave me an alarm clock ran for a year after his death.
Leif repatriated by the Danish, freight boat out of Casa for Copenhagen sank off England with all hands. Remember my medium of distant fingers?—
"What did she die of?"
"End."
"Some things I find myself."
The Sailor went wrong in the end. hanged to a cell door by his principals: "Some things I find myself doing I’ll pack in is all."
Bread knife in the heart. . .rub and die. . .repatriated by a morphine script. . .those out of Casa for Copenhagen on special yellow note . . .
"All hands broke? Have you no pride?" Alarm clock ran for a year. "He just sit down on the curb and die." Esperanza told me on Nino Perdido and we cashed a morphine script, those Mexican Nar. scripts on special yellow bank-note paper. . .like a thousand dollar bill . . .or a Dishonorable Discharge from the US Army. . . And fixed in the cubicle room you reach by climbing this ladder.
Yesterday call flutes of Ramadan: "No me hágas casa."
Blood spill over shirts and light, theAmerican trailing in form. . . He went to Madrid. This frantic Cuban fruit finds Kiki with a novia and stabs him with a kitchen knife in the heart. (Girl screaming. Enter the nabors.)
"Quédase con su medicina, William."
Half bottle of Fundador after half cure in the Jew Hospital, shots of demerol by candlelight. They turned off the lights and water. Paper-like dust we made it. Empty walls. Look anywhere. No good. No bueno.
He went to Madrid. . . Alarm clock ran for yesterday. . . "No me hágas casa." Dead on arrival. . . you might say at the Jew Hospital. . . blood spilled over the American. . . trailing lights and water. . . The Sailor went so wrong somewhere in that grey flesh . . . He just sit down on zero . . . I nodded on Niño Perdido his coffee over three hours late . . . They all went away and sent papers. . . The Dead Man write for you like a major, . . Enter vecinos. . . Freight boat smell of rectal mucus went down off England with all dawn smell of distant fingers. . . About this time I went to your Consul. He gave me a Mexican after his death . . . Five times of dust we made it, . . with soap bubbles of withdrawal crossed by a thousand junky nights. . . Soon after the half maps came in by candlelight. . . OCCUPY. . . Junk lines falling. . . Stay off. . . Bill Gains in the Yellow Sickness. . . Looking at dirty pictures casual as a ceiling fan short-timing the dawn we made it in the corn smell of rectal mucus and carbolic soap. . . familiar face maybe from the vacant lot. . . trailing tubes and wires. . . "You fucking-can’t-wait-hungry-junkies! . . ." Burial in the American Cemetery. "Quédase con su medicina. . " On Niño Perdido the girl screaming. . . They all went way through Casbah House. . . "Couldn’t you write me any better than that? Gone away. . . You can look any place."
No good. No Bueno.
You wouldn’t believe how hot things were when I left the States—I knew this one pusher wouldn’t carry any shit on his person just shoot it in the line—Ten twenty grains over and above his own absorption according to the route he was servicing and piss it out in bottles for his customers so if the heat came up on them they cop out as degenerates—So Doc Benway assessed the situation and came up with this brain child—
"Once in the Upper Baboonasshole I was stung by a scorpion—the sensation is not dissimilar to a fix— Hummm."
So he imports this special breed of scorpions and feeds them on metal meal and the scorpions turned a phosphorescent blue color and sort of hummed. "Now we must find a worthy vessel," he said—So we flush out this old goof ball artist and put the scorpion to him and he turned sort of blue and you could see he was fixed right to metal—These scorpions could travel on a radar beam and service the clients after Doc copped for the bread—It was agood thing while it lasted and the heat couldn’t touch us—However all these scorpion junkies began to glow in the dark and if they didn’t score on the hour metamorphosed into scorpions straight away—So there was a spot of bother and we had to move on disguised as young junkies on the way to Lexington—Bill and Johnny we sorted out the names but they keep changing like one day I would wake up as Bill the next day as Johnny—So there we are in the train compartment shivering junk sick our eyes watering and burning.