Photographer Peter Ross has been allowed to photograph William Burroughs’s stuff from a New York apartment he once lived in.
William Burroughs lived for many years in the former locker room of an 1880s YMCA, on the Bowery in New York City. The almost windowless space was known as The Bunker. When he died in 1997, his friend and mine, John Giorno, kept the apartment intact, with many of Burroughs’s possessions sitting as they were. Part of the space is now used for Buddhist teachings, and the apartment is a wonderful mix of Buddhist wall hangings and pillows and carpets and Burroughs’ personal furniture and collections.
Danger is a biological necessity for humans, just like sleep and dreams. If you face death, for that time you are immortal. For the Western middle classes, danger is a rarity and erupts only with a sudden, random shock. And yet we are in danger at all times, since our death exists. Is there a technique for confronting death without immediate physical danger? (quoted from Hashisheen: The End of Law)
But this is at least partially incorrect. Western middle classes, at least those of us in the United States, typically face physical danger multiple times per day. Driving is amongst the most dangerous activities in modern society – 114 people die in car crashes per day. Cars accidents deaths per year are more than double the number of murders per year. The average American spends 101 minutes driving each day. We confront death every day, and we barely even notice.
The dangers involved in driving are commonplace, boring. New dangers though – new dangers are exciting. Perhaps Michael Skinner was more correct when he said:
Geezerz need excitement
If their lives don’t provide them this they incite violence
Common sense simple common sense
There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the ABC television series Lost. Lost is sprinkled with references and allusions to the occult and esoteric secrets. Perhaps the most explicit reference is the use of the number 23. Since the release of the Jim Carrey movie,the significance of that number has become widely known.
But Lindelof and company started sprinkling the number throughout the first season, over 2 years before the movie. The number comes from Robert Anton Wilson, as Lindelof has confirmed at various times, including in this Entertainment Weekly interview:
My father was into the Illuminati and the number 23, so he was a big reader of Robert Anton Wilson. So there was some intentionality behind it, but we had no idea, no grand design behind the Numbers. But suddenly, the No. 1 question stopped being ”What is the Monster?” and went to being ”What do the Numbers mean?” This isn’t to say that the Numbers don’t mean anything. We just had no idea it had this potential to get totally out of control.
But for Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the ABC drama Lost, “It is a good lucky number. The first thing I do when I get to Las Vegas, every time I go, is I drop $50 on the number 23. It hasn’t hit yet, but one of these days…”
Lindelof has been fascinated by the 23 enigma since his childhood and has made the number part of the mysteries on Lost.Jack Shepard’s seat on doomed Oceanic Flight 815 was in Row 23. Twenty-three passengers from the tail section of the plane survived the crash. And the number is among Hurley’s winning lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 that end up bringing him and the other survivors bad luck.
Though Lindelof said the number 23 is often purposely used on Lost, he sometimes is just as surprised as some fans when it pops up. Conspiracy or coincidence? It’s a perfect illustration of the 23 enigma.
Who was Robert Anton Wilson? And why is the number 23 significant?
Robert Anton Wilson was an author who researched and wrote about, amongst many other things, the occult and secret societies. He is perhaps most famous for his Illuminatus novels and his non-fiction Cosmic Trigger series. I think any fan of Lost would especially enjoy reading the first Cosmic Trigger book, Wilson’s autobiographical detailing his “stranger than fiction” life.
One of Wilson’s fascinations was the number 23. He discovered it by way of two other writers: James Joyce and William S. Burroughs. Wilson claimed Joyce was fascinated by the date April 23: the day Shakespeare was born, and the day he died. Burroughs became obsessed with the number after the following bizarre incident:
In the early ’60’s in Tangiers, William Burroughs knew a certain “Captain Clark” who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. One day, Clark said to Burroughs that he’d been running the ferry 23 years without an accident. That very day the ferry sank, killing Clark and everyone aboard. In the evening, Burroughs was thinking about this when he turned on the radio. The first newscast headlined the crash of an airline plane on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as Flight 23.
And 23 is just scratching the surface. We’ll be looking at Lost’s references to the occult, secret societies, conspiracies, utopian engineering, mad science, underground culture, numerology, geomancy, alchemy and more. Keep watching this site, or subscribe by RSS, for more occult secrets!
WB: I was thinking of the concentration of mass energy that you get in a pop concert, and if that were, say, channeled in some magical way…a stairway too heaven…it could become quite actual.
JP: Yes, I know. One is so aware of the energies that you are going for, and you could so easily….I mean, for instance, the other night we played in the Philadelphia Spectrum, which really is a black hole as a concert hall….The security there is the most ugly of anywhere in the States. I saw this incident happen and I was almost physically sick. In fact, if I hadn’t been playing the guitar I was playing it would’ve been over somebody’s head. It was a double-neck, which is irreplaceable, really, unless you wait another nine months for them to make another one at Gibson’s.
I suppose it’s worth noting that the Times has an article about Byron Gysin’s Dream Machine:
Ms. Chapman thought it might be helpful if my body were more relaxed, so I lay down on a sofa, and she put on soothing music. She flicked the machine back on as I shut my eyes. A moment later there they were, the same flashing patterns as before. After a while I became bored and my mind began to drift.
That’s when it happened. I didn’t “see” as much as I strongly imagined a campfire in a clearing in a dense forest at night. My boyfriend Jim was sitting to my left, laughing. Later I seemed to find myself in a large empty auditorium, walking toward some chairs arranged in the middle of the room. In one creepy moment I was in a basement hallway, following closely behind someone walking ahead of me, whose face I couldn’t see.
I hadn’t seen this Burroughs site before. Here’s an excerpt from Nova Express:
Fastest brains preserved forever – Only form of immortality open to the Insect People of Minraud – An intricate bureaucracy wired to the control brains directs all movement through telepathic misdirection and camouflage -The partisans make recordings ahead in time and leave the recordings to be picked up by control stations while they are free for a few seconds to organize underground activities – Largely the underground is made up of adventurers who intend to outthink and displace the history of Minraud – Purges are constant
Now anyone who has lived for any time in countries like Morocco where magic is widely practiced has probably seen a curse work. I have. However, the curses tend to be hit or miss, depending on the skill and power of the operator and the susceptibility of the victim. And that isn’t good enough for the CIA or similar organization: “Bring us the ones that work not sometimes but every time.” So what is the logical step forward? TO DEVISE MACHINES THAT CAN CONCENTRATE AND DIRECT PSYCHIC FORCE WITH PREDICTABLE EFFECTS. (See the chapter in the Iron Curtain book on PSYCHIC GENERATORS.) I suggest that what the CIA is or was working on at the top secret Nevada installation may be described as COMPUTERIZED black magic. If curse A doesn’t make it, Curse Program B automatically goes into operation and so on.