Category Archives: Beat Generation

See What I’m Saying

First sentence of William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys: “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.” Burroughs thinks in pictures and his books … Continue reading

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Kathy Acker, Peter Greenaway, and Storytelling

Hollywood films and popular novels are made with certain audience expectations in mind. They have a story to tell, and they are structured so that this story is easy to follow and understand. Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 – … Continue reading

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Labyrinths

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape. Kathy Acker writes about the labyrinth, and how it was built to hide away the Minotaur, the illicit offspring of King Minos’s wife. The King didn’t want people to know … Continue reading

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To Own an Inch of Earth

Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac that when writing “one should forget all rules, literary style, and other such pretensions.” And what he wrote next was really beautiful: “… Rather, I think, one should write, as nearly as possible, as … Continue reading

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Love and Understanding (Notes on Jack Kerouac’s The Town and the City)

To children and writers, a landscape presents mysteries to be contemplated rather than solved. Jack Kerouac opens his The Town and the City with a description of the course of the Merrimac River, its “broad and placid” flow “broken at … Continue reading

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Kathy Acker and Postmodernism

Though Kathy Acker doubts her ability to write essays, she nevertheless tackles the classical questions like any other essayist. In her short essay on postmodernism, she gives an answer to the question “What is art?” Her answer is that art … Continue reading

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William Burroughs and Facts

William Burroughs tells Allen Ginsberg: “I am about to annunciate a philosophy called ‘factualism.’ All arguments, all nonsensical considerations as to what people ‘should do,’ are irrelevant. Ultimately there is only facts on all levels, and the more one argues, … Continue reading

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Notes on William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg May 5th, 1951

In a letter to Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs seems to be saying that he’s incapable of envy. Envy arises from a particular kind of ignorance, of which Burroughs has cured himself: “Envy and resentment is only possible when you can … Continue reading

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Notes on The Soft Machine Chapter 10: “Last Hints”

This chapter is about Carl continuing his travels through space and time by finding a new body. He’s back in the city of catwalks and ladders and cable-cars in the middle of a jungle. Presumably he’s already changed bodies at … Continue reading

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Notes on The Soft Machine Chapter 8: “I Sekuin”

“… the old hop smoking world I created …” Who created it? “I Sekuin …” Who are you? “I Sekuin Perfected These Arts Along The Streets Of Minraud.” Sekuin has perfected the art of image-control. Word dust blows through the … Continue reading

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