No expectation, no attachment, no judgement: an interview with Genesis P‑Orridge

this con­ver­sa­tion hap­pened right before Psy­chic TV con­certs in late May, 2014 in Rus­sia.


it’s real­ly nice to hear you, first of all I want to thank you for your life and all the things that you’ve done, it’s real­ly inspi­ra­tional for all of us

well, thank you, it’s great to hear

as you’ve prob­a­bly heard in the news, we’ve got a real­ly strong polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion here, all the things with the Crimea and a cri­sis too

yes, it’s trag­ic, it’s so sad, so dif­fi­cult

and in my opin­ion, it real­ly makes it more actu­al than ever, some of your teach­ings and ideas, some of the Tem­ple of Psy­chic Youth ideas, but okay.. about a year ago, you talked about a project of a shel­ter for artists in some inter­view, as I remem­ber, it was some­thing about a house in some south­ern coun­try, I can’t remem­ber what coun­try it was exact­ly

ever since.. gosh, since we were prob­a­bly maybe 7–8 years old, my school took me to some-where called Angle­sea, it’s an island in the north of wales, and we stayed in a cot­tage and it was an art trip so the whole time we were just mak­ing art and there were lots of pre­his­toric sites, stone cir­cles and pre­his­toric vil­lages, and we just thought «would­n’t it be great to have some-where like this all the time?». and then when we dropped out of uni­ver­si­ty in 1969 it was to join a com­mune in Lon­don, The Explod­ing galaxy, and every­body’s mon­ey was put into one box and every­body’s clothes went into anoth­er box, and all the walls were knocked down so that when you went to the toi­let or had a bath every­one could see you, we took turns cook­ing, and…

yeah, com­plete trans­paren­cy…

yeah, so.. that had a real­ly pro­found effect on me, the basic idea was to break down habits, to sort of make you think about why you do every­thing, why do you eat with a knife and a fork, why not chop­stick, why not fin­gers, why not some­thing total­ly new, you know, why is your head the same today as it was yes­ter­day, where is your imag­i­na­tion, what hap­pens when you get clothes that aren’t for you, clothes that are for the oth­er gen­der, how’d you deal with that, you cre­ate new char­ac­ters, does it change how you deal with the world out­side, so it was all about con-stant­ly ana­lyz­ing the self in order to build your­self from your own ideas, to cre­ate your own sto­ry, your own nar­ra­tive rather than any inher­it­ed life, not what the fam­i­ly want­ed, not what the soci­ety want­ed, not what politi­cians want­ed, not what mon­ey made or made not pos­si­ble, but what was it that you want­ed to become as a being and how to try and max­i­mize that hap­pen­ing.

so that was right at the begin­ning, and those ideas have stayed with me in var­i­ous forms and extend­ed into more and more ideas ever since, and so we’ve always you prob­a­bly noticed we always were in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er peo­ple, with groups rather than always doing solo things, because we’ve always felt – four brains, four imag­i­na­tions, are more excit­ing than one, and what my mind can imag­ine I already know that, but what would be great would be to find out what oth­er peo­ple imag­ined and see if that’s even more excit­ing or maybe the two togeth­er made some­thing com­plete­ly new, so it’s build­ing this state of con­stant open-mind­ed­ness, al-ways ready to change, always ready to adapt, always ready to see a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the sto­ry of what’s hap­pen­ing around you. and of course that’s very lib­er­at­ing but it also chal­lenges the basic struc­tures of pow­er in most soci­eties because they’re all based on reduc­ing your op-tions, reduc­ing your choic­es, dis­cour­ag­ing dif­fer­ence, dis­cour­ag­ing you from doing things that are not what every­body else is doing, every­thing Oth­er is a threat, any­thing that chal­lenges the sta­tus quo is seen as a threat and how is it usu­al­ly dealt with? intim­i­da­tion by politi­cians, peer groups, by bul­lies, by the army, but always intim­i­da­tion, the threat is always vio­lence, the threat of being put in prison or pun­ished in some way.

so this idea of pun­ish­ment is always in all socie-ties and it just seems the most neg­a­tive way to build a new soci­ety that’s based on pos­i­tive cre­ativ­i­ty, the process of think­ing, the learn­ing of shar­ing, of giv­ing, of gen­eros­i­ty instead of self-ish­ness and big­otry and hypocrisy and prej­u­dice, all those things that some­how seem to always go along with pow­er struc­tures.

yeah, and i want to ask you, you com­plet­ed the full cir­cle: you explored a huge range of ideas and par­a­digms and now you’re back in time, back in the six­ties, you’re play­ing psy­che­del­ic rock with your band, it’s real­ly great

thank you, yes, fun­ny how that hap­pened, isn’t it? we’ve noticed it too, but that was the cru­cible but so much, as we were say­ing, we were so pro­found­ly influ­enced, it was a moment in his­to­ry that’s so rare, where every­body was talk­ing about new pos­si­bil­i­ties, new waves of liv­ing, com-munes, com­mu­ni­ties, tribes, free love, jesus freaks, bud­dhism, you know, every­thing was up for grabs and it was con­sid­ered a pos­i­tive qual­i­ty to explore.

but now that’s seen threat­en­ing by the sta­tus quo, by the estab­lish­ment. and so, inevitably, you start to look at it again: now, what was it about that era that had so much influ­ence and so many things grew from it: gay rights grew from the 60s, health food, alter­na­tive med­i­cine, all these things have grown from that, and peo-ple for­get.. they go like: «oh, the six­ties failed!». but it did­n’t, they’ve com­plete­ly redesigned a huge part of mod­ern life…

yeah, its influ­ence is obvi­ous, but what do you think, what do you feel about.. is it pos­si­ble to repeat such an expe­ri­ence now, in the new era?

you know what, that’s the real, that’s the big ques­tion.. you’re ask­ing great ques­tions, by the way.. you know, that’s one of the things we’ve been pon­der­ing. you asked about the project, and we real­ized when we were think­ing about it, ini­tial­ly of a big house that would be more of a com­mune, it dawned on me that com­munes that we’ve lived in, and we’ve lived in sev­er­al over the years, the prob­lems always grew in the bath­room, peo­ple did­n’t clean up, in the kitchen, peo­ple ate each oth­er’s food and did­n’t wash up, and in the sense of need­ing pri­va­cy some-times, need­ing your own space.. so we adjust­ed the con­cept, as it is now, a vil­lage, a small vil-lage, an autonomous vil­lage, so you would still have a big house with a big kitchen..

a small vil­lage, you say, but how many indi­vid­u­als would there be?

that would remain to be seen, peo­ple who are tru­ly ded­i­cat­ed, which is not that many, not many peo­ple, when you say, okay, say we got 8 peo­ple, for argu­men­t’s sake, each has a car, you don’t need 8 cars, so let’s get rid of six, and peo­ple go: «oh well but i want to keep my car», and then they imme­di­ate­ly go like «do i have to give up some­thing of mine?» and that’s where the change hap­pened, peo­ple are real­ly self-obsessed now, they want careers, the most com­mon thing young peo­ple say to me is «I want to be rich and famous» and you say: «for doing what?» and they go «i don’t care, i just want to be rich and famous», it’s just ludi­crous..

yeah, it’s real­ly hor­ri­ble..

and you know, and «i’d love to be in that vil­lage and have my own small build­ing, cot­tage, a yurt, what­ev­er it might be, but i don’t want to give my mon­ey to it, some­body else has to pay for eve-rything» again, it’s not going to work, so find­ing peo­ple that tru­ly are pre­pared to give every­thing to it, it’s hard

yeah, every­one needs to take a part, to par­tic­i­pate.

yeah, you need your own pri­vate space, so you imag­ine almost like a big build­ing with satel­lite build­ings around it, each one for a cou­ple, a fam­i­ly or an indi­vid­ual, so it’s like a vil­lage, you can always have your own pri­vate time and your own space, but you can also be with the entire com­mu­ni­ty in the big house and one of the great times for ideas we’ve found with the tem­ple of psy­chick youth, TOPY, was meal time. every Mon­day, all the peo­ple in Britain, which was about 30, would meet and have a meal togeth­er, and one of the hous­es would cook, and the oth­er would clean, and then we would dis­cuss ideas, issues that would come up, things that peo­ple were unhap­py about, things peo­ple have read about and thought every­one ought to know. and we also had a thing where every week every­one would tell their life sto­ry, and they would tell it all, com­plete­ly, even the unpleas­ant parts, and it..

a per­son­al sto­ry, you mean? a per­son­al sto­ry of a human her­self?

yeah, exact­ly, and by doing that, by trust­ing every­body with your inner sto­ry with all the things that have hap­pened that were bad, peo­ple’ve been raped, it was sur­pris­ing, some­thing like 50% of the women have been raped, 30% of the men have been sex­u­al­ly abused, it was alarm­ing. and once you’ve shared all that, you real­ize why peo­ples reac­tions are how they are some­times. you know, «oh, this per­son gets upset because of what hap­pened to them», so you start to un-der­stand each oth­er bet­ter, you grow empa­thy and sym­pa­thy and trust. and then the british gov­ern­ment tried to shut me down and force me into exile, not one per­son in TOPY said any-thing neg­a­tive about me.

one more ques­tion here, but where is the line between the quan­ti­ty of peo­ple, indi­vid­u­als gath-ering togeth­er and doing their own things? as i remem­ber, the tem­ple of psy­chic youth, at the end of its era, it con­tained about 10,000 mem­bers, but the peo­ple who real­ly lived togeth­er and prac­ticed an alter­na­tive way of liv­ing.. so how many lived togeth­er?

not all of them lived togeth­er.. of the ten thou­sand world­wide, prob­a­bly three or four hun­dred that were liv­ing com­mu­nal­ly.

so, did they draw the gov­ern­men­t’s atten­tion?

well, the gov­ern­ment did not like it at all, because it was grow­ing and because we were also.. between all of us, we had book pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies, we had record labels, we were orga­niz-ing events, film fes­ti­vals, raves, we closed the dol­phi­nar­i­um down, we were into ani­mal rights, we had a shop that we gave every­thing away, for free.

so it was like the thing that Hakim Bey lat­er labeled a tem­po­rary autonomous zone?

yes, exact­ly! that’s a beau­ti­ful phrase because it real­ly explains a lot. and now it’s much more dif­fi­cult because all the gov­ern­ments every­where, in Britain for exam­ple, they made laws that made it impos­si­ble to squat, and in amer­i­ca they end­ed squat­ting.

you used to be able to go to bread shops and butch­er shops and after clos­ing time, and they would give you free food be-cause they could­n’t sell it the next day, they made that ille­gal, so the food is thrown away, lots of things like that.. if you’re in a squat­ted build­ing, the town coun­cil had to give you elec­tric­i­ty, they changed that law, so they kept on clos­ing down dif­fer­ent strate­gies that made it pos­si­ble to live at least to a large degree, out­side the sta­tus quo, and that made life so much more dif­fi­cult, so much hard­er, there’s less mon­ey around, things are more expen­sive, and the abil­i­ty to get free resources has been dras­ti­cal­ly reduced, cer­tain­ly in amer­i­ca and most of Europe.

so, in a way, it’s much hard­er today to repeat the same expe­ri­ence, but it’s pos­si­ble, so there’s a ques­tion of fig­ur­ing out how to do that.

yeah, we have to find peo­ple who have, for exam­ple, who already have, at least some of them already have hous­es, they agree to sell all the hous­es to buy the land for the vil­lage, for the com­mu­ni­ty, and that’s going to be very spe­cial peo­ple and it would take time. we’re always look-ing for peo­ple that we feel are sin­cere­ly pre­pared to exper­i­ment with a rad­i­cal change in the way they do life. and that would, if we could leave any lega­cy behind, it would be a com­mu­ni­ty. if we were rich, if we had mil­lions of pounds or dol­lars or what­ev­er, we would do it, we would pay for every­thing our­selves, but we don’t!

yeah, you need just one rich man that under­stands your ideas, but i think they might be extinct, if they ever exist­ed.

yeah.. there’s a group we know that are called The Insti­tute of Ecotech­nics, and they start­ed in San Fran­cis­co in the 66, an exper­i­men­tal street the­ater group called The The­ater of All Pos­si-bil­i­ties, and then when they were, some of them were trav­el­ing in New Mex­i­co, they met this hip­pie guy, whose nick­name was Mad Cat, who turned out to be Ed Bass from the oil fam­i­ly in Texas, bil­lion­aire, and Mad Cat financed them build­ing a vil­lage in New Mex­i­co which is still there to this day, and they’ve got two cat­tle ranch­es in Aus­tralia, they’ve got a château in France where they have meet­ings about the ecol­o­gy and cli­mate change and sci­ences, they have an art gallery in Lon­don, in an old Vic­to­ri­an school, and they exhib­it William Bur­roughs paint­ings, and Bry­on Gysin and some of my work and they do film evenings and they have a book pub­lish-ing com­pa­ny and that’s because they met this one per­son who was extreme­ly rich and who was pre­pared to bankroll it.


they built the bios­phere in Ari­zona, did you ever hear about it? there is this big dome, and the idea was that it’s total­ly sealed, so they could see how to cre­ate a bio-sphere on Mars that would be self sus­tain­ing with oxy­gen and food

that sounds real­ly great..

but then, his fam­i­ly some­how became more influ­en­tial on him as he got old­er and he closed it all down one day, sud­den­ly out of the blue, he just locked it all up and kicked them all out.

and the peo­ple who were in such kind of orga­ni­za­tions back in the late 60s and ear­ly 70s, they weren’t dumb, they were real­ly smart and intel­li­gent peo­ple, for exam­ple The Source Fam­i­ly, there was a recent doc­u­men­tary..

oh yeah, we’ve met some of them, they’re great, we met some of them recent­ly when the book [about the Process Church] came out through Fer­al house

and some peo­ple who were in that orga­ni­za­tion [The Source Fam­i­ly], lat­er they found­ed some IT com­pa­nies, and became real­ly rich..

yeah, exact­ly, and even with TOPY, there’s peo­ple even now, some of the cen­tral peo­ple have book pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies, record labels, oth­er kinds of com­pa­nies, com­put­er com­pa­nies, it’s amaz­ing how much it did bring out the peo­ple’s innate genius, the genius fac­tor, we like to call it, every­body has a genius fac­tor, and those rig­or­ous com­mu­nal sit­u­a­tions, some peo­ple just break down, cant do it and they leave, but those who work through it, tend to dis­cov­er their gen-ius fac­tor and real­ly enhance the rest of their lives.

it’s all about peo­ple, it’s all about self-real­iza­tion. Gen, you col­lab­o­rat­ed with a lot of strong per-son­al­i­ties, a lot of real­ly great and sig­nif­i­cant indi­vid­u­als, but could you name some peo­ple, prob­a­bly some young peo­ple from the recent gen­er­a­tions, who were com­pa­ra­ble to the «old he-roes», peo­ple of your gen­er­a­tion?

most of the peo­ple in my gen­er­a­tion have died, Derek Jar­man is dead, Bur­roughs is dead, Gysin is dead, Tim­o­thy Leary is dead, even Lady Jaye..


but in terms of younger, say peo­ple in their late thir­ties that we’ve known.. Carl Abra­hams­son, in Swe­den in Stock­holm who ran TOPY Scan­di­navia and then lat­er on TOPY Europe, he has a book pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny called EDDA, he’s an amaz­ing per­son with a real­ly strong mind. in Kath­man­du in Nepal, there’s a friend of ours called Tri Lochan, who is a remark­able Shi­va sad­hu and mys­tic, and he knows some­one who’s only about 30, the Sun Yogi, who has devel­oped this whole sys­tem of feed­ing off sun­light and med­i­tat­ing on the sun.


So there are still peo­ple here and there that we meet, amaz­ing peo-ple, but all the peo­ple in Psy­chic TV, PTV3, are real­ly spe­cial peo­ple. and it’s fun­ny because now at last, we first want­ed to make records when we heard the Rolling Stones, and then we start­ed to make records in 67, but this band..

yeah, i’ve heard it, Thee Ear­ly Worm, it was great

yes, but this ver­sion of Psy­chic TV, this is the sound I’ve always heard in my head, and like­wise the psy­che­del­ic records we’ve been mak­ing, and the con­certs, it’s so excit­ing for me, that final­ly, 50 years lat­er, i can final­ly hear what I’ve been hear­ing in my head then. and it’s a great feel­ing, to find that.. and chan­nel that.

yes, so like a time machine, an open door..

and then we were just.. oh, yeah, here’s some­one else, Hazel Hill McCarthy III, she was just Hazel Hill when we met, before she got mar­ried. we want­ed to do the psy­chic bible, but we need­ed some­one to design it, so we asked friends, «do you know any­one who designs books?» and they all said no, but this one girl, Kaly, said «i know a girl who helped me design my maga-zine», and we said «who is it?» and she said «it’s this girl Hazel, Hazel Hill» and so we rang her up and said «would you design the Psy­chic bible?», and she said «well, I’ve nev­er designed a book, but i’ll try» and she did the most beau­ti­ful design of the hard­back copy.

and we’ve become real­ly good friends and one day she was vis­it­ing, last year, and she said Gen I found this amaz-ing pho­to­graph online of these voodoo priests in these incred­i­ble out­fits and cos­tumes and she showed me and imme­di­ate­ly we go «oh my god, would­n’t it be great to actu­al­ly go there and see these and find out why they’re so weird, no one is allowed to show their face, and some of them are like box­es, almost for pup­pet shows, real­ly bizarre out­fits and real­ly fan­tas­tic psy­che­del­ic col­ors and she said «well, why don’t we go?» and so we went «yeah, why don’t we go?» and then after a lit­tle while she rang me up and said «i want to do a doc­u­men­tary about you vis­it­ing Africa and meet­ing all these voodoo priests, would you come?» and i said «well, yeah, it’s some­thing new, let’s go».

and so we went to Africa for the first two weeks of Jan­u­ary this year, and the sec­ond day we saw this real­ly inter­est­ing, real­ly tall, 6 ft 6 man in the dis­tance and imme­di­ate­ly I said to hazel «i bet that’s the high priest», we just felt it, and it turned out he was the father of our guide and trans­la­tor, Immanuel, and he is called Daah, and Daah is the head of all voodoo in Africa and Brazil, so on the sec­ond day we were already talk­ing to the guy at the very top, and then he got all the oth­er heads, they call them heads, not priests, all the oth­er 5 heads to let us do inter­views for the first time ever, and they allowed us to film rit­u­als too.

the first day he met me, Daah looks at me and sud­den­ly goes: «you had a twin who died, and she should be linked with you for­ev­er, your soul should be linked for­ev­er, we should do a rit­u­al and cre­ate you a Joumeaux», which is a lit­tle doll, that’s my twin, Lady Jay, so we did, and they allowed us to film this incred­i­ble rit­u­al where he brought Lady Jayes spir­it into the doll, so that we’re always in con­tact, and i’d take it every­where with me, and it gets food when i eat and drink and so on. then, at the end of this vis­it, we dis­cov­er that there was this whole cul­ture about twins there, and when peo­ple saw my Joumeaux, my doll of Jaye, hang­ing round my neck, chil­dren would come up to it and touch it and pray to it and adults would all come up and bless it and touch it. and it was real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing, the pow­er of it, and then a few weeks ago, Hazel rang me again and said: «guess what, Gen? they have a fes­ti­val for just twins this year, in Sep­tem­ber, so this film that we are doing has turned into a sto­ry of you and LG and voodoo and this twin sit­u­a­tion», the pan­drog­y­ne as we would call it.

and she said «we should go, the first week­end is for dead twins, the sec­ond week­end is for liv­ing twins». so she’s rais­ing mon­ey and she’s tak­ing us back. we had a real­ly amaz­ing film crew, so the qual­i­ty is incred­i­ble and sud­den­ly there’s a whole new sto­ry in my life about Africa and Benin, this tiny coun­try to the west of Nige­ria called Benin, which is the only coun­try in the world where voodoo is the state reli­gion, and has been for over ten thou­sand years, so it’s the old­est con­tin­u­ous reli­gion any­where, this is the ear­li­est reli­gion, prob­a­bly, the moth­er reli­gion

Gen, this is unbe­liev­able, this is a tru­ly amaz­ing sto­ry, it’s so deep and beau­ti­ful, I real­ized I don’t have words, i cant describe it

so you just nev­er know, you know? you think your life is wind­ing down and every­thing is more or less as you might expect it, and sud­den­ly – bang – you’re in the mid­dle of this tiny coun­try in Af-rica

just anoth­er uni­verse, yeah? and it’s always been there

so you know, as they used to say, we go with the flow, there’s the adven­ture, let’s try, let’s see what hap­pens, let’s find things out, as we were say­ing, in the very begin­ning, in the six­ties, al-ways keep opened up, always be ready to change what you though you knew, to adapt and to expand and that’s what we try to do every sin­gle day

this is real­ly great, real­ly

it’s a beau­ti­ful way to live a life, it real­ly is. we’ve been real­ly blessed with our life, tragedies and all, it’s just.. so incred­i­ble and you said, you’re so wise, the world is a huge uni­verse, and each indi­vid­ual is a uni­verse, and their mind is a uni­verse, there’s just so much here to explore and think about, the idea of the pet­ty nature of eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics and war and ahh.. you know what? can’t they see how fab­u­lous it is? there’s no need to get depressed and angry, because it’s incred­i­ble, if you just let go of think­ing «what’s gonna hap­pen next», of your expec­ta­tions

yeah, just go, just trav­el and nev­er stop, nev­er expect any­thing

there’s a phrase that we were taught by a wise man, a map of how to think about each day: «no ex-pec­ta­tion, no attach­ment, no judge­ment», and it sounds sim­ple, but actu­al­ly to real­ly try and live like that, it’s not easy, it’s so easy to be attached to some­thing and think.. whether it’s LJ, or my favorite book or what­ev­er, just remem­ber that it’s just fleet­ing moments, just stuff, that JAye is love, uncon­di­tion­al love, not the body, not the per­son, but this uncon­di­tion­al uni­ver­sal love that’s nev­er gone, that’s every­where, not judg­ing peo­ple, not dis­miss­ing them because they are dif­fer-ent, and not hav­ing expec­ta­tions because if you think «oh, i like the way this per­son looks, i think i want to be their boyfriend or their girl­friend» and you have expec­ta­tions and then they’re not how you imag­ined?

and then you’re dis­ap­point­ed or even angry and real­ly it;s because you’ve been try­ing to impose an image on some­thing that was­n’t what you imag­ined. and so much of our unhap­pi­ness comes from those three things: expec­ta­tions, judge­ments and attach­ments.

so, Gen, if you don’t mind.. let’s say the time machine takes us back to the 70s, could you tell me how and when you met Sleazy, Peter Christo­pher­son? what per­son was he when you first met him?

COUM Trans­mis­sions were doing a series of rit­u­al per­for­mances in an exper­i­men­tal the­ater called Oval House in Kens­ing­ton in Lon­don, it was one of those places that always let us do what­ev­er we want­ed and at the end of one of those evenings, when we got some­things like 30 tape recorders, cas­sette recorders and put in a tape in each one and then just switched one on every 2 min­utes till all 30 of them were all going out of sync with all sorts of sounds and nois­es and so on. and that was the piece of music, the piece of just exper­i­men­tal music. this young guy came up, slim, with a small mus­tache..

so, what year was that?

that would prob­a­bly be 1970… late 74′. and he came up to us after the event we were pack­ing up, and he said Gen­e­sis, my name is Peter and I believe you know William S Bur­roughs, and we said yeah, we do, he’s a good friend of mine, he said I’ve always want­ed to meet WSB, do you think you could help me get in touch with him? so we said well maybe, we don’t real­ly know who you are, but why don’t you come round and have a cup of tea and we get to know you and then yeah, prob­a­bly we’ll just put you in touch with William. so he came round, and he was talk-ing about his sex­u­al inter­ests at some point, and after that he got his nick­name Sleazy.

so that was the very first time you met him, and he got a name from you?

i think that was a lot of peo­ple, i called david tibet tibet

yeah, i’ve heard the sto­ry

because we knew sev­er­al dif­fer­ent Davids, and so he was at the time try­ing to learn and write Tibetan, so to make it sim­ple when peo­ple said «who was that on the phone?» i said «Tibet»

so what about Geff?

Geff Rush­ton?

yes, did you call him Jhonn Bal­ance or was it him?

no, no, he came up with it.. he was still in school, i think he was 15 or 16, when we met, he in-ter­viewed me for a fanzine that he had, and dur­ing the inter­view it dawned on me that he was gay, so we told Sleazy that we’ve met this real­ly intel­li­gent young guy, and he should take him under his wing and be his men­tor

so it was actu­al­ly you who intro­duced them to each oth­er? this is incred­i­ble

so Sleazy came to see me, and he showed me the pho­tos he’s been doing, those incred­i­ble pho­tos of young boys in med­ical sit­u­a­tions and look­ing as if they’d been beat­en up, real­ly enig-mat­ic but some­what dis­turb­ing to oth­er peo­ple pho­tographs which we loved, we thought they were great. so we wrote to William and we said we’ve met his guy who does real­ly beau­ti­ful pho­tos that i think you’d real­ly like because they’re kind of «wild boys” in a way, so we put them in touch with each oth­er, and William was releas­ing a book through a small inde­pen­dent press in Cal­i­for­nia, and we got Sleazy to send William about 8 pho­tographs, and orig­i­nal­ly they were going to be used as the illus­tra­tions in the book

so what book was that?

we can’t remem­ber, i’m afraid

yeah, okay

but in the end they did­n’t get used, the pub­lish­er thought they were too dis­turb­ing so they did­n’t get used, but from then on Sleazy also knew William to a degree, and we actu­al­ly took Sleazy to meet William in 1981, first in New York and then in Lawrence, Kansas so we went to The Bun-ker and lat­er we went to Kansas and cat­a­logued all the tape recorder exper­i­ments which be-came the album «noth­ing here now but the record­ings». so Sleazy got his wish and became an acquain­tance of WSB, and also as a side effect he end­ed up in COUM Trans­mis­sions, and then Throb­bing Gris­tle, and then Psy­chic TV, and then Coil after all

there was a great sto­ry, it was real­ly deep and inter­est­ing and so mul­ti­di­men­sion­al, about your meet­ing with William Bur­roughs back in the ear­ly 70s, i sup­pose, i’ve read it in the Psy­chick Bi-ble in the spe­cial chap­ter

and his hun­dredth anniver­sary this year, of course

so can you tell us some­thing unusu­al about William? what kind of being was he? some­thing that is not com­mon­ly known

we think we can prob­a­bly do that. when we met William, of course we were around 20–21, and very over wrought because you could tell from the first sen­tence that he was this mas­sive­ly in-tel­li­gent man and he was very intim­i­dat­ing, we always felt scared that he’d sud­den­ly wake up and real­ize i was dumb, and say «why am I talk­ing to this idiot?» but that nev­er hap­pened, and so slow­ly, we got more com­fort­able with him, less intim­i­dat­ed by how spe­cial he was, and he always avoid­ed men­tion­ing feel­ings or emo­tions, he seemed very closed off emo­tion­al­ly, and that always dis­turbed me a lit­tle bit, that he had this piece of what we con­sid­er a real­ly impor­tant aspect of our being, love, emo­tion, that that was kind of miss­ing.

could you say that he was kind of a war­rior in Car­los Kas­taneda’s sense? you know, the way of the war­rior, he often quot­ed him in his books.

well, he actu­al­ly admit­ted, that he was into mag­ic and so on, which, for a long time, nobody knew.

i mean, you wrote that your first ques­tion to William was «tell me about mag­ick?»

mag­ick, yeah, it’s true. but let me fin­ish the oth­er sto­ry first. so he was kind of closed of emo-tion­al­ly, and it wor­ried me, a lit­tle, for him, just because his life.. there must’ve been some­thing that made him real­ly hurt, real­ly sort of dam­aged and of course one day he was on the phone with me and Bil­ly Jr, his son, has had a liv­er trans­plant, and William was in …. in Col­orado, the Bud­dhist uni­ver­si­ty, and Bil­ly had just died, he had this trans­plant, but he car­ried on drink­ing and tak­ing speed and he died, and when i rang up William he was cry­ing and it was for the first time ever he was show­ing emo­tions say­ing how he had­n’t giv­en Bil­ly Jr the atten­tion he should’ve had he had­n’t been a real father for him, he basi­cal­ly just aban­doned him to oth­er peo­ple to take care of

and he want­ed to be like dad, shoot­ing drugs and writ­ing books about it..

so, you know he sac­ri­ficed Bil­ly Jr, basi­cal­ly, to his need to be a writer, and of course, as you know he also shot his wife acci­den­tal­ly, and he men­tioned this to me as well around about the same time, that day he was walk­ing around Mex­i­co City and he did­n’t know why but he was just cry­ing all the time, and he did­n’t know what it was but he knew some­thing ter­ri­ble was going to hap­pen, and it felt like he had no con­trol over it at all and then of course the acci­dent where he shot his wife has hap­pened and he felt as if he was pos­sessed by an evil spir­it, the Ugly Spir­it, as he called, so that turned out to be what made him closed off, because he real­ly loved Joan, his wife, and he nev­er got over the guilt of hav­ing killed her, but he shut it away because it would par­a­lyze him and make him unable to write.

so that was when i real­ized that William does actu­al­ly have emo­tions and it’s a good thing that he’s let­ting them through now. then, few years lat­er, he died, and James Grauer­holz who took care of every­thing in William’s life, busi­ness and per­son­al, was in New York„ and he invit­ed me to go see him, and he was stay­ing in Allan Gins-berg’s old apart­ment in the East Vil­lage, so we went over, and James said I know how much you cared for William, so I want­ed to tell you about what hap­pened, when William died and he start­ed to show me pho­tographs of William on the last day and then we real­ized that it was William when he was dead and then there was a pic­ture of William in his cof­fin and I real­ly start­ed to cry and it real­ly hit me that he was gone.

but then James did some­thing real­ly beau­ti­ful, he said «but look at this Gen», and he showed me William’s diary and the last entry that he put in said some­thing along the lines of «I real­ize now that it’s real­ly just all about love»

nat­ur­al painkiller, yeah

and i start­ed to cry even more, because I thought: «oh thank good­ness William real­ized it was about love before he died, he final­ly let it back in»

that was such a pow­er­ful moment

yeah.. and so we just felt so relieved, that his spir­it, his soul, his con­scious­ness would be at peace. not sure if that fits what you;re ask­ing

could you say that he was a magi­cian?

oh yeah, we actu­al­ly wrote a whole arti­cle about that, Mag­ick Squares and Future Beats, because we noticed that peo­ple weren’t talk­ing about it and yet Brion Gysin the first day we met talked about mag­ic to me, and the first time we met William, we asked him about mag­ic and he showed me his mag­i­cal note­book and exper­i­ments and so on. and we even did an exper­i­ment togeth­er, in the bunker, where I had a real 8 wheel tape recorder and we both read this book by Kon­stan­tin Rau­dive about record­ing the voic­es of dead peo­ple on tape but not using a micro-phone, just hav­ing a crys­tal from a crys­tal radio instead of a mike, and this guy.. East­ern Euro-pean, maybe Lat­vian, actu­al­ly, he found when he record­ed with­out a micro­phone but left all the chan­nels on record that he got white noise but in the noise he could here voic­es and those voic­es were say­ing things that were intel­li­gi­ble, so there’s a whole book by Kon­stan­tin … about there voic­es of the dead com­plete with the record of some of the record­ings he made

yeah, he wrote an arti­cle about it

yeah, so then William and myself decid­ed to see if we could repeat the exper­i­ment so we had this tape recorder we went to the bunker togeth­er and we sat down and we turned it on to re-cord with­out a micro­phone and we tried it and then we did it and we got a series of polaroids of that exper­i­ment with William stand­ing lis­ten­ing to the tape recorder and then after about 2 hours he says to me «..noth­ing». «Noth­ing». so we did­n’t get any voic­es but it was a fun­ny day, we were both laugh­ing after­wards

the inter­est­ing thing about the voic­es of the peo­ple who some­how real­ized them­selves, who real­ly had a kind of a pow­er of art, a pow­er of mag­ic.. i feel that William Bur­roughs is still alive in his voice, you know when you are lis­ten­ing to his record­ings, some extracts from his nov­els or espe­cial­ly the old cut ups from the 50s, from tang­i­er

that’s true.. and also it’s an instant­ly rec­og­niz­able voice, you know, two words and you know it’s William

I want to say that your voice also has a sim­i­lar effect, dif­fer­ent of course from William’s voice, but when I’m hear­ing your voice, it’s imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­able that this is a man who is famil­iar with mag­ic

thank you.. a lot of peo­ple have said that i have a very instant­ly rec­og­niz­able voice too. who knows why, but yeah

it’s inter­est­ing, because the words, the mate­ri­als from which we are build­ing the worlds around us and the way we are pro­nounc­ing the words, it’s some­thing like our per­son­al tone, our per-son­al auto­graph

i see what you mean.. well, when we were hang­ing out with the eco tech­nics peo­ple in Lon­don, they had a lot of work that they were doing based on Gur­d­ji­eff, they were inter­est­ed in Gur­d­ji­eff, so we did a lot of Gur­d­ji­eff exper­i­ments, one of them was a Tibetan exper­i­ment, «find­ing your true voice» which we did a lot of.. basi­cal­ly being in front of a stone wall, so that you go up and down the scale sort of (mim­icks sound) and find what actu­al­ly starts to vibrate the air between the wall and you.

and just feel­ing that res­o­nance with you and the world, yeah

so that’s one way.. one exer­cise that we did whether that had an effect or not.. but usu­al­ly you dis­cov­er that your true voice is deep­er than the one you nor­mal­ly use

it’s just like names, the first thing that you begin your jour­ney with, find­ing your true name, you talked a lot about it

yes, so Brion asked me «do you know your true name?» and we said «yes»

do you know what Brion Gys­in’s real name was? i had some ideas that his real name would be Hassan‑i Sab­bah

ha, that’s inter­est­ing, that’s very pos­si­ble, very pos­si­ble.. because William saw Brion as a rein-car­na­tion of Hassan‑i Sab­bah in some way, and ded­i­cat­ed so many books about them both, and in fact Brion was actu­al­ly the per­son who told William about Hassan‑i Sab­bah. and some-where we have a man­u­script that Brion gave me just called a trip to Ala­mut.. per­haps it was ac-tual­ly print­ed in Research or some­where, or maybe its in «The Best of Brion Gysin». he was fas-cinat­ed with Ala­mut and actu­al­ly made a pil­grim­age then.

what advice could you give to peo­ple who are already run­ning their own tem­po­rary autonomous zones all around the world? do these TAZ’s have a prospect in the mod­ern world, in the future?

not sure I under­stand your ques­tion but..

i mean, we are here in Rus­sia, in this very inter­est­ing sit­u­a­tion where we are try­ing to con­struct some­thing like this, i believe that you remem­ber my dear friend Alex­ey, from the last gig in Mos-cow, the guy with the black hair and the gold­en apple, and they’re try­ing to do come kind of a com­mune here

as we were say­ing ear­li­er, they’ve closed down so many strate­gies that used to make it more pos­si­ble to set up alter­na­tive sit­u­a­tions, they’ve made squat­ting ille­gal, they’ve made it ille­gal to give away food after clos­ing time, when we were in Ho-Ho Fun­house in York­shire, that com-mune, we went to the bak­er’s every day and after 6 o’clock we could have as much bread and cakes as we want­ed, we went to the cheese shop and we got all the bro­ken cheese at the end of the day, we went to the butcher’s and we got as much the meat that we want­ed free at the end of the day, so now they’ve made it ille­gal to give it to peo­ple so now it’s just destroyed, they used to have a law that if you squat­ted in a house they had to turn on elec­tric­i­ty and now they don’t.


so lots of dif­fer­ent things con­spire that make it hard­er and hard­er and hard­er to find spaces in con­tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tions all over the place, it’s hard­er and hard­er to find peo­ple that have got enough mon­ey to share that mon­ey, as you were say­ing, so peo­ple have to con­stant­ly re-eval­u­ate and strate­gize and then to take the risk of dis­ap­point­ment that it’s going to be in-cred­i­bly hard to main­tain any kind of com­mu­ni­ty in this cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, the world every­where is becom­ing more and more total­i­tar­i­an as the fear of the future gets stronger

so, what would you say are the typ­i­cal mis­takes made by peo­ple who are try­ing to set up these kinds of com­munes?

i mean, we used to half-joke but also be seri­ous and say com­munes fall apart in the bath­room and in the kitchen, because peo­ple don’t clean up, you know, we would to come down­stairs in Ho-Ho Fun­house, and we would just man­age to get enough food for the week, and we’d come down and it would all be gone, and we’d look at oth­er peo­ple and say «where the fuck­ing food for the week?» and we say «oh, we dropped acid and got the munchies so we’ve eat­en it»

so not just dis­ci­pline, but also respon­si­bil­i­ty for each oth­er

yeah, respon­si­bil­i­ty for each oth­er and a com­plete aware­ness of each oth­ers” needs, and that requires a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it’s real­ly good, like we said, to have a meal togeth­er, even every day, and talk through issues, to not hold things in, not have an attach­ment to a resent-ment about some­thing, but to have a sys­tem in place where you can tell peo­ple issues that are con­cern­ing you or both­er­ing you or irri­tat­ing you with­out them think­ing «oh, it’s an attack!», you know? and that means that you have to have incred­i­ble hon­esty, like we were say­ing, you have to say: «well, actu­al­ly i think that i react the way i do because i was raped when i was 4 years old» or » because once i trust­ed some­body and they lied to me and betrayed me» and you have to learn to not have secrets, you have to share, even the most dif­fi­cult things that have hap-pened to you emo­tion­al­ly, and that actu­al­ly builds trust faster and deep­er than any kind of hid­ing some­thing or con­ceal­ing issues.

and it’s not easy, peo­ple aren’t used to it, they’re not trained for that, we’re not edu­cat­ed to do it, in fact we are edu­cat­ed to be more self­ish than ever, to think in terms of careers, to com­pete instead of to share, so.. there’s a whole com­plete realign­ment that has to take place in each indi­vid­ual and it has to be sin­cere, and any kind of secret just destroys things so fast.

could you say that you were guid­ed in some way by some­thing exter­nal to this world?

we’ve often thought that when we met Lady Jaye, it was instant, we did­n’t even know that she exist­ed when we first saw her, we were just lying on the floor in this dun­geon, woke up and saw this, to me, incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful woman walk past the door, we were in this dark­ened room and she walked past the door­way where the room had a light, and we saw her for maybe 4 sec­onds, and we found, much to my sur­prise, that we were say­ing out loud, instant­ly, «dear uni­verse, if we can be with this woman for the rest of my life, that’s all i want». and as we were say­ing that out loud, you know, «why am i say­ing that? i have no idea who that is».

and she was talk­ing to some­body we could­n’t see and she start­ed walk­ing back­wards and for­wards across this door-way with a cig­a­rette, and when she first came past, she was wear­ing what we rec­og­nized as 60s clothes, and she had this sort of Bri­an Jones blond bob, which obvi­ous­ly trig­gered a reac-tion in me, and then she start­ed to get undressed and put on the dom­i­na­trix fetish cloth­ing, leather and rub­ber and high heels, and she was still talk­ing to some­body and after­wards she told me the per­son we could­n’t see was say­ing: «don’t go in there, there’s this real­ly weird guy, this artist from Eng­land, that’s a friend of Ter­rence’s, and he’s bad news, he’s evil, don’t go in», and she’s think­ing «ooh, it sounds fas­ci­nat­ing, i want to meet him».

so when we got up and went out into that room, she imme­di­ate­ly said «let’s go shop­ping», and she took me shop­ping and she tok me straight to a Tibetan shop, and bought Tibetan jew­els and trin­kets, and at the time we had dread­locks, so she wove them into my dread­locks, and then she took me to her apart­ment and dressed me in her clothes and they fit­ted me per­fect­ly, and then she took me out to an S&M club and we just stood and talked and watched the slave auc­tion and then at some point we sud­den­ly looked down and the whole time we’d been stand­ing there, she… there was a slave, a naked slave lying on the floor, and she was grind­ing the heel of her high heel shoe into his hand and we just thought «this is an amaz­ing woman».. and as you were say­ing ear­li­er, we’ve worked with all these incred­i­ble peo­ple, Leary and Bur­roughs and Gysin and Derek Jar­man and so on.

but Lady Jaye turned to be thee most potent and remark­able of all, and after we were togeth­er, as a cou­ple, one day we said to Jaye: «do you ever feel like we’ve been through this before and some­one’s watch­ing you? and it’s all unfold­ing exact­ly the same» and she said «yes, i have al-ways felt like that since i was a child» and we said «so have i» and we both had this real­ly strong sense that we were reliv­ing some con­nec­tion.. and then she said some­thing, anoth­er time, she said «you know, when i was a lit­tle girl, around 5 or 6, i was real­ly unhap­py at home and so i would run away in the evening and i would go to the grave­yard where Har­ry Hou­dini’s grave is, and I would sit on Har­ry Hou­dini’s grave and talk to him», and she said «and then one day, i was just sit­ting there qui­et­ly, and i heard this voice, very dis­tinc­tive voice», she said, and it was say-ing «don’t wor­ry, i’m going to be with you and take care of you» and she said, «i’ve nev­er told you this before, but when we met, i real­ized your voice was the voice i heard when i was a lit­tle girl»..

this is so beau­ti­ful. i think we should end the inter­view here, if you don’t mind.

that seemed like a good end­ing did­n’t it?

yeah, it’s per­fect, thank you so much, thank you for your time

you’re very wel­come, and thank you for all the under­stand­ing and the inter­est you’ve giv­en over the years and for the good questions..see you in Rus­sia.

Thanks Nika Yorke for tran­script!

See a cliff, jump off.


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