Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, with Peter Christopherson
Brion Gysin: His Name Was Master
Texts and Interviews by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, with Peter Christopherson. Edited with notes by Andrew M. McKenzie. Introductions by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge & Carl Abrahamsson
Trapart Books, 2018
“[Brion Gysin was] the only man that I’ve ever respected in my life. I’ve admired people, I’ve liked them, but he’s the only man I’ve ever respected.”
Were the hippies all that? What about the Beats?
In his “Reverberations: A Publisher’s Introduction,” Carl Abrahamsson attributes the upsurge of interest in the Beats to the punk movement; “the free-spirited, anti-authoritarian attitude of the Beats was attractive” to the “individualistic, ‘Do it yourself’ minds of punk,” as opposed to the “uber-optimistic hippies” who were merely “seeking refuge in naïve collectivisms.”
There is a technological factor as well. The Millennials are proud of their internets and webs, but—like them—it seems a bit passive; perhaps a bit controlling as well.
But if there’s a web, who made it, and who controls it? Already in the ’50s, William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin had taken “the cut-up method inherited from Dada“ and “catapulted [it] forward,” becoming “not only an artistic technique but a call to arms in the ‘information war.’”
Everything could be cut-up and rearranged, preferably by random, magical influences, to display what was behind the original messages, reveal inherent goals of malevolent control, and also to sidetrack and manipulate them.
As future interlocutor and Industrial Music pioneer Genesis P-Orridge says in his own Introduction,
[As] they delved ever deeper, [they utilized] the most modern technologies they could acquire creative use of to expose messages and combination they could only believe were “prophetic.” It truly seemed that “The future leaks through.”
If so, if we can break free of the past and control the future, it would seem this was the answer to the “central questions” of P-Orridge’s “most obsessive interests”:
Can we make things we truly desire without qualification take place?
Does “magick” work without any need for inherited hierarchical systems?
Although Burroughs and Gysin liked to talk of their collaborative efforts as those of a “Third Mind,” and Burroughs was always careful to ensure Gysin received full credit for his contributions, the latter always remained something of a mystery figure. P-Orridge was determined to meet Gysin, and after some effort (detailed in his Introduction here) succeeded, shortly before Gysin’s death.
Again, there’s a technological angle, as well as more magickal serendipity:
Back in the 1980s when I used to go see Brion in Paris originally I would record him on a Walkman, then later on I would hire a portable video camera—and would record him on video.
Scotland Yard [police raid] took all the videos [in 1992], sadly, of Brion telling all these amazing stories about Jajouka, the Rolling Stones and the evolution of paper and all this. All gone. And then I had a box with all the cassette tapes in and some of the interviews transcribed. Then Andrew McKenzie from the Hafler Trio stole the box, the whole lot and vanished around the time of Scotland Yard so I couldn’t do anything—it was an opportunist thing.
The box vanished and then about four years ago, [publisher] Carl Abrahamsson in Sweden bumped into Andrew McKenzie in Slovenia or somewhere—who had a big moment of guilt and gave it all back.
And thus the book under review, presenting transcripts of the tapes in their entirety (excerpts had appeared in the RE/Search volume on Burroughs, Gysin and Industrial Culture), along with three essays by P-Orridge—the Introduction (2017), which details meeting and enjoying the company of Gysin; “His Names was Master” (1986), a posthumous account of Gysin’s last days, and a sort of mini-grimoire, “Magick Squares and Future Beats: The Magickal Processes and Methods of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin,” (no date).
Then follow transcriptions of the legendary tapes; conversations between P-Orridge, then-bandmate Peter Christopherson, and sometimes rock journo Jon Savage. The first and largest section is dated April 12–14, 1980; the second, considerably smaller, dated October 28–29 of the same year, both in Gysin’s apartment in Paris (across from the Centre Pompidou).
But what of the content itself? I must say that after GPO’s detailed and disciplined examination of magickal processes in “Magick Squares,” the interviews themselves are a bit of a letdown; rambling discussions of this and that, fueled by various substances, legal and illegal, between the Master and two or three of his brightest pupils.
In short, “table talk”:
Table talk is a literary genre, a species of memoir. A collector (biographer, colleague, friend, etc.) records impromptu comments by some famous person (made generally at the dining table or in small get-togethers), in anticipation of their lasting value. The precedent in classical literature was the symposium, such as the Table Talk of Plutarch, though this was a supposed memoir of an occasion, rather than a person.
So I guess your level of interest in this volume would depend on your interest in Gyson—does he belong in such august company; GP-O and his collaborators certainly think so—and your interest in the actual topics and opinions on offer.
On the latter point, two of the most amusing parts are a couple of long rants, with encouraging contributions from GP-O and Christopherson; one a prescient discourse about Russia reasserting its role as the White homeland (the rest of us are just jumped-up colonials) and the other about how terrible British newspapers are (and always were). In both cases Gysin’s infamous misogyny cause them to veer into, in the first case, America becoming a man-hating matriarchy, with illustrations from James Thurber; and in the second, mean-spirited gossiping about Diana Dors. I suspect this is what GP-O refers to as Gysin’s occasional “queeny” humour.
That already hints at what maintains the interest here: the remarkably “un-PC” nature of the discussion. I’m sure I’m not the only one, especially on this website, to notice how, over and over, the most “controversial” figures of the past, in art, politics, even science, seem, in today’s climate, to be no better than those being denounce as “Nazis,” “White Supremacists,” or simply “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals”; just one angry reader away from being “Watsoned“ or #MeToo’d out of the canon.
Consider, say, modern art:
[Picasso] was the last painter; he just ran through the whole thing, and after that, painting was pushed over the edge and into whatever it is. “Deceptual Art,” as I call it.
I’m afraid I’m not really interested in this “Ecology” anyway. I like the way the planet’s going anyway . . . I find it kind of satisfying, you know, it’s what I expect of the human race . . . So why not blend it in and relate to it as it really is, and not try to back-track?
To which bright pupil P-Orridge adds: “It always sounds a bit ‘hippyfied’ . . .”
The British working man? Don’t ask:
BG: England is just full of drunken women, it seems to me. Staggering around everywhere. On every level of society, drinky ladies who get up in the morning and have a little gin . . . wash their teeth in it.
GPO: There’s a lot of drinky men, too . . . Why do you think Britain’s fucking up? Because no one can work in the afternoon—they’re all pissed . . . They go back a bit drunk, and turn round to the foreman, and say “Fuck off.” He says, “Oooh!” Then they go on strike.
The PC folks are right, you have to keep things clamped down, you don’t know what will pop out. Discussion of a “racial map of England” starts off sounding like the “there is no British people” sort of thing, then goes horribly wrong:
GPO: I’m Nordic, man! Master Race material! I’ve got black hair . . . racially alright. I’d survive Hitler!
BG: He was a great man . . . and he will turn out to be the greatest man of all . . . of all modern times. He’s the only one that’ll be remembered . . . because he made it into space! He saw it, man, he saw it right away . . . ’Wow! That’s what it’s about . . . !’ There was Von Braun, aged twenty-four . . . been fiddling around with kites . . . and he gave then ALL . . . the WHOLE THING . . . everything . . . all the money in the Third Reich to go on with what he was doing. He will be remembered like a lot of those other “baddies” were, after all . . . you remember those sons-of-bitches . . .
Then he brings out his pictures of skull pyramids in India . . .
Yes, Gysin—at least, when in private (though being taped and filmed, which to Gysin was just the status quo) and coked to the gills — is just chock full of today’s badthink.
Commenting on an interview with another Master, David Lynch — in which Lynch expressed some mild approval of Trump for at least shaking things up — Steve Sailer observed that:
To say anything this moderate and open-minded out loud in the entertainment industry in 2018, you have to be, more or less, David Lynch. My impression has been that the Hollywood political monoculture is less stifling to individual thought mostly at the living legend level. But it’s rare for the minions below that rank to notice that the auteurs they idolize often don’t share their obsessive political conformism. The masses just can’t comprehend such a heretical possibility.
There’s a hint of the coming generation gap in a discussion of censorship, where again Gysin seems pretty level-headed; Gysin claims that all censorship had been removed in America, and young GPO demurs. Gysin retorts that it’s reasonable to have 18 as an age limit; “they could have made it 8.” He then gives GP-O some schooling: Censorship is when people are so afraid that no one sits down at the typewriter in the first place.
And consider a brief exchange where Gysin wonders “how the hell do they sift through” all the phone calls they’re recording in Paris, and GP-O says “there’s a machine now, apparently, that checks for particular words . . . ‘drugs,’ ‘guns,’ things like that . . . key words.” Kif-induced paranoia, or glimpse of the future?
There’s plenty more here that will interest Counter-Currents readers.
Ultimately, perhaps all this table-talk, though entertaining, is only so much chit-chat. Is there any reason to take Gysin seriously, with his cut-ups and dreamachines? I think so; but don’t take my word for it.
GP-O tells us that:
We are not talking about a matter of faith here; faith is something that had a low quotient in these experiments. Rather we are looking at prophetic predictions based upon a magickal vision of the universe and the resulting, practical applications of magickal/alchemical theories and exercises. In fact, we are looking at an early, workable model of the future, in which a positive, compassionate unfolding of our latent qualities as a species is defined and described in the vainglorious hope that we “abandon all rational thought” and immerse ourselves in an ecstatic series of creative possibilities.
Public opinion will not long endure a theory which does not work in practice. Today, probably more than ever before, man demands proof of the truth of even his highest ideal. For ultimate satisfaction man must find a principle which is for him a way of life, a principle which he can experience as true.
I believe I have discovered just such a principle . . .
Briefly, [this] book states that consciousness is the one and only reality, that consciousness is the cause and manifestation is the effect. It draws the reader’s attention to this fact constantly, that the reader may always keep first things first.
Having laid the foundation that a change of consciousness is essential to bring about any change of expression, this book explains to the reader a dozen different ways to bring about such a change of consciousness.
This is a realistic and constructive principle that works. The revelation it contains, if applied, will set you free.
Practical and future-oriented; as Neville called it, “a simple method for changing the future.”
We recall that Burroughs and Gysin took over the idea of the “third mind” directly from the words of Napoleon Hill; here is yet more evidence that we have here another manifestation of what I have called America’s native Neoplatonism, homegrown Hermeticism, and two-fisted Traditionalism: New Thought (or, as the kids like to call it, Chaos Magick).
The cut-up method was a practical, physical method to bring to conscious awareness the “patterns in your head” while also being a method to “cut through” them.
The way we behave is based on splicing together things we’ve seen. You can purposefully or unconsciously cut different traits or speaking patterns into your personality. The physical practice of cut-ups forces you to see all your influences.
Again, as Neville said,
So now, what am I actually doing on the inside of myself? . . . You are really talking at all moments of time.
So what are you saying at every moment of time? Watch it; be careful what you are saying, because your whole vast world is this inner conversation “pushed out.” And you can change it only by changing the conversation, because the conversation is equated with your nature.
If one could only control these inner conversations morning, noon and night, and carry them right into the dream world, he would know what world he is creating. Stop for one moment and ask yourself, what am I thinking now? You are carrying on a little tiny inner speech at every moment of time . . .
This is what I ask everyone to observe. Observe what you are actually doing on the inside, for that is what God sees; and what you are doing on the inside, you are doing in little tiny speech movements, and they are crystallizing in the manifested world round about you. So, “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do,” — well, we all would be kings. We all would be everything we want to be in this world. But we find it more difficult to do it than to know what to do. So I could tell you from now until the ends of time, but only practice will do it — just practice.
Speaking of practical methods, if all this still seems like too much airy-fairy hooey, consider an even simpler method.
In “Magick Squares and Future Beats,” P-Orridge concludes by advising the reader to go online [here for instance] and find a short Burroughs text, “The Discipline of Do Easy,” which has been “central to [his] uncanny achievement of countless goals” during “his private, magickal life.”
If you’re intrigued, you could also find it in Burroughs’s collection Exterminator! (Penguin, 1973). Here’s an excerpt:
DE is a way of doing. DE simply means doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage which is also the quickest and most efficient way, as you will find as you advance in DE.
[Basically, it’s this:] Never let a poorly executed sequence pass.
If you throw a match at a wastebasket and miss, get right up and put that match in the wastebasket. If you have time repeat the cast that failed. There is always a reason for missing an easy toss. Repeat the toss and you will find it.
Though a physical discipline, there’s also a mental component:
Now some one will say . . . But if I have to think about every move I make . . . You only have to think and break down movement into a series of still pictures to be studied and corrected because you have not found the easy way. Once you find the easy way you don’t have to think about it. It will almost do itself.
Although this clearly seems derived from the Scientology technique of “mock up,” we can again see the analogy to Neville’s method, where physical, mental (and, in Neville’s case, emotional) powers are brought into focus to produce a change in the future.
And we haven’t forgotten Gysin, who describes a similar technique of “Moroccan magic”:
BG: [The] way you DO it, if you want to get into a place, is you go back [home] and you do these magical preparations, and you set yourself into a sort of state. A lot of grass, or even hash will help you to get into that sort of state of mind. You get that room into our head, and you start moving the furniture around like you would like to have it. You do this several times, like that, until you have the room utterly changed, and then you go back to the cat and you say, “Gimme the place . . .” And he hands it over to you. Because you’ve already moved in . . .
JS [John Savage]: Right, So you project yourself in there, almost . . . [laughter] . . .
BG: Mmm. He certainly found the place very uncomfortable . . . [laughter] . . .
JS: Well, because you were moving the furniture around . . . [laughter] . . .
Absurd? Well, a similar imaginal exercise was conducted by no less than Heidegger himself in his Zollikon Seminars, in which participants are asked to “make present” the Zurich central train station. Heidegger insists that “such ‘making present’ directs them towards the train station itself, not towards a picture or representation of it,” his conclusion being that “We are, in a real sense, at the train station.” 
Still too spooky? Well, getting back to the essay on DE, it starts out like this:
You can start right now tidying up your flat, moving furniture or books, washing dishes, making tea, sorting papers. Don’t fumble, jerk, grab an object. Drop cool possessive fingers onto it like a gentle old cop making a soft arrest.
Until that last note of pure Burroughs, it sounds rather like something Jordan Peterson might say. What could be wrong with that?
 The Guardian, January 18, 1997.
 Editor McKenzie does say that the internet made the job of annotation much easier, and the resulting notes are indeed superb.
 For Evola’s involvement with Dada, see The Path of Cinnabar: An Intellectual Autobiography; translated by Sergio Knipe (London: Artkos Media, 2009), especially pp. 19-25.
 Coined by Burroughs, not Alex Jones.
 “Burroughs felt that the cut-up was a way to break through the Word Lines of this insidious, all-pervading enemy and get to the Truth.” Matthew Levi Stevens, The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs (Oxford: Mandrake of Oxford, 2014). For more on Burroughs, cut-ups and magic[k], see my “Curses, Cut-Ups, & Contraptions: The ‘Disastrous Success’ of William Burroughs’ Magick;” now reprinted in Magick for Housewives: Essays on Alt-Gurus (Manticore, 2018).
 To put this in perspective, P-Orridge recalls his awe at seeing Burroughs wielding “the first ever remote control I had ever witnessed,” using it to create “a cut-up soundtrack by constantly clicking through channels.”
 And thus, “Magick for housewives.”
 See Burroughs, William S., and Brion Gysin: The Third Mind (New York: Viking, 1978; London: Calder, 1979); You can read it in pdf form here. The title refers to a statement in Napoleon Hill’s New Thought classic Think and Grow Rich, in which the author claims that if two people are working in harmony on a project that a third mind will spontaneously be generated by which the participants are able to draw from the knowledge and inspiration of each other. “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.”
 “Brion Gysin (1916–86) has been an incredibly influential artist and iconoclast: his development of the ‘cut-up’ technique with William S. Burroughs has inspired generations of writers, artists and musicians. Gysin was also a skilled networker and revered expat: together with his friend Paul Bowles, he more or less constructed the post-beatnik romanticism for life and magic in Morocco and was also a protagonist in an international gay culture with inspirational reaches in both America and Europe. Not surprisingly, Gysin has become something of a cult figure.” Carl Abrahamsson, here.
 “MT: Why did you want to seek out Brion Gysin?
“P-Orridge: He was the one who developed the cut-ups and allowed William [Burroughs] to use them. He was the one who created the dream machine, and William used the dream machine as well and did the tape-recorder experiments. So, all of those breakthroughs were Brion. And William had always said so. But for me the ideas have been just really vibrant, exciting. We wanted to go to the source of the ideas. It was Brion that took Brian Jones to hear Joujouka. And because of the record that Jones recorded, Joujouka became well-known to rock music listeners. So, he was this catalyst for so many important moments in the Beat era, and a great artist too. We wanted to find out what he was like, and he was fun. He was sweet. Have you ever heard of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers? He would always have a packet of my favorite biscuits in his cupboards for when I came.” “Genesis P-Orridge on pandrogyny, psychedelic tourism, and how s/he invented industrial music,” by Margarita Shalina; Detroit Metro Times, July 20, 2016, here.
 For more on Jajouka see “Welcome to Club 27: Brian Jones & the Myth of the Rolling Stones,” my review of Paul Trynka: Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones (New York: Viking, 2014), here.
 V. Vale: RE/Search #4/5: A Special Issue Book. William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Throbbing Gristle (Re/Search Publications, 1982; reprinted 2007).
 “I hope that you feel for a moment or two, or three, that you can picture him, all of us, entranced, spellbound, bewitched by this amazing raconteur. This medium, this wizard, Occultist extraordinaire Inventor of the dreamachine, still moving slowly toward its day of full recognition, this dearly beloved friend and inspiration. Above all that: beloved friend.” One might even recall Leo Strauss among his students: “Strauss relished his role as a guru to worshiping disciples, once writing of ‘the love of the mature philosopher for the puppies of his race, by whom he wants to be loved in turn.’” Kevin MacDonald, “Understanding Jewish Influence III: Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement,” here; quoting Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing. (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1952), p36.
 GP-O says we should “Recognize his genius. Add him to your list of good, unique, special and extraordinary people.”
 He rejected the term, claiming to hate everyone.
 Some years ago, there was a kerfuffle in the New York “hip” media about a “neo-folk” concert including, indeed featuring, Death in June and other “Nazis.” The archives of NY Press seem to have disappeared, but I believe it was John Staussbaugh who, pondering how such a bunch of alternatives and Nazis could get along anyway, noted that GP-O, who was an impossible to miss presence in the audience, had likely been judged OK due to being an Industrial pioneer; he had been “grandmothered in.”
 See for example Kerry Bolton’s Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents 2012) and More Artists of the Right; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2017).
 As he always said, “We are here to go.”
 Another ex-pat, Mexican cuisine maven Diana Kennedy, agrees: “I only allow myself two ounces [of mezcal] a week. There’s nothing worse than these funky old ladies who have hit the bottle.” See “Cooking with Counter-Currents; Or, We Need Immigrants for, What, Again?” by Peter D. Bredon, here.
 “David Lynch: Sympathy for the Donald,” Unz Review, June 23, 2018; online here. Progs aren’t the only ones; a commenter there adds that “Most ‘conservatives’ in the US want to keep it Nice, which is why people who ask deeper and uncomfortable questions like Richwine and Derbyshire have been fired by Heritage and National Review. It’s gotten so ridiculous that the socialist George Orwell now seems more conservative than most people who call themselves ‘conservatives’.”
 For example, the relation between Gysin’s novel The Process and Dune; Gysin’s take on the Persian myth of the Simurgh bears comparison to Jason Reza Jorjani’s Novel Folklore: On Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind Owl (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2018)
 “A lot of smoke, but some fire.” JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991).
 For a not so compassionate “unfolding of our latent qualities as a species” see Jason Reza Jorjani, Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos Media, 2016).
 See “The [Not So] New Thought of Neville Goddard” in Magick for Housewives, op. cit.
 See the essays collected in Magick for Housewives, op. cit. That GP-O (British) and Gysin (Swiss) fell naturally into this echt American mode of thought/action must be related to their deep sense of alienation from their “home” environments; Gysin famously said at birth he had been “delivered to the wrong address.”
 The Third Mind, op. cit., p44.
 “Discipline” and “DE” suggest the language of Scientology, and indeed “Mr. Hubbard” is mentioned. For Burroughs’ uneasy relations with the future worldwide cult, see “William S. Burroughs’ Wild Ride with Scientology” by Lee Konstantinou; Gizmodo, 5/11/11, here. This was back when “Operating Thetans” were people like Burroughs, not John Travolta. Gysin was never really involved, but he does reveal here much of the wild secret history of John and Mary Cooke, the first OT’s, whom he met up with in Tangiers. Discipline was also a theme for GP-O’s Throbbing Gristle; see here; a commenter makes the same contrast we and the publisher did at the start, above: “I like the idea of Industrial music as a kind of corrupted psychedelia — the same derangement of the senses, but the childhood innocence has gone.”
 There’s also a 9-minute, 16mm film by Gus Van Zant, his first after film school. It used to be on YouTube but apparently no longer.
 I heard the same piece of advice from the harpist in the 2000-era Current 93 during a rehearsal: if you make a mistake, immediately repeat the passage until you can do it flawlessly. Did she get that from GP-O’s former bandmate, David Tibet? (Tibet recalled that “there was room for only one pair of leather pants in [TG].
 Colin Wilson (and I suppose Gurdjieff) emphasized the need for any such method to use all three factors; see “Neville and the Rebel” in Magick for Housewives, op. cit. Evola, in his magical writings, also emphasized the need to love the object imagined (see “The [Not so] New Thought of Neville Goddard, loc. cit. and the literature cited there); the pictures should not only be “studied” as Burroughs says, but loved. Was this emotional lack an outgrowth of Gysin’s “I hate everyone” mentality? The final entry in Burroughs’ Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs (Grove, 2000) describes love as “the most natural painkiller what there is.” Burroughs jokes that “the Colonel” with his cottage in Wales in Colin Wilson’s “Return of the Lloigor” and his own Colonel Sutton-Smith from “The Discipline of DE” are one and the same, here.
 Less controversially, Neville—a trained professional dancer—recommends deep relaxation, inducing “a state akin to sleep: i.e., the hypnagogic state, or what we would today call “lucid dreaming.”
 Zollikon Seminars: Protocols, Conversations, Letters (Northwestern, 2001), p. 70. See Jason Reza Jorjani’s discussion of this passage in Prometheus and Atlas, op. cit.
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
Lamentations for a City
Jonathan Bowden’s The Cultured Thug
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 2
The Suppression of the Maryland Moderates During the Civil War
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 1
Horses and Heavy Hors d’Oeuvres
G. Gordon Liddy’s When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, Part 2
G. Gordon Liddy’s When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, Part 1