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"IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD THE BEGINNING WAS IN THE WORD THE WAS IN THE BEGINNING WORD THE WORD WAS IN THE BEGINNING BEGINNING THE WAS THE IN WORD WORD WAS IN THE BEGINNING.
Language is an abominable misunderstanding which makes up a part of matter. The painters and the physicists have treated matter pretty well. The poets have hardly touched it. In March 1958, when I was living at the Beat Hotel, I proposed to Burroughs to at least make available to literature the means that painters have been using for fifty years. Cut words into pieces and scramble them. You'll hear someone draw a bow-string. Who runs may read, To read better, practice your running. Speed is entirely up to us, since machines have delivered us from the horse. Henceforth the question is to deliver us from that other so-called superior animal, man. It's not worth it to chase out the merchants: their temple is dedicated to the unsuitable lie of the value of the Unique. The crime of separation gave birth to the idea of the Unique which would not be separate. In painting, matter has seen everything: from sand to stuffed goats. Disfigured more and more, the image has been geometrically multiplied to a dizzying degree. A snow of advertising could fall from the sky, and only collector babies and the chimpanzees who make abstract paintings would bother to pick one up." -Brion Gysin, 1963
Permutation is a technique commonly used by avant-gardes and above all, and systematically, by the American writer Gertrude Stein. It is possible to permute sentences, words within a sentence, syllables and phonemes within a word. Permutation is a typically modern device and considerable use was made of it in the plastic arts by the constructivists. In fact it permits the complete exhaustion of all the possible combinations within a given choice of material, without limit of number. The Englishman Brion Gysin, one of the founders of the beatnik movement and inventor of such new formulas as the collage-novel, has composed his phonic texts on this principle. "I am" is a classic of the genre. Composed exclusively of permutations of the biblical words "I am that I am", with ever more marked accelerations, he succeeds in rendering, from the initial nucleus, a crowd of "I am"s, the creation of the world in geometrical progression until it fades away in the sidereal silence.
ON BRION GYSIN
Brion Gysin lived an extraordinary life, constantly searching for the hidden. As painter, poet, novelist, inventor, historian, performer and catalyst, Gysin used simple techniques to enchant his works toward revealing unnoticed plaes of experinece within. Most often an art work would fuse two or more elements from his repertoire of acquired disciplines.
His necessity for experimentation with an overwhelming passion to "free the word" led to the invention of the cut-up method of writing. By treating segmented pages of text as collage material, the new arrangements created limitless possibilities of preose. A second seminal technique pursued by Gysin was of a more focused and elegant nature: the permutation. By taking a single phrase and running through all existing possibilities of order, whole realms of implied meanings became apparent.
From working on canvas and paper, Gysin took the obvious continuation of his ideas to audio tape. With the help of mathemetician Ian Sommerville, cut-up and permutated recordings demonstrated the true potential of those theories. Audio cut-ups presented the startling impact of linking words, sounds and time through juxtaposition. The development of the audio permutiation poem added variablility through spacing and inflection which provided characteristics that were impossible on the printed page.
In 1960, Gysin was asked to present sound works for broadcast on the BBC. Among those recorded for the event were "iam that i am," "recalling all active agents," and the "pistol poem" which differed by permutating recordings of a gun firing at varying distances.
Being consistently misunderstood throughout his career, Brion Gysin's Dream Machine went largely unnoticed. This spinning, flickering cylinder was designed to affect the alpha rhythms of the human brain, allowing access to one's inner visual capacities. The first object-kinetic sclpture to be viewed with your eyes closed. Gysin spoke of flashes of memory and 360 degree visions with the clarity of projected film after extended use.