Nobody knows where Brion came from. Out of nowhere I am inclined to say but who am I? I mean that quite literally referring to the occasion when I first met him which was in London in February 1970. It must have been Duke Street where Carl Weissner & I visited Burroughs. The afternoon passed in conversation that had I little part of since it was mostly in French (because of Henri Chopin). It was a disembodied experience also quite literally when I think of the film experiment we did by projecting William's & Anthony Balch's pictures on Carl's face and mine (it was the experiment called HOW TO BE HUMPHREY BOGART as described in the Academy 23 section of THE JOB): "A young man brings a chair onto the stage and sits down in front of the screen facing the audience. A tinted photo of Jesse James is projected onto his face and focused to fit exactly..." Better hang on to your face before it's gone. Is that what the message is? Are you sure what your face is & what is your real name? Those were questions that clearly cut across Central European time & cultural space shifting the static conceptions that I might have had into a quite different picture, & Brion Gysin was right in the midst of it.
Coming back to that afternoon in London I remember the scene changed when a tall guy in a long Moroccan outfit (something of a djellaba) entered the apartment, grabbing a piece of the action in a worldly manner. Definitely a traveller, a man who knew how to get around. This was a man to ask a question or two... like when he was explaining the dreamachine to me later & I wanted to know what the light patterns were doing: "They set your alpha waves in tone" was about the answer that I remember. Or as he said elsewhere: "The Dreamachine... induces people to see." Perhaps Brion had taken a daring shortcut here with all the implications of such a step but then what else is the process of art about?
There is a stunning parallel to the step that produced the cut-up method which is apt to reveal instant insights on what word is. Gysin simply stated that writing is 50 years behing painting because of the effects that the collage technique had had on visual perception... perhaps an instantaneous revelation about seeing, putting the artist in touch with the material he is dealing with. It showed that seeing had been restricted to a limited range, & naturally this had caused a revolt. Brion had the historical chance of repeating this effect in the literary field... to show the reader (&the writer) an extension of the application of the word-image-structure.
On second view there are no shortcuts in art. These "shortcuts" I am referring to are mere first steps to get you going. My own experience with writing shows that it can take years to do the first steps, & in some cases it might be a never ending effort to break the barrier which limits man's perception to a prerecorded universe. In some cases it takes a kick in the ass or the courage to jump to reach space where creative conditions prevail. It is then when the long journey starts, the efforts & the dangers of getting places that lie beyond the well known marks of conditioning: the Magic Garden, "the world of infinite number".
I am convinced that this is where Brion lived. As far as life here is concerned he was only a visitor. As an artist he lived in a grid of music, visual scenes (his paintings) & the magical radiation of words & signs. The journey he took was that of deconditioning from the biological film & later telling us (anyone willing to listen) what he had found. The enchanted garden that he saw from the top of Alamout. "Breathtaking", as he stated anbiguously. But it mustn't all have been technicolor & him sitting there in a cozy seat in front of a Cinerama screen since he came out screaming: "Wrong address! Wrong time, wrong place, wrong color!" There are, after all, no free tickets to paradise or the Garden & not a chance to ever turn back. That's when Ye Old Soul (as he said was his real name) started asking questions: "What are we here for?" Almost automatically the answers came back: "We are here to go... I am the artist when I am open. When I am closed I am Brion Gysin."
... never to return. That is all he brought back from Morocco, & that is something very few people can sayabout their stay there. Indeed the question is whether the experience of HERE is on the western curriculum at all. To be here now: strictly for magicians and artists, is it not? For thise who know how to re-write, to breathe in words until they start spinning off matter racing away in one direction to action both visual and music events staged by interplanetary vaudeville teams ... "You see I know both the practical and the theoretical side of the business since childhood you might say and I proclaim to one and all that Morocco is the Wild West of the Spirit ..." The world is shadows on the wall... ancient wisdom of existence barely remembered by Western consciousness & just now coming back like a broken dream.
The best things in life are stolen, is that what SHE says? The pre-recorded female message spilled out over the planet & all kinds of critters going for it. The eternal female recording ...
Of course Brion has come back. He is a traveller, the terminal tourist, a man to be asked a question or two. He was full of stories if the setting was right, but you had to have a recorder to get them straight.
So he went into the mountains listenining to the music of Jajouka to find some hard lines about truth: "And he stammers out an answer is lost." He made the mistake of taking notes & making drawings, untolerable. So he was driven out, never to return. "Never went back to live", he told Terry Wilson in Here To Go. "Communication is the Original Sin which drove us out of the animal paradise."
Silence then? It is here where the authenticity of Brion's paintings begins. Paintings that are moments of vision put on canvas. Prsent time made visible by the touch of the brush. We are here ... moments to go. To me, that is one of Brion's fundamental messages flung into the pile of shit that Western tought & philosophy has stacked up around us. Saying it like the Old Man from the Mountain looking down into the Garden of Delight or mortal Decline, whichever you choose ...