Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meta-Memetic Mamafesto

William S. Burroughs was scheduled to give a lecture at a small college in the midwest just before he died.  He was rather ill, and unfortunately had to cancel.  Thankfully some notes scribbled down for that lecture survived and have recently been floating around on the Internet in some of the more obscure corners of 4chan and other weirdo blogs.

The theme of the lecture was to be the Immediacy of Writing.  Burroughs has often stated in the past that "Writing is remembering accurately," alluding to the fact that writing exists solely in the past.  To be more explicit, he states "Writing will never catch up to the present".  Despite this reality, Burroughs felt it shouldn't keep us from trying.

"There is music in the written word, an improvisationally erect tone, but it has been choked off by an unknown extraterrestrial viral infection."

One way to effect a cure is the cut-up technique, a unique and extremely powerful attempt to heal the sickness.   But it is such a fragile technique that it quickly falls apart if abused.  In the mid nineties Burroughs became intrigued by the emergence of the Internet and it's ability to "cut-up" the globe, offering "meatier ribs" for reanimating if not capturing the elusive present.  He envisioned the evolution of a cybernetic window into the trending present, where the dominant memetic winds of the whole globe could intersect in one plane.  The applications of this window were limitless in his estimation, affording anyone the uncanny ability to forecast and resculpt the present moment at will.  He then suggested that no intelligent government would ever allow this "wishing machine gone wild" to fall into the hands of the populace.

Obviously this "wishing machine gone wild" now exists.  Just how powerful it can be and just how long it will remain is not yet known.

"So ya thought ya might like to go to the show?"

The above is a screen capture of the top ten "trending" memes on Yahoo as of 1:30 pm on January 21, 2014.  Amazingly, Burroughs lecture notes also allude to a foreseeable "top-ten list", and includes many techniques to achieve the temporal transcendence possible with such meta-materia.  Suggestions include weaving together all ten memes into a short story written within one hour (suggested time limit by Burroughs), sigilizing the totality, or assigning Tarot cards to each meme through an obscure process that was unfortunately left out of the notes.  These are a few of the more specific applications, but I'm sure Burroughs would invite a healthy bit of improvising in this area.

Does it work?  This is the wrong question.   From my own personal experience, how soon does it work and how strong is the result is is a much better query.  My personal advice for approaching this work for the first time is to do either one of two things:  set a specific target date and time in which to capture your trends or try to forget you ever read this post and then wait for that particular type of energized inspiration that only arises at the most curious of hours.  Lucky for you, the materia will be ready and waiting.  Be ready to attack the work with intention, focus, and verve (what ever happened to verve?).  And make sure you have a strong sense of humor.  Good luck!


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