Sunday, 16 February 2014
Burroughs: the Movie at the ICA, I kept on thinking that I wasn't as yet sure as to what my Monday post was going to be about. I wanted to talk more about Walser's microscripts and about my attempts at exploring notebooks and handwriting, but I also wanted to talk about Burroughs and the movie, which at the beginning felt like a completely different subject. Then I thought of metagrams, where a word morphs into a completely different word by changing one letter at a time. So a thought could become another thought, or another subject by small increments. Lately, I have been intrigued by the idea that writing tools might affect style and writing matter. What you write with might affect form and content. So, I started writing in notebooks with different pens, but also breaking the traditional line after line layout into scattered boxes, albeit chronologically numbered. I have just started reading Philip Hensher's The Missing Ink, so I don't know as yet if it will help me in my search, but interestingly enough he talks about cold and warm tools in a way non dissimilar from Marshall McLuhan's theory of cold and warm media. And pens are definitely warm. I shall remind you that I was thinking all of this while watching the movie. I didn't know much about Bourroughs until recently, when I watched Beat and then today this amazing documentary. And coincidences started to appear, as by magic, metagrams started to form. Brion Gysin was being interviewed, who taught Borroughs the cut-up technique, a typed writing cut up and recomposed in a different way, like a collage, with new sentences and juxtapositions being formed. Not too dissimilar from my box writing experiments. I also kept on spotting typewriters in the background, and thinking of Martin Eden by Jack London, written not much after the invention of the typewriter and definitely influenced by it. I started typing for my dad at the age of six, and never stopped typing since, from Olivettis, to PCs, to tablets and mobile phones, from two fingers, to ten, to one. Now I am investigating pens and paper, almost for the first time. Burroughs was a different person in different settings, and wrote in different styles according to his surroundings. I am curious to know if I write about different things in a different way with a pencil, a marker, a fountain pen or my mobile phone. I don't know where this journey is going to take me but, if nothing else, it will take me to writing more, in more locations and about more things. It can't be bad.