Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Burroughs and Gus Van Sant

‘On William Burroughs and Beyond’ is a video screening that took place yesterday on the theme of Burroughs, the American poet.
Among the videos played, 2 were directed by Gus Van Sant, one a 2 minutes video ‘Thanksgiving Prayer’ dating from 1990 and another of a 9 minutes video ‘The Discipline of D.E.’ dating from 1982.
The first one is based on the poem ‘Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986’, written by Burroughs for the book Tornado Alley, ‘Thanksgiving Prayer’ shows Burroughs reciting an accusation ballad, critical of all political and social groups in America, to include for instance the KKK, the America that never allows anyone to mind his own business, the betrayal of the human dream, and so on…
The second video, it was a narrated version of a short story by Burroughs where the spectator learns the laws of "Do Easy" which is the quickest and easiest way of doing things. The video also discusses the complications that can arise from the quest to perfect each movement in order to find the most efficient way of doing everything - even nothing. Mastering the D.E. for instance requires repeating the same sequence the same way actors repeat the same shot to take it right.

What interested me is the style Burroughs uses in the different videos, in the first video he's sharp, sarcastic, a little bitter for those who might contradict him on his political statements, and in the second video he plays a game, he's got the elegance and focus to lead the spectator (or reader in the case of the book) into his sequential maze of thoughts.

I thought that I could propose this to myself: try to master the skill of trying to say what is to be said in serenity, even if the content of the sentence is sharp, try that in life and while wrapping up the narrative of the project, see where it could take me.

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