Written by Michael Stutz. Read more at http://michaelstutz.net/.
I spoke with William S. Burroughs a few times in the final years of his life. I miss him, and recently I was shocked but happy to hear his voice again — it was coming out of the pages of Dostoyevsky.
Right there, in the middle of Crime and Punishment, were words, phrases, ideas … a whole passage in fact that was obviously his. And then I knew — it was a heist, and Bill’d done good. We all have to, if we want to pull off the writing con.
So I wrote about this, about the thievery of authorship, in “The Great Writing Caper,” a piece whose original subtitle was “On the Archaeology of Influence.”
That subtitle was a phrase that was until-now unused, basically unknown to man — a Google search today will turn up less than ten instances where those few words were ever combined together; zero if you include the “on.”
Although original queries included the subtitle, I left it off the final manuscript. Very few people had ever seen it, almost no one in the world had known this essay had included that.
It was published yesterday. Almost immediately after, I saw a tweet by Karl Whitney, an Irish writer I’d never heard of before. He tweeted the link to a review he’d just written on a brand-new book by Andrew Lees — about his continuance of artistic and scientific experiments first proposed by William Burroughs. And in the tweet he said: “a fascinating archaeology of intellectual influence.”
My review of a new book about William Burroughs: 'a fascinating archaeology of intellectual influence'. https://t.co/P6xOZlYL1s
— Karl Whitney (@karlwhitney) September 7, 2016
This is what Burroughs used to call a synchronicity, a topic he was mightily obsessed over. “What you’re thinking of, you’ll encounter.”
Yes, I’ve been thinking of Burroughs lately, and I’ve encountered him, and I’ve been thinking about many other things that are appearing, too. There’s no question: to me, and to all my friends, we’ve entered an important moment in time. Not everyone can see it yet, but the Time Ghost, the zeitgeist, is among us now.
Today as I am writing this I get an email hello from the journalist Steve Sailer. He wants to talk to me about a piece I wrote for GotNews last month on the Republican National Convention.
In that story I talked about how I felt the nascent, rising alt-right movement of 2016 was like the 1977 punk rebellion. And of course the ‘alt’ of it has all the connections and connotations with my generation’s so-called ‘alternative’ in music, something I admit to having been too much a part of at the time. When it came, there was no getting out of it; all of us found ourselves haunted by it in some way. It’s a ghost that’ll never leave us. As I told Krist Novoselic years later: “All your bass are belong to us.”
Sure, rock’s degenerate, it was an ultimate dead end, a childish rebellion that the best of us bittersweetly grew away from — but it’d been the zeitgeist of the anti-culture in our formative years. We saw it and we took the ride. Sometimes you see things and it’s too early. If ‘alt lit’ could’ve been a concept in the 90s, I would’ve been its modem-using, flannel-flying king. But no one was looking then.
It turns out that in a column this week for Taki’s Magazine, Sailer said the same thing I did about the alt-right, in almost the same exact words — and then, in another new piece for unz.com, he expounded, almost literally, on all the very secret thoughts I’ve been having lately about the connections between the ‘alt-rock’ fever of GenX 90s youth and the ‘alt-right’ of political adulthood. There’s a serious and real conection here, and like hearing the voice of Burroughs come out of a nineteenth-century book, or two writers across the planet uttering the same strange phrase at the same time in reference to the same man, it’s fantastic — but knowing what I do about the hauntings of time, it doesn’t surprise me at all.
“I’m just the messenger,” the boss is always saying at his rallies now, and I know he gets it and he means it — this thing’s bigger than all of us, it’s in the air, and like a ghost it’s downright shocking at that moment when it first appears.
This article was written by Michael Stutz. Read more at http://michaelstutz.net/.