Thursday, January 09, 2003
posted 7:17 AM
Yes, I did, rather textually obviously, take some of those, most notably LSD of the old (and I gather rather different) variety, though that now seems a lifetime prior to the writing of Neuromancer. My drug of choice during the composition of Neuromancer, for the record, was O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock Lager, a central nervous system depressant, employed primarily to manage the anxiety of composition, and not a practice I’d particularly recommend to anyone considering taking up writing. In retrospect, I’m of the opinion that writers who imagine they “use drugs to write” really only manage to write in spite of the drugs they use. There may be a few truly remarkable exceptions to this. Naked Lunch comes to mind (but not, for me, that much of its author’s later output).

The most extraordinary thing, for me, about reading William Burroughs’ LAST WORDS, was seeing that WSB apparently never considered himself to be an addict. Rather he seemed to suppose that he was repeatedly invaded by one individual “habit” after another, in the face of all evidence that this had in fact been a single lifelong ride.

Today I am of the opinion, experientially, that the supposedly visionary aspects of any drug experience, regardless of how marvelous-seeming at the time (or how cocktail-lounge banal) represent no more than a tweaking of incoming stimuli. “But you’re drowning in the waters the mystics walked on,” said a saddened theologian to Leary and Alpert, early on, when they had explained the import of Dr. Hoffman’s benison. When I first read that, I assumed that this guy was just some sour-faced killjoy. In long retrospect, now, I think he may actually have been trying to tell them something.

Someone posts that, just as I imagined I might be doing, I’ve recalled Farber’s idea completely incorrectly. There, you see: that is the wonderful thing that is higher education! I have been navigating all these years, in part, on the basis of my own distortion of Farber’s idea. But I do know that when I first read it, I must have done so with at least a degree of comprehension, and that I felt both enlightened and emboldened. Perhaps I had it right, then, but it’s become encrusted in memory, overgrown with jewels and barnacles…

If I can do that with Manny Farber’s theory of film, what mightn’t I have done to my own past?

to peer at me through pinhole video surveillance cameras while I smoke way too many cigarettes and muse cryptically on my past, the future of technology, or just about anything else you can think of?
If you find yourself sitting bolt upright in bed, at three in the morning, bug-eyed and trembling with the desire for exactly that, then you need the DVD that one London critic likened to a very long ride with a loquacious but highly peculiar cabbie: NO MAPS FOR THESE TERRITORIES. Someone brought it up in the fora yesterday, so I feel I should weigh in now with my seal of approval.

Directed by Mark Neale, who had to think very laterally indeed to get around my innate sloth, bashfulness, and an ingrained distaste for cameras, NO MAPS is, among other things, probably as close to autobiography as you’re likely get from this particular writer. Mark kept me gaffer-taped into the back of his Lexus Q45 until Stockholm Syndrome set in, endlessly cruising downtown LA and the quasi-industrial fringes of Greater Vancouver, and I started talking. And talking.

You couldn’t pay me to sit through it again, mind you, but I have watched it, eyes wide open, in its rather lengthy entirety. Aside from the fact that I don’t like looking at myself at all, or hearing the sound of my own voice, I signed off on it 100%. And as no portion of its perhaps largely theoretical and entirely indie-prod cash-flow heads this way, ever, I feel my hands are clean in recommending it to you:
Aside, I mean, from the fact that it’s about me, which, being me, I find sort of embarrassing in the first place.
But I regard my being me, ultimately, as a sort of cosmic accident.

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