|“Photo Falling – Word Falling”:
I first heard these words spoken by the author, William S.
Burroughs when I was fifteen. I had somehow come upon an
ESP sampler disc and there was a twenty-eight second cut of Mr. Burroughs
reading an excerpt from his work, “Nova Express”:
This is war to extermination
– Shift linguals – Cut word lines – Vibrate
tourists – Free doorways – Photo falling – Word
falling – Break through in grey room – Calling Partisans
of all nations – Towers, open fire – Pilot K9, you
are cut off -
OK, OK. A photograph can fall off the wall . . . but how can a
word, something that is not a physical object, fall? When you are
fifteen, the world is very literal. The ESP sampler was a real eye-opener;
along with Mr. Burroughs were The Fugs, Gregory Corso, Sun
Ra, The Godz, and my Cleveland hometown hero, the then
already deceased, Albert Ayler.
I loved all of it. I wanted to drink espresso in coffee houses
(Cle had none). I wanted to emulate Louie Nye in
the movie “The Wheeler Dealers.” Nye’s
character rides around on a kid's tricycle with a dribbling container
of paint suspended over each wheel painting his latest masterwork.
Nye tells a visitor, "If you're going to walk on my canvas,
the least you can do is put a little crimson on your soles."
I always thought I could be the beret wearing goateed artist listening
to poets. This record showed me there was not an impenetrable boundary
between the visual arts and the spoken or written word. It was a
Satori, but just not in Paris.
Just to help confuse things more, this year that I finally figured
out that Burroughs’ ‘Grey Room’ was one’s
brain, and that the ESP in ESP Records stood not for Extra Sensory
Perception but Esperanto. ESP label founder, Bernard Stoller
was a proponent of the language and he only added free
jazz and spoken word to his label when the Esperanto business didn’t
pan out. Just what is this world coming too?
I hope this small tract was helpful and please enjoy yourself.
Dankon (Thanx or Thanks in Esperanto,)
John D. Morton ®