To Speak is to Lie to Live is to Collaborate

November 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

The following passages from Burroughs’s Nova Express, off this post on the Reality Studios blog are a real delight for any meme theory enthusiast,

Let me explain how we make an arrest — Nova criminals are not three-dimensional organisms — (though they are quite definite organisms as we shall see) but they need three-dimensional human agents to operate — The point at which the criminal controller intersects a three-dimensional human agent is known as “a co-ordinate point” — And if there is one thing that carries over from one human host to another and establishes identity of the controller it is habit: idiosyncracies, vices, food preferences … a chain smoker will always operate through chain smokers, an addict through addicts … a single controller can operate through thousands of human agents, but he must have a line of co-ordinate points … (p. 54. ~ Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964))

# that habit  establishes identity is some uncanny foresight. Our  browsing/searching habits have revealed more about us than any outward display or utterance.  Though in the passage above it’s the memes/nova criminals that leave traces based on target preference. Its more like, certain viruses can be traced through a trail of infected types. If all  infected were alcoholic Chinese ornithologists then we’d know what sort of a meme it may have been.The reverse scenario is the one to be concerned with, that Nova police will find, that I am an alcoholic Chinese ornithologist based on the memes I contracted/took on-board.

Virus defined as the three-dimensional co-ordinate point of a controller — Transparent sheets with virus perforations like punch cards passed through the host on the soft machine feeling for a point of intersection … What does virus do wherever it can dissolve a hole and find traction? — It starts eating — And what does it do with what it eats? — It makes exact copies of itself … A vast tapeworm of bring down word and image moving through your mind screen always at the same speed on a slow hydraulic-spine axis like the cylinder in the adding machine. (p. 68. ~ Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964))

#Ok which cylinder is “the” cylinder? Burroughs’s grandfather was the inventor of Burroughs adding machine, …What is imagined, is movement of a parasite round an axis which generates a reel of words and images in some Cartesian theater.

#.. a slow hydraulic-spine axis …in another post on the Reality Studios blog mention is made of correspondence between Burroughs & Ballard and their interest in the hypothesis that dinosaurs possessed a “sacral brain”.. why  should this matter? … is it that the  image of spine taken over by some worm winding round it, & making copies of itself easier to conjure ?…or  analogous to the some operation of the adding machine?

The basic nova mechanism is very simple: always create as many insoluble conflicts as possible and always aggravate existing conflicts — This is done by dumping life forms with incompatible conditions of existence on the same planet — There is of course nothing “wrong” about any given life form since “wrong” only has reference to conflicts with other life forms — The point is these forms should not be on the same planet — Their conditions of life are basically incompatible in present time form and it is precisely the work of the Nova Mob to see that they remain in present time form, to create and aggravate the conflicts  that lead to the explosion of a planet that is to nova — At any given time recording devices fix the nature of absolute need and dictate the use of total weapons … (p. 52.~ Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964) )

What scared you all into time? Into shit? I will tell you: “the word”. Alien word “the.” “The” word of Alien Enemy imprisons “thee” in Time. (p. 12.~ Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964) )

# This “the” word lock, is a tricky meme to dissect. Sean Strum at Te Ipu Pakore, in his nice summary lists some of the assertions in  Electronic Revolution. Therein Burroughs holds that the definite article “the” contains the implication of one and only. If there is another, then THAT universe, is no longer THE universe,….so it denies the possibility of any other.Because If other universes are possible, then the universe is no longer THE[;] it becomes A

#… a deterministic bull? sure but one with a twist …this infection model (where alien words such as “THE”  imprison the speaker in time) unlike stronger theories of  linguistic determinism, suggests that cure is possible through strategy (cut-ups, fold-ins and picture language). But the point is often made by Burroughs more clearly using the resources of the language in a formal way rather than through cut-ups, fold-ins or  picture language.

Tim Tyler at “On Memetics” blog regularly reviews and critiques usage of the concept meme in publications and other discourse fronts. Checked his opinion on the priest, he writes that Burroughs seems to have grasped a fair chunk of the essence of memetics

#…Burroughs’s cut-up recordings, are not the most enduring of parasites, I can’t usually give them more than one listen …Do they reveal the mechanism of contraction and subsequent replication? …not sure …I am already copying it into this post for some poor reader to waste some living minutes on …some line there to be traced by the Nova police.



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