- File Size: 4446 KB
- Print Length: 254 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: mandrake; 1 edition (November 4, 2014)
- Publication Date: November 4, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00P9UOSYU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,959 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs Kindle Edition
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Matthew Levi Stevens seems to have only met Burroughs briefly, in 1982, but this encounter was important* (see the comment below), and Burroughs is clearly a major ancestor spirit for him. I suspect from the list of credits/footnotes/ citations that he has not had the support of the Burroughs estate in his research: a pity. However, he does have an in depth knowledge of the Burroughs lifework and has interviewed/ corresponded with a wide variety of sources. This book has been more than just a book for him.
Sensibly he does not attempt to recap Burroughs' life, but sets out to examine Burroughs own perspective on magic. This was described by Burroughs himself in 1975 as follows: "Since the word `magic' tends to cause confused thinking, I would like to say exactly what I mean by `magic' and the magical interpretation of so-called reality. The underlying assumption of magic is the assertion of `will' as the primary moving force in this universe - the deep conviction that nothing happens unless somebody or some being wills it to happen. To me this always seemed self-evident...." I think that Matthew succeeds in his objective. He certainly leaves me feeling that I understand Burroughs somewhat better.
Before reading this book I was familiar with much that has been written of the life story, friends, associates, but there is so much that could be written about this unusual individual that of necessity there are still gaps. Matthew has introduced me to: David Conway (author of `Magic: An Occult Primer'), Phil Hine (early innovator in Chaos Magic), Cabell McLean (aka Cabell Lee Hardy), The Illuminates of Thanateros, Genesis P.Orridge, Peter Christopherson, and Malcolm McNeill among others. This list of names is not important in itself, what is of value is the perspective that is enabled throughout this book. For instance, I may well have been slow to pick up on it, but this is the first time that I have appreciated that cut-ups belong within a sorcerous frame of reference.
There is also a surprise for me: a head and shoulders 1971 Duke Street photograph of Burroughs actually smiling deliberately for the camera. If I have seen this before, I have long forgotten it. This was completely unexpected.
So thank you Matthew.
* Please note that Matthew has since pointed out (see comment below) that he met William Burroughs on a number of occasions. This certainly fits. The sense throughout the book is that the contact was deeper than a one-off meeting.