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The Process Paperback – April 1, 2001
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About the Author
Brion Gysin was born in England in 1916. After serving in the U.S. army during WW II he settled in Paris and Tangier where, with William Burroughs, he pioneered the "cut-up" method of fictional creation. His work was a major influence on the Beat's as well as Paul Bowles, Brian Jones, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie. He died in Paris in 1986.
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"The Process" is a book about journeys, and of becoming, with the Desert serving as Gysin's grand metaphor. The novel itself moves from west to east -- it begins with a quote from Shakespeare and ends with an epilogue from Kashf Ul-Haqa'iq, a 13th-century Persian mystic. The story also gains centifugal force as it spins around the rituals and music of Morocco's master musicians of Jajouka. Late in the novel Gysin/Hanson speaks it plainly: "You see what I'm getting at, don't you? We are, all of us here, in an extreme situation -- between birth and death, you agree?" Seldom does a novel put the life force itself at center-stage.
The book is full of secrets (in one aspect its Gysin's own diary of actual people and events) but it is also a manual filled with answers. The novel is indeed trippy, but in the grandest sense; and like life itself "The Process" is full of marvellous confusion, contradiction and not a little pain. The promise of Othello's "round unvarnished tale," at the novel's beginning, gives way to Ul-Haqa'iq's "unveiling of realities." At journey's end, of course, there is always the question all of us will face: "Why were you in such a hurry to get here, when the Desert gets us all in the end?" Highly recommended.
+ *The Process* is a rambling, breezy, keef-laced, picaresque tale ostensibly centered on a black professor self-exiled in the Middle East where he seeks...well, exactly what he seeks isn't exactly clear. Truth, power, wealth, immortality, the ancient mysteries, the meaning of life--a continuing source of the best dope...or perhaps all of the above.
+ Hanson isn't exactly sure what he seeks, but he senses it is to be found in the great Sahara desert, where the spirit of Ghoul devours everything. A cast of characters, each more eccentric than the last, are searching the desert, too, and as their paths cross and re-cross, the *The Process* takes on the tangled complexity of a hairball.
+ That seems to suit Gysin's purposes just fine and if a reader isn't looking for easy answers or a story with nicely dovetailing subplots and no loose ends, it'll suit him, too. Gysin is a seemingly limitless generator of ideas, and so is his novel. There is something of the "shaggy dog story" about the *The Process,* or, perhaps, under the circumstances, it would be more appropriate to call it a 1001 Arabian Nights sensibility. The story goes on for the sake of its telling, because to keep talking is to keep entertaining; to keep communicating is to keep teaching; it is to keep trying to say what is perhaps ultimately unspeakable. The story, like life, continues because what is the alternative?
+ Gysin had an enormous influence on William S. Burroughs and many of Burroughs preoccupations can be seen in this novel. No doubt the two men cross-fertilized each other's imagination, but it is Gysin who Burroughs credits with the cut-up technique, the experiments with tape recorders, the idea that writing should be more like painting. Gysin was an artist's artist--better known an influence on other artists than he was for his own art. That's a shame and may, in part, be due to the fact that he spread his considerable talent over a wide-range of pursuits.
+ As a result, this novel, is not nearly as appreciated as it deserves to be. While written in the 60s, *The Process* hardly seems dated at all; in fact, some forty years after it's initial publication it's focus on the Arab world and the visionary aspects of Middle Eastern life seems more prescient and more relevant than ever.
+ Wry, philosophical, macabre, raunchy, surreal, madcap, and a lot of other things besides, *The Process* is a wild and unhinged piece of storytelling that can make you laugh, make you think, and make you turn pages. It's a wonderful, thought-provoking ride with many points of interest--to nowhere in particular.
Most recent customer reviews
a journey - thee desert thee initiation of thee soul are one * * * thru thee long dry desert ov this that some would call life and...Read more