What are your thoughts about the idea of creation: why does anybody do anything? |
For me, the reason why I create things is to stimulate change in some way; in myself first and, for someone who's listening, hopefully in them as well.
OK, then why change and what sort of change?
And what are you left with; how far are you with this process, this change? How far have you affected it? Have you affected it?
What sort of crimes?
Is that not counter-productive? This approach makes it easy for people to stick you into a little box and say, "This man does this". Where it's never totally defined what you do, then nobody can really do that. Maybe that's a more effective weapon - but this is something I'm putting to you as a question, rather than
something that I think.
Why was that particularly because of Japan?
Would you not say that to make something involves a kind of judgement anyway? I remember Brian Eno saying that music, or sound creation, was one of the best ways of working out philosophies and attitudes towards life because you could take a strip of tape, which is a certain length of time, and then within those
parameters you could work out any philosophy you wanted to and it wasn't going to harm anybody. But you still had those parameters; you still had to decide when it was going to start and when it was going to end. So you're making a kind of judgement and, to my mind, putting something out on a piece of tape or a record or whatever implies a kind of judgement.
Where do you draw the line, then? Or don't you draw one, or don't you see it as being a line - between judging for other people and judging for yourself. This is why I asked about creation: why does anybody do anything? You can say it's to try and change yourself and to try and change other people, but that implies another kind of judgement because that says these people should change. It's a judgement about people you've never met, people who are going to be affected in some way by something that you've put out.
But if you say that you want them to be changed in some way, does that not imply a kind of judgement about the way that they are before they've heard your record, or whatever?
What can anybody hope to achieve by doing that kind of operation. This goes all the way along the line; you have the wonderful example of Handel's Surprise Symphony - do you know that one? He was absolutely sick of London audiences falling asleep during these very long soirees, etc., so he made this piece where, da dum da dum dum dum BOOM! and everyone jumped, "what?!". What can
anybody hope to achieve now, with the fact that if people are asleep - of course, how and whether you know somebody else is asleep are separate questions - but what can anybody hope and expect to achieve if people are asleep anyway? And if you do not have the right to judge and tell somebody else that they're asleep, what right do you have to make them wake up?
What if someone wants that person to stay asleep and that person doesn't know they're asleep? Does the dreamer know they are dreaming? The old zen story where "I dreamt that I was a butterfly and then I woke up: am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man, or am I a man dreaming that I am a butterfly?". Where's the in-point, where's the button?
What have you actually managed to find out? What have you encountered?
Could you say that you saw it as a bigger metaphor, for something else?
Yes, I can see that. If you say, "that's all there is."
It's interesting: you say sex and death are the two - I'd say there are three. You missed out birth.
But you say that sex is just meat: there are 2000 years of a certain kind of relgious thought that would say that sex is actually the highest, something that is so far away from meat and bones and blood to be totally unrecognisable from that.
Maybe the act itself is to do with meat and decay and the reminder that we are in fact physical, but the effect that happens within as such is an outside effect, reminding us that we are actually capable of more than we really have. So it is quite the reverse. And that's why I asked what kind of changes had happened, because to me that is one of the most fascinating things, it's like you've been tricked into thinking in a certain way. I think most of the 'illusions' as you define' them, politics, religions, whatever, would like you to think that it is in fact 'the bestial act', which is what you say.
In that case, I can see that's true for a large percentage of the belief systems and people that I've come in contact with, but where I take issue is, where do you put all the people who've died, for instance, and come back? Where do you put all the people who never have sex? Where do you put all the people who Just aren't part of what you've just said? If we need these beliefs, where are these people? People who are crippled for life, people who are what's called mentally subnormal who never have sex and never even think about it - and can be incredibly gifted people. I mean, what's he called, Wolfli, the Swiss - you know this guy?
Yeah. This guy never had sex in his life. Where do these people fit in?
OK, we have to use this ridiculous thing of people being taught to think certain things, but in whose interest is it to think in this way? Because it's certainly not in our interest! And all creation and also information is an attempt to step outside those limitations.
I can understand that, but it's so upside down. Because if something is threatening and it makes you push further, you could say that in an antagonistic, controlled society that's actually good for the society because the society then has more to sell. It has more that it can get people involved in. It can then use up more of its garbage by then throwing it at people who want more.
Yeah, but you know and I know that if that happens you actually feel a greater sense of being alive.
Everybody does. Why do you think all the Dutch people go skiing? Why do people smoke, why do people take drugs? It's exciting, it's forbidden; it goes against the grain.
It also creates a different set of parameters. But that's getting off the point, because I can't see why a control system wants people not to think. I know that it does this, but I can't see why; because if people think, if they're going out and doing things, then they're going to want more anyway. They need more to feed this sense of living. The sense of being alive is that all those things you said about sex and death and birth just don't matter anymore. I know what the answer is, because what I was going to say was the control system wants you to believe, as you said, what you've been taught, and the creative act actually means that all those things don't matter anymore because it's actually higher and further forward than those things we've been talking about. And that's why the control systems don't want you to think, that's why they don't want you to do creative things. If you do, you're not a prisoner anymore. You ARE the life-force, you don't need any
of this crap. You are not a body. This is one of the good things about Scientology - they've got this big list of the things which are used subliminally, they say, in control techniques to subdue people because it tells you something that you must be anyway, you can't help being, to be a body. To be here. To be now. And of course you hear this and go "fuck!". And they have this thing about having simultaneous commands, stand up / sit down. Well you can't do them both at once, so what they call your 'reactive mind' gets completely confused.
Now what I'm asking you is how we can use this and how we can actually do something about this. I'm not saying something like 'sex for everybody'. I'm talking about how you can reproduce, create these states, which is the change that you were talking about, by the use of something which is inorganic. Like tape, things which have this plastic inbetween - like pornography, like records; there is a barrier between the creative act and what happens with somebody else. How can we actually dissolve that line - and I don't mean by performance where there's somebody there, because there's still a kind of plasticity inbetween. How can you make a creative act?
So, having got this, how do we get across the plastic barrier? How can you make a remote action happen to a lot of other people?
Right, OK. But where does that come from? AHA! this is where I'm leading to; where does that come from? It seems to me that you have two alternatives: you have something which is completely remote, abstract, which is then taken by somebody and converted into something else. Which is one kind of definition of a
creative act. Or there is the other possibility that there is no plastic barrier, that there is this something that happens, in real time, in real space, and is then impressed upon what is essentially a plastic medium, totally inorganic, and somehow that inorganic quality doesn't matter anymore: the organic quality can actually come through. Now, which is it?
Right. Now, why? And what comes through? In Sufi exercises, there's a vast surface of energy and you are taught certain ways to use this energy so that it gets used up and doesn't fly around the room causing all sorts of damage. You can take an object and can use this energy, and then give it to somebody. The object is 'charged', as if with electricity. It might took perfectly innocuous, you pick it up and go "AAGH!". Right, now can this be done with videotapes and tapes and records - books even?
How?... You see, what I'm getting at is that you use shortwave to do your "music", but where's your personal input and where is this communication, which is really the creative act, isn't it?
Then you put that together into a form?
OK, fine. But that's not what I'm asking. What I'm asking is how, if it's received through a radio set, can it be something that is precisely what you want to say? Where is the creative act? You have a feeling and you... twiddle? It's like dowsing, the way you describe it.
That's what I'm talking about. These vicars who look for water, they always see it as not being them who are doing it, it is actually something coming through them. I remember one example where this guy said he was a radio set. He said the more pure he was feeling and the more he allowed himself to step into the background, the stronger the signal that came through. That's an analogy I've used before: the idea is to become a better and better receiver so that the signal is less and less distorted. So if you're feeling something, if that analogy is true, and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, then what are you trying to find? If it is just confirming a state that you are in, or fighting against - which is another kind of confirmation - then where does that get us?
There's a book of interviews with Stockhausen, called 'Conversations with Stockhausen' or something. He was listening to reasonably high volume shortwave material on headphones and also on speakers, certainly enough to cause problems with your neighbours, and he was just tripping-out, going crazy. He got a whole group of students listening to this stuff for 40 days and nights, all the way through. If they were asleep, they'd have their headphones on. And he has this very big quasi-Buddhist Christian thing of 'the world is an entity', etc., which is what would now be considered 'hippie' or something, but he has a very holistic view of everything, and he has this notion that you can listen to the stars on shortwave. You'd find that interesting, it's really good. But he also talks very briefly in this interview about the connection between a certain kind of frequency
on a shortwave and people going, like 'boing!'. But I understand that to be coming from interference with alpha waves in the brain; it's not from anything inside that signal, it's not because it comes from some particular star or anything, although I think that has a slight influence; if you listen to the 'woodpecker' pretty loud you start to get these alpha wave patterns. So in a sense it's linked to the whole DREAMACHINE flicker research. I can see that if you're dealing with shortwave, then you're dealing with very pure tones, with something that can sometimes link up with the physiognomy of your brain. Then are you being tricked into thinking it's a feeling when really it is only a kind of interference in your brain? It's making neurons fire that normally lie dormant?
So you've had this 'blending'?
So everything you do with shortwave concerns the effect we just talked about?
In that case. It should be listened to on headphones or pretty loud.
Sounds like the formula for a standing wave.
Is that the link between the organic thing that we were talking about, the organic creative act?
Take for example driving a bus, which I used to do when I lived in LA. If I'm focused on the details of the work, where the stops are, how many people are standing there, whether or not they're standing out in the street, I do a better job. If I'm thinking about something more important, personally, some experience I've had or something that someone else did then it's more difficult to concentrate on what I'm doing.
There's a way of thinking that says it's all connected anyway, and that you could actually see your Job as being a metaphor and get an enormous amount of creative output. So why is that dividing line made? I don't see any separation between doing the shopping and making a tape recording. One has its influence on the other, and there's absolutely no way of denying it. Because if you spend
the better part of your day driving a bus, then it's bound to have an effect on your "creative" work.
So is drawing a line something that is really helpful? I'm assuming that you're trying not to, at some point.
It's like a balloon: if you push one end, the other end's going to respond accordingly. So isn't drawing lines and saying this <A> is this and this <B> is something else, like Gurdjieff said, 'pouring from Empty into the Void'?
So why do it? Is it something we learn, or is this something that's actually built into us - to draw lines and say, "this is my spiritual life and this is my work life"?
Right. And of course it is really you, you can't get away from it.
I've never understood hate. If you hate something, you identify with it, you are it.
So what do we do? Are we fighting against this, or are we just confirming it? You tell somebody something that's true and they immediately don't see it. Is there a way to do this where people can see it? Can people really wake up as a result of the actions of somebody else? What makes you or I think about these things and other people not? What makes us want to create, what makes us want to do something about this situation - in whatever way it gets perverted along the way? Why? What was the first thing that you ever did that could be called a creative act?
You see, nowadays I think that's the way most people start off. Originally, maybe a hundred or two hundred years ago, people didn't start out with anything to modify. But if you look around at children now, if you talk to people in "our generation" you'll find that most people started something creative by modifying something else, not something they thought of totally by themselves. It's all there, given to them. There doesn't seem to be that oasis of possibility anymore. Kids grow up and it's as if they're being asked, "what are you gonna do with what you've got?". Once they start thinking about careers, they're not asked "what do you want to be?", but "which career do you want to follow?". You can't create anymore, you can only choose from what's already been created.
I think that's probably true.
If it's done with that kind of intent I think .it comes through. Everybody can play someone else's music on the violin if they're given the right kind of tuition but nobody can play it like JashaHeifetz. Same, with atmosphere recordings. So, what was the next thing you did?
Have you ever been in a glider?
Was it anything like what you thought it'd be?
OK, that leads quite nicely into this Immersion Tank experience. I mean, you described this feeling of being really tossed about. So was that like flying?
So explain to me what happened when you met John Lilly.
He didn't give you any kind of prior information?
Well, it's also pretty sensible because it means that all the capillaries on your skin are being stimulated.
I always thought it was the same temperature as your blood.
Much faster than humanly capable?
Why did you go back? Did some voice say "you have to get back now" or was it just something that happened? Did you feel some force calling you?
Did you have the sensation of being able to stay there for a longer time, or was it an unpleasant sensation to lie in salt water for long?
You didn't feel you had any kind of control over the situation?
This was a choice?
What were his reactions to this?
How did your experience shape what you want to do? Apart from the direct,
that everyone would agree with or recognise.
I don't think so anymore; I think those days are long gone. What I was thinking of was the idea of a Reichian exercise, which is basically hyperventilation, originally conceived to get rid of the character armour. That probably gets you into the same sort of state, I should imagine.
What other experiences have you had, then?
How long ago was this?
And how'd you come across it?
I suppose that has a physical basis, anyway, because if the brain's deprived of oxygen it just goes loopy.
So it has no relation to anything with the tank, then?
Were you making recordings before this?
This is a well-used technique; this is the way this whole disco thing works, the beat has a correspondence to the heartbeat. In fact, they're having a lot of trouble with it now, saying that this acid-house beat is actually too fast and that it's making people prone to heart attacks. The lessons of Vietnam being learned all over again. Just as with television.
Why do you choose to use television then, if it's a control device?
Is it possible to subvert such an incredibly big thing?
It's an interesting answer, because what makes you think that that doesn't happen within the control process anyway?
I think you're wrong. When I was young, BBC2 was looked upon as 'the arts', right? So, coming from the north of England, my parents Just thought, "you don't wanna watch this rubbish!". It's a very Northern English attitude. So I wasn't allowed to watch it, and of course because it wasn't allowed I used to turn it on at every available opportunity. And the first time I can remember, I turned the television over onto BBC2 and there was this mouth on the screen. Great big mouth. And it was babbling away; then it just finished. No information; absolutely nothing. And it was 15 years later that I found out what it was; it was Samuel Beckett's 'Not I' - the Billy Whitelaw performance. That image stayed with me and is still with me now, and I can remember the contusion, and the delight. Much later, I was living in a different part of England, I turned the television on, and there it was again. I thought, "I'm going mad! This is it! Cart me away now, get the jacket!". And then it said what it was. Can you imagine? 15 years' separation between those two things. The important point which I'm trying to make is that it doesn't matter who is programming, it only depends on those who are receiving the broadcasts. And this was really unexpected and had a great influence on me.
It's amazing: you say subvert something by putting on something that's unexpected, that's against the grain. It happens all the time, you know.
That sort of definition does not mix. Somebody like you or I who've grown up with television and we see - what is it, how many deaths are we supposed to see on television? A kid that turns it on for the first time is not expecting that. And it doesn't matter: you can create your own world and everything is surrealistic. And everything is surrealistic, of course; it can be the most normal thing in the world to you and I, but to him, who knows? The medium itself is not subject to control. You and I have got our greatest influences from things which come from the standard means of communication, which are totally subject to the means of control. Even Burroughs, you know? It all depends on how you use it. It's like I said before. It's not the fault of the bricklayer if someone picks up a brick and smashes somebody over the head with it. It can be used as a weapon or it can be used to build a wall; doesn't matter. It's the same fucking object.
Well, if it's being used. It's living, it involves chance. And if it involves chance well then you're fucked! Because people don't want chance. Not people. It's a phenomenon which is called homeostasis, which means that people will always want things to stay exactly the same everywhere; it's a physical property of amoebae and all this kind of stuff. You find something, you like it and you want it to stay exactly the same. And of course chance is directly against that. So you cannot control somebody if they are constantly doing different things. So what you do is to narrow the lens. And then people see a more and more fixed point. But the point is that if you narrow the point, then all the power goes into that point. This is what they forget; this is the weapon that you have against the control system. If you narrow the lens, then you have a stronger and stronger force streaming through onto this one particular point which means that it goes out at the other
end. So what you have is this perfect means of escape, it just means that you go through a smaller and smaller door and you just breathe in a bit more. And squeeze yourself through. And that is the way, that is the way. This is what Buckminster Fuller meant when he said that more is less. That, if you want, is what Gurdjieff meant too.
This "interview" between John Duncan and Andrew McKenzie was recorded in 1989 in Amsterdam, and edited by Jon Wozencroft in 1991/2.