Spirits Et Al

Today I'm headed down to Rex Ranch, south of Tucson, to meet with Brugh Joy and my spiritual group for a week. We've been meeting together for the past year, and this is our last gathering as a group, so it's a happy and sad occasion. Because I have run out of writing time I am reprinting some favorite excerpts from "The Western Lands," by WIlliam S. Burroughs, which ran in July of 2004. Burroughs is a great counter balance to mainstream spiritual practice, which was summed up by John Cleese in "The Meaning of Life," when he prayed, "Forgive us, oh Lord, our dreadful todying."

The Road to the Western Lands is by definition the most dangerous road in the world, for it is a journey beyond Death, beyond the basic God standard of Fear and Danger. It is the most heavily guarded road in the world, for it gives access to the gift that supercedes all other gifts: Immortality.

Every man starts the course. One in a million finishes. However, biologically speaking, one in a million is very good odds indeed. The Egyptians and the Tibetans made this journey after Death, and their Books of the Dead set forth very precise instructions -- as precise as they are arbitrary.

The Road to the Western Lands is devious, upredictable, Today's easy passage may be tomorrow's death trap. The obvious road is almost always a fool's road, and beware the Middle Roads, the roads of moderation, common sense and careful planning. However there is a time for planning, moderation and common sense ...

One late afternoon I am standing in the back of the pension when this Selected bastard sidles up to me like a vicious old crab and says, "You think Missouri is a lump? Well, I'm from Missouri," and he goes into the lounge of the pension to read the Bible. I can see his wife in front of their 1910-type frame house about seventy feet away, talking to another evil old Venusian piece of shit named Sister Willoughby. So I levitate fifty feet into the air just for jolly, wouldn't you? She sees me and starts screaming, "Satan! Satan! Satan!" and scampers inside and comes out with a shotgun.

My universe is less stable than Don Juan's, sometimes I am an impeccable warrior and at other times I act like a timid suburbanite in a New Yorker cartoon. The present emergency finds me in warrior valance, so I swoop down on an invisible slide, get the gun away from her, and carry her off kicking and screaming to a nearby hillside where I turn her into a rabbit and blast her with the shotgun and take the remains back and give it to the pension cook to fix for dinner.

At dinner there is this mealy-assed Bible fart with his hunched-over fat lump of a son, looks like he is sculpted out of rancid lard, and he is moaning: "Lord, Lord, where is my helpmeet?" And he glares at me, not suspicious, just the way he would look at anybody drinking a glass of beer all nasty and intemperate. I'd forgotten he is a vegetarian and I won't have the pleasure of watching him eat his other half ..."

During the five Duel Days, corresponding to the Mayan week of Ouayeb, any challenge must be accepted. Sensible citizens cower in gun towers or cyclone cellars armed to the tits, but lunatics walk around screaming, "I know you're in there, you candy-assed richies ... come out and fight!"

A distant crack from a gun tower. A 45-70 catches him square in his big mouth and takes out the back of his neck in a spray of blood and vertebrae ...

A handsome Mexican boy faces an older opponent. Blade-to-blade machetes, eighteen-inch blades sharp enough to shave the hair off your arms or chest. The chico is quick. He catches the other across the back of the hand, severing tendons and veins. The other drops his machete without any change of expression, catches it with his bare foot, kicks it up into his left hand and splits the kid's head like a coconut.

The atmosphere of Last Chance is polite, deadly, purposeful. For Everyman comes here to find his enemies, and Everyman who gets this far has deadly enemies to whom he can never become reconciled and who can never be reconciled to him. You will meet your enemies in Last Chance sooner or later ...

Look at their Western Lands. What do they look like? The houses and gardens of a rich man. Is this all the God's can offer? Well, I say then it is time for new Gods who do not offer such paltry bribes. It is dangerous to even think such things. It is very dangerous to live, my friend, and few survive it. And one does not survive by shunning danger, when we have a universe to win and absolutely nothing to lose. It is already lost. After what we know, there can be no forgiveness. Remember, to them we are a nightmare. Can you trust the peace offers, the treaties and agreements of an adversary who considers you in the dark? Of course not.

We can make our own Western Lands ...

We can create a land of dreams.

"But how can we make it solid?"

"We don't. That is precisely the error of the mummies. They made spirit solid. When you do this, it ceases to be spirit. We will make ourselves less solid."

Well, that's what art is all about, isn't it? All creative thought, actually. A bid for immortality. So long as sloppy, stupid, so-called democracies live, the ghosts of various boring people who escape my mind still stalk about in the mess they have made.

We poets and writers are tidier, fade out in firefly evenings, a Prom and a distant train whistle, we live in a maid opening a boiled egg for a long-ago convalescent, we live in the snow on Michael's grave falling softly like the descent of their last end on all the living and the dead, we live in the green light at the end of Daisy's dock ....

The dining room almost empty ... an old fashioned commercial traveler with a consignment of Hong Kong music boxes, cheap transistors and pen flashlights. The waiter is ugly, fattish, with frizzy black hair and gold teeth, in a filthy black jacket and a white shirt black at the neck.

He orders steak and french fries resignedly, with a half bottle of red wine. "Oh, yes, and bring me a double whiskey first."

"We don't have a spirit license."

"You certainly don't."

The steak is thin and crinkled and cooked to leather. The french fries drip with grease, and the waiter has brought some sweet white wine.

"Bring me red wine, you hairy-assed Rock ape, or I drink it from your throat!!" he grates at the threshold of hearing without opening his lips. The waiter recoils with a puzzled snarl ...

Posted: Sat - January 27, 2007 at 10:47 AM