350MC – William S. Burroughs

by alexmasonphotography

‘Life Is A Cut-Up’

Burroughs believed words took on new meaning if you could see them or hear them in a new way. So beginning in 1959, he made his “cut-up” recordings: Using reel-to-reel tape, Burroughs recorded snippets of everything from readings to TV and radio clips, then rewound, randomly stopped and recorded over the original sounds.

It’s the same technique Burroughs his novel Naked Lunch — he swapped the sections of that manuscript before submitting it to get published. The result is a story that jumps from scene to scene, idea to idea, narrator to narrator, in a random, disjointed manner.

This is much like works that we see and hear about today for example Austin Kleon with his blackout newspaper poems. When Austin first did these Newspaper Blackout Poems he thought it was an original idea but not only was it unoriginal to himself but it had been happening for about 250 years.