All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
(E.A. Poe)

∼ Inferior Mirages ∼

Very hot air close to the ground, colder air above. Light rays refracted from distant objects get deviated by the column of scorching air moving upwards. Here is the classical mirage of Sahara Bedouins, fresh oasis among the dunes and water poodles where there is nothing but dusty desert.

A mirage which is bound to also haunt another kind of nomad, the soul who cannot help but travel because he’s a victim of the highway blues, and he knows all too well that the tarmac road might look wet under the torrid sun.

The more we get close to it, the more the illusion vanishes. We hurry towards the much coveted water to find it was mere deceit; and all our hurrying did was worsen our thirst. “If a mirage were water, why is water not seen by those nearby?Nāgārjuna asked – The way this world is seen as real by those afar is not so seen by those nearby for whom it is signless like a mirage“. Maybe we too will be soon close enough to the truth to realize it is an illusion.

∼ Superior Mirages∼

The ocean liner, in the dark night brightened only by the stars, eased out majestically on the water. Aboard, feasting passengers: on the horizon, a strange mist. Reginald Lee was on watch:

A clear, starry night overhead, but at the time of the accident there was a haze right ahead, […] in fact it was extending more or less round the horizon. There was no moon.

A dark mist, a vague tremor just above the horizon, but too far away to seem like a menacing sign. Then, from the nothingness of that fog, without warning, like a giant bursting on the scene from a funeral curtain, came the huge milky silhouette.

It was a dark mass that came through that haze and there was no white appearing until it was just close alongside the ship.

It looks like it might have gone that way: the Titanic probably sank due to a mirage. The mountain of ice remained hidden until the very last moment inside the sidereal light, which had been bended by the cold of the sea.

Ironically, this was the same kind of mirage which gave another ship, albeit fantastic, an eternal and persistant place in sailors’ fantasies. The immortal Flying Dutchman, floating over the ocean waves, perhaps owes his legend to the illusion called “superior mirage”. Superior, because its phantasmagoria appears above the horizon, and sometimes ships sailing beyond the Earth’s curve, which we shouldn’t be able to see, look like they are suspended in mid air.

Like mountaineers, who fear and respect the mountain, the people of the sea knew a secret which escaped the mainland inhabitants. They were aware of the insidious nature of water, they knew all about whirlpools always ready to gape unexpectedly, about the visions, the magical fires up on the mast, the terrible twin monsters waiting for ships to pass in the narrow strip between Sicily and Calabria.

∼ Fata Morgana ∼

It is right on the Straits of Messina that the Castle in the Sky is sometimes spotted, home to the Enchantress, cruel sister of Arthur son of Pendragon. The witch’s magical arts make the winged castle visible both from the coast of the island and from the opposite shore. Many believed they could conquer its trembling stronghold, and drowned.

Thus Morgan le Fay, “Fata Morgana”, gave her name to the rarest among superior mirages, capable of blending together three or more layers of inverted and distorted objects, in a constantly changing visual blur. The ultimate mirage, where nothing is what it seems; impossible apparitions of distant gloomy towers, enchanted cities, ghost forests. The horizon is not a promise anymore, but a mocking imposture.

∼ The Mirage of Everything ∼

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

What Zhuangzi is not considering is the possibility that both him and the butterfly might be a dream: someone else’s dream.
Quantum physicists, who are the modern poets, mystics, artists, suggest ours could potentially be a holographic cosmos. According to some scientists, the whole universe might be a simulacrum, a sophisticated simulation (atoms-pixels), us being the characters who little by little are realizing they’re part of a game. Galileo’s method is now teaming up with the opium eaters’ lucid hallucinations, and math itself seems to tell us that “life is but a dream“.

Among the supporters of the hypothesis of the universe being an elaborate fiction inside an alien algorythm, there is a controversial, visionary innovator who is trying to keep us safe from the dangers of strong AI. His inconceivable plan: to fuse our cerebral cortexes with the Net, forever freeing us from the language virus and, in time, reprogramming  our already obsolete bodies from the inside. Mutate or die!
And this mutation is going  to happen, rest assured, not in two hundred years, but in the next ten or fifteen.

Today we take a look around, and all we see is mirage.
For thousands of years philosophers have been discussing the Great Dream, but never before the veil of Maya has been so thin, so close to be torn at any moment.
What does it mean for us to accept the possible unreality of everything? Does it entail an absolute relativism, does it mean that killing is nothing serious after all, that nothing has value? Weren’t Hassan-i Sabbāh‘s last words “nothing is true, everything is permitted”?
[Old Uncle Bill smiles slyly from his parallel universe, surrounded by seductive centipede-boys.]
Are we instead to understand mirage as a liberation? Because death will finally turn out to be that “passage” every enlightened guru told us about, and this is not the true world? But does a true world really exist? Or is it just another mirage within a mirage?

Zhuangzi, the butterfly man, again:

All the while, the stupid believe they are awake, busily and brightly assuming they understand things, calling this man ruler, that one herdsman — how dense! Confucius and you are both dreaming!  It is a dream even for me to say that you are dreaming.

(Thanks, Bruno!)

Special: Claudio Romo


On April the 4th, inside the Modo Infoshop bookshop in Bologna I have had the pleasure to meet Chilean artist Claudio Andrés Salvador Francisco Romo Torres, to help him present his latest illustrated book A Journey in the Phantasmagorical Garden of Apparitio Albinus in front of a crowd of his fans.

I don’t want to go into much detail about his work, because he himself will talk about it in the next paragraphs. I would only like to add one small personal note. In my life I’ve been lucky enough to know, to various degrees of intimacy, several writers, filmmakers, actors, illustrators: some of them were my personal heroes. And while it’s true that the creator is always a bit poorer than his creation (no one is flawless), I noticed the most visionary and original artists often show unexpected kindness, reserve, gentleness. Claudio is the kind of person who is almost embarassed when he’s the center of attention, and his immense imagination can only be guessed behind his electric, enthusiast, childlike glance. He is the kind of person who, after the presentation of his book, asks the audience permission to take a selfie with them, because “none of my friends or students back home will ever believe all this has really happened“.
I think men like him are more precious than yet another maudit.

What follows is the transcription of our chat.


We’re here today with Claudio Romo (I can never remember his impossibly long full name), to talk about his latest work A Journey in the Phantasmagorical Garden of Apparitio Albinus, a book I particularly love because it offers a kind of mixture of very different worlds: ingredients like time travel, giant jellyfish, flashes of alchemy, flying telepathic cities and countless creatures and monsters with all-too-human characteristics. And rather like Calvino’s Invisible Cities, this garden is a kind of place within the mind, within the soul… and just like the soul, the mind is a mysterious and complicated place, not infrequently with perverse overtones. A place where literary and artistic references intermix and intertwine.
From an artistic viewpoint, this work certainly brings to mind Roland Topor’s film Fantastic Planet, although filtered by a Latin American sensibility steeped in pre-Columbian iconography. On the other hand, certain illustrations vividly evoke Hieronymus Bosch, with their swarming jumble of tiny physically and anatomically deformed mutant creatures. Then there are the literary references: impossible not to think of Borges and his Book Of Imaginary Beings, but also the end of his Library of Babel; and certain encounters and copulations between mutant bodies evoke the Burroughs of Naked Lunch, whereas this work’s finale evokes ‘real’ alchemical procedures, with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes and its famous phrase “That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing”. At the end of the book it is revealed that the garden is as infinite as the cosmos, but also that it is connected to an infinite number of other infinities, not only his personal garden but also mine and yours. In a sense, the universe which emerges is an interpenetration of marvels in which it is highly difficult to grasp where reality finishes and imagination begins, because fantasy too can be extremely concrete. It’s as though Claudio was acting as a kind of map-maker of his mental ecosystem, doing so with the zest of a biologist, an ethnologist and an entomologist, studying and describing all the details and behaviour of the fauna inhabiting it. From this point of view, the first question I’d like to ask concerns precisely reality and imagination. How do they interact, for you? For many artists this dichotomy is important, and the way they deal with it helps us to understand more about their art.

First of all, I’d like to thank Ivan, because he has presented a good reading of my book.
I have always thought that no author is autonomous, we all depend on someone, come from someone, we have an inheritance transmitted not through a bloodline but through a spiritual or conceptual bond, an inheritance received from birth through culture. Borges is my point of departure, the alchemical inscription, the science fiction, fantastical literature, popular literature… all these elements contribute to my work. When I construct these stories I am assembling a collage, a structure, in order to create parallel realities.
So, to answer Ivan’s question, I think that reality is something constructed by language, and so the dichotomy between reality and imagination doesn’t exist, because human beings inhabit language and language is a permanent and delirious construction.
I detest it when people talk about the reality of nature, or static nature. For me, reality is a permanent construction and language is the instrument which generates this construction.
This is why I take as models people like Borges, Bioy Casares, Athanasius Kircher (a Jesuit alchemist named as maestro of a hundred arts who created the first anatomical theatre and built a wunderkammer)… people who from very different backgrounds have constructed different realities.


In this sense, the interesting thing is that the drawings and stories of Apparitio Albinus remind us of – or have a layer, we might say, that makes them resemble – the travel journals of explorers of long ago. Albinus could almost be a Marco Polo visiting a faraway land, where the image he paints is similar to a mediaeval bestiary, in which animals were not described in a realistic way, but according to their symbolic function… for example the lion was represented as an honest animal who never slept, because he was supposed to echo the figure of Christ… actually, Claudio’s animals frequently assume poses exactly like those seen in mediaeval bestiaries. There is also a gaze, a way of observing, that has something childish about it, a gaze always eager to marvel, to look for magic in the interconnection between different things, and I’d like to ask you if this child exists inside you, and how much freedom you allow him in your creative process.

When I first began creating books, I concentrated solely on the engravings, and technically engraving was extremely powerful for me. I was orthodox in my practice, but the great thing about the graphic novel is that its public is adult but also infantile, and the thing that interests me above all is showing and helping children understand that reality is soft.
The first book I made on this subject is called The Album Of Imprudent Flora, a kind of bestiary conceived and created to attract children and lead them towards science, botany, the marvel of nature… not as something static, but as something mobile. For example I described trees which held Portuguese populations that had got lost searching for the Antarctic: then they had become tiny through having eaten Lilliputian strawberries, and when they died they returned to a special place called Portugal… and then there were also plants which fed on fear and which induced the spirits on Saturn to commit suicide and the spirits on Mars to kill… and then die. I created a series of characters and plants whose purpose was to fascinate children. There was a flower that had a piece of ectoplasm inside its pistil, and if you put a mouse in front of that flower the pistil turned into a piece of cheese, and when the mouse ate the cheese the plant ate the mouse… after which, if a cat came by, the pistil turned into a mouse, and so on. The idea was to create a kaleidoscope of plants and flowers.
There was another plant which I named after an aunt of mine, extremely ugly, and in honour of her I gave this plant the ability to transform itself constantly: by day it was transfigured, and in certain moments it had a colloidal materiality, while in others it had a geometric structure… an absolutely mutant flower. This is all rather monstrous, but also fascinating, which is why I called the book “the imprudent flora”, because it went beyond the bounds of nature. Basically I think that when I draw I do it for children, in order to build up a way of interpreting reality in a broad and rich kind of way.


This corporal fluidity is also visible in this latest book, but there’s another aspect that I also find interesting, and this is the inversions that Claudio likes to create. For example, Lazarus is not resurrected, he ends up transformed into ghost by the phantasmagorical machine; we get warrior automatons which reject violence and turn into pacifists and deserters, and then again, in one of my favourite chapters, there is a time machine, built to transport us into the future, which actually does the opposite, because it transports the future into our present – a future we’d never have wanted to see, because what appears in the present is the corpses we will become. It seems that irony is clearly important in your universe, and I’d like to you tell us about that.

That’s a good question. I’m glad you asked me, there are two wonderful themes involved.
One is the theme of the ghost, because for the phantasmagorical machine I based the idea on an Argentinian author called Bioy Casares and his The Invention of Morel. In that story, Morel is a scientist who falls in love with Faustina, and since she doesn’t love him, he invents a machine which will absorb her spirit, record it, and later, in a phantasmagorical island, reproduce it eternally… but the machine turns out to kill the people it has filmed, and so Morel commits suicide by filming himself together with Faustine, thus ending up on this island where every day the same scene is repeated, featuring these two ghosts. But the story really begins when another man arrives on the island, falls in love with the ghost of Faustine, learns to work the machine and then films himself while Faustine is gazing at the sea. So he too commits suicide in order to remain in the paradise of Faustine’s consciousness.
This is a hallucinatory theme, and I was fascinated by the desire of a man who kills himself in order to inhabit the consciousness of the woman he loves, even though the woman in question is actually a ghost!
And the other question… on irony. Most of the machines I construct in the book are fatuous failures and mistakes: those who want to change time end up meeting themselves as corpses, those who want to invent a machine for becoming immortal drop dead instantly and end up in an eternal limbo… I like talking about ghosts but also about failed adventures, as metaphors for life, because in real life every adventure is a failure… except for this journey to Italy, which has turned out to absolutely wonderful!


A few days ago, on Facebook, I saw a fragment of a conversation in which you, Claudio, argued that the drawing and the word are not really so different, that the apparent distance between logos and image is fictional, which is why you use both things to express your meaning. You use them like two parallel rail tracks, in the same way, and this is also evident through the way that in your books the texts too have a painterly visual shape, and if it weren’t for the pristine paper of this edition, we might think we were looking at a fantastical encyclopedia from two or three centuries ago.
So, I wanted to ask a last question on this subject, perhaps the most banal question, which resembles the one always asked of songwriter-singers (which comes first, the words or the music?)… but do your visions emerge firstly from the drawing paper and only later do you form a kind of explicative text? Or do they emerge as stories from the beginning?

If I had to define myself, I’d say I was a drawing animal. All the books I have created were planned and drawn firstly, and the conceptual idea was generated by the image. Because I’m not really a writer, I never have been. I didn’t want to write this book either, only to draw it, but Lina [the editor] forced me to write it! I said to her, Lina, I have a friend who is fantastic with words, and she replied in a dictatorial tone: I’m not interested. I want you to write it. And today I’m grateful to her for that.
I always start from the drawing, always, always…

cover_apparitio_uk alta

The English version of Claudio Romo’s new book can be purchased here.

Il DNA di William Burroughs

Sterminate ogni pensiero razionale. (W.S. Burroughs)

Abbiamo spesso parlato, su Bizzarro Bazar, del grande William Burroughs e del peso che ha esercitato e continua ad esercitare sul panorama artistico mondiale, dalla metà del secolo scorso fino ad oggi. Anche da morto, però, non smette di stupire.

Infatti, grazie a due artisti, Tony Allard e Adam Zaretsky, il vecchio zio Bill è al centro di un progetto di bioarte che è destinato a fare scalpore. Come ormai sapete, Burroughs è conosciuto per il cut-up, uno stratagemma letterario utilizzato per far esplodere la forma narrativa, vista come opprimente macchina di controllo. Allo stesso modo, tutta la sua vita è stato un instancabile tentativo di valicare ed espandere le frontiere della nostra percezione, della nostra mente, del nostro linguaggio, del nostro corpo. A partire da questi concetti, e in ammirevole sintonia con il pensiero di Burroughs, Allard e Zaretsky hanno elaborato un progetto artistico che portasse il concetto di cut-up a un livello fisico, ispirati da una celebre massima burroughsiana: “Quando il presente è tagliato, ne sgorga il futuro”.

Il progetto, intitolato Mutate or die (“mutate, o morite”), è completamente folle ed affascinante al tempo stesso. Si tratta di estrarre il DNA di Burroughs da un suo escremento (conservato a Lawrence, Kansas) e “spararlo” in un mix di cellule fresche, provenienti da sperma, sangue e merda. L’intento è quello di creare (almeno concettualmente) un nuovo ibrido, una mutazione organica, un collage di materiale genetico.

Gli autori riassumono il processo in questi “semplici” passi:

“1: Prendere un pezzo della merda conservata di William S. Burroughs
2: Isolarne il DNA con un kit
3: Fare molte, molte copie del DNA estratto
4: Intingere il DNA in polvere d’oro
5: Caricare il DNA in una pistola genetica (una pistola ad aria modificata)
6: Sparare la polvere di DNA in una miscela fresca di sperma, sangue e merda
7: Denominare questo mix di sangue, merda e sperma geneticamente modificati, bioarte vivente, nuovo dipinto mediaticocut-up vivente, e/o scultura mutante.”

Come avrete capito, c’è molto humor e una buona dose di trasgressione dietro questo progetto, eppure le implicazioni teoriche sono tutt’altro che banali. Nelle interviste che corredano il loro progetto, Allard e Zaretsky parlano infatti in maniera approfondita di temi complessi e innovativi, che avrebbero fatto gongolare Burroughs: manipolazione genetica come vero e proprio atto sessuale, bio-politica scatologica, anatomia omosessuale, produzione industriale organica, trans-umanesimo transgenico, e mutazione.

Ci sembra quasi di vedere il vecchio zio Bill, cappello in testa e completo grigio, che dalla lontana galassia in cui vive ora guarda giù verso di noi, sorride di sbieco e sussurra: “Niente è vero. Tutto è permesso”.

Un’approfondita esposizione del progetto (in inglese) può essere trovata qui.

Le sorelle Shepherd

Date un’occhiata a questa fotografia:

Non sembra esserci nulla di strano: sono tre sorelle, Bethony, Megand e la piccola Ryleigh. La cosa sorprendente, però, e che queste sono tre gemelle.

A seguito di alcuni problemi di endometriosi e cisti ovariche, la signora Sheperd decise assieme a suo marito di sottoporsi ad alcune terapie per l’impianto di embrioni. I medici prelevarono 24 ovuli, e ne fecondarono 14 con successo. Nel 1998, alla signora Shepherd vennero impiantati due embrioni fertilizzati, mentre gli altri vennero criogenizzati. La gravidanza andò bene, e Bethony e Megand nacquero senza problemi, anche se premature di 6 settimane.

Poi, 11 anni più tardi, gli Shepherd decisero che avrebbero voluto un terzo bambino. E utilizzarono uno degli embrioni criogenizzati all’epoca della prima gravidanza. Quindi, benché abbiano 11 anni di differenza di età, le tre sorelline sono a tutti gli effetti gemelle. O forse non possiamo definirle tali, in quanto non sono nate nello stesso momento?

Al di là del caso singolo, questo è un interessante esempio di come il progresso tecnologico ci porta a ridefinire e reinventare tutti i nostri paradigmi identitari. Come preconizzavano i grandi scrittori di fantascienza della seconda metà del ‘900 (Ballard, Dick, Burroughs), le nuove possibilità che la scienza ci offre non trovano spesso un adeguato corredo psicologico, cioè siamo ancora poco pronti a comprenderne le implicazioni. Dovremo sostituire la nostra idea di uomo e di identità, un tempo fissa, concreta e inattaccabile, con una nuova visione molto più fluida, proteiforme e indefinita?

Nel frattempo, la piccola Ryleigh se la spassa e mostra un grande appetito. “È come se stesse cercando di rifarsi del tempo perduto”, dice la mamma.

Scoperto via Oddity Central.

L’uomo che insegnò al suo buco del culo a parlare

Tratta dal Pasto Nudo, eccovi una delle routine di Burroughs più celebri, e una delle meglio riuscite nel delicato equilibrio fra grottesco, osceno, ironico e drammatico. Si tratta di una rivisitazione omosessuale del mito della vagina dentata, già affrontata su questo blog. Buona lettura.

L’uomo che insegnò al suo buco del culo a parlare

Dr. Benway: “Perché non un blob per tutti gli usi? Ti ho mai raccontato dell’uomo che insegnò al proprio buco del culo a parlare? Il suo intero addome si muoveva su e giù, capisci, scoreggiando parole. Come nient’altro che avessi mai sentito.

“Questa voce dal culo aveva una specie di frequenza intestinale. Ti colpiva laggiù come quando devi andare di corpo. Hai presente quando il buon vecchio colon ti dà di gomito, e senti quella specie di freddo dentro, e sai che tutto quello che puoi fare è correre a liberarti? Be’ questa voce ti beccava proprio laggiù, un gorgogliante, denso suono stagnante, un suono che potevi odorare.

“Questo tizio lavorava in un luna park, capisci, e a prima vista sembrava una specie di innovativo spettacolo da ventriloquo. Anche divertente, all’inizio. Faceva un numero intitolato “Il buco migliore”, che era un portento, te lo assicuro. L’ho dimenticato quasi del tutto, ma era brillante. Cose tipo, “Sei ancora lì sotto, vecchio mio?” “No! Sono dovuto andare di corpo”.

Dopo un po’ il buco del culo cominciò a parlare per conto suo. Lui saliva sul palco senza aver preparato nulla, e il suo culo improvvisava e gli restituiva le battute ad ogni colpo.

“Poi gli spuntarono delle specie di piccoli uncini incurvati, che raspavano come denti, e cominciò a mangiare. All’inizio lui pensò che fosse carino, e ci imbastì sopra un numero, ma il buco del culo si faceva strada mangiando attraverso i suoi pantaloni, e si metteva a parlare per strada, urlando che voleva parità di diritti. Si ubriacava, anche, e aveva certe sbornie tristi in cui frignava che nessuno lo amava, e che voleva essere baciato proprio come ogni altra bocca. Alla fine parlava sempre, giorno e notte, potevi sentire da isolati di distanza che lui gli gridava di stare zitto, e lo picchiava con il pugno, ci ficcava su le candele, ma non serviva a niente e il buco del culo ribatteva: ‘Sei tu che starai zitto, alla fine. Non io. Perché non abbiamo più bisogno di te, qui attorno. Posso parlare e mangiare e cacare‘.

“Poco dopo lui cominciò a svegliarsi la mattina con una gelatina trasparente come la coda di un girino sulla bocca. Questa gelatina era quella che gli scienziati chiamano T.n-D., Tessuto non Differenziato, che può crescere trasformandosi in qualsiasi tipo di carne su un corpo umano. Lui la strappava dalla bocca e i lembi gli rimanevano attaccati alle mani come nafta incendiata e lì crescevano, crescevano in ogni punto in cui cadeva una goccia. Quindi alla fine la sua bocca restò sigillata, e la sua intera testa si sarebbe amputata spontaneamente — (sai che c’è una malattia che attecchisce in alcune parti dell’Africa e solo tra popolazioni di colore, che porta alla caduta spontanea del mignolo del piede?) — se non fosse stato per gli occhi, capisci. L’unica cosa che il buco del culo non poteva fare era vedere. Aveva bisogno degli occhi. Ma le connessioni nervose erano bloccate e infiltrate e atrofizzate così che il cervello non potesse più dare ordini. Era intrappolato nel cranio, sigillato dentro. Per un po’ si poteva vedere la silenziosa, disperata sofferenza del cervello dietro gli occhi, poi infine il cervello deve essere morto, perché gli occhi si spensero… e in loro non c’era più sentimento di quanto ve ne sia nell’occhio di un granchio sulla punta d’una antenna”.

Burroughs e il Giorno del ringraziamento

Il Giorno del Ringraziamento (Thanksgiving Day) è una festa osservata negli Stati uniti e in Canada: si celebra il quarto giovedì di Novembre, in segno di gratitudine per la fine della stagione del raccolto.

Risalente al 1623, e istituita dai Padri Pellegrini (quelli sbarcati in America a bordo della Mayflower, per intenderci), la festa si estese, anche grazie a George Washington, in tutti gli Stati e a metà del XIX secolo era già unanimemente riconosciuta. Con il tempo la festa acquistò anche una certa sfumatura di patriottismo.

In occasione dell’annuale ricorrenza, che scade giovedì prossimo, qui su Bizzarro Bazar pubblichiamo un testo di  William S. Burroughs dedicato al Ringraziamento, cogliendo l’occasione per introdurre i suoi lettori alla forza dissacrante di un genio letterario senza pari.

Inizialmente associato alla beat generation di Kerouac, Ginsberg & soci, Burroughs ha in seguito intrapreso una ricerca artistica che ha influenzato tutta la seconda metà del ‘900, e che continua ad ispirare le avanguardie moderne. È difficile illustrare quanto importante sia stato il suo peso nei diversi campi artistici: le sue tecniche e i suoi temi si ritrovano nella letteratura, nella musica, nell’arte figurativa, nella body art, nel cinema.

Esploratore della coscienza e del perturbante, psiconauta per antonomasia, cultore di visioni macabre ed estreme ed artefice di un umorismo al vetriolo, il vecchio zio Bill ha praticamente scardinato ogni classico assunto culturale.

Angoscia del Controllo, distruzione dell’identità, algebra del bisogno, scarafaggi e Disinfestatori, “scimmie” sulla schiena, millepiedi allucinogeni, morbide macchine del sogno, esseri mutanti dalle forme imprecise, tossicomani e omosessuali, il cut-up come metodo non-logico per sottrarsi alla dipendenza del pensiero.

Questi, a grandi linee, i temi ossessivamente ripetuti da William S. Burroughs lungo tutta la sua carriera di romanziere e saggista, a partire da quando nel 1959 venne pubblicato Il Pasto Nudo, a tutt’oggi considerato il suo capolavoro, e grossi intellettuali e letterati americani si mossero per difendere il romanzo dalle accuse di oscenità e immoralità.

La sua vita stessa assomiglia ad un’opera d’arte. In tempi non sospetti (anni ’40-’50) ha provato tutte le droghe esistenti, è stato eroinomane per sedici anni, ha ucciso sua moglie (sposata con l’unico scopo di darle cittadinanza americana) con un colpo di pistola mentre strafatti giocavano a inscenare la sfida di Guglielmo Tell. È stato omosessuale e tossicodipendente, ha elaborato la teoria secondo cui il linguaggio sarebbe un virus letale, ha cercato di sbriciolare i limiti del dicibile mediante diverse tecniche quali il cut-up, ha confuso il confine fra narrativa e pornografia, ha intrapreso avventurosi viaggi per provare droghe sconosciute come lo yage (la liana magica degli sciamani dell’Amazzonia), ha rivoluzionato ed esploso la forma del romanzo, ha creato dipinti sparando a dei barattoli di colore… ha lottato per tutta la vita contro il concetto di “controllo”, cercando di liberare la letteratura e la mente dagli insidiosi vincoli del condizionamento. In breve, un autore irrinunciabile.

Per ritornare al Giorno del Ringraziamento, vi proponiamo qui il testo e la traduzione di una preghiera (tutt’altro che patriottica, come vedrete) scritta da Burroughs nel 1986. Più sotto troverete il video in cui William Burroughs recita il testo, per la regia di Gus Van Sant.


by William S. Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream, To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches.

For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.

Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind the own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the memories – all right let’s see your arms!

You always were a headache and you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.


di William S. Burroughs

Grazie per il tacchino selvatico e i piccioni di passaggio, destinati ad essere cagati fuori attraverso budella del tutto Americane.

Grazie per un continente da rovinare e avvelenare.

Grazie per gli Indiani per fornire un minimo di sfida e pericolo.

Grazie per le vaste mandrie di bisonti da uccidere e spellare lasciando le carcasse a imputridire.

Grazie delle taglie sui lupi e sui coyote.

Grazie per il sogno Americano, Volgarizzare e Falsificare finché le nude menzogne non risplendano.

Grazie per il Ku Klux Klan.

Per gli uomini della legge ammazzanegri, che contano le tacche.

Per le decenti donne di chiesa, con le loro malvage, contrite, amare, cattive facce.

Grazie per gli adesivi “Uccidi una Checca per Cristo”.

Grazie per l’AIDS da laboratorio.

Grazie per il Proibizionismo e la guerra contro le droghe.

Grazie per un paese dove a nessuno è permesso farsi gli affari suoi.

Grazie per una nazione di senzapalle.

Sì, grazie per tutti i ricordi – va bene, ora vediamo le tue braccia!

Sei sempre stato un mal di testa e sei sempre stato una noia.

Grazie per l’ultimo e massimo tradimento dell’ultimo e massimo tra i sogni umani.


Il terribile candiru

Eccovi uno spassoso e trashissimo video ad opera della BBC sul terribile parassita amazzonico candiru (vandellia cirrhosa), un piccolo pesce che normalmente si infila nelle branchie dei pescegatti e lì si installa arpionandosi con una spina al tessuto per succhiarne il sangue.

Come in un film horror, però, talvolta il candiru, attratto dall’urina, può finire per scambiare anche l’uomo per un ospite appetibile, inserendosi ferocemente in quasiasi orifizio…

Una curiosità: il candiru è citato anche da uno dei numi tutelari di Bizzarro Bazar, lo scrittore americano William S. Burroughs, nel suo celebre romanzo Pasto Nudo.


Vandellia cirrhosa