Terry Wilson and Brion Gysin

Terry Wilson: The cut-up techniques made very explicit a preoccupation with exorcism—William's texts became spells, for instance. How effective are methods such as street playback of tapes for dispersing parasites?

Brion Gysin: We-e-ell, you'd have to ask William about that, but I do seem to remember at least two occasions on whyich he claimed success...

Uh, the first was in the Beat Hotel still, therefore about 1961 or '2, and William decided (laughing) to "take care" of an old lady who sold newspapers in a kiosk, and this kiosk was rather dramatically and strategically placed at the end of the street leading out of the rue Git le Coeur toward the Place Saint Michel, and, uh, you whent up a flight of steps and then under an archway and as you came out you were spang! in front of this little old French lady who looked as if she'd been there since-at least since the French Revolution-when she had been knitting at the foot of the guillotine, and she lived in a layer of thickly matted, padded newspapers hanging around her piled very sloppily, and, uh, she was of absolutely incredible malevolence, and the only kiosk around there at that time that sold the Herald-Tribune, so that William (chuckling) found that he was having to deal with her every day, and every day she would find some new way to aggravate him, some slight new improvement on her malevolent insolence and her disagreeable lack of
...uh (chuckling) collaboration with William in the buying of his newspaper (laughter)...

...one day the little old lady burnt up inside her kiosk. And we came out to find that there was just the pile of ashes on the ground. William was... slightly conscience-stricken, but nevertheless rather satisfied with the result (laughter) as it proved the efficacy of his methods, but a little taken aback, he didn't necessarily mean the old lady to burn up inside there...And we often talked about this as we sat in a cafe looking at the spot where the ashes still were, for many months later...and to our great surprise and chagrin one day we saw a very delighted Oriental boy-I think probably Vietnamese-digging in these ashes with his hands and pulling out a whole hatful of money, of slightly blackened coins but a considerable sum, and (laughing) we would have been very glad to have it too—just hadn't thought of digging in the thing, so I said: "William, I don't think your operation was a complete success." And he said: "I am very glad that that beautiful young Oriental boy made this happy find at the end of the rainbow..."

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