Book review: Journal Of Experimental Spirituality by AsheAt first glance, this issue may appear to be a departure from our previous offerings. William S. Burroughs has long been and continues to be, though somewhat softened by time, a controversial figure. His life and theories remain kewl and are still discovered by successive younger generations. To a large extent Burroughs is talked about but not discussed. He has become another larger than life pop icon—all be it one that retains the potential to be both edgy and disruptive. Key quotes and his larger theoretical constructs are discussed in academic, literate and specialized circles. Few, however, actually peer beneath the hood and attempt to figure out the moving parts in his engine of genius. Even fewer have looked at his theories in a spiritual, or more appropriately a magical, context. At the center of his work, especially from The Wild Boys forward, is a grappling with his reality of a magical universe populated by diverse gods and multiple zones beyond the control of the terrestrial material world.
Would it surprise one that Burroughs wrote often of drugs, control systems and communication? Probably not. Would it surprise the casual fan that he believed in a magical universe, felt affinity with the Egyptian notion of seven souls and was an initiated Chaos magician at the time of his death? Quite possibly. Burroughs’ later writing is infused with complex episodes and examinations of the magical universe, the importance of dream space, the travels of the soul after death and the power of magick. His characters conduct postmodern rituals from the wild boy tribes’ unigenesis to his hard-boiled detective’s occult investigative techniques. Sometimes spiritual gnosis is a lambent flame warming the seeker with the careful time-honed glow of wisdom and sometimes spiritual metamorphosis is a blast furnace reducing the old to ash. Much of the work contained in this feature would fit the latter more than the former. Some may find portions of this material disturbing or offensive. There is currently a notion circulating in scientific research circles that high risk holds the potential for high gain. There are those who have reached the determination that the
same holds true for experimental spirituality as well. Prem, Sven
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