The Burroughs Century

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By the end of this year (maybe sooner) we’ll all be heartily sick of hearing about the centenary of the First World War, so it’s good to have some positive anniversaries from 1914 to celebrate. I mentioned yesterday that Sun Ra’s centenary falls this year; next month there’s a celebration in Bloomington, Indiana of the birth of William Burroughs:

In celebration of his 100th birthday this February, Bloomington has developed a festival in his honor, knowing his influence throughout America, and our own everyday lives. We are calling this event the Burroughs Century, but we are not looking backward; rather, we believe that the Burroughs Century is ongoing, that we are in the midst of it, and we intend to stage an event that indicates the full range of that continuing influence, including a film series, art and literature exhibits, speakers and panels, musical performances, and more.

Burroughs’ manuscripts, correspondence and paintings will be on display, James Ilgenfritz’s opera based on The Ticket that Exploded will be performed, and there will also be a screening of Howard Brookner’s definitive film portrait of the author, Burroughs: The Movie, which receives a long-awaited reissue later this year. For those of us who can’t make it to Bloomington it’s worth keeping an eye on the slowly expanding Burroughs pages at Ubuweb. These now include PDFs of out-of-print books, more films, and a lot more audio material. Expect more Burroughsiana on this site between now and February 5th.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Interzone: A William Burroughs Mix
Sine Fiction
The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera
Burroughs: The Movie revisited
Zimbu Xolotl Time
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire

The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera

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The book that made my head explode when I was 16. Calder & Boyars edition, 1968; design by John Sewell.

Years ago the idea of an opera based on The Ticket That Exploded would have been a wry joke: a novel brimming with text that’s fragmented even by Burroughs’ standards, as well as the usual preoccupations with spurting cocks, alien sex, parasitic invasion and erotic asphyxia. That said, if you can swallow the content (so to speak) a libretto is no doubt easy to create from all those sentence fragments, and there’s no worry about anyone complaining that you’ve missed some crucial part of the story. James Ilgenfritz’s The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera attempts just this in an extract which can be seen on YouTube:

Premiered at Issue Project Room while I was Artist in Resident in 2011, and based on William S. Burroughs’ 1962 novel of the same name, The Ticket That Exploded takes all its text directly from the novel. I wrote the libretto and composed the music, which was then exquisitely interpreted by some of the greatest musicians in the New York area. Jason Ponce collected a massive array of bizarre visual materials and innovative digital processing programs to perform the visual component of this work live onstage at the premiere.

There’s more from Jason Ponce at Vimeo. A DVD of the complete work is planned in 2014. Via Supervert.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Burroughs: The Movie revisited
Zimbu Xolotl Time
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire