1 янв. 2013 г.

The Nova Convention

Throughout the seventies, Hollywood flirted with Burroughs and his work. Various heavy hitters and big money lowlifes optioned Naked Lunch, Junky, and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz. In 1978, Burroughs was on the set of Heartbeat, a movie based on the memoir by Carolyn Cassady, Neal Cassady’s second wife. Out of this atmosphere, the idea of an “homage to Burroughs” germinated, later to be named the Nova Convention. About the Convention, Ted Morgan writes, “The Nova Convention took place on November 30th, December 1, and December 2, 1978, with the principal performances to be held on the last two days at the Entermedia Theater, on Second Avenue and Twelfth Street, which in the Fifties had been the fabled Phoenix Theater. Attending were an odd mixture of academics, publishers, writers, artists, punk rockers, counterculture groupies, and an influx of bridge and tunnel kids drawn by Keith Richards who made the event a sell out.” Due to his drug problems in Canada, Richards never made it.

I always focus on the term “sellout” when thinking about the Nova Convention. The whole thing seemed more about money and publicity, more about Burroughs’ celebrity than a celebration of Burroughs. The double LP issued after the readings reminds me of a tie-in, a cashing-in. Even the readings in 1965 seem more pure somehow, although I feel stupid and naïve saying that. No doubt there are obvious similarities between the attendees of the Nova Convention and Wynn Chamberlain’s loft party. But comparing the Call Me Burroughs LP from 1965 to the double LP there seems no denying that the earlier disk not only captures the essence of Burroughs but also was a defining work in Burroughs’s canon. The Nova Convention is merely an “odd mixture” like a sex on the beach shot at a frat bar. Call Me Burroughs is a shot in the mainline. It takes you to the core of Burroughs as a writer and a performer. Burroughs’ wonderful deadpan delivery completed the performative nature of his early routine based work.

I have always viewed the Nova Convention as a literary equivalent of the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus, something of a glorious mess that could only be fully appreciated years later and at a distance. As Morgan points out, much of the audience was there to see Keith Richards hoping to see a rock show, and the Convention delivered that even without Richards. Yet the audience was not all “bridge and tunnel kids.” The performers were all directly influenced by Burroughs and formed something of a school of Burroughs and the Beats. This included members of the audience as well.

Jan Herman attended the Convention and wrote his impressions to Carl Weissner in Germany. Herman and Weissner were intimately involved with Burroughs and his work. They were not only influenced, but also influential in spreading Burroughs’ work internationally as well as spreading the word about the cut-up technique. RealityStudio posts the complete letter (page 1, page 2) in order to allow an eyewitness account of this event that like all legendary gatherings many claim to have attended but few actually did. The letter provides several interesting comparisons and contrasts in a short two pages — for example, Bukowski’s Hello, It’s Good to Be Back LP of a reading he did on his return to Germany. This tour of Germany possesses many similarities to the Nova Convention as a merging of hype and honest sentiment. The New York party scene in 1978 versus 1965. The establishment literary homage (National Book Award) versus the counterculture homage. Much food for thought in that the first National Book Award for fiction went to Nelson Algren’s novel The Man with a Golden Arm. What a large field of play in the parameters of the drug narrative!

© http://realitystudio.org

A1 Terry Southern – Vingette Of Idealistic Life In South Texas (1:25)
A2 William S. Burroughs – Keynote Commentary & Roosevelt After Inauguration (5:52)
A3 John Giorno – Eating The Sky (13:30)
A4 Patti Smith – Poem For Jim Morrison & Bumblebee (11:45)
B1 William S. Burroughs – Benway (3:40)
B2 Philip Glass – Building, Excerpt From Einstein On The Beach By Robert Wilson & Philip Glass (3:04)
B3 Brion Gysin – Kick That Habit, Junk Is No Good Baby, Somebody Special & Blue Baboon (7:06)
B4 Frank Zappa – The Talking Asshole (5:25)
B5 William S. Burroughs – From The Gay Gun: "This Is Kim Carson" & "Just Like The Collapse Of Any Currency" & "The Whole Tamale" (13:27)
C1 William S. Burroughs – What The Nova Convention Is About (2:35)
C2 Ed Sanders – Hymn To Aphrodite From Sappho (8:50)
C3 John Cage – Writing For The Second Time Through "Finnegan's Wake" (14:15)
C4 Anne Waldman – Plutonium Ode & Skin Meat Bones (6:35)
D1 Laurie Anderson & Julia Heyward – Song From America On The Move (12:50)
D2 Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky – Punk Rock, Old Pond; Feeding Them Raspberries To Grow, & Nurses Song (13:00)
D3 William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Les Levine & Robert Anton Wilson – Conversations (7:10)

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