Harnessing the Magic and Creative Power of the Cut-up Method a la William Burroughs, David Bowie, Genesis P-Orridge, Led by Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson
Date: September 10, 17, 24, October 1.
Time: 1 pm – 3 pm EDT
PLEASE NOTE: All classes will also be recorded and archived for students who cannot make that time.
The cut-up method was originally discovered by Dada instigator Tristan Tzara. In his 1920 manifesto To Make a Dadaist Poem he teaches us how to create what he called “accidental poems” by cutting words from a newspaper, putting them all into a hat, shaking the contents, and pulling them one by one to create poetry by chance.
At the Beat Hotel in Paris in 1958, creative partners William Burroughs and Brion Gysin rediscovered the cut-up method and elaborated upon it, moving from wordplay to audio recording, film, painting, collage, and further iterations. Gysin and Burroughs had been immersed in the magic of Morocco when they spent time with Paul and Jane Bowles in Tangier, and began to see the magical aspects inherent in their cut-up methodology.
David Bowie collided with William Burroughs and integrated the cut-up method into his way of writing song lyrics. A master of cutting up identity, Bowie played with the performative aspects of persona, gender, and sexuality.
Collectives such as Crass and Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) experimented with cutting up behavior and expectations through their “life as performance art” philosophies, challenging norms put upon them by parents, family, and society. TOPY intentionally wove magical elements into their creative practices, pulling heavily from the methods of Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, while idolizing Burroughs and Gysin as creative, magical masters.
TOPY ringleader Genesis P-Orridge harnessed the Third Mind work of Burroughs and Gysin and took their ideas even further, in a project coined Pandrogeny, through which Genesis and he/r other half Lady Jaye Breyer underwent a series of surgical, chemical, behavioral, spiritual, and psychological procedures to break down their individual identities and come together more fully as one. In this life as performance art endeavor, the pair challenged ideas of difference between self/other, man/woman, and even life/death.
In this class, Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson will review the history and evolution of the cut-up method over the past century. They will demonstrate how to apply cut-up techniques to a variety of artistic mediums, and participants will be encouraged to create, bring in, and share their own works of art (if desired, not required). A wonderful thing about the cut-up method is that it can be applied to whichever medium you enjoy. Words, images, sounds, video, fashion, and performance art may all be cut-up and rearranged to create something new and unexpected.
Anyone can harness the magical and creative potential of the cut-up method. Even if you don’t have any experience with the creative arts or magical practice, the facilitators of this course will walk you through the basics, and show you fundamental ways you can begin a creative and magical practice through work with the cut-up method. There will be plenty of time in class to share and to ask questions.
Dr. Vanessa Sinclair is a psychoanalyst, artist, and occultist based in Sweden, who works with people internationally. She is the host of Rendering Unconscious podcast. Her books include Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Films of Ingmar Bergman: From Freud to Lacan and Beyond(2023), The Pathways of the Heart (2021), Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: The Cut in Creation (2021), Switching Mirrors(2016), and Outsider Inpatient: Reflections on Art as Therapy(2021) with Elisabeth Punzi.
Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish author, publisher, and filmmaker. His books include Source Magic(2023), Codex Nordica (2022), Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan (2022), Different People (2021), The Devil’s Footprint (2020), Occulture (2018), Mother, Have a Safe Trip(2016), and The Fenris Wolfseries. His films include Reseduction(2022), My Silent Lips (2019), Lunacy(2017), Sub Umbra Alarum Luna(2016), and the An Art Apart series. His publishing company is Trapart Books, Films and Editions.
Together they host the Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult series of events, dedicated to exploring the intersections and integration of psychoanalytic theory, the creative arts, occult practices, and folk magic traditions. By inviting psychoanalysts, philosophers, artists, writers, and occult practitioners from a variety of theoretical orientations and worldviews to discuss their work, personal experiences, and areas of research interest with one another, dialogue is opened up between practitioners in fields of study that traditionally rarely engage with one another though often operate in similar and complementary ways. Join them at Patreon!
Images: Cut up artworks by instructor Dr Vanessa Sinclair