Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Our pal DH draws our attention to a film called Flicker. (Click here.)

“Flicker is a film by Nick Sheehan. It’s a look at artist/writer Brion Gysin who never got much attention during his life. He was born in 1916 in England to Canadian parents may have given Gysin something of an identity problem. Or perhaps he was naturally rootless. He grew up in western Canada and later attended Downside School near Bath, Somerset. In 1934 he moved to Paris where he studied La Civilisation Francaise, an open course at the Sorbonne. Whilst there he became attracted to the Surrealists but he got in a fight with Andre Breton and was expelled from the movement. This event is not given much weight in the film but it must have driven him further in on himself. Then came the legendary meeting with Burroughs in Tangers, the cut-ups, and the years they spent in the Beat Hotel, Paris. The film contains comments from people like Kenneth Anger, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithful, Jean-Jacques Lebel and Genesis P.Orridge. Various intrepid cultural icons record their experiences in front of the machine. They talk about amazing colours etc. but any long-term effects on perception are unclear. Some of the most illuminating comments are hidden between the lines. Gysin comes across as a complex character. Prickly, knowledgeable and obtuse. An outside outsider. Not bitter or anti-social particularly but isolated from the mainstream avante garde. He appears to have genuinely wanted to transcend himself, much more than Gertrude Stein or even Joyce and Beckett ever did. A rose is a rose…I am that I am that. Apart from his collaboration with Burroughs nothing seemed to go right for him He invented a dream machine but failed to interest any companies in the commercial possibilities. It wasn’t seen as a second Lava lamp and he couldn’t get an article about it into Rolling Stone. The lack of success or recognition must have weighed heavily on him.” (Click here for more)