Gen's upcoming events and Misc.upcoming projects...

GENS MISC. UPCOMING PROJECTS: Heartworm Press are publishing “Collected Lyrics and Poems of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge – Volume One 1961 to 1971. Later they will publish Gen's first novel, written in 1969, “Mrs. Askwith”. Other books will follow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Interview with Genesis P-Orridge by Charles Neal (date??? early Psychic tv)

~ Genesis P-Orridge ~ by Charles Neal
In 1981, Industrial Records released its final album, Nothing Here Now But The Recordings, documenting the tape experiments of William S. Burroughs. The album materialised after Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson persuaded Burroughs to give them tapes which had been in a shoe box for over twenty years. The record finds Burroughs recording himself, television and radio while randomly stopping the tape machine - a demonstration of the cut-up technique invented by Brion Gysin and demonstrated repeatedly in Burrough's books. Genesis P-Orridge first met William Burroughs in 1973 after the two had exchanged a few letters. A friendship developed which led to an exchange of ideas. During this period, P-Orridge edited Contemporary Artists with Colin Naylor, a huge encyclopedia describing various people working within the arts. At Gen's insistence, a section devoted to Brion Gysin was included.
At that time, P-Orridge was also involved with COUM Transmissions, along with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter Christopherson, a unit which would later, together with Chris Carter, tranform into Throbbing Gristle. COUM Transmissions, an art group in general, was mostly involved with communications, and realised this through mail art, performance art and touring around Europe's cramped art centres, culminating in the infamous Prostitution exhibition at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1976.
Records and live performances, however, seemed a much better form of communication. Forming Industrial Records to maintain total control over their output, Throbbing Gristle released 2nd Annual Report in 1977. Subsequent releases included 3 further studio LPs as well as three seven inch singles. Always interested in personal, collectable merchandise, TG made variations on subsequent pressings of the records on Fetish and Mute. 2nd Annual Report was re-cut backwards with chamber music mixed in throughout Side Two. Sleeves and scratchings were changed on other recordings. Industrial was the first independent label to release music on cassettes only, and in addition to releasing material by The Leather Nun, Richard H. Kirk, Thomas Leer and Robert Rental, SPK and Clock DVA, they also released a limited edition of twenty cassettes packaged in a suitcase of their last 24 live performances. The group became notorious for the public display of their varied interests with photgraphs and record covers often containing subject matter including Nazi death camps, skulls and unclothed bodies. Branching into other areas, TG composed and performed the soundtrack to Derek Jarman's film In The Shadow Of The Sun, shown at the Berlin Film Festival and cinemas worldwide.
When Throbbing Gristle terminated in June of 1981, P-Orridge and Christopherson joined with Alex Fergusson (of Alternative TV) to form Psychic TV, the propaganda side of the Temple Ov Psychic Youth. It was, "Not intended to be a replacement for conventional programming, but rather the first step towards deprogramming". Combining many 'magickal' elements with an interest in subversion, Psychic TV do not accept the pre-occupations of institutionalised TV with its assumptions about entertainment and value. Psychic TV allow raw material to be used and manipulated by the viewer. Live, they incorporate a visual backdrop through the use of television and video screens, often showing their own films of rituals, genital piercing and montage, along with films of others with whom they work and respect.
The group released two albums after they signed with Some Bizzare in 1982. The first through WEA, Force The Hand Of Chance, contained a limited edition record including the use of holophonics, a 3D recording technique. The second album, through CBS, titled Dreams Less Sweet, combined holophonics with recordings of Charles Manson, Jim Jones, telephone calls and wolves amongst other things.
In 1984 Sleazy and John Balance left to concentrate on their own project, Coil. Psychic TV also left Some Bizzare and formed the label, Temple Records. While PTV remains a flexible unit, incorporating different individuals as they are needed. The Temple Ov Psychic Youth works to become, "A worldwide network to help encourage and support the development of multi-dimensional individuals". Psychic TV have worked in many diverse areas. They have recorded soundtrack music for several of Derek Jarman's films, including Imagining October, Home Movies, Pirates (a film about W.S. Burroughs), and Mirrors. During 1984, PTV were commissioned to produce a one and a half hour programme on their ideas for TVE (Spanish National Television). Parts of this show, La edad D'oro, were filmed on location in Barcelona and Cadaques, and directed by Derek Jarman, utilising Gaudi's Parque Guell and the beach by Salvador Dali's house (where Bunuel filmed L'age d'Or) as settings.
In 1986, the group had their first chart success with the single, Godstar, a song about the late Brian Jones, bringing their records to an entirely new audience. In 1987, the group began a long series of releases, a month-by-month documentation of their live performances.
Neal: What is the Temple Ov Psychic Youth?
P-Orridge: Well, for us it's a lifetime project, and the people who are really involved in the concept of The Temple are people who are committed to trying to stay awake 24 hours a day - not necessarily physically, although sometimes we try and do that as well. It's difficult to know what part of it to describe because it infiltrates everything that we do and all the people that we know. There is an actual occult side to it, if you like the magickal side to it, there's the propaganda side of it - of which Psychic TV is a part, and then there's the concept of the world-wide network of people collaborating to get projects done. For me, privately, The Temple means everything that 's important to do, think and feel, and the system that I use to remind myself that I'm less important than the sum total of what is done. And the people who are really involved with it are people who are committed to that and are prepared to work for the greater good of the idea, rather than their own private ego. And the people who are expelled are usually the people who start to confuse the idea of their own ego gratification and the product as a thing in itself, which it's not. The product is just spewed out as propaganda, or as documentation of the research, it is ephemera. It is not the thing, the thing is intangible. And the thing has to do with the neurology of our brains and also with trying to find a solution to being alive.
The British people are the most sleep-ridden and lazy, undisciplined and banal culture in Europe at the moment. Everyone's taking easy options and looking after themselves to survive on the easiest path, accepting a downward spiral of more and more innocuous and meaningless popular culture as well as real culture. I mean there hasn't been any real culture for God knows how long here. How many famous or even radical painters can you think of, English painters?
Neal: Maybe one... Well in the past thirty years.
P-Orridge: Thirty? In the past ten?... There's nobody. And the only place where there is any kind of radical movement is on the musical side. Interconnected with that, you could argue clothes a bit, but clothes and fashion are basically just tricks to seduce people into thinking change is happening when it's not. But I think most groups are now opting for easy pathways as well.
Neal: So, would the purpose of Psychic TV be to express their views through the most popular medium?
P-Orridge: Well, we make use of any medium. We'll make use of the concept of a cult, or a religion, just the same way as we'll make use of a music paper, or a flyposter or a cassette tape. As far as we're concerned, no medium of communication is sacred, we try to investigate how they work.
Basically The Temple is the sum total of all the people that we've come to know, the ones that haven't given in and succumbed to something else. They are basically outlaws and are the only people that we've learned are completely and utterly honest with themselves and with us, whether financially or morally, or even by saying when they think we're shit. And it's just the sum total of everything that they've learned and acquired, information, ideas about social control, ideas about anthropology, ideas about human psychology, and a conclusion that there is some sort of need for initiation and ritual; a very jaded cynicism with human behaviour in general - politics, religion, television and the mass media as well. A feeling of being disappointed over all, with the neglect of opportunity that most people demonstrate, that life could be far more exciting even if you don't like half of what is going on. Almost any aspect of life could be more varied and much more crisis ridden, but also much more exciting.
Neal: Many articles or programmes that appear about Psychic TV often concentrate on the way that you look, the contents of your flat or your lifestyle. Are you annoyed with these reports or do you abide by the adage of any publicity being good publicity?
P-Orridge: No, I'm fed up with people taking easy options. I'm sick to death of everyone using us as a scapegoat or an easy way out of them having to think. Then we have to spend six months talking to people and explaining that it was all bullshit that was written.
Our basic policy now is that we're just going to do what we do, and if the world doesn't like it, tough shit. And if they don't want to come, they won't come, and if they don't want to write to us, they won't write to us. And if they do want to know, we want them to trust us because we've gone totally out on a limb, even if it means we end up in prison. But we're going to say what we want to say, do what we want to do, and show the videos that we want to show. And we'll give good reasons why we're doing it. I think Britain, and in a sense most places, is crying out for someone to take the risk. No-one else is doing it, they're all just making little noises as if they're being radical or dangerous. All I know is that we had Customs and Excise around here again yesterday saying they've seized videos in Germany and, "Are we sending out subversive and obscene videos?" And then today they seized another video that was being sent to me from France.
Neal: How can they do that?
P-Orridge: They just open our mail. It's illegal to open it, but they open it to see what's in it, and of course they just defend that by saying, "Well, suppose it was a gun, or it was heroin?" But they can use that power to harass or intrude upon anybody. A month or so ago, Scotland Yard were around here saying, "We've been receiving letters saying that you're an organisation dedicated to subverting and corrupting the youth of this country".
Neal: So how do you handle that?
P-Orridge: I just said, "Do I look like the kind of man who would want to subvert and corrupt young people? And they went, "Well, uh huh...". (laughs) The irony being, in a sense, they're right. Yes, we do want to subvert and corrupt young people, but not in the sense that they mean. They mean according to a Christian, moral scale imposed by people who exist to make everyone else feel guilty. It's the same people who imposed the video law. Everyone knows on one level that people in privileged positions are the most corrupt, the most decadent, the most dishonest, and the most vicious in any society. And yet people allow those people to subject them to completely repressive, guilt-ridden, violent laws that state that you are not allowed to say what you want, you cannot write what you want and you cannot watch or make videos of anything you want. You can only do what you are allowed to do. And I personally have always found that an intolerable and insulting situation.
P-Orridge: I don't think there should be any laws about information at all - videos, films, books, magazines, political pamphlets, religious pamphlets, no matter how obnoxious or ridiculous. And I don't subscribe to the view that this lets in people like Adolf Hitler, because Adolf Hitler was not let in just because he had access to the media - he had access to the funds of big business and a million and one other things. And those sort of steamrollers do not exist without an awful lot of collusion with everybody. I think the alternative is intolerable, which is a world of complete zombies. I would rather have a world of danger than a world of zombies to be quite honest.
Neal: Would you say that's what the world is now?
P-Orridge: I think that's what most societies are tying to achieve, because they set things up in one way which goes back thousands of years through human social history. The scale of society has changed, there are now too many people, so it doesn't quite work. It's crumbling, they're patching it up all the time, but for them the alternative is too frightening - which is the unknown and the abyss of complete radical change, splintering and chaos for a period of time. The irony is that there is probably another route, another alternative, which is based on the fact that the majority of people do actually want to be left alone and have a quiet life, therefore there's probably a road of tolerance and reorganisation which could be gradually achieved. But that has to come from people's attitudes being re-educated.
At the moment, the big problem with popular culture is that it is educating people's attitudes to become more stupid. Nobody's encouraging you to think, it's as simple as that. Thinking is considered a sin, even by the left wing, even by your so-called Time Out, City Limits crew. The only crime which anyone could possibly pin on us, is firstly having opinions, and secondly telling people what we think, and actually living out what we say we think should happen. And I personally think if that's a crime, it's a pretty sad society and an incredibly sad youth culture. And I get most angry with people like NME, Sounds, Time Out, City Limits, the journalists and the mass media who are talking directly to the least tainted generation who are unconsciously begging to be treated as intelligent instead of being patronised.
Why do people get drunk and take acid? A lot of people do both now at the same time around here, just soul boys, 'cause they just want to be confused. And that is a shame, that basic expression of need for stimulation or risk - to feel something is happening, is just thrown away and insulted all the time by groups which they go and listen to. And they usually go away from a gig feeling anti-climactic because it was exactly as they expected and because there's very little passion, very little aggression, and very little intelligence involved. This is a big mistake everyone makes - they're all pandering to what they think people like, it has got to be liked or their group has failed. We've inherited this system, but the people who have the best chance to break it are the media by championing the idea of collaboration and a network of people just trying to make things happen that otherwise wouldn't. Even if some of what happens is just presenting you with ideas, films, people speaking, or sounds which you might find obnoxious, or suspect, or unpleasant, or drab, or boring. But, nevertheless, you go away better informed as to what different possibilities there are, or why you actually do like Duran Duran; that you've made a real choice all the time rather than accepting what you've inherited. Our society and most societies now have been trained to accept pre-recorded types of behaviour and expectation.
Neal: You use the concept of the temple, which historically implies religion...
P-Orridge: It implies a lot of things, because temples go way back. In The Bible they talk about the body being the temple of the soul. And in Japan, they have the Buddhist temple, and there are Roman, Greek and Aztec temples. It's basically a word for a gathering of people which often involves sounds, concepts, attitudes and a desire to demonstrate some kind of solidarity - even fleeting.
What we do is take the structure, but we don't inject it with dogma and a manifesto. Therefore we leave the structure itself. But also, it can used symbolically as an example or a word or a name that people can feel is a representative body with them having to belong to it. It stands for people who don't fit in. You know, the rest of the world has clubs of different kinds, organisations of different kinds - why can't we have one and make it work for us? Let's throw it back at them, instead of just moaning and saying, "Yeah, this is a bad system", let's take it and mutate it and twist it until it's almost unrecognisable. Also it's a camouflage, let's see what happens if it starts to grow big enough as an edifice for them to get worried by it. Because it's something that they accept as one of their models used for control, so if they have people they know are completely anarchic and nihilistic with the same role model, the same structure, which has all the trappings but they know is instinctively bad and is their enemy, it completely confuses them because they're getting a double message. Wereas if we were just running around, "Stop the city", and all that, then they know what that is. "That's those scum, that's the young scum and we can deal with that, we know what to do with them".
Neal: But couldn't they just pass it aside as being a cult?
P-Orridge: Well, they passed aside other cults like Charles Manson and Jim Jones and they paid the price, didn't they? So they're more paranoid than they used to be about anything they think is a cult. And they'll be even more paranoid about a cult which has no definition.
Neal: Do you enjoy that confusion on their part?
P-Orridge: Yeah, of course! I'm more interested in confusing people in power than the man of the street. We don't care whether anyone on the street is interested or not in the Temple Ov Psychic Youth, it make no difference. It can work as a concept with five people, because it is a means of organising things, a means of disseminating information, of giving it an identity, a style and structure. We like to have everything the way we want it, very precise, very organised and mischievous at the same time.
Neal: Much of your work seems to incorporate the spontaneity of the moment. Do you feel that this is a good way to operate?
P-Orridge: Well, the cut-ups were started by accident, and lots of the best stuff begins through accidents. And yet, accidents are always treated with great scepticism officially. When you're at school, you're not taught history in terms of random chance or mistakes that were made that turned out to be fruitful, and you're not taught history in terms of the occult. In fact, all history is riddled with freemasonry, occult and alchemy. When I was taught about Queen Elizabeth I, I wasn't told about John Dee, and about Enochian magick, and scrying and stuff like that - nor the fact that so few could be so powerful and could effect the destiny of Great Britain. And at the same time there were people in the courts of Rome, Germany and elsewhere, who were also wandering alchemist magickians and doctors - who were advising the royal families, the aristocrats and the bankers. Even the American Revolution was founded by people, many of whom were in secret societies. But you're not told that. You're told secret societies, the occult, and alchemy are all bullshit.
The people at the top have a vested interest in presenting something which reinforces their position. And once they've started to lie, the longer the lie goes on, in this case hundreds of years, then the less they're going to say, "Actually, we've been lying to you for the last six hundred years and we're actually a bunch of hypocritical bastards", because the public might say, "Oh, we don't want you anymore".
It just so happens that we've inherited enough obscure morality to still feel responsible once we've realised something seems wrong and try to do something about it. That's probably a leftover of Christianity too, but I'm lumbered with it. See, all the questions you've got, they're really all the same one. Everything that we do now is so integrated and basically has to do with motives and intentions. That is the only way of measuring ourselves. We are to such an extent outsiders, even now, which is quite an achievement really, to remain dangerous outsiders after twelve years of doing things. So although it's a bore in that it means that you're presented wrong to the public, it's a compliment because it must suggest that you are still, in some way, thinking a bit, and accidentally touching nerves.
There are so many games you can play and so many things you can do, I just don't know why people sit and say that there's nothing else to get on with. It's ridiculous. Most people have been trained to be bored, they've been told that everything is supplied. It's true when you talk about a consumer society. But a lot of people just don't recognize to what extent they are consumers and most of the time are trying to fill time rather than use it. I'm in no way an exception, nor are the rest of the people that I work with. And yet we actually find our only problem is getting enough time. There are people working with us who used to be heavily into heroin, and as you probably know, we're very, very anti-heroin because it's the ultimate submissive, time killing drug, as well as playing totally into the hands of the people who are the enemy. On every level, it's just really the worst - symbolically, practically, financially, and physically. And they've said that they've stopped using it because they haven't got time anymore, they've got so much to do that they couldn't possibly get anything done and maintain a habit. They're now out there getting fit and working their bums off. And it's not because anyone has said stop, it's because it became irrelevant. But I think that addiction is just a basic problem, people are addicted to everything, from sitting around to going to clubs, from listening to records to watching TV. And all of us fall, nobody's immune, we all fall into these traps, everyone, we all find ourselves moping around, distracting ourselves. It's impossible to be completely separate from it, but it's also possible to fight it much more.
Neal: Why is some information protected?
P-Orridge: Because that's where the real power lies, and the armies and police forces, in reality, are there to protect the bank of information that each country has. Espionage is the real war that goes on all the time, and that's about information. Or, in the British Museum, what you can and can't read. The Vatican has huge vaults of books which nobody is allowed to read. They say they're too dangerous to allow people to read them. Now what on earth could be in a book which is so dangerous that we're not allowed to see it?
Neal: Something that might topple their religion and power...
P-Orridge: Precisely! Therefore information is an equal power source to any other source. You can also include technology with information. When I was in Poland, before Solidarity, each town had one photocopy machine that the public could get access to. But there was somebody working it for you, you had to show them what you wanted copied before they did it, and they wrote your name and address and how many copies you had done. The more totalitarian any government, the more rigidly they control all sources of information because they know revolutions are based on propaganda or scandal. Governments fall on information. Look at Watergate. The American government fell on one piece of information. The police forces are often used to stop espionage of any form, whether it be radical, political groups, underground newspapers - journalists are told that they're not allowed to print it. We are never told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, yet it is demanded of us.
Neal: What does the symbol of the wolf, which recurs with Psychic TV imagery, mean to you?
P-Orridge: It keeps changing and growing, and we keep finding out more and more about wolves. Initially, on the most simple level, we thought of them as being an outcast group. Illogically, most people don't know why they've been told that wolves are bad or why to be frightened of them. They are loners but can also be in packs, and when threatened, turn and fight. They're basically animals of survival, and they're also the ones, ironically, which were claimed to have set up civilisation with Romulus and Remus. And in Viking legend, at the very end of history, the wolf devours the earth. And on 'Dreams Less Sweet' we had wolves as part of evolving our own symbolic language. We also had orchids, and then we heard that there was a legend that orchids only grew where wolf sperm landed. I can't remember them all off-hand, but lots of little anecdotes like that, all of which appealed to us. American Indians had great respect for wolves too. I just think they're fascinating creatures, and I think the way they're kept now, mainly in zoos, is symbolic of the way that a lot of us are treated. So they're just symbolic of Psychic TV as a potential wolfpack that could turn, and let's hope that is does and devours the world that is dislikes.
Most of our designs, symbols, even lyrics, are actually more appropriate after we've done them. That's why we often talk about intuitive magick, because it's like falling back on your intuitions and then discovering later that those were more accurate than mechanical thought. And it's more exciting - letting in the subconscious and letting it have a fair role to play in what you're doing. Instructing you and teaching you even more about the true nature of things than you ever would have guessed from a straight analysis.
We're not in the business of one answer, we never were - that's the thing we're fighting. We're in the business that the possibilities are endless, and that is the only positive bit of life. We don't personally inherit and subscribe to there being Gods, demons, outside forces or anything else. We subscribe to those feelings as being manifestations of brain activity, and that's why we go back on that. And the reason we have an interest in magick is because it is an exploration of the brain and its abilities. It's very possible, as anyone with common sense knows, that the brain can do far more than we've been told or learned to do with it yet. If we'd been doing the equivalent of weight training on the brain, then a lot of amazing things would happen. And I'm always in favour of new and amazing things happening.
Neal: With the 23 numerology, what are its origins and what does it entail?
P-Orridge: With me personally, it was Burroughs that told me about it. He just thought, "I'll keep a scrapbook about 23's". And then he noticed that the more he did, the more they seemed to crop up, beyond the laws of statistics. Obviously, there's a degree to which, because you are looking, you notice it - whereas before you didn't. That's true if you learn a new word, suddenly you find you hear everyone saying this word you never knew, and you think, "That's odd". But we've checked ourselves, even with computers, and it's way beyond statistical average.
Neal: Why is that?
P-Orridge: Well, we don't have any explanation. We're not into saying, "This is why." I don't come to any conclusion. I simply think it's interesting.
Neal: I'm not saying personally with you, but with Burroughs...
P-Orridge: Burroughs is the same basically. He just says that it seems to occur a lot in both good and bad situations. It acts like it has a personality or a consciousness, that's all you can say, and that it has a mischievous side to it. I told Caberet Voltaire about it when I first got interested, and they went, "Oh yeah, that's fun, but you know...", and then I got a phone call about two days later from them and they said, "You bastard!", and I said, "What?". They said, "We've come to Holland to do three gigs and in every hotel we've had room 23, and the gig on the 23rd was a complete disaster. And everywhere we turn, there are 23s. What have you done?" And I said, "Well, I did say you'd start noticing it". (laughs)
Nobody's totally sure why. Then again, why 23? It's a funny number in that you can't divide it by anything. Some mathematician in an Eastern block country apparently did a huge book about the number 23. It started to obsess him because, even with his advanced mathematics, it was playing games with him. It got to the author and he decided to try to find out about it. And at the end of it he just said, "I don't know what's going on, but something is." And there are quite a few statistics to do with the human body which are 23, like the blood going round the body in 23 seconds and 23 chromosomes. And there are 22 Tarot cards. But I was reading just recently a couple of books on magick and they all mentioned that several people going right back had put forward the theory that there should be 23.
Even in my own life, I met Paula, and she was born on the 23rd of February and I think, out of say ten close friends, something like seven were born on the 23rd. Almost everyone I ended up working with in 1983 was born on the 23rd. It started to irritate me. If you start cutting things out of the newspapers and collecting them, you'd be amazed at how many murderers are 23. What was that recent case, that guy that was cutting everybody up, a civil servant? He was living at number 23. I bet he killed 23 people, they don't know how many he'd killed, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.
It's also useful if you're in doubt as to how long to make a side of an album last, it's as good as any number to work around! So you can make it even more self-perpetuating if you want. On a basic level, it's just saying to people, "Nothing is what it seems, look out - watch everything. Here's one game you can play, if that works, then presumably that could work with a lot of other things too". Therefore these strange synchronisities are happening the whole time, and they can be applied - either in terms of being another way of making life more exciting or more entertaining or as a structure. If you have to make arbitrary decisions, they're as good a reason or way as any, and when you get bored, change them, just out of spite.
Neal: What was it that first interested you in William Burroughs?
P-Orridge: I read two or three books at school, and I wasn't completely sure of what it was to be honest. I knew they had some very potent effect on me, but I was actually quite naive. I didn't understand all the drug and homosexual references completely, basically a lot of the slang and scenarios were totally outside my experience, but I just felt this incredible potency. And the things I picked up on quickest were the ideas of control and the ideas of cut-up, the theories behind them, rather than them as literary novels, you know? I don't read Burroughs' novels anymore. I certainly wouldn't read them for fun, whereas I would always read his essays, short theories and lectures. Or listen to him talking about ideas of what is possible. Because that is where I think he is absolutely brilliant, and that is where I think, in a sense, he's a modern alchemist. He puts together elements that shouldn't go together and turns up something uncannily accurate.
Neal: What exactly is an alchemist?
P-Orridge: It's somebody who uses self-discipline to develop and maximise what they want to achieve. They take into account what they don't know as well as what they do know. Part of the idea is that a random factor that you have no knowledge of completes the formula, and that's how we try and work. We think that including and integrating random chance and intuition is actually the most precise way of working with anything. It was through Burroughs that we started using tape, and we still do.
Neal: How do yo apply Burroughs' work into that of Psychic TV?
P-Orridge: At the moment, what we're using a lot of is climaxes. We're taking climaxes from sound - mainly ritual sound, whether it be Tibetan rituals, New Guinea rituals, Catholic masses, opera, Beethoven, sport, or the crowed cheering at a goal. We use tapes of orgasms too. You have all these different climaxes which are normally very transient peaks, you take the exact moment of peak and loop it so it becomes flat and continuous, and you get confusion. Therefore, when the brain is being told there's a climax going on, and on, and on, the brain and body are confused because you can't respond over and over again, so something goes wrong, something gets twisted up, and short circuited. If you then start to layer climaxes which are sexual ones, intellectual ones, control ones, religious ones - entertainment ones, then you are really fucking up the brain because you're giving it all these different realities at once and you're giving them a different reality that it can't compute. And then you see what happens. When we played in Boston and Chicago it just polarized people to the point of hysteria, and a week later they were still having fist-fights over it. Some people fainted and some people vomited on the spot. Some people said they felt like they wanted to masturbate and ejaculate. Just extreme confusion expressed physically. My theory, and obviously people could argue with me about it, is that we're deliberately treading in dangerous water and we're playing with people's brains and responses. But we argue, "That's exactly what is going on with that stuff anyway... but it's camouflaged. We want to get to the nitty gritty, none of this arty-farty stuff. Let's just take this three seconds and see what happens - and get it over with quick".
I don't think many people are going to come to see us by sticking a pin in a magazine, I think they come to see us 'cause they know they'll get almost the equivalent of a physical, drug experience rather than a musical experience. And also to be treated with and shown a mixture of respect and information that they can't get anywhere else.
Neal: Is there a car starting right at the beginning of the album 'Dreams Less Sweet'?
P-Orridge: Yeah, that's the journey you see, every man's journey. There are several journeys I think. That's why I think 'Dreams Less Sweet' is the most complicated thing we've ever done. It is actually about a lot of things. It's just one huge, mythological web. A lot of people thought that album was pretty pretty, but I thought it was pretty dark. It's just that it was presented in a slightly less than obvious way. I thought it was actually the most degenerate record that we've ever made. (laughs) I thought it was quite amusing that people thought it was really pretty because they didn't bother to check what it was. And it's the ones they think are the nicest that are the sickest. Like having Charlie Manson sung by a choir boy. Or 'The Orchids', which is actually all about castration as well as love - two songs in one really. You get an optimistic and a mutilation side combined. The whole LP is interlinked, and 'The Orchids', in a sense, is setting up the language of the rest. In a way, it's the most complicated one of them all, and yet it sounds really simple. It has that optimistic chorus, "In the morning , after the night, I fall in love with the light". So it's saying that the idea is hopeful, but you go through the darkness in order to have an experience to make sense out of it. And that is not valuable until you've seen every aspect. We're optimistic but dangerous. We're emotionally, spiritually and morally damaged by what society and societies' history over a thousand years has done to us. Genetically damaged probably. We're just damaged in every way. Damaged by the education we've had, by the parents we've had, by the friends who have let us down, and by lovers. And everybody that tries to pretend that they're in any way balanced, perfect and pure, is bullshiting. We're damaged people trying to find some way to remain vaguely stable in mental or physical depression or the catatonic stage of just giving up and being passive.
Neal: You said before that you wanted people to get a feeling of strength or optimism, but some of the videos seem very... nasty.
P-Orridge: Nah, they're not nasty. I disagree, I think they're very compassionate.
Neal: I'll say dark then, darkly compassionate.
P-Orridge: As long as you include compassionate, because if you look at them closely, the only ones that actually are dark and nasty are the anti-religious ones, the ones that actually are attacking something. Anything that has to do with us and our visions, even the rituals, are quite obviously voluntary. And if you look, you'll notice everything done in a very gentle, concerned way, and nobody is suffering at all in any way. All those rituals were dedicated purely to pleasure, and from my own experience, were very pleasurable - and are still. But by the same token, initiation is not initiation without a feeling of the unknown and a feeling of slight fear. Initiations have always involved the giving up of oneself to the unknown and trusting other people with your physical well-being. Casting off normal preconceptions and normal concerns, and therefore opening up the brain to allow in sensations, thoughts, or empty spaces which otherwise are not there. We initiate ourselves because we want to find our own thresholds. We don't have to say at the end of it, "I believe this, I believe that." We do a physical initiation, but each one is designed for the person. And if people write in and say, "I want to be initiated", we don't say, "OK". We don't initiate people we don't know, because we don't know what's appropriate. With people who are close to us, lovers and close friends, we do rituals to find out our own mental thresholds and to discover new things about what happens to our brains and perceptions. And it might be one day something very sexual, another day it might be whether it hurts or not to get cut on the arm, and on another day it might be sitting in a box for two hours, just to see if you can handle that.
Neal: In a live performance however, you're using people who might not be close friends.
P-Orridge: Oh yeah, in a live performance we impose a certain form of initiation on the audience deliberately. In Boston, I was really pleased with it because it was an initiation, and people responded the same way that initiates do individually - but more collectively. And that's what we're aiming for; to find a means of collective initiation minus dogma, and at the same time reveal to them the true nature of television. We're trying to hype it up to the pitch where it's very obvious that television is the most recent form of magickal attack, and that it attacks the brain, and possibly even attacks the body and causes cancer - nobody knows yet. There was research done on that in America and it was suppressed. They discovered for sure that it caused hyperactivity and mental instability. I know because I met one of the doctors that worked on it. They began to do research into it causing cancers, actually causing psychopathic tendencies, but the report was suppressed and they were all sworn to the Official Secrets Act or whatever they call it in America. It was just stuck in a vault in Washington and scrapped, the whole project. One has to assume that they were at least aware that there was a high danger quality. With our live shows, there is a subliminal effect but not a subliminal manipulation, because there is no pre-planned message, except be careful of TV - it's a beast, it's like getting in a cage with the wolf. And if you use the language of magick, you can just make it clearer to people what's going on. They are being subjected to subtle spells. They are being manipulated, their subconscious is being emasculated all the time, more and more deliberately. There is a vested financial, political, and moral interest in television. Television is used like an opiate, it is programmed to make people go to work and rest when they get home. Even more so in England, it goes off when you're meant to go to bed. They more or less say it, "Now it's time to go to bed, bye bye, good boy, good girl". But they do that with muzak too. They do spectrum analysis, and they work out the optimum frequencies and the optimum pulse patterns and just rewrite any music to fit within the spectrum. They use it in slaughterhouses because they've got one which makes the cows carry on bleeding and not clot, which they now use in hospitals for patients who have had heart disease.
They even had it in the first moonshot to keep the astronauts content. And it's in the silos with nuclear weapons in Nevada as well to keep them awake and not go crazy! (laughs)
Neal: You've been working on various projects with the writer Kathy Acker. Is she in London for long?
P-Orridge: She's been living in London for a little while but getting a bit fed up with the stupidity of the British. She's decided that the society here is completely S&M orientated. She's a lot more clear about it than I am, but it made a lot of sense, especially when you remember that the public schoolboys still run the show here and they are renowned for being into deviancy - whether it be gay or S&M. It actually is true; the most perverted people in Britain are in the government, or rich businessmen.
So Kathy likes to take a sexual view of society and she also likes to take an extreme view. Like the way the public let television sadistically manipulate them. If you just start changing the language, if you start using the words sadism or masochism instead of advertising or whatever, you get a whole new way of percieving what is going on. And recently, through talking to Kathy and through working on films for Spanish TV and so on, I have become re-obsessed with the idea of language. Not language that you write down, but the language of symbols, invisible languages - the ones of power.
Neal: For instance?
P-Orridge: I think the most powerful language on the planet at the moment is the way that television is edited, and the way it is actually editing itself.
Neal: Are the TV programmers aware of what they are doing?
P-Orridge: Some of them pretend to be, like advertising exectutives. But I don't think anyone has actually conceived how dangerous it is. It's like tampering with the atom. They don't know, and yet the medium of television is pervading everywhere all the time.
I have this theory about brainwashing where you get the brain into this state of emptiness, and then you fill it with something dogmatic, which is, "Go and kill somebody when you get back to America", or, "Communism is great". And television, I think, accidentally creates the same hypnotic vacuum, but fills it with nothing or random garbage. In a sense it's far more dangerous than straight brainwashing because it's leaving people dissatisfied and confused. We're trying to deal with television in the way you edit it, so that what we're creating is the first surrealist television in the true sense of the word. Now you see adverts which pretend to be surrealistic by using surrealist influenced images, but what surrealism is actually about is trying to find a path for the subconscious through the conscious - to express the true nature of our imagination. And that's what television should also be trying to do.
Neal: Can people use television to their advantage?
P-Orridge: Yes, I'm sure. They can use it like a crystal ball. Burroughs says, "If you do cut-ups, then the future leaks through". He was talking about words, and later about tape, but the same principles apply to video and film. Eventually even to floppy discs and computer programmes. We believe that you can try to achieve the crystal ball parallel as follows: turn the television to a channel without a programme and the screen will be filled with 'snow', as it's called. Turn the brightness and contrast up full. The best time to do this is between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., as we are trained through social conditioning to be most neutral at this time - therefore the most receptive. Now get close to the screen, switch off all other lights sources and stare at the screen. First try to focus on the tiny dots that will be careering about the screen like micro-organisms. You'll find it very hard to focus - just keep on trying. Suddenly time will alter along with your perceptions and you will hit a period of trance where the conscious and subconscious mind are triggered in unison by the mantric vibrations of the myriad dots. It's quite possible that the frequency and pulse rates of the TV 'snow' are similar to certain ones generated by other rituals in other societies (e.g. Dervish dances, Tibetan Magick etc.). What we have here is a contemporary magickal ritual using the medium, in all senses of the word, of television. A very basic form of Psychic Television. You can also get similar effects for instance by staring for long periods at mirrors and dream machines (see 'Planet R101 - Here To Go' by Terry Wilson and Brion Gysin). And you may also get cancer, I don't know. (laughs)
What we're doing now is trying to integrate the music with what we call, 'New Television'. We also call it 'Psychic Television', but if you can't handle the word "psychic", it's 'New Television'. It's television revealed as what it is, a system of manipulation and a very sophisticated one. It's also revealed as a very brutal form of contemporary magick - one which we hope can be turned in our favour. If you like, we're into the de-programming of television, and the music is part of that. But there will be odd records which will be made as self-contained in themselves as they can be. And if that means they sound incredibly attractive and listenable - fine, because there's going to be some element within the way they were recorded of the lyric which is not as it seems. They might even appeal to some major label and they might release them, and they might end up in the top ten, but we will still be running Temple Records and releasing completely uncompromising tapes for other reasons. At the end of the day, people either trust us or they don't trust us.
I'm 34 and I've been doing this for 15 years, and I'm living in a legalised squat with an outside toilet and an overdraft, and I'm still frightening to people like Time Out, so I don't think there's any evidence anyone could possibly produce to suggest that we're trying to get loads of zombie people to do what we want. Far from it, we immediately eject people who mimic us, we're just not interested. I personally don't have the time, the energy, or the inclination to pander to emotional cripples who want to be told what to do. That is completely the antithesis of what I'm trying to do - which is fighta anyone who tells me what to do. All we can fall back on is, "Produce the evidence. When did we do that? When did we say that? Where's the proof of what you say we are?" And there is none. We are not monsters, we are not Nazis and we are not trying to bleed people dry to set up a pseudo-religion. It may well be that in America that's what people do. And to investigate the phenomenon, and become tax exempt. It seems the obvious thing to do. Why not? Everyone else does - if they're going to have one, let's have one too. Ironically, if they get pissed off with us, they might have to fuck up everyone else's religion to get us, right? If they have to change the law, it applies to all the Moonies as well. Will they want to do that? It's going to really put them in a quandary. Do they want to start cracking down on all those privileges that they give religions? Because then they're being anti-religious and American governments do not want to be seen as being anti-religious. Because there's a lot of votes there.
So it's the old story. They set up this edifice to protect themselves and maybe there would be enough loopholes for us to go down and partly protect ourselves and exploit them. To take the piss, and attack them, and just generally cause a lot of mischief - and have a lot of fun doing it. It quite appeals to me. Why not? Go and visit our brothers in California - who are Mark Pauline and Monte Cazazza, the same so-called troublemakers - but now they're ministers. And I'm on the plane and I'm listed on the flight as just the Reverend Genesis P. Orridge. (laughs) I think we have to do it - just to see what happens. And I think more people should be sarcastic to those powers. You could say that we're obsessed with being sarcastic to the powers that be.
Neal: Do you find the musical output of Psychic TV is approached in similar ways with most other bands.
P-Orridge: The way we do music, the fact that it has so many layers, is because we approach it more from the literary or fine arts basis, whereas most people approach it from wanting to be musicians. Originally, when I was young, I wanted to be a sort of art-world, art-history type of artist. But when I got mixed up in that world, I was just so disillusioned and saddened and disgusted by what I saw. And the people that I met who were supposed to be artists just didn't have the dedication, the vision, or the determination to change the world or change human perception. When I was younger I romantically thought that art was a state of total being, a thing you couldn't escape. It was a traumatic drive; you didn't want to be an artist but you had no choice. And I just ended up feeling that the word "art" itself was an embarrassment because it just reminded me of the disgust I felt for those people. And it made me aware of why, even for the wrong reasons, the majority of the public think that art is a joke and have no respect for it. And I was really upset.
I think that everything since then has been a response to that disillusionment, and trying to find another language in another medium to be able to be an artist without being called one. Occasionally, in a weak moment, I will say to people that I would like to think that if there's such a thing as an artist still, then I'm probably an artist. And I want to be remembered as an artist and a thinker, or a writer and a thinker - not as a musician. Because I'm not a musician, and we've said many times, "We are not a music group, we just happen to use music or tape because that's what we can get access to and that is what's worked better than anything else so far". But at the end of the day, it is a neurosis, I can't do anything else.
Monte started as a fine artist, and then a performance artist, an then just became totally disillusioned and anarchic. Even Burroughs and Gysin are rebel artists and literary figures, they're all people who I think were damaged by the hypocrisy of the world that they originally believed in. They had a traditional image of the literary or art world, and I think none of us have ever recovered from that childhood shock of what it is really like. The music business is equally as bad - but you've always been told that, so it's not quite such a surprise, you're expecting it. But it's there, the feeling of being tainted and soiled can get so strong - and that's the primary emotional reason that we left CBS and Some Bizzare. We just felt that we were being infected with something insidious and filthy and that we weren't in control. And we felt that our public were getting worried that it was happening too.
Neal: With Psychic TV USA and Psychic TV Iceland now beginning operations, do you feel that takes a lot of pressure off your back - since some people might look at you alone as being Psychic TV?
P-Orridge: We're trying to educate people into the idea that we're not a normal group, that we're a network of collaborators who trust each other. Which is what we are. There is no other group that I know of like that. We are trying to prove that the options are far more than anyone says and that I don't have to be on a record for it to be Psychic TV. Eventually, I could retire and never make a record again, and Psychic TV could still release things in Japan. There could be a Japanese Psychic TV, for example. We're trying to set up examples, models and new ways of operating so everyone else can make use of the bits that are applicable to them. And it has worked to a degree already. TG had a world-wide influence, we didn't sit there and know it would, but we took note. We were just intuitive enough and lucky enough to execute what was inevitable in our eyes. And enough other people agreed that it was inevitable to relate to it.
We can do what we want and get across to people. The question is, "How many before you've compromised?" I don't think anybody really knows where the border is. Did Jim Morrison get across something intelligent to a lot of people with his music, or did he just become popular? It's a fine line. I think The Doors are one of the few examples of popular music which did retain intelligence most of the time.
Neal: But how much of the intelligence was acknowledged in their day, and how much of it was established in retrospect, with the release of the books and general Doors revival?
P-Orridge: I don't know because I didn't really follow their progress at the time. I thought they were a bit boring when they first came out. (laughs) I did get more interested after reading about Jim Morrison. Then the records became more interesting. So it could be that it's retrospective to a degree. Nevertheless, that is the aim, to try and create intelligent music. I'm not concerned with being popular, but I've got no fear of something getting accidentally popular either. At the end of the day music has to remain functional, and if that function is purely propaganda or tactics, that's still a function.
But the music I find most interesting is the music which affects the body. I really want to be able to make the live things that we do as sexual as possible in their effect. I want to make people feel very sexually aroused and find the frequencies and pulses that arouse people sexually. There are very few live events now where there is any sexuality. That's one thing that apparently The Doors did generate, obviously more deliberately - Jim Morrison rolling around in his leather trousers and stuff. (laughs) But I think it is lacking in music at the moment. Although there's all this dance music and body music and bands sing about coming, in reality, there's no sex music.
Most ritual music is either for an ecstatic state, for visions, or it's a form of fucking. In fact, most of the best rhythms are fuck rhythms. People tend to hint at it but, in fact, they are very puritan about it. I think it's time to get back to fucking again. (laughs) Let's have everyone going home and having a good fuck. Let's throw in sex, blatant sex, because there should be an enjoyment quota. We always said we were interested in sexual magick and the idea of focussed sexuality. I think that with the idea of focussed sexuality. I think that with the drumming, we're beginning to get back to that primitive root of pure sex, and I think that having realised it, that's what has been missing for so long. Even now, the only sex music is gay disco music, and that's only because it accompanies what happens anyway. It doesnt' make gay people feel sexy, they play with it whilst they're cruising anyway, and that's fair enough. Take Jim Morrison, he used to whip up sexual feelings, as did the early Rolling Stones - Brian Jones and Mick Jagger, both of them. And that sensuality side of it seems to have diminished greatly. That's probably a reason why people are dissatisfied. I really think that in a symbolic way, going to a live gig is going to be fucked. You're fucking the audience and on a good night, they're fucking you. That's why I think that music has to be loud and physical. And there are certain really simplistic functions of live music which people have forgotten. They're into demonstrating their own prowess, it's masturbatory at the moment. People should look more closely at the sexual parallel of what they do live - and do it consciously.
Neal: Don't people like Wham! and A-Ha act as sex objects?
P-Orridge: Yeah, but they're the unobtainable. They're the playboy perfection of it. They're a cosmetic version which is very sterile, they're the sex that you, if you actually got it, you wouldn't want because they'd smell of scent rather than sex. They'd be looking in the mirror to see how they looked as they were doing it. And they'd wear their make up in bed. I'm talking about real sex where you like the smells and the sweat and you forget yourself in it. And at the end of it you feel changed. You've been in another mental state which is the state of the conscious and unconscious combined, which is what happens at orgasm. And a lot of people have this misconception that if you're lost in sex, that you're promiscuous - which isn't true. You can have a completely enclosed relationship with one person and still have incredibly ecstatic, invigorating sex. But in this society people are so terrified of the freedom, mental and spiritual, that sex can give that they try to dismiss it or alienate people from it.
Neal: Especially now with the huge sexual backlash.
P-Orridge: Yeah. That's where we get back to what Kathy Acker was saying about the S&M situation. What we need is a healthy interest and animalistic freedom within sex. Sex can actually be focussed to bring to bear all your best energies to improve everything about your character and direction. That's the second stage, where you realise that the power of sex can be channelled to enhance your individual freedom and give you back to yourself. S&M grows from guilt and fear. That's why, when we first mentioned it, it sounded crazy, but now we've talked some more and what Kathy's saying is actually accurate in many ways.
I think that's another reason why we are important and why people are so scared of us. It's the sex that scares them because they've been trained and conditioned to be scared of it. We've all been made to feel embarrassed and there's a residue of that in all of us. In reality, I think it's about time we said, "No, we're not embarrassed". It's time for us to take that risk. But 'rock and roll' is dying, if you like. I used to hate the idea of 'rock and roll', but I'm beginning to think maybe it's not such a bad idea. Give people sex and all the power back and the music could take off again. Wildness, you know, let's have a bit of wildness again.

No comments: