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The author of the book: Matthew Levi Stevens
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Reader ratings: 3.7
Edition: mandrake
Date of issue: November 4th 2014
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Language: English
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The size of the: 11.12 MB

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“In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen. The dogma of science is that the will cannot possibly affect external forces, and I think that’s just ridiculous. It’s as bad as the church. My viewpoint is the exact contrary of the scientific viewpoint. I believe that if you run into somebody in the street it’s for a reason. Among primitive people they say that if someone was bitten by a snake he was murdered. I believe that.”
– William S. Burroughs

Fully revised and expanded from the limited edition chapbook that first appeared in 2012, The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs is the first ever in-depth consideration of the significance of Magic and the Occult in the Life & Work of the writer and counter-cultural icon.

In Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs, his biographer Ted Morgan wrote:

‘As the single most important thing about Graham Greene was his viewpoint as a lapsed Catholic, the single most important thing about Burroughs was his belief in the magical universe. The same impulse that lead him to put out curses was, as he saw it, the source of his writing…’

‘To Burroughs behind everyday reality there was the reality of the spirit world, of psychic visitations, of curses, of possession and phantom beings…’

From the Introduction to The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs:

In talking about The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs I am really thinking of two things:

Firstly, and probably most obvious, is the material that appears in the output of Burroughs the Writer that can be seen as describing or referring to some magical, mystical or occult idea – Invocations of Elder Gods of Abominations, descriptions of Sex-Magick rituals, references to amulets, charms, ghosts, omens and spells – all the thematic set-dressing that we all know and love, from Hammer Horror Movies to Weird Tales, from H. P. Lovecraft to Dennis Wheatley and The X-Files…

Secondly, there is the personal interest and involvement of Burroughs the Man with belief systems and practices that come from those strange ‘Other’ territories that lay outside the bounds of either conventional mainstream religion or scientific materialism – explorations of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, Konstanin Raudive’s Electronic Voice Phenomena, Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator; also partaking of the Vine-of-the-Soul with Amazonian shamans, attending the Rites of Pan in the Rif Mountains outside Morocco, participating in a Sweat-Lodge with Native American Indian medicine men – and, latterly, an engagement with that most Post-Modern of Occultisms, Chaos Magic.

The material considered has been distilled from archival sources, correspondence, interviews, and of course, published works. As well as his own personal contact with Burroughs and his lifelong study of the Man and his Work, the author also draws from a wide range of former associates – collaborators, friends, lovers, and students – including C. J. Bradbury Robinson, Michael Butterworth, David Conway, Phil Hine, Graham Masterton, Malcolm Mc Neill, and others.

As well as his own contact with the likes of Genesis P-Orridge, John Balance & Peter Christopherson of Coil, and writer Terry Wilson, back in 1980s London, he has also had unprecedented access to the papers of Cabell McLean, a young writer who was William’s companion, lover & student, c.1976-1983.


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