Expatriate writer, composer, and traveler Paul Bowles (1910-1999) stepped away from it all and reported back to us through his novels and short stories and is featured here in a documentary ‘Let it Come Down’. He lived 52 years in Tangier, Morocco, and wrote evocatively of the place and its peoples. His most famous for his influential 1949 novel, The Sheltering Sky, was filmed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
Tag: William S. Burroughs
Paul Bowles during his life (1910-1999) remained aloof from all the hipsters and hypesters of U.S. letters. Living in self-imposed exile in Tangier, he had cast a spell over such talents as Tennessee Williams, Libby Holman, Truman Capote, and Allen Ginsberg. We revisit an essay penned by Jay McInerny in 1985, on how the inimitable expatriate writer-composer’s dark arts retain their power, even more so 32 years later.
Ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, one of the most important plant explorers of the 20th century, served as a key inspiration in a recent film called “Embrace of the Serpent.” In December 1941, Schultes entered the Amazon to study how indigenous peoples used plants for medicinal, ritual, and practical purposes. After nearly a decade of fieldwork, he made significant discoveries about the sacred hallucinogen ayahuasca. In total, Schultes would collect more than 24,000 species of plants including some 300 species new to Western science.
Every day, more and more tourists arrive in Iquitos, Peru, seeking spiritual enlightenment or a psychedelic experience first made popular by William Burroughs and the Beatniks in the 1960s. Unfortunately, some well-paid “shamans” lack the experience or understanding of the powerful and sacred botanical brews used for thousands of years for healing and divination. And the gringos-on-holiday often get over their heads in the wilds of the Amazon.
“America could have been a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race. Instead, we just moved in here and destroyed the place from coast to coast like killer snails. Everybody wants power over a country that’s had it’s day.”
Burroughs wanted to free people from the slavery of addiction, whether to heroin or money or sex. “The Garden of Earthly Delights” was his shorthand for the diseased saturnalia of American affluence. From his earliest writings Burroughs foresaw a time when human beings, drenched in orgasmic “freedom,” would be reduced to their bodies, their minds completely manipulated by advertising and mass media.