Victor Stone, June 14th, 2004
The writings of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg may be amongst the most important in the 20th Century but it’s the sound of Burroughs’ growl and the haunting lilt in Ginsberg’s recitals that have compelled turntablists to use samples of their speaking voices. Sampling pioneers and Ninjatune entrepreneurs Jonathan More and Matt Black (a.k.a. Coldcut) have used Burroughs and Ginsberg for a while and continue to do so.
Thanks to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics from Naropa University, you can hear hundreds of hours of lectures and readings by Burroughs, Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Amiri Baraka and others all of which have been posted to the Archive as part of the Naropa Collection. As of this writing there are 147 (!) uploads to the stunning collection.
Burroughs is of special interest due to his exploration of assembling fragments of writings and audio tape (what he called “cut-ups”) in the 1960′s and 70′s that lead directly to follow-up projects by Brian Eno, David Bowie, Plunderphonics and hence the mainstreaming of tape sampling as a music genre. His 1976 lecture at the Kerouac School should be required listening as a background on cut-ups.
Of course the lectures are of invaluable literary value. Burroughs and others delve deep into their personal relationships with various works of literature ranging from Conrad to Fitzgerald, Wordsworth to Whitman.
And finally there is the sheer entertainment value of many of these uploads. For example, you don’t want to miss Ginsberg reading the complete “Howl.”.
The entire Naropa Collection is licensed under a Attribution-NonDerivs-NonCommerical license.