Time’s Prisoners: Nietzsche, Burroughs and the Rift


This, indeed this alone, is what revenge is: the will’s resentment against time’s “it was”.  – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

The black iron prison is the corpus of the great it as it was; our world is the process metamorphosis, interim, of an insect-like camouflaged, mimicking organism. – Philip K. Dick,  The Exegesis

Time is a prison, history a pre-recorded film in which we are all stuck in time repeating the gestures of automata and puppets. We are it’s pawns. Programs in a universal game, slaves of the time-lords who entrust us to our own hells for their perverse pleasure. There is no escape. Or is there? Nietzsche in another passage would have Zarathustra add:

To redeem those who lived in the past and to re-create all “it was” into a “thus I willed it” – that alone should I call redemption. Will – that is the name of the liberator and joy-bringer. thus I taught you, my friends. But now learn this too: the will itself is still a prisoner. Willing liberates; but what is it that puts even the liberator himself in fetters? “It was” – that is the name of the will’s gnashing of teeth and most secret melancholy. Powerless against what has been done, he is an angry spectator of all that is past. The will cannot will backwards; and that he cannot break time and time’s covetousness, that is the will’s loneliest melancholy.

Freud following Nietzsche would redefine will and christen it with a new name – “libido” – the energetic unconscious. And out of this seething energy he would bring forth the drives, eros (sex) and thanatos (death). Bloom, another deep reader of both Nietzsche and Freud would offer another, further, revisioning of these drives: “I will suggest that the creative will or poetic drive puts the Freudian drives into question, by showing that those drives themselves are defenses, or are so contaminated by defenses as to be indistinguishable from the resistances they supposedly provoke.”1 Defense, in war or in sport, seeks more than stability; it seeks victory, or the annihilation of change (Bloom, p. 123).

Nick Land following Nietzsche and Freud but probably not versant in Bloom’s critical poetics would remind us again that “Freud, too, is an energeticist … He does not conceive desire as lack, representation, or intention, but as dissipative energetic flow, inhibited by the damming and channeling apparatus of the secondary process (domain of the reality principle).”2

William S. Burroughs would begin his long struggle against the Archons, the Lords of Time in Act One of his life’s work:

“This is war to extermination—Fight cell by cell through bodies and mind screens of the earth—Souls rotten from the Orgasm Drug—Flesh shuddering from the Ovens—Prisoners of the earth, come out—Storm the studio.” His plan called for total exposure—Wise up all the marks everywhere—Show them the rigged wheel—Storm the Reality Studio and retake the universe—The plan shifted and reformed as reports came in from his electric patrols sniffing quivering down streets of the earth—the reality film giving and buckling like a bulkhead under pressure—burned metal smell of interplanetary war in the raw noon streets swept by screaming glass blizzards of enemy flak.3

Ccru in its hyperstitional investigations would probe Burroughs rhizomatic interzones like moles entering a multiverse where the secret Board room criminals who control the Reality Studio have no reach:

“You can see that Burroughs’s writing involves the highest possible stakes,” Kaye wrote. “It does not represent cosmic war: it is already a weapon in that war. It is not surprising that the forces ranged against him – the many forces ranged against him, you can’t overestimate their influence on this planet – sought to neutralize that weapon. It was a matter of the gravest urgency that his works be classified as fantasies, experimental dada, anything but that they should be recognized as what they are: technologies for altering reality.”4

But who or what is behind it all? The OGU: “The OGU is a prerecorded universe in which He is the recorder” (Ccru, KL 604). The universe, reality, time are nothing more than pre-recorded cinema, a continuous replay of the same over and over and over again. We have all been here before. Deja vu! History is a recording you’re stuck in, a Venus flytrap from which you cannot crawl out. Ccru will explicate: “Burroughs names the dominant control program One God Universe, or OGU. He wages war against the fiction of OGU, which builds its monopolistic dominion upon the magical power of the Word: upon programming and illusion. OGU establishes a fiction, which operates at the most fatal level of reality, where questions of biological destiny and immortality are decided. “Religions are weapons” (WL 202).” (Ccru, KL 517)

Norman O. Brown tells us in his short book, Closing Time that the aboriginals, the originals, the tribes had ritual clowns, formed “Fools Lodges,” or “Society of Contraries,” who violated taboos and thereby acquired magical powers.5 Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Salvadore Dali, J.G. Ballard and oh so many more, all belong to the “Secret Society of Dada-Surrealism” – a world of contraries and antinomianism.

Philip K. Dick will separate out the great war in the Reality Studio as two forms of time-warp: “Growth time” (movement of an entelechy toward completion) must be orthogonal to “decay time,” or “wheel spinning time,” even if our senses can’t sort out these two times at work before us, in us and around us. Some sections (subparts) of the universe are moving backward, then, despite our occluded vision of a single forward lineal stream. We have a monovision in a sense. Blending two signals which should be discriminated.6 He will recognize early on that we are in a prison:

We seem to be confined within a metal prison, but something vital has secretly penetrated the enclosing ring around us and fires assistance and advice to us in the form of video and audio signals. Neither the prison ring is visible to us nor the signal system which fires nor the entity which has penetrated through us. The signals emerge as if from cores drilled through the metal; they’re in color. Thus, our prison was breached a long time ago. Help is here, but we still remain here within the prison; we aren’t yet free. I take it that the camouflaged invisibility of the signals is to keep the creator of the prison from knowing that help is here for us. (Exegesis, KL 3878)

Dick would come upon the ‘holographic principle,’ (the idea that a universe with gravity can be described by a quantum field theory in fewer dimensions, has been used for years as a mathematical tool in strange curved spaces) long before physicists set it down into mathematical formula:

This is not pantheism. This is not dualism, although there is a good vs. bad and a dialectic interaction. It is simply a 2-signal source hologram, and one of the sources has died and “seeks” to enslave us to its repetitious, frozen prison-state, its corpse-state. Our universe is neither animate nor inanimate (vs. the pre-Socratics and Timaeus)— half is alive and half is dead, and the alive half is trying to rescue us from the enslavement to the dead part. (Exegisis, KL 6604)

Cesar  Hidalgo, in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies will remind us that information, when understood in its broad meaning as physical order, is what our economy produces. It is the only thing we produce, whether we are biological cells or manufacturing plants. This is because information is not restricted to messages. It is inherent in all the physical objects we produce: bicycles, buildings, streetlamps, blenders, hair dryers, shoes, chandeliers, harvesting machines, and underwear are all made of information. This is not because they are made of ideas but because they embody physical order. Our world is pregnant with information. It is not an amorphous soup of atoms, but a neatly organized collection of structures, shapes, colors, and correlations. Such ordered structures are the manifestations of information, even when these chunks of physical order lack any meaning.7

Yet, this is a war, a war between information and entropy. Our ability to beget information, and to produce the items, infrastructures, and institutions we associate with prosperity, requires us to battle the steady march toward disorder that characterizes our universe and which troubled Boltzmann. To battle disorder and allow information to grow, our universe has a few tricks up its sleeve. These tricks involve out-of-equilibrium systems, the accumulation of information in solids, and the ability of matter to compute. Together these three mechanisms contribute to the growth of information in small islands or pockets where information can grow and hide, like our body or our planet. (Hidalgo, 217)

Burroughs affirms this as the “Rift”, a place of secret flows, a time both in and out of time, a time between that escapes the temporal wars; it’s not easy to exit the studio, there are those who are watching the interzones and portals into the rhizome: “To conceal the bankruptcy of the reality studio it is essential that no one should be in position to set up another reality set. The reality film has now become an instrument and weapon of monopoly. The full weight of the film is directed against anyone who calls the film in question with particular attention to writers and artists. Work for the reality studio or else. Or else you will find out how it feels to be outside the film. I mean literally without film left to get yourself from here to the corner. . . . Every object raw and hideous sharp edges that tear the uncovered flesh.” (Word Virus, KL 5316)

Who are these dark lords, these Archons who control the Reality Studio:

“Top Secret—Classified—For The Board—The Elite—The Initiates—” Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth? These are the words of liars cowards collaborators traitors. Liars who want time for more lies. Cowards who can not face your “dogs” your “gooks” your “errand boys” your “human animals” with the truth. Collaborators with Insect People with Vegetable People. With any people anywhere who offer you a body forever. To shit forever. For this you have sold out your sons. Sold the ground from unborn feet forever. Traitors to all souls everywhere. You want the name of Hassan i Sabbah on your filth deeds to sell out the unborn? What scared you all into time? Into body? Into shit? I will tell you: “the word.” Alien Word “the.” “The” word of Alien Enemy imprisons “thee” in Time. In Body. In Shit. Prisoner, come out. The great skies are open. I Hassan i Sabbah rub out the word forever. (Word Virus, KL 5478)

Ccru in their investigations of Burroughs will discover in his obsession with cats and lemurs a secretive knowledge leading to Lemuria, the ancient homeland of the Old Ones, the Immortals. And, to the escape hatch of alternate realities – to enter the Rift. Burroughs last three books, his famed Western Lands trilogy would place the pirate anarchist Mission and lemurs in focus – discover a time-machine:

“Mission was spending more and more time in the jungle with his lemurs” (GC 11) – the ghosts of a lost continent – slipping into time disturbances and spiral patterns. Lemurs became his sleeping and dream companions. He discovered through this dead and dying species that the key to escaping control is taking the initiative – or the pre-initiative – by interlinking with the Old Ones. (Ccru, KL 665)

The Archons, the Board elite troubled by this connection between Captain Mission, lemurs, and Burroughs would enforce strict and necessary retribution:

The Board conceived Mission’s traffic with lemurs, his experiments in time sorcery, and his anachronistic entanglement with Burroughs as a single intolerable threat. “In a prerecorded and therefore totally predictable universe, the blackest sin is to tamper with the prerecording, which could result in altering the prerecorded future. Captain Mission was guilty of this sin” (GLM 27). (Ccru, KL 672)

Of course you’ll remember in my previous post this quote from conversation with Burroughs by Genesis P-Orridge: “Everything is recorded. If it is recorded, then it can be edited. If it can be edited then the order, sense, meaning and direction are as arbitrary and personal as the agenda and/ or person editing. This is magick.” But Burroughs is too late, the time lords have found and obliterated the stone structure (portal to alternate realities), the lemurs, Mission and closed Bill off in a time-loop:

“They’re speaking of White Chronomancy” he explained, “the sealing of runaway time-disturbances within closed loops”. What Mission had released Burroughs had bound again. That is how it seemed to the Board in 1987, with the circle apparently complete. (Ccru, KL 727)

The Board was mistaken: “It seems never to have occurred to the Board that Burroughs would change the ending, that their ‘dead end’ would open a road to the Western Lands.” (Ccru, KL 734) Remember: ““I want to reach the Western Lands – right in front of you, across the bubbling brook. It’s a frozen sewer. It’s known as the Duad, remember? All the filth and horror, fear, hate, disease and death of human history flows between you and the Western Lands. Let if flow! My cat Fletch stretches behind me on the bed. A tree like black lace against a gray sky. A flash of joy.” (The Western Lands, p. 257)

H.P. Lovecraft had seen this too. The Old One’s await us in the Rift, the time-zones below the waves, where words and light break through the time gates of the Board’s archonic Black Iron Prison. And, as Burroughs well knew: ”

“People of the world are at last returning to their source in spirit, back to the little lemur people …” (GC 54). The Board had no doubt – this was a return to the true horror. (Ccru, KL 738)

Burroughs would leave a message in the sand….

“The purpose of my writing is to expose and arrest Nova Criminals. In Naked Lunch, Soft Machine and Nova Express I show who they are and what they are doing and what they will do if they are not arrested. Minutes to go. Souls rotten from their orgasm drugs, flesh shuddering from their nova ovens, prisoners of the earth to come out. With your help we can occupy The Reality Studio and retake their universe of Fear Death and Monopoly—

  1. Harold Bloom. Agon: Toward a Theory of Revisionism. (Oxford, 1982)
  2. Nick Land. The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataill and Virulent Nihilism. (Routledge, 1992)
  3. Burroughs, William S. (2007-12-01). Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader (Burroughs, William S.) (Kindle Locations 4950-4954). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  4. Ccru (2015-05-06). Ccru: Writings 1997-2003 (Kindle Locations 628-632). Time Spiral Press. Kindle Edition.
  5. Norman O. Brown. Closing Time. (Random House, 1973)
  6. Dick, Philip K. (2011-11-08). The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (Kindle Locations 2911-2914). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  7. Cesar  Hidalgo,  Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies (Kindle Locations 211-216). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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