All the chapters and the world present a central problem: The Art of the Cut-up

Picture by Burroughs and Gysin, Words by Joshua Cialis

The title of this essay comes from my recent experiments with the cut-up method of writing. Devised by Brion Gysin and made famous by William Burroughs, the cut-up method seeks to ‘deconstruct language as an act of spiritual rebellion’ (Ash: 1997, p.46). This article will give an overview of the history and method of cut-ups, and also discussion of its uses.

                Inspired by Tristan Tzara’s attempts to create poetry by randomly plucking words out of a hat, Gysin went one step further by cutting through ‘someone else’s rusty load of continuity’ in order to create new art and new ways of writing. (Burroughs: 2000, p.270).The simple method includes taking a page of words and cutting it into a quadrant (so that the top left tile becomes 1, top-right 2, bottom left 3, and bottom right 4); swap the positioning of the tiles so that 2 becomes 3 (1 and 4 will remain in their original position). Read along the joins of this new text looking for phrases or sentences that work together or jolt your conscience. These new sentences don’t have to make any real sense, they just have to speak to some greater hidden meaning within your mind. You could either leave these phrases as simple sentences, or pluck phrases and sentences that go together from throughout the text to create a paragraph. I used this method with Boris Johnson’s inaugural speech as prime minister and got some illuminating Prose:

The doubters and the doomsters don’t have to wait 3 weeks to get it wrong again. The people who lose their shirts because we are really going to the front line and we are going to fulfil their fear of people and come out of the cost of caring.

As we can see from the above cut-up, there is a random nature to the sentences produced but yet there is still a sense of reality to what they say. Burroughs actually believed that these new augmentations carry the true meaning of the original text In some cases, Burroughs believed the cut-ups actually predicted future events. In his essay ‘It Belongs to the Cucumbers’, Burroughs gives the following anecdote: ‘I cut up an article by John Paul Getty and got “It is a bad thing to sue your own father.” And a year later one of his sons did sue him’ (Burroughs: 2013, p.66). is this just coincidence or could the cut-up method really have psychic tendencies? Does this mean Boris Johnson intends to take the fight for Brexit to ‘the front line’? Until the evidence provides itself, we can only speculate. However, the cut-up method does seem to overcome the ‘control’ that words have on the reader. Burroughs believed that it is our addiction to words that controls us by terrestrial, political, religious, economic, and even extra-terrestrial means. He asserted that those who control both the supply and meaning of words can control those who are addicted to them. Deconstructing and rearranging words or thoughts, through the use of cut-ups, can start that process of decontrol. Therefore, by cutting up Boris Johnson’s speech – which is essentially an article of propaganda – I have taken away from the controlling notion that propaganda wants me to think or act in a certain way. I have taken possession of the words and thus taken the control out of the hands of government – if only for my own conscience.

In a recent cut-up experiment I cut an essay on language up into four parts; rearranging the tiles produced some interesting truths which may get to the central meaning of what the author was trying to portray. Or maybe cutting into an essay on the rules and techniques of language I was in fact cutting away at the control that language holds over our writing and communication:

All the chapters and the world present a central problem. When Plato handed the world naturalism deconstruction occurred. Deconstruction consistently engages literary criticism; metaphors actually hold the mirror to nature. This distinction is implicit considering that part of literary texts start from an assumed separation.

So why not take your own control of language, find what it is that needs to be released from a text. Hold a mirror up to nature by trying your own cut-ups, use this essay – cut it up into four parts and determine what I’m really saying as I waffle on.

Cited texts:
Ash, M. Beat Spirit: The Way of the Beat Writers as a Living Experience (New York: Putnam Books, 1997)
Burroughs, W. S. ‘It Belongs to the Cucumbers’ in The Adding Machine (New York: Grove Press, 2013) pp.65-74
Burroughs, W. S. quoted in James Campbell, This is the beat generation (London: Vintage, 2000)

Available Now!!

Both Foxtrot Uniform: 004 and Luke Scarisbrick’s debut pamphlet, I Bought a Skull called Francis, are now available to order from our website.

Foxtrot Uniform: 004 is a poetry magazine for our troubled times. Full of hope, darkness, and creativity FU spans several continents bringing us all together using fresh words. You can buy 004 for £3.00 (plus postage if living outside the UK).

I Bought a Skull Called Francis – an idle year in ten movements is the debut pamphlet by Luke Scarisbrick. The pamphlet charts a year in the life by mixing poetry with polaroid pictures.
The poetry is surreal and straight-up hilarious, but it is also tinged with darkness, which the polaroid pictures both exacerbate and illuminate. You can buy I Bought a Skull Called Francis for the amazing price of £2.50 (plus postage if living outside the UK).

To order a copy simply send the correct money along with your postal address to https://paypal.me/FoxtrotUniform?locale.x=en_GB then we will get your order in the post.

Please help spread the word so that we can share these amazing words even further and wider!

Coming Very Soon…

Cover art by Jessica Powell

It’s that time of year again: Foxtrot Uniform: 004 will be available from April 1st – only a few days away!

We have just finished going through the submission pile (which was full of amazing work) and are, as we post this, piecing together the final few touches. We were amazed by the quality and diversity sent to us, and we can only thank the creative community for being so very vibrant. We have poetry, we have prose, we even have a couple of collages for you to admire!

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the process, and we hope the words keep spreading!

February Poems

Every month we will be publishing two poems, each by our editors. February was a weird one, it was cold, it was hot, some days it was both. This time last year we were knee deep in snow; this year we were walking around without our coats. Maurice – Reece Merrifield He had not aged well after drinking free bottles of wine and champagne. Genitalia sketched in the sand stripped of its horror by the waves of time. Oxbridge danced in the masks of masculinity whereas now we idly hum Samaritan punk where the boys kiss in gigs and scream ‘yes! Of course we like it!’ A Train from London Bridge Station – Joshua Cialis Lost in a black sky littered by haiku waiting for a voice from the neon lights to question crazies in underpasses or answer voices from half-formed faces on banks emptied by sewage outlet pumps every night forever but wait in tunnels for Angels to appear and prophesy a coming apocalypse of the mind it will destroy all everything you know leaving us in the beauty of nature or a girl reflected in train windows staring out over the sprawling crowded rib cage of the city skyline spread out from her blue eyes blinking in the neon of night of eternal nights spread up in book shops and the folding of theatre seats as we stand up together to take the last bow and bow out into sleazy hotel rooms where we’re not sure it’s cockroaches or rats who murder sleep or in China Town where Beauty dines in the streets and gains taste after midnight’s chuck out belching and spewing into back streets and enemies are made in the blink of an eye a look the wrong way the flicker of a taxi whistling past and cocooned bodies lie out in doorways blocking up the halls of disputed power and the bell tolls in bow tie hours to call the men in to palace bedrooms where the People sleep in their declining hour and cobblestones turn to broken bottles or concrete into sand denying to answer the questioning of the pale moon setting out in hours where the day is long night is longest and the haiku stars set into greying clouds hidden in the destruction of day

A quick look at Manifestoes:

Words by Reece Merrifield

A Manifesto is never perfect. Indeed, everybody that has an opinion and a plan can create a manifesto, which can and will create schisms of thought and obvious differences in the multitude of manifestoes.

A manifesto, as Rem Koolhas says, is a ‘blueprint’, but one that ‘does not predict the cracks that will develop in the future’. The manifesto is not a machine, it is a living organism. Organisms live and die, and so too do manifestoes.

The manifesto will never project perfection. The manifesto will, on the other hand, point out other viewpoints. A manifesto can be a set of rules, or it can direct a person to break established dogma.

‘A’ manifesto should never claim to be ‘The’ Manifesto.

A manifesto is an art form, it can influence people beyond belief, be it politically/artistically/spiritually. A manifesto could question you, it could reflect your life, or you may reject it outright, but at least it is there.

Manifestoes are under-appreciated for their ability to influence and motivate large groups of individuals. A manifesto cannot be alone. To read a manifesto is to join a group, to decide whether your subscription to that group is temporary or permanent, to show them other manifestoes, to build on that already existing manifesto.

Manifestoes have no end, have not ended and will never end. This article is a manifesto.

Light Reading

Words by Joshua Cialis, picture by J. M. W. Turner (‘Sunset over Water’)

‘Yellow after the night goes to sleep’ (O’Hara, 1955)

Poets have used light since the beginning of creative thought, to illuminate the cave walls on which they depicted stories, to shine onto writing desks, to demonstrate some sublime metaphor, to light their journey through a dark patch in life, or more recently to spotlight themselves on a stage. However we look at it, light is immensely important to poets.

For Coleridge, light was a portal to the sublime; a sunset allows the ‘veil [to the] Almighty Spirit’ to be lifted. In fact in ‘This Lime Tree Bower My Prison’, Coleridge almost explicitly defines the sublime as only coming through in light; the light ‘hues’ of the sunset allow the poet to be struck by a ‘swimming sense…less gross than bodily’. In light we experience the deepest of beautiful feelings. However, there is also a sense of what might be going on in the dark. In ‘Kaddish’, Ginsberg muses on darkness and death in the lines: ‘like a poem in the dark – escaped back to Oblivion/ No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream’. Here, essentially Ginsberg asserts darkness with death and destruction of pure imagination. Therefore, light is essential for creativity and beauty.

It is interesting to look at light and how it is depicted in poetry. A favourite image of mine is morning light through a slatted blind. It is that purest kind of light, the sort you only notice for a couple of minutes before it is gone into the business of the day. But that blurry eyed beauty can be locked up in the lines of a poem to transport us back to that serenity of waking up to light. O’Hara captures this morning light brilliantly in his poem ‘Talking To The Sun On Fire Island’, a poem in which the Sun patiently waits for O’Hara to wake before asserting the equality of the Sun’s light and how it shines everywhere, and must therefore be a power for all writers and creatives.

Burroughs’ used artificial light to create hallucinations. Using Briony Gysin’s ‘Dream Machine’, a sequence of flashing lights shine through a spinning cylinder creating a strobosofic effect. This flickering light stimulates the optic nerves to create images behind the eyes of the watcher. This hallucinatory effect of oscillating light had such an effect on Burroughs that he uses the images seen in his Dream Machine experiments in almost all of his books. The fact that light can have this ability to expel writers block demonstrates its power in the poet’s tool box.

One way to harness this power of light in a simple writing exercise is to note the shapes that light form in a specific place throughout the day. Notice how these shapes change as the sun sets and then how they morphe further after the sun goes down and the light becomes artificial. Muse upon how these changes affect you and your outlook on the environment around you and what happens once the light has gone.

Get back to it…

Statistically this is the week in January that most of lose our motivation to carry on our New Year’s Resolution. So if your resolution is to get back in to writing (or to write more) this is the post for you. Here are a couple writing exercises to get you back to it…
If this post helped you to write something great send it across to us and we might even publish it.

Exercise 1: Rooming
Read William Carlos Williams’ dreamlike poem ‘Good Night’ (Al Que Quiere, 1917). In the poem Williams points out all the things in his kitchen while filling a glass of water for bed. In the middle of this description of the room, Williams is interrupted by the memory of ‘three girls in crimson satin/pass close before me on/the murmurous background of/the crowded opera’. It seems almost as if these girls actually pass his kitchen window but it is actually just a memory dream.
In this exercise, write what you see where you are – you might be at your desk or in the kitchen or in your bed – it doesn’t matter where you are just write what you see: that weird lamp shade in the corner, or the state of your coffee cup. Half way through your descriptions you will be interrupted by a memory, build that memory into the poem. Then close the poem with what you are actually doing and what’s coming next.

Exercise 2: Voices
This exercise can make some pretty surreal poetry. Play your favourite song alongside a radio news program (at the same volume), just keep writing until the song finishes. Let your unconscious freely write whatever comes to mind.

National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK. It is all about sharing the beauty and passion of poetry.

Why don’t you celebrate by ordering a copy of our latest issue of Foxtrot Uniform. The magazine is jam packed with new and exciting poetry by poets from around the world.

The theme of this year’s Poetry Day is Change. Therefore we are bringing out a special Pamphlet by Joshua Cialis called Brexfast: Waking Up to a New UK. It explores the changing landscape of British culture and what the future might look like. Order today for a special price of £3.50.

To order either Foxtrot Uniform: 003, or Brexfast email foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com

Happy National Poetry Day!

Publishing opportunity

This is just a reminder that if you would like to be considered for publication in the next issue of Foxtrot Uniform, you need to send us an email with some work. We are accepting poetry, prose and art.

We are looking for new and exciting ideas, forms and images for publication in our upcoming print magazine. We want to see your work!!

If you’d like your creativity published send it to us in the next 3 weeks. The email address is foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com

Send us your Work

Hello Reader,

Did you know that we are open for submissions of poetry, prose and art. If selected your work will be published in 003 of Foxtrot Uniform. We want to see your new poems, short stories, essays, collages, sketches, or anything else you might’ve done. Foxtrot Uniform is a free space to express yourself. Our magazine is your magazine.

We already have some amazing submissions but we think there’s more to see! If you would like to have your work published, email foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com and attach up to 5 pieces in a word document, along with your name and address. Every person that is published will receive a free copy of the magazine and their work will be immortalised in print alongside some other great creatives.

So what do we like to see?

Foxtrot Uniform is a free space for creatives to share their work. We like to see the unseen, the form bending, the formless, the political, the surreal, the beautiful, and the ugly; if your work is different and new we will probably like it…

So what are you waiting for, email us some poetry, prose, or art…