Nothing Is True, Everything is Permitted: The Untold Story of Brion Gysin

By MATTHEW LEVI STEVENS If Brion Gysin had not existed, it probably would have been necessary to invent him, as the saying goes. Pre-eminent multimedia psychedelic shaman of the latter-half of the twentieth century, Gysin was something of a jack-of-all-trades: artist, calligrapher, entrepreneur, kinetic sculptor, novelist, performance artist, photographer, poet, raconteur, restaurateur, and traveller in this-and-other worlds. Brion did it all. Even a brief list of the names he crossed paths … [Read more...]

American Gurus & the Search for Enlightenment: An Interview with Arthur Versluis

By RICHARD SMOLEY Until recently the academic world paid almost no attention to the Western mystical and esoteric traditions. If any scholars strayed into these areas, they did so gingerly and apologetically, often feeling the need to sneer at these currents as a way of safeguarding their reputations. This situation began to change in the 1980s. A small group of academic scholars in mainstream universities began to pay serious attention to esotericism as a formative part of the Western … [Read more...]

The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs

By MATTHEW LEVI STEVENS When the American writer William S. Burroughs passed away at the ripe old age of 83 back in August 1997, the media coverage was definitely more in keeping with his status as a counter-cultural icon than it was for his literary fame – or infamy – alone. All the usual well-rehearsed lines were trotted out, about how he was the Harvard-educated product of the WASP elite and scion of the family that founded the Burroughs Corporation, who had turned his back on it all to … [Read more...]