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Bosch as background for scenes taken from Mayan codices and transformed into modern counterparts
May 2, 2009 8:41 PM   Subscribe

"Look at the surrealist moustache on the Mona Lisa. Just a silly joke? Consider where this joke can lead. I had been working with Malcolm Mc Neill for five years on an illustrated book entitled Ah Pook Is Here, and we used the same idea: Hieronymous Bosch as the background for scenes and characters taken from the Mayan codices and transformed into modern counterparts. That face in the Mayan Dresden Codex will be the barmaid in this scene, and we can use the Vulture God over here. Bosch, Michelangelo, Renoir, Monet, Picasso — steal anything in sight. You want a certain light on your scene? Lift it from Monet. You want a 1930s backdrop? Use Hopper." -- William S. Burroughs, Les Voleurs

Malcolm Mc Neill had used Burroughs' words to create The Unspeakable Mr. Hart comic series, which ran in a British publication called Cyclops, starting in during my last semester of art school in 1970. Burroughs' contacted Mc Neill because Burroughs was impressed with how much the artwork for Mr. Hart resembled himself, though Mc Neill had never met Burroughs and didn't know much of the man. The two artists met, and began working on Ah Puch. Mc Neill was 23, Burroughs was 56, and their collaboration would extend 7 years. Burroughs produced about 60 pages of text, and Mc Neill had created more than a hundred pages of artwork. But due to the unique nature of the collaboration and the high costs of full color printing, no publisher was able or willing to print the work as intended. In 1979 Burroughs finally decided to publish the text by itself as Ah Pook Is Here And Other Texts, combined with the previously released The Book of Breeething and Electronic Revolution.

William S. Burroughs read parts of the story live, which was made publicly available on a 4CD set in 1998. Burroughs also recorded some of his spoken word in studio, which was then edited and music backing provided by various artists on the Dead City Radio album in 1990. Philip Hunt, of STUDIOaka, used selections of Dead City Radio to create the short video A Pook Is Here in 1994, for which he won two awards.

Malcom Mc Neill had a gallery show of The Lost Art of Ah Pook (previously), first at the Salomon Art Gallery in New York, from November 14, 2008 to January 17, 2009, then April 4 through May 2, 2009 at Track 16 in Santa Monica, CA. Mc Neill recently completed Observed While Falling, providing insight into the work behind Ah Pook Is Here and other collaborations with Burroughs.
posted by filthy light thief (29 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently, Burroughs was arrested in 1972 for tagging ("AH POOK IS HERE")on the wall of a New York subway, and Alan Moore cites Ah Pook as inspiration for Watchmen.

And from what I gather, the story is about an American billionaire (Mr. Hart) who desires to learn the secrets of immortality, and tries to learn from Mayan secrets of Ah Puch (prounouced Pook), the god of death. This story ties back to Burroughs interest in Mayan myths and beliefs.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 PM on May 2, 2009


"Look at the surrealist moustache on the Mona Lisa. Just a silly joke? Consider where this joke can lead.

The prospects are frightening.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:34 PM on May 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Um, you certainly put a lot of work into this self-link. Nobody likes gay immortal heroin addict seminal authors more than I do, but, if I understand correctly this ain't cool.
posted by longsleeves at 11:43 PM on May 2, 2009


Are you saying William S. Burroughs is self-linking FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE?

Because I am totally for that. Guidelines be damned, no mod here would delete it.
posted by freebird at 12:12 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


and we used the same idea

This.
posted by longsleeves at 12:15 AM on May 3, 2009


Once you escape the dogmatic prison that Burroughs' writings informed of, his writings themselves become dogmatic prisons.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:21 AM on May 3, 2009


This.

Wtf is that even supposed to mean?
posted by delmoi at 12:22 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, you certainly put a lot of work into this self-link. Nobody likes gay immortal heroin addict seminal authors more than I do, but, if I understand correctly this ain't cool.

Wait. You're saying that filthy light thief is undead Bill Burroughs? Because if that's not what you're saying, I'm really confused.
posted by juv3nal at 12:25 AM on May 3, 2009


It's a quote damnit! Look at the "'s
posted by Arbac at 12:26 AM on May 3, 2009


"Quién es?" Last words of filthy light thief. longsleeves was very close, five feet, maybe. Couldn't miss.
posted by juv3nal at 12:35 AM on May 3, 2009


I had been working with Malcolm Mc Neill for five years on an illustrated book entitled Ah Pook Is Here, and we used the same idea:

I understood that it was against the guidelines to make a front page post to something you were directly involved with. That said, I respectfully excuse myself from this thread.
posted by longsleeves at 12:56 AM on May 3, 2009


longsleeves: Do you understand what quotation marks signify?
posted by delmoi at 1:59 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


So longsleeves, you're saying filthy light thief is actually Malcolm McNeill in disguise? Because that's the registered owner of the website you linked.

Also, ya know, there's the whole it being a direct quote from William S. Burroughs thing that everyone else tried to point out to you.
posted by CheshireCat at 2:12 AM on May 3, 2009


Burroughs would have liked this thread's derail.
posted by heyho at 2:17 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now, now, I'm sure that all longsleeves is proposing is that filthy light thief traveled back in time Dr. Evil style using an incantation he found in one of the Mayan Codices while doing research for this post, and arranged to be the proofreader Les Voleur just so he could slip in and add the bit about the mustache on the Mona Lisa. But it's an easy mistake; I'm sure it's simply that he missed the FPP last week explaining that Mayan time travel sorcery only works in schemes that do not involve a mustache, so filthy light thief is exonerated.
posted by XMLicious at 2:19 AM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm a wildboy on a tightrope ejaculating, give me a break. In the future, please dont enclose a huge paragrah in quotes, at least not in the early morning hours on a Sunday.
posted by longsleeves at 2:36 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I can smell the rectal mucus, can you?
posted by longsleeves at 3:02 AM on May 3, 2009


Is it so difficult to simply apologise for your small mistake?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:05 AM on May 3, 2009


Enough of the repugnant derail already. Very nice post!
posted by fcummins at 4:18 AM on May 3, 2009


there is no spoon
posted by kliuless at 4:45 AM on May 3, 2009


Filthy didn't technically self-link, but he was close enough to the source material for me to flag this thread regardless. The moderators of this site will probably let the post stay, since Filth also got away with faking his own death thirteen years ago.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:02 AM on May 3, 2009


filthy light thief faked their death the day after I was born. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:53 AM on May 3, 2009


What? Mustachios are not allowed? Then those stuffy Mayans can shove it. They probably never met Dali, otherwise they would know better.

For the record, I am not the reborn soul of William Seward Burroughs II, nor am I Malcolm Mc Neill in disguise. I have not been in contact with the Mayans of past epochs or future-travelers. If anything, I have surmised that I might be some reincarnation of Hieronymous Bosch (based on my lucid dreams and day terrors, but that could be a few other things). If so, I demand some royalties from all this. I will not stand by and let the theft of my work from my prior self go unpunished.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 AM on May 3, 2009


I'm glad I read this to the bottom because, well, I have a shovel and 10 miles is not to far to drive in the search for truth.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:04 AM on May 3, 2009


You guys scoff, but Bryon Gysin got tempbanned from here for posting a link to his LiveJournal last week. Burroughs' FPP though at least details an example of the collaborative spirit he championed, the way he encouraged derivation just to see where it would lead. Gysin's LJ was all about how much he hates Twitter. So Bull Lee can self-link anytime, afaic.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:25 PM on May 3, 2009


FLT:(based on my lucid dreams and day terrors, but that could be a few other things). If so, I demand some royalties from all this.

**This post has been flagged and noted by the what-can-we-copyright-next squad.**

(In all honesty, cool post! Great stuff here.)
posted by Avelwood at 1:13 PM on May 3, 2009


I saw this exhibit at Track 16 a couple weeks ago, it's fucking fantastic. It was kind of neat to see that there was a big Cholo crowd for it, and more than one tatted Latino grabbing cell-phone shots to no doubt enhance his ink.

Track 16 has had the best art shows in LA for a couple months running, all stuff that has (coincidentally) been linked through MeFi (hyperbolic anemones were before this).
posted by klangklangston at 6:31 PM on May 3, 2009


Yeah, lovely post. The light thief has knocked out a string of fantastic contributions here just lately, sterling stuff.
posted by Wolof at 3:36 AM on May 4, 2009


Thanks, Wolof. Reading the other randomness of MeFites drives me to find more interesting / weird stuff out there.

klangklangston - I wish I had known about this sooner. I started searching for info on Ah Pook this weekend, only to read that Saturday was the last day of the Santa Monica show.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:56 AM on May 4, 2009


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