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Nothing Is True - Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin [Hardcover]

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Item description for Nothing Is True - Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin by John Geiger...

The multimedia artist, poet and novelist Brion Gysin may be the most influential cultural figure of the twentieth century that most people have never heard of.

Gysin (19161986) was an English-born, Canadian-raised, naturalized American of Swiss descent, who lived most of his life in Morocco and France. He went everywhere when the going was good. He dabbled with surrealism in Paris in the 1930s, lived in the "interzone" of Tangier in the 1950s and traveled the Algerian Sahara with Sheltering Sky author Paul Bowles before moving into the legendary Beat Hotel in Paris.

Gysin's ideas influenced generations of artists, musicians and writers, among them David Bowie, Keith Haring, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Genesis P-Orridge, John Giorno and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. None was touched more profoundly than William S. Burroughs, who said admiringly of Gysin: "There was something dangerous about what he was doing."

It was Gysin who introduced the Rolling Stones to the exotica of Morocco and took Stones' guitarist Brian Jones to Jajouka where he recorded the tribal musicians performing the Pipes of Pan. It was Gysin who provided the hashish fudge recipe published in Alice B. Toklas' cookbook, promising "ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes." It was Gysin who introduced Burroughs to an automatic writing method called the cut-up, a literary progenitor to sampling. And it was Gysin who developed-with Ian Sommerville, the Dream Machine-a device that allowed people, with the flick of a switch, to access altered states of consciousness without drugs.

Working with the authorization of Gysin's literary executor, William S. Burroughs, John Geiger has produced the first-ever biography of the painter, poet, piper Brion Gysin.

John Geiger's books have been published in eight languages. He recently contributed to the Thames & Hudson monograph Brion Gysin: Tuning in to the Multimedia Age.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6.75" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.75 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2005
Publisher   The Disinformation Company
ISBN  1932857125  
ISBN13  9781932857122  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Geiger

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! JOHN GEIGER is the bestselling author of The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible and four other books of non-fiction, including the international bestseller Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition. His work has been translated into eleven languages. Born in Ithaca, New York, Geiger is the Editorial Board Editor at The Globe and Mail and a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. He is president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He lives in Toronto.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Artists, Architects & Photographers
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Authors
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > 20th Century
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > 20th Century

Reviews - What do customers think about Nothing Is True - Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin?

Port of Entry to Gysin  Aug 2, 2007
After finishing this book I felt sorry for Gysin-- despite his interesting ideas regarding his painting, the cut-up, and general magickal mayhem circa the "Beat Hotel" days, he instead chose to be a hanger-on to cosmopolitan royalty and the wealthy. Even his attempt at writing a screenplay for "Naked Lunch" was dreadful--strange since he read it pre-publication and spoke to Burroughs for hours regarding the book. I do agree with another reviewer that the biographer doesn't delve into the ideas behind Gysin's visual work very thoroughly...but that may be because Gysin never outlined any (non) direction regarding his work. Nevertheless, for anyone interested in Gysin Idorecommend this book. Thanks to the author for undertaking such a task.
Flawed but Useful  Dec 22, 2006
Well, I'm going to have a bit each way here. On one hand, this book has a lot of valuable information in it about the life of Brion Gysin. I was interested in Gysin through my interest in William Burroughs, his collaborator. I am sure a lot of people will be coming to Gysin down this path. I have read 'Here to Go' which is basically a book of interviews with Gysin. I must say that despite the information here, the author (Geiger) has managed to make Gysin's life dull. That's a real shame, because Gysin's life appears to be have been anything but boring. Though there are some interesting sections (one that springs to mind is the saga of the Dreamachine, which Geiger appears to be something of an authority on), much of the narrative is dull.

I will not go as far as one of the above reviewers in saying that the book is badly written. Though it is true that there are several awkward passages, my main gripe was that this did not seem to be a sympathetic, invigorating portryal of Gysin's life and ideas. By this I mean that the author simply describes his subject, without trying very hard to explain what Gysin might have been up to. There are several sections where Geiger seems to disagree with Gysin or even disregard his stance. Now, many of Gysin's opinions are hard to defend (especially the mysoginy) but Geiger makes little attempt to explain Gysin's position. I have a feeling that Geiger would have been more diplomatic in what he says about Gysin had Gysin (or indeed Burroughs) still been alive at the time of publication.

This is sad, because I don't suppose there will be another biography of Gysin anytime soon. What highlighted the deficiencies of this book to me was my reading of another biography, this one of James Tiptree Jr., which I read virtually concurrently with this book. I can't help but think that something is missing here. This book reads like it had been a chore to write, and at times it is surely a chore to read. I cannot recommend this to anyone but the most fervent Gysin fan.
BRAVO  Apr 12, 2006
This is one of the most enjoyble bios that I have read in years. The author brings a staggering amount of info to the reader in a concise manner. I was waiting a long time for a bio on Gysin and I lucked out here. One I will reread.

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