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[rohrpost] William S. Burroughs: The Electronic Revolution [2/3]
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[rohrpost] William S. Burroughs: The Electronic Revolution [2/3]

        The underground press serves as the only effective counter to a 
        growing power and more sophisticated technique used by 
        establishment mass media to falsify, misrepresent, misquote, 
        rule out of consideration as a PRIORI ridiculous or simply 
        ignore and blot out of existence: data, books, discoveries that 
        they consider prejudicial to establishment interest. 

        I suggest that the underground press could perform this function 
        much more effectively by the use of cut/up techniques. For 
        example, prepare cut/ups of the ugliest reactionary statements 
        you can find and surround them with the ugliest pictures. Now 
        give it the drool, slobber, animal noise treatment and put it 
        out on the mutter line with recorders. Run a scramble page in 
        every issue of a transcribed tape recorded cut/up of news, radio 
        and TV. Put the recordings out on the mutter line before the 
        paper hits the stand. It gives you a funny feeling to see a 
        headline that's been going round and round inside your head. The 
        underground press could add a mutter line to their adverts and 
        provide a unique advertising service. Cut the product in with 
        pop tunes, cut the product in with advertising slogans and 
        jingles of other products and syphon off the sales. Anybody that 
        doubts that these techniques work has only to put them to the 
        test. The techniques here described are in use by the CIA and 
        agents of other countries ...Ten years ago they were making 
        systematic street recordings in every district of Paris. I 
        recall the Voice of America man in Tangir and a room full of 
        tape recorders and you could hear some strange sounds through 
        the wall. Kept to himself, hello in the hall. Nobody was ever 
        allowed in that room, not even a fatima. Of course, there are 
        many technical elaborations like long-range directional mikes. 
        When cutting the prayer call in with hog grunts it doesn't pay 
        to be walking around the market place with a portable tape 

        An article in NEW SCIENTIST June 4, 1970, page 470, entitled ' 
        Electronic Arts of Noncommunication ' by Richard C French gives 
        the clue for more precise technical instructions. 

        In 1968, with the help of Ian Sommerville and Anthony Balch, I 
        took a short passage of my recorded voice and cut it into 
        intervals of one twenty - fourth of a second movie tape (movie 
        tape is larger and easier to splice)- and rearranged the order 
        of the 24th second intervals of recorded speech. The original 
        words are quite unintelligible but new words emerge. The voice 
        is still there and you can immediately recognise the speaker. 
        Also the tone of the voice remains. If the tone is friendly, 
        hostile, sexual, poetic, sarcastic lifeless, despairing, this 
        will be apparent in the altered sequence.

        I did not realise at the time that I was using a technique that 
        has been in existence since 1881 ...I quote from Mr. French's 
        article ... "designs for speech scramblers go back to 1881 and 
        the desire to make telephone and radio communications 
        unintelligible to third parties has been with us ever since"... 
        The message is scrambled in transmission and then unscrambled at 
        the other end. There are many of these speech scrambling devices 
        that work on different principles... "another device which saw 
        service during the war was the time division scrambler. The 
        signal was chopped up into elements .005 cm long. These elements 
        are taken in groups or frames and rearranged in a new sequence. 
        Imagine that the speech recorded is recorded on magnetic tape 
        which is cut into pieces .02 long and the pieces rearranged into 
        a new sequence. This can actually be done and gives a good idea 
        what speech sounds like when scrambled in this way." 

        This I had done in 1968. And this is an extension of the cut/up 
        method. The simplest cut/up cuts a page down the middle and 
        across the middle into four sections. Section 1 is then placed 
        with section 4 and section 3 with section 2 in a new sequence. 
        Carried further we can break the page down into smaller and 
        smaller units in altered sequences. 

        The original purpose of scrambling devices was to make the 
        message unintelligible without scrambling the code. Another use 
        for speech scramblers could be to impose thought control on a 
        mass scale. consider the Human body and nervous system as 
        unscrambling devices. A common virus like the cold sore could 
        sensitize the subject to unscramble messages. Drugs like LSD and 
        Dim-N could also act as unscrambling devices. Moreover, the mass 
        media could sensitize millions of people to receive scrambled 
        versions of the same set of data. Remember that when the human 
        nervous system unscrambles a scrambled message this will seem to 
        the subject like his very own ideas which just occurred to him, 
        which indeed it did. 

        Take a card, any card. In most cases he will not suspect its 
        extraneous origin. that is the run of the mill newspaper reader 
        who receives the scrambled message uncritically and assumes that 
        it reflects his own opinions independently arrived at. On the 
        other other hand, the subject may recognise or suspect the 
        extraneous origins of voices that are literally hatching out in 
        his head. Then we have a classic syndrome of paranoid psychosis. 
        Subject hears voices. Anyone can be made to hear voices with 
        scrambling techniques. It is not difficult to expose him to the 
        actual scrambled message, any part of which can be made 
        intelligible. This can be done with street recorders, recorders 
        in cars, doctored radio and TV sets. In his own flat if 
        possible, if not in some bar or restaurant he frequents. If he 
        doesn't talk to himself, he soon will do. You bug his flat. Now 
        he is really round the bend hearing his own voice out of radio 
        and TV broadcasts and the conversation of passing strangers. See 
        how easy it is? Remember the scrambled message is partially 
        unintelligible and in any case he gets the tone. Hostile white 
        voices unscrambled by a Negro will also activate by association 
        every occasion on which he has been threatened or humiliated by 
        whites. To carry it further you can use recordings of voices 
        known to him. You can turn him against his friends by hostile 
        scrambled messages in a friend's voice. This will activate ll 
        his disagreements with that friend. You can condition him to 
        like his enemies by friendly scrambled messages in enemy voices. 

        On the other hand the voices can be friendly and reassuring. He 
        is now working for the CIA, the GPU, or whatever, and these are 
        his orders. They now have an agent who has no information to 
        give away and who doesn't have to be paid. and he is now 
        completely under control. If he doesn't obey orders they can 
        give him the hostile voice treatment. No, "They" are not God or 
        super technicians from outer space. Just technicians operating 
        with well-known equipment and using techniques that can be 
        duplicated by anyone else who can buy and operate this 

        To see how scrambling technique could work on a a mass scale, 
        imagine that a news magazine like TIME got out a whole issue a 
        week before publication and filled it with news based on 
        predictions following a certain line, without attempting the 
        impossible, giving our boys a boost in every story and the 
        Commies as many defeats and casualties as possible, a whole new 
        issue of TIME formed from slanted prediction of future news. Now 
        imagine this scrambled out through the mass media. 

        With minimal equipment you can do the same thing on a smaller 
        scale. You need a scrambling device, TV, radio, two video 
        cameras, a ham radio station and a simple photo studio with a 
        few props and actors. For a start you scramble the news all 
        together and spit it out every which way on ham radio and street 
        recorders. You construct fake news broadcasts on video camera. 
        For the pictures you can use mostly old footage. Mexico City 
        will do for a riot in Saigon Chile you can use the Londonderry 
        pictures. Nobody knows the difference. Fires, earthquakes, plane 
        crashes can be moved around. for example, here is a plane crash 
        in Toronto 108 dead. so move the picture of the Barcelona plane 
        crash over to Toronto and Toronto to Barcelona. And you scramble 
        your fabricated news in with actual news broadcasts. 

        You have an advantage which your opposing player does not have. 
        He must conceal his manipulations. You are under no such 
        necessity. In fact you can advertise the fact that you are 
        writing the news in advance and trying to make it happen by 
        techniques which anybody can use. And that makes you NEWS. And 
        TV personality as well, if you play it right. You want the 
        widest possible circulation for your cut/up video tapes. Cut/up 
        techniques could swamp the mass media with total illusion. 

        Fictional dailies retroactively cancelled the San Francisco 
        earthquake and Halifax explosion as journalistic hoaxes, and 
        doubt released from the skin law extendable and revenous, 
        consumed all the facts of history. 

        Mr French concludes his article ..."The use of modern 
        microelectric integrated circits could lower the cost of speech 
        scramblers enough to see them in use by private citizens. Codes 
        and ciphers have always had a strong appeal to most people and I 
        think scramblers will as well..." 

        It is generally assumed that speech must be consciously 
        understood to cause an effect. Early experiments with subliminal 
        images have shown that this is not true. A number of research 
        projects could be based on speech scramblers. We have all seen 
        the experiment where someone hears his own recorded voice back a 
        few seconds later. Soon he cannot go on talking. Would scrambled 
        speech have the same effect? to what extent does a language act 
        as unscrambling in either-or conflict terms? To what extent does 
        the tone of voice used by a speaker impose a certain 
        unscrambling sequence on the listener? 

        Many of the cut/up tapes would be entertaining and in fact 
        entertainment is the most promising field for cut/up techniques. 
        Imagine a pop festival like Phun City scheduled for July 24th, 
        25th, 26, 1970 at Ecclesden Common, Patching, near Worthing, 
        Sussex. Festival area comprised of car park and camping area, a 
        rock auditorium, a village with booths and cinema, a large 
        wooded area. A number of Tape recorders planted in the woods and 
        the village. As many as possible so as to lay down a grid of 
        sound over the whole festival. Recorders have tapes of 
        prerecorded material, music, news, broadcasts, recordings from 
        other festivals, etc. At all times some of the recorders are 
        playing back and some are recording. The recorders recording the 
        crowd and the other tape recorders that are playing back at 
        varying distances. This cuts in the crowd who will be hearing 
        their own voices back. Play back, wind back and record could be 
        electronicly controlled with varying intervals. Or they could be 
        hand operated, the operator deciding what intervals of play 
        back, record, and wind to use. Effect is greatly increased by a 
        large number of festival goers with portable recorders playing 
        back and recording as they walk around the festival. We can 
        carry it further with projection screens and video cameras. Some 
        of the material is pre-prepared, sex films, films of other 
        festivals, and this material is cut in with live TV broadcasts 
        and shots of the crowd. Of course, the rock festival will be cut 
        in on the screens, thousands of fans portable recorders 
        recording, and playing back, the singer could direct play back 
        und record. Set up an area for travelling performers, jugglers, 
        animal acts, snake charmers, singers, musicians, and cut these 
        acts in. Film and tape from the festival, edited for best 
        material, could then be used at other festivals. 

        Quite a lot of equipment and engineering to set it up. the 
        festival could certainly be enhanced if as many festival goers 
        as possible bring portable tape recorders and play back at the 

        Any message, music, conversation you want to pass around, bring 
        it pre-recorded on tape so everybody takes a piece of your tape 

        Research project: to find out to what extent scrambled messages 
        are unscrambled, that is scanned out by experimental subjects. 
        The simplest experiments consists in playing back a scrambled 
        message to subject. Message could contain simple commands. Does 
        the scrambled message have any command value comparable to post-
        hypnotic suggestion? Is the actual content of the message 
        received? What drugs, if any, increase ability to unscramble 
        messages? Do subjects vary widely in this ability? Are scrambled 
        messages in the subject's own voice more effective than messages 
        in other voices? Are messages scrambled in certain voices more 
        easily unscrambled by specific subjects? Is the message more 
        potent with both word and image scramble on video tape? Now to 
        use, for example, a video tape message with a unified emotional 
        content. Let us say the message is fear. For this we take all 
        the past fear shots of the subject we can collect or evoke. We 
        cut these in with fear words and pictures, and threats, etc. 
        This is all acted out and would be upsetting in any case. Now 
        let's try it scrambled and see if we can get an even stronger 
        effect. The subject's blood pressure, rate of heart beat, and 
        brain waves are recorded as we play back the scrambled tape. 

        His face is photographed and visible to him on video screen at 
        all times. the actual scrambling of the tape can be done in two 
        ways. It can be a completely random operation like pulling 
        pieces out of a hat and if this is done several consecutive 
        units may occur together yielding an identifiable picture of 
        intelligible word. Both methods of course can be used at varying 
        intervals. Blood pressure, heart beat, and brainwave recordings 
        will show the operator what material is producing the strongest 
        reaction, and he will of course zero in. And remember that the 
        subject can see his face at all times and his face is being 
        photographed. As the Peeping Tom said, the most frightening 
        thing is fear in your own face. If the subject becomes too 
        disturbed we have peace and safety tapes ready. 

        Now here is a sex tape: This consists of a sex scene acted out 
        by the ideal sexual object of the subject and his ideal self 
        image. Shown straight it might be exciting enough, now scramble 
        it. It makes a few seconds for scrambled tapes to hatch out, and 
        then? can scrambled sex tapes zeroing in on the subject's 
        reactions and brain waves result in spontaneous orgasm? Can this 
        be extended to other functions of the body? A mike secreted in 
        the water closet and all his shits and farts recorded and 
        scrambled in with stern nanny voices commanding him to shit, and 
        the young liberal shits his pants on the platform right under 
        Old Glory. Could laugh tapes, sneeze tapes, hiccough tapes, 
        cough tapes, give rise to laughing sneezing, hiccoughing, and 

        To what extent extent can physical illness be induced by 
        scrambled tapes? Take for example, a sound and color picture of 
        a subject with a cold. Later, when the subject is fully 
        recovered, we take color and sound film of recovered subject. We 
        now scrambled the cold pictures and sound track in with present 
        pictures on present pictures. We also project the cold pictures 
        on present pictures. Now we try using some of Mr. Hubbard's 
        reactive mind phrases which are supposed in themselves to 
        produce illness. To be me, to be you, to stay here, to stay 
        there, to be a body, to be bodies, to stay present, to stay 
        past. now we scramble this in together and show it to the 
        subject. Could seeing and hearing this sound and image track, 
        scrambled down to very small units, bring about an attack of 
        cold virus? Is such a cold tape does actually produce an attack 
        of cold virus, perhaps we have merely activated a latent virus. 
        Many viruses, as you know, are latent in the body and may be 
        activated. We can try the same with coldsore, with hepatitis, 
        always remembering that we may be activating a latent virus and 
        in no sense creating a laboratory virus. However, we may be in a 
        position to do this. Is a virus perhaps simply very small units 
        of sound and image? Remember the only image a virus has is the 
        image and sound track it can impose on you. The yellow eyes of 
        jaundice, the postules of smallpox, etc. imposed on you against 
        your will. The same is certainly true of scrambled word and 
        image it can make you unscramble. Take a card, any card. This 
        does not mean that it is actually a virus. Perhaps to construct 
        a laboratory virus we would need both camera and sound crew and 
        a biochemist as well. I quote from the INTERNATIONAL PARIS 
        TRIBUNE an article on the synthetic gene: "Dr. Har Johrd Khorana 
        has made a gene-synthetic." 

        "It is the beginning of the end," this was the immediate 
        reaction to this news from the science attache' at one of 
        Washington's major embassies. "If you can make genes you can 
        eventually make new viruses for which there are no cures. any 
        little country with good biochemists could make such biological 
        weapons. It would take only a small laboratory. If it can be 
        done, somebody will do it. "For example, a death virus could be 
        created that carries the coded message of death. A death tape, 
        in fact. No doubt the technical details are complex and perhaps 
        a team of sound and camera men working with biochemists would 
        give us the answer. 

        And now the question as to whether scrambling techniques could 
        be used to spread helpful and pleasant messages. Perhaps. On the 
        other hand, the scrambled words and tape act like a virus in 
        that they force something on the subject against his will. More 
        to the point would be to discover how the old scanning patterns 
        could be altered so that subject liberates his own spontaneous 
        scanning pattern. 

        NEW SCIENTIST 2 July, 1970 ...Current memory theory posits a 
        seven second temporary "buffer store" preceding the main one: a 
        blow on the head wipes out memory of this much prior time 
        because it erases the contents of the buffer. Daedalus observes 
        that the sense of the present also covers just this range and so 
        suggests that our sensory input is recorded on an endless time 
        loop, providing some seven seconds of delay for scanning before 
        erasure. In this time the brain edits, makes sense of, and 
        selects storage key features. The weird DEJA VU sensation "now" 
        has happened before is clearly due to brief erasure failure, so 
        that we encounter already stored memory data coming round again. 
        Time dragging or racing must reflect tape speed. A simple 
        experiment will demonstrate this erasure process in operation. 
        Making street recordings and playing them back, you will hear 
        things you do not remember, sometimes said in a loud clear 
        voice, must have been quite close to you, nor do you necessarily 
        remember them when you hear the recording back. The sound has 
        bee erased according to a scanning pattern which is automatic. 
        This means that what you notice and store as memory as you walk 
        down the street is scanned out of a much larger selection of 
        data which is then erased from the memory. For the walker the 
        signs he passed, people he has passed, are erased from his mind 
        and cease to exist for him. Now to make this scanning process 
        conscious and controllable, try this: 

        Walk down a city block with a camera and take what you notice, 
        moving the camera around as closely as possible to follow the 
        direction of your eyes. The point is to make the the camera your 
        eyes and take what your eyes are scanning out of the larger 
        picture. At the same time take the street at a wide angle from a 
        series of still positions. The street of the operator is, of 
        course, the street as seen by the operator. It is different from 
        the street seen at a wide angle. Much of it is in fact missing. 
        Now you can make arbitrary scanning patterns - that is cover 
        first one side of the street and then the other in accordance 
        with a preconceived plan. So you are breaking down the automatic 
        scanning patterns. You could also make colour scanning patterns, 
        that is, scan out green, blue, red, etc. in so far as you can 
        with your camera. That is, you are using an arbitrary 
        preconceived scanning pattern, in order to break down automatic 
        scanning patterns. a number of operators do this and then 
        scramble their takes together and with wide angle tapes. This 
        could train the subject to see at a wider angle and also to 
        ignore and erase at will. 

        Now all this is readily subject to experimental verification on 
        control subjects. Nor need the equipment be all on control 
        subjects. Nor need the equipment be all that complicated. I have 
        shown how it could work with feedback from brainwaves and 
        visaaceral response and video tape photos of subject taken while 
        he is seeing and hearing the tape, simply to show optimum 

        You can start with two tape recorders. The simplest scrambling 
        device is scissors and splicing equipment. You can start 
        scrambling words, make any kind of tapes and scramble them and 
        observe the effects on friends and on yourself. Next step is 
        sound film and then video camera. Of course results from 
        individual experiments could lead to mass experiments, mass fear 
        tapes, riot tapes, etc. The possibilities here for research and 
        experiment are virtually unlimited and I have simply made a few 
        very simple suggestions 

        "A virus is characterized and limited by obligate cellular 
        parasitism. All viruses must parasite living cells for their 
        replication. For all viruses the infection cycle comprises entry 
        into the host, intracellular replication, and escape from the 
        body of the host to initiate a new cycle in a fresh host." I am 
        quoting here from MECHANISMS OF VIRUS INFECTION edited by Dr. 
        Wilson Smith. In its wild state the virus has not proved to be a 
        very adaptable organism. Some viruses have burned themselves 
        have burned out since they were 100 per cent fatal and there 
        were no reservoirs. Each strain of virus is rigidly programed 
        for certain attack on certain tissues. If the attack fails, the 
        virus does not gain a new host. There are, of course, virus 
        mutations, and the influenza virus has proved quite versatile in 
        this way.Generally it's the simple repitition of the same method 
        of entry, and if that method is blocked by any body or other 
        agency such as interferon, the attack fails. By and large, our 
        virus is a stupid organism. Now we can think for the virus, 
        devise a number of alternate methods of entry. For example, the 
        host is simutaneously attacked by an ally virus who tells him 
        that everything is allright and by a pain and fear virus. so the 
        virus is now using an old method of entry, namely, the tough cop 
        and the con cop. 

        We have considered the possibility that a virus can be activated 
        or even created by very small units of sound and image. So 
        concieved, the virus can be made to order in the laboratory. Ah, 
        but for the takes to be effective, you must have also the actual 
        virus and what is the actual virus? New viruses turn up from 
        time to time but from where do they turn up? Well, lets see how 
        we could make a virus turn up. We plot now our virus's symptoms 
        and make a scramble tape. The susceptible subjects, that is 
        those who reproduce some of the desired symptoms, will then be 
        scrambled into more tapes till we scramble our virus into 
        existence. This birth of a virus occurs when our virus is able 
        to reproduce itself in a host and pass itself on to another 
        host. Perhaps, too, with the virus under laboratory control it 
        can be tamed for useful purposes. Imagine, for example a sex 
        virus. it so inflames the sex centres in the back brain that the 
        host is driven mad from sexuality, all other considerations are 
        blacked out Parks full of naked, frenzied people, shitting, 
        pissing, ejaculating, and screaming. So the virus could be 
        malignant, blacking out all regulation and end in exhaustion, 
        convulsions, and death. 

        Now let us attempt the same thing with tape. We organize a sex-
        tape festival. We organise a sex-tape festival. 100,000 people 
        bring their scrambled sex tapes, and video tapes as well, to 
        scramble in together. Projected on vast screens, muttering out 
        over the crowd, sometimes it slows down, so that you see a few 
        seconds, then scrambled again, then slow down, scramble. Soon it 
        will scramble them all naked. The cops and the National Guard 
        are stripping down. LET'S GET OURSELVES SOME CIVVIES. Now a 
        thing like that could be messy, but those who survive it recover 
        from the madness. Or, say, a small select group of really like-
        minded people get together with their sex tapes, you see the 
        process is now being brought under control. And the fact that 
        anybody can do it is in itself a limiting factor. 

        Here is Mr. Hart, who wants to infect everyone with his own 
        image and turn them all into himself, so he scrambles himself 
        and dumps himself out in search of worthy vessels. If nobody 
        else knows about scrambling techniques he might scramble himself 
        quite a stable of replicas. but anybody can do it. So gon on, 
        scramble your sex words, and find suitable mates. 

        If you want to, scramble yourself out there, every stale joke, 
        fart, chew, sneeze, and stomach rumble. If your trick no work 
        you better run. Everybody doing it, they all scramble in 
        together and the populations of the earth just better settle 
        down a nice even brown colour. Scrambles is the democratic way, 
        the way full cellular representation. Scrambles is the American 

        I have suggested that virus can be created to order in the 
        laboratory from very small units of sound and image. Such a 
        preparation is not in itself biologically active but it could 
        activate or even create virus in susceptible subjects. A 
        carefully prepared jaundice tape could activate or create or 
        create the jaundice virus in liver cells, especially in cases 
        where the jaundice liver is already damaged. The operator is in 
        effect directing a virus revolution of the cells. Since DOR 
        seems to attack those exposed to it at the weakest point, 
        release of this force could coincide with virus attack. Reactive 
        mind phrases could serve the same purpose of rendering subjects 
        more susceptible to virus attack. 

        It will be seen that scrambled speech already has many of the 
        charictaristics of virus. When the speech takes and unscrambles, 
        this occurs compulsively and against the will of the subject. A 
        virus must remind you of its presence. Whether it is the mag of 
        a cold sore or the torturing spasms of rabies the virus reminds 
        you of its unwanted presence. "HERE ME IS." 

        So does scrambled word and image. The units are unscrambling 
        compulsively, presenting certain words and images to the subject 
        and this repetitive presentation is irritating certain bodily 
        and neutral areas. The cells so irritated can produce over a 
        period of time the biologic virus units. We now have a new virus 
        that can be communicated and indeed the subject may be desparate 
        to communicate this thing that is bursting inside him. He is 
        heavy with the load. Could this load be good and beautiful? Is 
        it possible to create a virus which will communicate calm and 
        sweet reasonableness? A virus must parasitise a host in order to 
        survive. It uses the cellular material of the host to make 
        copies of itself. in most cases this is damaging to the host. 
        The virus gains entrance by fraud and maintains itself by force. 
        An unwanted guest who makes you sick to look at is never good or 
        beautiful. It is moreover a guest who always repeats itself word 
        for word take for take.

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