Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ah Pook Is Here — A book by William S. Burroughs

"Death needs Time for what it kills to grow in, for Ah Pook's sweet sake you stupid, vulgar, greedy, Ugly-American Death Sucker!"

"Ah Pook, the Mayan god of Death, is the presiding genius of this new novel by William Burroughs - his first since the publication of Exterminator! in 1972. In a ruined temple in Mexico the evil Mr Hart, a searcher after immortality, discovers the lost books of the ancient Mayan religion which contain the secret of absolute control over all other human beings. Having murdered his only friend and fellow explorer to win all power for himself, Mr Hart extravagantly squanders his reserves of hear, hate, pain and repression - the instruments of control - finally becoming so addicted to his power that he believes he can cheat death itself..."

Ah Pook Is Here was a collaboration between author William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill. It began in 1970, when Burroughs was living in London and McNeill was in his final year of art school. It first appeared under the title The Unspeakable Mr. Hart as a comic strip in the English Cyclops. When that magazine ceased publication, Burroughs and McNeill decided to develop the concept as a book. After a year of research and preliminary design the text of the book had expanded from 11 pages to 50, and a complete mockup had been produced. By this point, the work had been renamed Ah Puch Is Here in reference to the Mayan Death God. Straight Arrow Books in San Francisco agreed to publish the proposed work in 1971 as a "Word/Image novel" which was to comprise 120 pages, some of integrated text and image, some of text alone and some which featured only pictures.

In 1973, McNeill moved to San Francisco from London to finish the project. However, the small advance proffered by the publisher made any more than a few months of working full-time on the project impossible, and when Straight Arrow Books closed in 1974 the book was without a publisher. Nevertheless, McNeill moved to New York in 1975 to rejoin Burroughs and continue the work. They were unable to find another publisher and after seven years on and off, the project was finally abandoned. It was subsequently published in 1979, by John Calder, in text form only under the original title of Ah Pook Is Here.

After 30 years the original visual works were resurrected and restored by McNeill for their West Coast showing at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, April 4th to May 2nd, 2009 and a December 2008 showing in New York at Saloman Arts Gallery.

Burroughs reads from Ah Pook Is Here on the album 'The Doctor Is On The Market', Les Temps Modernes Recordings V:XX 1986. Album Coordination; James Grauerholz, James Neiss. Tapes Edit; Jon Hurst. This album is dedicated to the memory of Brion Gysin.

Ah Pook Is Here and Other Texts; The book of breeething; Electronic revolution by William S. Burroughs.

John Calder Publishers Ltd & River Run Press Inc. 1979. ISBN: 0714536830.

Further information here, here & here.

"Question: Is Control controlled by its need to control? Answer: Yes"

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