Mariners sailing close to the shores of Tuskini heard a voice call out from the hills, the trees, and the sky. The great god Pan is dead. Pan, god of Panic. The sudden awareness that everything is alive and significant. The date was December 25, 1 AD.
But Pan lives on in the realm of imagination. In writing, painting, and music. Look at van Gogh's Sunflower's, writhing with pretentious life. Listen to the Pipes of Pan in Jajouka. Now Pan is neutralized, framed in museums, entombed in books, and relegated to folklore. But art is spilling out of its frames into subway graffiti. Will it stop there?
Consider an apocalyptic statement: nothing is true everything is permitted. Hasaan I Sabah, the old man in the mountain. Not to be interpreted as an invitation to all manner of unrestrained and destructive behavior, that would a minor episode, which would run its course. Everything is permitted because nothing is true. It is all make-believe . . . illusion . . . dream . . . art. When art leaves the frame and the written word leaves the page, not merely the physical frame and page, but the frames and pages that assign the categories.
A basic disruption of reality itself occurs. The literal realization of art. Success will write apocalypse across the sky. The artist aims for a miracle. The painter wills his pictures to move off the canvass with a separate life. movement outside of the picture and one rip in the fabric is all it takes for pandemonium to break through.
Last act. The end. This is where we all came in. The final apocalypse is when every man sees what he sees, feels what he feels, hears what he hears. The creatures of all your dreams and nightmares are right here, right now, solid as they ever were or ever will be.
Electric vitality of careening subways faster faster faster stations flash by in a blur. Pan god of Panic whips screaming crowds as millions of faces look up at the torn sky. Off the track off the track. Planet is pulling loose from its moorings careening into space spilling cities mountains and seas into the void. Spinning faster and faster as days and nights flash by like subway stations. Iron penis chimneys ejaculate blue sparks in a reek of ozone. Tunnels crunch down teeth of concrete and steel, flattening cars like beer cans.
Graffiti eats through glass and steel like acid, races across the sky in tornados of flaming color. Cherry pickers with satin brushes big as a door inch through Wall Street, leaving a vast souvenir picture postcard of the Grand Canyon. Water trucks slosh out paint. Outlaw painters armed with paint pistols paint everything and everyone in reach. Survival artists, paint cans strapped to their backs, grenades at their belts, paint anything and everybody in range.
Skywriters dogfight collide and explode. Telephone poles dance electric jigs with swirling crackling wires. Neon explosions and tornados splash through ruined cities.
Volcanos spew molten colors as the Earth's crust buckles & splinters into jigsaw pieces. Household appliances revolt. Washing machines snatch clothes from the guests. Bellowing Hoovers suck off makeup & wigs and false teeth. Electric toothbrushes leap into screaming mouths. Clothes dryers turn gardens into dustbowls. Garden tools whiz through lawn-parties, impaling the guests, who are hacked to fertilizer by industrious Japanese hatchets. Hordes of misshaped bulbous plants spring from their bones, covering golf-courses, swimming pools, country clubs, and tasteful dwellings.
At my back, faster and faster, I always hear, "Hurry up! Energy ground down in two. Please, it's time, closing!"
Sidewalks and streets by billions of feet & tires erupt from manholes & tunnels, break out with volcanic force. Let it come down careening subways faster and faster stations blur by.
Pan whips screaming crowds with flaming pipes. Millions of faces look up at the torn sky. Off the track! Off the track! The planet is pulling loose from its moorings, careening off into space spilling mountains and cities and seas into the void, faster and faster.
Skyscrapers scrape shards of blue and white paint from the sky. The rivers swirl with color. Nitrous okras and reds eat through the bridges, falling into the rivers. Splashing colors across warehouses and piers & roads & buildings. Amocart floods in organic molds, stirring passions of metal & glass. Steel girders writhing in mineral lust, burst from their concrete covers. Walls of glass melt and burn with madness of a million crazed eyes. Bridges buck cars and trucks into the rivers. The sidewalks run ahead faster and faster and faster . . . energy ground down into sidewalks and streets by billions of feet and tires. Erupts from manholes and tunnels, breaks out with volcanic force. Let it come down. Caught in New York, meet the animals of the village. THE PIPER PULLED THE SKY.
This is an amazing audio production (and CD). At the begining, Burroughs is referring to the words sometimes said to be spoken by Jesus on the crucifix just before he died, "Pan is dead." Meaning: Paganism is dead. Burroughs suggests that what these words actually meant was that imagination is dead, except that Pan cannot be kept down, and he is bursting - like foliage in global warming - up through every crevice of our stolid society, as art, as creation, as spirit... It is the return of Pan that ushers in the Christian Apocalypse.