The Dreamachine with Brion Gysin & William S. Burroughs
S+ Stimulant: Make A Dreamachine
* The Introduction to DREAMACHINE PLANS by Brion Gysin
The dreamachine was devised by Brion Gysin, artist, traveller, writer and alchemist; one of the unsung English painters of the 20th century, expelled by Breton from the surrealists, and the seminal influence who introduced William S. Burroughs to the use of permutations and cut-ups in writing. He remains today one of the unsung prophets of this century, a master magician whose methods can be applied by anyone, in any time and in any place.
The dreamachine arose from his observations of the effects of passing rapidly through a vale of trees, the flickering of sunlight causing him to enter into an altered state of consciousness. This effect is well known to any who has driven along tree-lined avenue, and has led traffic engineers to reconsider the use of evenly spaced trees to line long stretched of straight road. The effects of flicker, you see, are potent. The process itself was known to North African tribesmen who entered trance states through the rapid movement of their hands and fingers across their closed eyes, heads tilted towards the sun.
With the current vogue for high-technology brain-machines at an unparalleled height, the original concept as developed by Brion Gysin and his collaborator Ian Sommerville is a welcome reminder that whilst technology advances space, the conceptual base for interior research is as ancient as the sun and the trees. Its beauty is in its simplicity, and in its ecologically sound construction which requires no more than a sheet of card and the recycling of a redundant record player.
Many users of the dreamachine have referred to it as a drug-free ‘trip’, but with the emphasis on INWARD travel into the areas of one’s own unconscious dream state. The dreamachine plans are quite literally a passport to this domain, and for once there are no customs posts to pass, no police barriers or laws to break down or transgress. It’s quite simply a voyage of exploration without restriction.
Part of all magical process is the production of one’s own tools. This is as ancient a truth as the art itself. The dreamachine plans enable one to partake in just such a process – to make the dreamachine literally your own.
Through the simple process of drawing out the design, obtaining an old 78 r.p.m. record deck, and constructing the machine, you are actively working within the oldest of traditions. All that has changed are the tools. Magicians have always retained a magpie quality which enables them to utilise whatever comes to hand. For all the dogma one reads, magic and mysticism are in reality the least dogmatic of disciplines.
It is further possible to add both internally and externally, designs, sigils, marks of your own and to anoint the dreamachine – if you so wish – on any of the myriad ways that so many cultures have utilised since earliest time. To make best use of the dreamachine it is best to set it up so that you can sit comfortably (and well balanced) with your face close to the centre of the column. Music can be played, but try to avoid music with words. Words are names that call us back. The point of the dreamachine is to travel.
Other experiments include whispering into the machine as it spins round. Listen as the words are cut-up, as you get back not what you put in. The dreamachine is probably the first visual device to be viewed with your eyes closed. What we want to see is INSIDE.
Do not worry if you generally find that closed eyes means darkness. With the dreamachine it doesn’t. A kaleidoscope of light will result and slowly these turn into archetypal visions, pictures that come alive and tell you your story as you really are, the instructions are simple, so close your eyes and enter the visual world of the dreamachine. Enjoy your journey.
Temple Press – 1992
To download a .pdf of this text and the plans to make your own dreamachine, click: dream-machine-plans
*source: “dreamachine plans – created by brion gysin”
© temple press ltd. 5th printing, 1994 – ISBN 1 871744 50 4
Published: October 3rd, 2011