Out There
The Transcendent Life and Art
of Burt Shonberg
Spencer Kansa

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Out There
The Transcendent Life and Art of Burt Shonberg
Spencer Kansa
Format: Softcover / 256 pp / illustrated in colour
ISBN: 978-1-906958-79-4
£30/US$45
Subjects: Art/American Underground/Biography/Film Studies.

From the late-1950s until his premature death in 1977, Burt Shonberg was one of the most highly admired artists in Los Angeles. During this period, his eye-popping murals graced the facades and interiors of popular coffeehouses and hip clubs on the Sunset Strip; his paintings adorned several notable rock album covers, and his haunting portraits featured prominently in Roger Corman’s film adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and The Premature Burial.

Born in 1933, Shonberg grew up in the all-American beach town of Revere, Massachusetts, where, according to his friends, he spent most of his time drawing and indulging in his love of monster movies. After graduating high school, he studied for two years at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and then, after a brief spell in the army, he ventured to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a commercial artist.

Soon after he settled in L.A., Shonberg became the lover of the legendary occult artist Marjorie Cameron who turned him on to the teachings of the Edwardian magus Aleister Crowley and introduced him to the mind-warping properties of peyote. Shonberg also embraced the Fourth Way system of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, and his canvases began to reflect the mystical illumination inspired by his higher states of consciousness.

In 1960, the artist was chosen by Dr. Oscar Janiger to participate in his groundbreaking study into the effects of LSD-25 on the creative process. Although Shonberg regarded himself as a magical realist, his remarkable renderings of his hallucinogenic visions led many of his acolytes to regard him as the preeminent psychedelic artist of the era, and in the words of his friend and fellow painter Walter Teller, “Burt was the artist of Laurel Canyon.”

Yet despite his popularity and status, Shonberg’s artistry has been criminally overlooked in all historical accounts of the Southern Californian art scene, until now. Out There redresses this injustice and brings some long overdue recognition to L.A.’s greatest lost artist, in a book illustrated with rare examples of his incandescent artwork.

“Spencer Kansa has time traveled. Knowing Burt as well as I did, it really does feel, from his assessments and descriptions, that Spencer actually knew him as well, and Burt for sure would have dug him. They would have had a good time. I can see Burt smiling. I’m serious.”
Hampton Fancher, screenwriter, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049.

Read Spencer Kansa interview about Burt Shonberg and Bohemian Los Angeles with the LA Review of Books
lareviewofbooks.org/article/burt-shonberg-and-bohemian-los-angeles-an-interview-with-spencer-kansa/

Author’s bio:
Spencer Kansa is the author of Wormwood Star, a biography of the American artist and occult icon Marjorie Cameron (Mandrake of Oxford). His debut novella Zoning is published by Beatdom Books. His interviews with literary legends William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles and Herbert Huncke feature in Joe Ambrose’s book Chelsea Hotel Manhattan (Headpress).


#rogercorman

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#aleistercrowley

#scifi

# Gurdjieff

# oscarjaniger

#forrestackerman

#psychedelic

#psychedelia

#beatniks
#ufos

#extraterrestrials

#arthurlee

#horrormovies

#lsdart

#lsdtrip

#lsd25

#beatgeneration

#randycalifornia

#spiritof76

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#surrealism

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#abstract

#dali

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#cafefrankenstein

#monstermovie

The Magical Universe
of William S. Burroughs
Matthew Levi Stevens

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7981906958640_cov


The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs
Matthew Levi Stevens
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-64-0
£11.99/US$23
Subjects: Counter-Culture/Magic/Occult/Biography/American Underground.

——
“In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen. The dogma of science is that the will cannot possibly affect external forces, and I think that’s just ridiculous. It’s as bad as the church. My viewpoint is the exact contrary of the scientific viewpoint. I believe that if you run into somebody in the street it’s for a reason. Among primitive people they say that if someone was bitten by a snake he was murdered. I believe that.”
– William S. Burroughs

Fully revised and expanded from the limited edition chapbook that first appeared in 2012, The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs is the first ever in-depth consideration of the significance of Magic and the Occult in the Life & Work of the writer and counter-cultural icon.

In Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs, his biographer Ted Morgan wrote:

‘As the single most important thing about Graham Greene was his viewpoint as a lapsed Catholic, the single most important thing about Burroughs was his belief in the magical universe. The same impulse that lead him to put out curses was, as he saw it, the source of his writing…’

‘To Burroughs behind everyday reality there was the reality of the spirit world, of psychic visitations, of curses, of possession and phantom beings…’

From the Introduction to The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs:

In talking about The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs I am really thinking of two things:

Firstly, and probably most obvious, is the material that appears in the output of Burroughs the Writer that can be seen as describing or referring to some magical, mystical or occult idea – Invocations of Elder Gods of Abominations, descriptions of Sex-Magick rituals, references to amulets, charms, ghosts, omens and spells – all the thematic set-dressing that we all know and love, from Hammer Horror Movies to Weird Tales, from H. P. Lovecraft to Dennis Wheatley and The X-Files…

Secondly, there is the personal interest and involvement of Burroughs the Man with belief systems and practices that come from those strange ‘Other’ territories that lay outside the bounds of either conventional mainstream religion or scientific materialism – explorations of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, Konstanin Raudive’s Electronic Voice Phenomena, Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator; also partaking of the Vine-of-the-Soul with Amazonian shamans, attending the Rites of Pan in the Rif Mountains outside Morocco, participating in a Sweat-Lodge with Native American Indian medicine men – and, latterly, an engagement with that most Post-Modern of Occultisms, Chaos Magic.

The material considered has been distilled from archival sources, correspondence, interviews, and of course, published works. As well as his own personal contact with Burroughs and his lifelong study of the Man and his Work, the author also draws from a wide range of former associates – collaborators, friends, lovers, and students – including C. J. Bradbury Robinson, Michael Butterworth, David Conway, Phil Hine, Graham Masterton, Malcolm Mc Neill, and others.

As well as his own contact with the likes of Genesis P-Orridge, John Balance & Peter Christopherson of Coil, and writer Terry Wilson, back in 1980s London, he has also had unprecedented access to the papers of Cabell McLean, a young writer who was William’s companion, lover & student, c.1976-1983.

Sometime in the nineteen-seventies, following a reprint of my book, Magic: An Occult Primer, a letter was forwarded to me by my then publisher. Poorly typed and in an envelope which, unless my memory deceives me, bore no postage stamp, it came from William S. Burroughs. I still have it somewhere. In it the writer made plain his interest in magic. In real magic that is, not the smoke and mirrors kind.

Given that Burroughs’ tireless ambition was to encounter a reality beyond that accessible to our five senses, with magic perceived as an effective means to that end, it is remarkable that the subject has hitherto received but scant attention.

This work, by Matthew Levi Stevens, who must have encountered Burroughs at around the time he wrote to me, sets out to make up for that deficit. In it he chronicles the man’s interest and examines the part magic and occultism generally played both in his life and in his work.

Stevens sets about the task with gusto, indicative of his respect and, indeed, affection for “Uncle Bill”, as well as his familiarity with the topic itself. He draws on Burroughs’ own writings, and on those of the growing number of people, supporters and critics alike, who have commented on him and his literary output.

It is a job well done. And one that is all the more welcome because long overdue . . .

– David Conway, 2014.

Wormwood Star
The Magickal Life
of Marjorie Cameron
(revised & enlarged)
Spencer Kansa

Featured

9781906958602

This New Edition features fascinating new insights and info,
as well as over 20 new images.

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Ebook editions:
Click here for Kindle UK edition

Click here for Kindle USA edition


Wormwood Star
The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron
Spencer Kansa
Format: Softcover/302 pp/illustrated.
ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906958-60-2 (was 978-1-906958-08-4)
£13.99/US$24
Subjects: Biography/Magick/Thelema/Art/American Underground/Film Studies

In the first ever biography written about her, Wormwood Star traces the extraordinary life of the enigmatic artist Marjorie Cameron, one of the most fascinating figures to emerge from the American Underground art world and film scene.

Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, in 1922, Cameron’s uniqueness and talent as a natural born artist was evident to those around her early on in life. During World War 2 she served in the Women’s Navy, and worked in Washington as an aide to the Joint Chiefs Of Staff. But it was after the War that her life really took off, when she met her husband Jack Parsons. By day Parsons was a brilliant rocket scientist, but by night he was Master of the Agape Lodge, a fraternal magickal order, whose head was the most famous magus of the 20th century… Aleister Crowley.

Gradually, over the course of their marriage, Parsons initiated Cameron into the occult sciences, and the biography offers a fresh perspective on her role in the infamous Babalon Working magick rituals Parsons conducted with the future founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard. Following Parsons death in 1952 from a chemical explosion, Cameron inherited her husband’s magickal mantle and embarked on a lifelong spiritual quest, a journey reflected in the otherworldly images she depicted, many of them drawn from the Elemental Kingdom and astral plane.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Cameron became a celebrated personality in California’s underground art world and film scene. In 1954 she starred in Kenneth Anger’s visual masterwork, ‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’, stealing the show from her co-star Anais Nin. The budding filmmaker Curtis Harrington was so taken with Cameron, he made a film study dedicated to her artwork entitled, ‘The Wormwood Star’. He then brought Cameron’s powerful and mysterious presence to bear on his evocative noir thriller, ‘Night Tide’, casting her alongside a young Dennis Hopper.

Cameron was an inspirational figure to the many artists and poets that congregated around Wallace Berman’s Semina scene, and in 1957 Berman’s show at the Ferus Gallery was shut down by LA’s vice squad, due to the sexually charged nature of one of her drawings. Undaunted, she continued to carve a unique and brilliant path as an artist. A retrospective of Cameron’s work, entitled ‘The Pearl Of Reprisal’, was held at LA’s Barnsdall Art Park in 1989, and after her death some of her most admired pieces were included in the ‘Reflections Of A New Aeon Exhibition’ at the Eleven Seven Gallery in Long Beach, California. Cameron’s famous Peyote Vision drawing made its way into the Beat Culture And The New America retrospective held at the Whitney Museum in 1995. And in 2006, a profile of her work was featured in the critically lauded Semina Culture Exhibition. The following year an exhibition of her sketches and drawings was held at the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York.

With so much of her life and work shrouded in mystery, Wormwood Star sheds new light on this most remarkable artist and elusive occult icon.

All Material on this page copyright © Spencer Kansa

Cover of First Edition


#rogercorman

#edgarallanpoe

#aleistercrowley

#scifi

# Gurdjieff

# oscarjaniger

#forrestackerman

#psychedelic

#psychedelia

#beatniks
#ufos

#extraterrestrials

#arthurlee

#horrormovies

#lsdart

#lsdtrip

#lsd25

#beatgeneration

#randycalifornia

#spiritof76

#counterculture

#surrealism

#magicalrealism

#abstract

#dali

#picasso

#avantgarde

#bohemian

#cafefrankenstein

#monstermovie