Sounds: The Great Molasses Flood

July 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

A description of the sounds of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919

“Witnesses reported, variously, that as it collapsed, they felt the ground shake and heard a roar, a long rumble similar to the passing of an elevated train, a tremendous crashing, a deep growling, or a thunderclap-like bang! and, as the rivets shot out of the tank, a machine-gun-like rat-tat-tat sound.”

Textile: Embroidered Wikipedia Magna Carta

June 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Artist Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta – the Wikipedia entry on the Magna Carta collectively embroidered by prisoners, judges,  art world luminaries, and members of the embroiderers guild. 
Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta on view at the British Library. 


Text: Su Hui’s matrix poem, Star Gauge

June 26, 2015 § Leave a comment



4th century poet Su Hui’s embroidered, 29 x 29 character, 5 color grid-matrix poem, Star Gauge. 

Read an interview with artist Jen Bervin about the poem here.

Translator David Hinton on the poem here, and his translation here.


Lists: Words Commonly Used to Describe Smells

June 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

tasmanian devil

A growing list of words associated with scents & smells.

acrid, aged, airless, airport, alkaline, aromatic, bacon, baking, banana, barbeque, barnyard, beachy, beery, bitter, bright, bloody, books, bouquet, briney, burnt, camphoric, catbox, cedar, cigar, cinnamon, citrusy, cheesy, chicken soup, chlorine, clean, clove, cloying, coffee, creamy, curry, damp, doggy, earthy, eye-watering, exhaust, fermented, fishy, floury, floral, foul, fumes, funky, fragrant, fresh, fruity, garlicky, garbage, gasoline, ginger, grassy, green, hairspray, herbal, homey, home cooking, horse, jasmine, ink, incense, leafy, lemony, lavender, laundry, lawn, leathery, locker room, meaty, medicinal, metallic, mildewed, minty, moldy, mothball, musky, mushroomy, new car, newspaper, notes, odor, oily, oniony, orangey, paint, peppery, perfumey, piney, pinion, pickled, plasticky, popcorn, powdery, pungent, putrid, rancid, rank, resinous, rose, rotten, rubbery, sandalwood, savory, sawdust, scentless, seaside, skunk, spicy, spoiled, stinky, smoky, sneaker, soapy, sour, stagnant, stale, stench, stinging, stony, stuffy, sulfurous, sweaty, sweet, swimming pool, tangy, tarry, underarm, urine, vanilla, vinegary, vomit, whiff, winey, wooden, woodsy, wooly, zesty, zoo

See also: Words Commonly Used to Describe Sounds

Text: The Gorgeous Nothings

November 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Emily Dickinson’s envelope manuscripts.

dickenson twas later

dickensen we talked

dickenson not to send letters

On view now (with Robert Walser’s microscripts) at The Drawing Center: Dickinson/Walser Pencil Sketches Nov 15 2013 – Jan 12 2014.
images thanks to The Drawing Center)

In book form: The Gorgeous Nothings

Lists: There are 6 Families of Noises

January 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

of the Futurist Orchestra.










Noises obtained by percussion on metal, wood, skin, stone, terracotta, etc.


Voices of animals and men:


From Luigi Russolo’s 1913 manifesto The Art of Noises.

More on Burroughs’ Color Walks from Michael Taussig

May 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Michael Taussig on Burroughs’ color walks:

“That was in 1964. Brion Gysin was his painter pal in those days and when you look over Gysin’s work, playing with color in relation to written words, let alone Burroughs’s own color work, as in the 1960s scrapbooks and the 1980s paintings, it suddenly hits you that there is a tight connection between the mad desire to cut out, on the one hand, and this fascination with color, on the other.

As when, in his homage to Gysin, Burroughs invokes the idea of going on “color walks”—which are a good deal more than color-coded walkways through Tangier or New York or Paris: red on Wednesdays, blue on Fridays, or whatever. A delightful idea, to be sure. But that is only the beginning because the idea here is that the very notion of a code is to be cut out, meaning that color is invoked so as to loosen the restraint of coding and that there is something about color that facilitates this, as if colors love to betray themselves like yellow means gold, awesome and holy, but also treason and cowardice, and it has a long history in the Christian West of marking adulterous women, Jews, Muslims, prostitutes, heretics, witches, and executioners.

Could we not say, therefore, that with the color walk we are alerted to the singular and beautiful fact that color itself walks?

This would make color even more of a flâneur than Burroughs,who liked to call himself el hombre invisible in his walks through the market in Tangier in the late 1950s. What was invisible in Tangier became color in Paris, thanks to Gysin’s paintings painted in Tangier. Maybe people have to lose themselves first and become invisible as long-term residents in a third world country before being readied for the color walk? But then Burroughs was continuously marginal in utterly realistic as well as in utterly romantic ways. He was queer. He was a heroin addict. He loathed America. And he had weird ideas about most everything, especially writing. Being marginal can mean you switch on and you switch off because you are either too conspicuous or invisible. Too invisible, that’s the point, at which point you emerge as color, walking color at that.

And, remember, the original insight for the color walk lay in Gysin’s playing with letters, letters that form words. Here color and the decomposition of written language signs go hand in hand. What also happens when Smoker comes in from the cold is that the old writer in the boxcar by the junkyard is once again able to write. As colors pour from tar, he unblocks. He pours. The cat purrs. And guess what? All his stories are animal stories. (“Of course,” adds Burroughs.) The old writer finds them in an illustrated book. There is the Flying Fox with his long black fingers and sad black face, just like Smoker. There is a Fishing Bat peering from under its shell. There is the Black Lemur with round red eyes and its little red tongue, the beautiful Ring-Tailed Lemur hopping through the forest as if on a pogo stick. “So many creatures, and he loves them all” (WL, p. 248).

The old writer caresses these pictures.

After all, “I have been a cut up for years,” the writer told us. “I think of

words as being alive like animals. They don’t like to be kept in pages. Cut the pages and let the words out.” Now the words and the animals become united in the stories the old writer found welling up inside himself as colors pour from tar.”

Michael Taussig, What Color is the Sacred

See also Taussig’s “Getting High with Burroughs and Benjamin” in Cabinet Magazine.

Image: Bryon Gysin Dream Machine iPhone app created by the New Museum as part of their Brion Gysin Dream Machine show this past spring.

More here: Color: William Burroughs Walking on Color

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Word category at Word Object.