Slide Guitar

William Gibson, around nine minutes into this interview at the New York Public Library, has a wonderful image for the way he felt when he discovered the writing of William Burroughs as a child. Living in a conservative small town in the early 60’s and reading every library book he could get his hands on, he describes reading Burroughs’ utterly unique style as “like discovering the one human being on earth who can play slide guitar”.

This resonates so much with me – how it felt when I first realized that in the arts, every supposedly fixed concept and every grid – be it frets on an instrument, a pulse or a meter on the time line – has spaces between the lines and nodes that can be explored for an infinite variety of timbres and micro-subdivisions. In my case this manifested in stuttering metronomes, molten timelines and new connections between disparate elements. Hearing Gibson makes me want to put on that metaphorical bottleneck and see what other concepts could do with some shaking up.


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