Interview by John Wisniewski
John Wisniewski: Could you tell us what you are working on currently?
A.D. Hitchin: I’ve just reached an agreement with a commercial publisher for a non-fiction book to be released next year, but most recently, I’ve just finished writing the text of Prince: Purple Reign for Plexus Books. More than a colouring book, each one of the illustrations includes a history of the time period, presenting a chronological timeline of Prince’s career from his first photo shoot in 1977. Writing it was a labour of love.
In terms of my personal writing, I did have a book, Privilege that I’d been working on for the past few years due for release early this year. However, following a series of what I can only term spiritual experiences I have cancelled publication of the book and am changing direction.
What interests you about The Beat Poets and writing about them?
I haven’t written about the beat poets directly. I did co-edit ‘CUT UP!’, which is an anthology of texts inspired by the cut-up method as popularised by Burroughs and Gysin, and employed the technique in my own work for many years to some recognition.
My primary interest is not in nostalgia but in how to take the energy and ideas of these various scenes and figures forward, which was something Joe Ambrose and I tried to do with CUT UP! I’ve used the technique very sparingly in the past few years though instead returning to the immediacy and directness of prose.
John Wisniewski: Did you meet Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, Antony? How did you meet them? What were your first impressions?
A.D. Hitchin: I was 9 years old when Gysin died and never had the opportunity to meet Burroughs physically. My impressions of Burroughs and Gysin are based on my connection to their work, which is where I believe, the true essence of all great artists lie. I understand Burroughs and Gysin in the same way I understand viruses and permutations – according to their various mutations. Neither Burroughs or Gysin were fixed states and I’ve no desire for them to become defanged biographical artifacts now.
John Wisniewski: Who are some of your favorite authors and artists?
A.D. Hitchin:So many have been influential and formative during various periods of my life. Genesis P-Orridge acted as a kind of living gateway to a dimension that had previously been hidden to me and I went down the rabbit hole of Burroughs, Gysin, Robert Anton Wilson, Crowley… From there a lot of other figures emerge in a kind of loosely connected tangential web – Gurdjieff, Paul Laffoley, Anton LaVey, Boyd Rice. I’m naturally drawn to anyone I’m warned away from. Peter Sotos has also been influential in the most horrifying way, though more so in terms of approach than content. Whatever, I’ve never ‘followed’ any of these figures slavishly, rather admired their total absence of conformism.
In terms of fiction, I tend to like it hardboiled – Hubert Selby, Herbert Huncke. Charles Willeford is very underrated.
John Wisniewski: What’s next for you?
A.D. Hitchin: I’ve just agreed on a non-fiction book for a commercial publisher that’s scheduled for release in 2019. It takes a different biographical angle on a certain artist and icon that I think people will find interesting.
The spiritual shift I mentioned earlier directly lead me to a school of ancient wisdom where I’m currently a student. The disciplines I’ve engaged in have produced access to states and information that I’d like to articulate at some point… I am changed so naturally the creative output changes whether my previous readership likes it or not. This is decidedly a new incarnation and my desire is to make known the unknown rather than circle familiar territory. I was guilty previously of presenting a selective view of myself, really playing to a darker aesthetic because it corresponded with the kind of subcultural scene I was writing for. It was always my intention to explore and report on those areas, then withdraw unaffected, but that isn’t what happened… As William Blake said, ‘expect poison from the standing water.’
John Wisniewski: Why do you think so many read and study the writings of writers like Burroughs, Crowley and other literary outlaws?
I find it harder to understand why someone wouldn’t. Ultimately, these concern perennial questions regarding the nature of existence. Outlaws, rebels, ‘villains’ of various types have always been catalysts and agents of disruption and change; have disturbed consensus thought and the status quo. Those similarly dissatisfied, who feel ‘different’ or somewhat alienated from mainstream society and its matrix, who feel a sense of internal urgency, naturally feel drawn to such figures, who in turn help them to find their own voices. For me it has always been an essentially spiritual calling. I perceive Burroughs as a magus, rather than intellectually. A magus is also sometimes referred to as a trickster and tricksters would certainly be relevant in an historical context. These kind of figures have and always will be with us, the issue that concerns me at the moment is freedom of speech and whether these kind of ‘controversial’ and nonconformist views are going to be heard. Giordano Bruno, for example, was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600 and some of the behaviour I’m seeing recently isn’t too far removed from that kind of mentality.
Click here To buy the “Purple Rain” Coloring Book on Amazon.com
A.D. Hitchin is a writer and editor whose work spans both the commercial and the counterculture. He began his career on the avant-garde scene and his use of the cut-up method has been discussed by academia and appeared in many magazines, websites and publications, culminating in co-editing the CUT UP! anthology, the first of its kind. Hitchin marked his move away from more cryptic, abstract work with the publication of CONSENSUAL in 2016, described by one reviewer as ‘reading for the end of the world’. Hitchin has performed at various London galleries, including the Underdog Gallery and The Horse Hospital, where he also exhibited and sold his artwork. Commercially Hitchin works with publishers in a variety of areas, including acquisitions, structural editing and ghostwriting. His most recent work includes writing the text for Prince: Purple Reign, a colouring book-cum-biography, released on Plexus Books in December 2017.