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The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

All Issues
APRIL 2020 Issue
In Memoriam A Tribute to Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Meena Ysanne

Everyone has stories, and all of us have that same core narrative to describe our relationship with Genny: that NOBODY was like Gen, and that s/he played a role in our lives that will never be touched by anyone. An intimacy. Nothing short ov a Total Trust. S/he knew he/rself, in thee fullest spectrum of darkest darks and lightest lights, and in this truth, there was no part of humanity that s/he was afraid ov, whatever our truth.

S/he named me Mee, back in a stone circle in the north of England called Arbor Low, surrounded by a tribe of maybe 150 people gathered that cold, dark night in thee late 1980s.

S/he looked me in thee eyes, maybe five inches away, all sparkly from sacrament at dawn, and said:

“You are my reflection"
“You are my mirror"
“You are Mee"

And so, by thee morning, the people gathered were all calling me Mee, and I was known by that name for the next 15 years or so, and then later integrated it into my current name, Meena, when I survived cancer, and changed nationality, and subsequently re-found my purpose and inner compass again. But that’s another story. Related, though, as we are united.

Changing, and choosing—two things I learned from Genesis, who guided me more than any other person I’ve known, whether near or far. Still does, because, I will all ways be able to draw on the place in my heart that s/he touched. It’s a connection that doesn’t end at thee grave, even though that does rather put the kibosh on hanging out watching TV together, or having a drink at La Flaca.

We all feel these things, by the way, so many feel connected, united with a sense of reflection and relation and resonance with this person, whose life was an account of thee counterculture, from the late ’60s to the early 2020s. That’s over 50 years of pure creativity, and deepest contemplation, all with an equality in terms of never getting beyond he/rself when it came to being high and mighty. Incredibly generous, and despite an appropriate amount of self worth, not overt when it comes to the usual negative definitions of thee Ego. Humility, in terms of kindness, ability to listen, and all ways, to serve through ART.

The last few years, while she had leukemia, Genesis was writing an autobiography. Reading thee first chapters together late one night is perhaps my fondest memory, because it was so intimate, yes, mind to mind, but because more than that, thee work is stunning. I was humbled by thee light ov insight. A l-if-e dedicated to experiencing, and harvesting knowledge from experiences. Ov course, there are wild and crazy stories, yes, but that’s not why it will bring you joy—it’s thee way s/he uses these stories, almost as parables, in order to demonstrate ideas.

Two examples of when Genesis was there for Mee, divided by 30 years:

Gen picked mee up from thee horse pistol in thee 1980s— I was a teenage runaway with an unwanted pregnancy, and did that boyfriend pick me up? Nope, it was Genesis who brought me home, fed me dinner, held me as I wept, and poured me a hot bath that night. No judgement, pure love.

30 years later, I was traumatized by an awful, bizarre incident with a man, my first boyfriend in a decade. After 24 hours of numbness and confusion, who did I tell thee full sordid details to? Yep, Gen… Genesis (who was in thee horse pistol he/rself at that time, hooked up to a chemo-drip) was still there for mee, and—I know this to be true—s/he gained strength from being there for mee this last time, playing he/r role with aplomb, rather than the role that life was giving he/r—ov thee weak one.

S/he was my rock, all ways, as much as I was all ways there for he/r, whenever s/he chose to call upon mee, which s/he did also. Especially in thee earliest days of our friendship, back in thee Old Country, in Brighton and in Beck Road, a street squatted by artists, with a house where s/he midwifed he/r childe into thee world, amongst other marvelous things. How many fathers have done that? Receiving thee childe, catching thee head and gently bringing the baby out, with their family wolf-hound, Tanith, there to protect the tribe.

I’ve never known anyone who was a better parent than Genesis. Fierce and tender, disciplined and fun. Being a father came so naturally to Gen.

Chosen famille too. S/he taught me everything I know about deeply, radically generous love. How to be there without any expectations, any transactional tally system, any grudges. Loyalty, acceptance, l-ov-e.

In tribute to he/r I made a cover of thee Throbbing Gristle song, “United,” which Genesis wrote, because in thee lyrics, and in thee performance equally, there’s a freedom and a truth that points towards a path into the depth of Gen’s genre. Which is, magick. Meaning, real magick, the essence beyond the duality ov mundane reality. Pulling apart the curtains to reveal the inner workings ov thee Cosmos, in all ov this Unity.

My own cover, drawing on thee simplicity of the tape recorder used in the original, and the whole empty-handed approach, translated into the things around my apartment, low-tech now translating into a Voice Memo recording on my phone, with a ukulele for the quick capture ov intimacy. No editing, like Gen.


There’s an animation I created as a part of he/r healing medicine shortly after s/he was diagnosed with leukemia. We were living a few blocks from each other in New York City, so I was one of he/r primary carers in thee early stages of thee treatment (before my own cancer diagnosis took mee out of the daily care loop).

During this time, s/he’d insisted on flying to LA to do a show, so I’d introduced h/er to a few of my friends at that time, who I’d hoped may be able to work with her in some way. For this film, I’d reached out to them all to request they send me a short voice message they’d like me to share with Gen, that I cutup and placed within thee soundtrack. I included all of thee recordings in thee order that they were received, placing them within the score that I made also from my own orchestral recordings that I cutup and treated with electronics, all on thee same tabletop. The music is all from a session I composed and conducted in Prague, where we also recorded a magnificent, dramatic track for Genesis to sing over, in memory of Lady Jaye.

Gen kept thee final collage artwork from this animation, and I didn’t share this video with anyone except for he/r and the people who participated in this work.

Butter now Gen has dropped thee body, it seems thee right time to share it more widely, thee magick being naturally dispersed as the film is disseminated by thee wider community Gen intentionally created.

I can’t fully explain who Gen was to mee, but I can continue to live my life ever more deeply informed by thee words, ideas, magick, music, memes, and love that s/he shared with mee, and to do my new job, which is to ensure the YOU know about Genesis P-Orridge, and are inspired be he/r truth.

S/he is still HER/E.



Contributor

Meena Ysanne

Meena Ysanne is a composer / conductor / musician / artist / author and muse currently resident in a forest somewhere in the US. She met Genesis when she was seventeen, and they maintained their bond, sometimes close and sometimes from afar, until Gen?s passing in 2020. Her work is at http://ilovestrings.com

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The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

All Issues