[logo: Kansas Heritage Group]

[photograph image: Dennis Hopper and Bruce Conner, both Kansas natives, by Larry Keenan, San Francisco, 1996. Copyright 1996, Larry Keenan, Beat Generation Photos; Used with permission, all rights reserved.]

1: Bruce Conner's Story

In 1987, Bruce Conner, in discussing the origins of Provincial Review in a letter to Robert Melton, Special Collections department, of the University of Kansas library, wrote the following:

The concept of the WICHITA VORTEX was conceived at that time [circa 1951].

The VORTEX myth was based on the concept that we (Eric Ecklor, Loren Frickel, Lee Streiff, Bruce Conner, Jack Morrison, Michael McClure in specific and the residents of Wichita in general) were held captive as outlaws of another planet. We were deposited annually in Wichita and endowed with fabricated memories at the time of the WU Homecoming game. WE could never leave Wichita. All outside of Wichita was an illusion of the VORTEX. No matter how hard one might try, the Vortex would snap you back to Wichita where we were eternally trapped. I first heard this comic myth from McClure, Morrison and Ecklor. It was elaborated into great detail over the next couple of years and was referred to when many of us had moved to San Francisco...somehow we had not really eluded the force of the VORTEX and we were in actual fact deceived by mind altering rays from the enemy from outer space.

When another generation of artists from Wichita arrived in SF (Bob Brannaman, Alan Russo, Beth Pewther, etc.) the myth gathered dimension to the point where native Californians traveled to Wichita on their vacation in order to see and understand why these unusual creative people existed. They were warned of the pull of the Vortex that they might never return.

McClure was the youngest of the poets at the six poets that read at the SIX Gallery in San Francisco with Snyder, Lamantia, Whalen, Ginsberg.... the Wichita Vortex became a common reference for the poets and artists. Allen Ginsberg's writings in reference to the Vortex spread the term into more general usage.

As Dorothy said - That’s the vortex in Toto. xxxxx

[Letter from Bruce Conner to Robert Melton, 11-1-87].

Also see: "Shooting Joan Burroughs" Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs at home, Lawrence, 1997. UFOs and Joan Vollmer Burroughs death.

Related sites:
WWW-VL: History: US 1950s
WWW-VL: History: US: 1960s

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