Syd Barrett on acid
Interview by Meatball Fulton (1967)
Transcription by Mark Jones
SYD: Well I’ll, I’ll say… for example, painting at an art school. Or painting, say, in infant’s school. The initial desire to paint or initial suc-first successes at painting arised, I think, out of a very genuine basic, um, drive one way or another. So, an-and because of family and social set ups are channeled into success or otherwise and, er, er, through schools and such like and one gets different things. And I think un-and, course, one comes across teachers and people like that, teaching and, sort of, instruction and to talk to and there came, and I feel now that having left art school that there are a lot of things… um… that I could do. A lot of things I see now, a lot of things went in to me, into my head and thinking that these would, perhaps, changing and altering things. For instance I made a painting the other day… and… it’s, I could see and hear very clearly, sort of, different instructions and different criticisms going in to the picture which were in fact p-um-criticisms that I could relate back to art schools and teachers and various things that’d come at that time. So… maybe… this would be very valuable, this break. I don’t know… and, er, sort of, to… try painting again after a break of going in to pop music and going to… playing this sort of music… just might work out that, get more, sort of, basic freedom. I don’t know, it’s something to d-, just things like shape of the paper and, er… seem to be a lot of assumptions taken place.
INTERVIEWER: When you were saying criticisms you had, criti-, your own criticisms of your work is that what you (??) outside other people?
SYD: Um, criticisms that I, I, I, really, d- yeah…
INTERVIEWER: Of your own criticisms of your own work…
INTERVIEWER: …that were, sort of, put in to you by teachers and so on.
SYD: They were what I was channeling into my own criticisms, yah, they were wh-, they were what were governing what I was doing, in to pai-,er, why it was happening.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever… get… I don’t know… frightened by, I use this word because it’s, it applies to me by, er, the systems that, I mean this, in a sense, I don’t know, could be better worded, this in a sense, you know, is a system, when, when you’re, realise that the criticisms that you’re using… on… have been put in to you, y’know, sort of, conditioned. But, but when you realise more and more what it is that controls all the systems that, you know, system upon system, sort of, working your way through one in to another and another..does this really…bother you…or even frighten you? The feeling that you’ll never be free, that you’ll always be a prisoner? But, maybe you don’t have that feeling?
SYD:……Yeah I do!….
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that you can be free if you can realise, I mean, get to a point where you realise…you know, more and more and more systems (??)
SYD: Er yeah. I think, er, m-maybe, maybes…
INTERVIEWER: The realisation’s, sort of, freeing you on and that…
SYD: Yeah, well, yes, in slowly in time, ya know, it’s-ss, well it happened with this painting, I mean-er, I finished a picture I got through… a lot of things… I wanna, it’s quite enjoyable, you know… and the idea is, to, I would like to get hold of that and be able to assimilate the, um, the system as it comes in, rather than… um… ss-you know, see it as it goes out.
INTERVIEWER: Yep….. Do you find yourself in patterns and constantly repeating the same patterns over and over?
INTERVIEWER: What are you.. working on at the moment in… inside yourself?… Do you know?
SYD: (Pause) Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: Do you care to say?
SYD: Umm, I carn- er, sort of… I can’t really say, because it’s obviously taking too much time to think about it. I don’t, I, ss-um…..(pause) It’s not really difficult.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever feel when you see people, or do you often feel when you see people that you could tell them something about themselves that they don’t already know (??)? Or do you look at people that way?… I feel you do, that you really sort of observe people… Do you?
SYD: Nah I think it’s something about… um.. wow, really gets… pretty… involved… this stage… I can’t… see… yeah there is a, I certainly do get a ss-feeling of what people are like and, er… it really, the really, the, the complication comes out in talking, but this only comes out at certain times because of a feeling that talking is, in fact, a much, a far less, er, valuable thing than, er, and it’s almost superfluous, to…wha-… to… to everything else, you know, to sort of, general, as-s, I don’t know, sensing people (??) value of people… But the same time, it’s a contradiction that the wor-, that words and talking to the people should be difficult in any way. So one… goes, one is hesitant to say ‘No I can’t say anything’, you know… An- an I know as well this is something that occurs only at times, ya know, other times it doesn’t… and it’s cool.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah maybe that I think more in terms of words when I, ya know, see someone and have an impression. I mean like, your impression of me… which you must have… on… would you care to tell me? And be like absolutely honest… Do you have one?
SYD: In words?
INTERVIEWER: (Laughs)… I mean really be honest. And I’m asking this cos you may have something to give me, I don’t know.
INTERVIEWER: Not the general things, I mean whatever, mean what the main thing that sort of hits you. And I-I’m not asking for a personality critique, ya know, cos I know enough about myself that I don’t need that.
SYD: Well… (mumbles) there’s so many different things, that on different levels, that I could… say, that of impressions of you, so I give us, I don’t know, I just, maybe the most strange thing is, um… meeting you, talk, sort of s-saying… eh… very strange to meet you… Well it tisn’t really strange, it’s not many people that…that sort of… one can…wr-interviewers and such like, as, as, and you came in to that class. Erm… sort of, used to, I mean generally it just sort of say hello and to get to say the questions and go again… I don’t know… very, I don’t know (laughs) Wow.
INTERVIEWER: (Laughing) I see you’re holding back.
SYD: Yeah, yeah… er.
INTERVIEWER: I mean, I mean I don’t c-, you know, it maybe something that sends me back, I don-, maybe, you know, probably not anything I’m going to want, want anyone to hear… and it’s sort
SYD: No- (Laughs) Not at all! I, I understand. I think I learn a lot from you… and er… (stammers) the thing, th-th-that you see, there’s the… I… I’m not, I know I feel from you that in, you not,really, that I could say anything and do anything and you would st-, I mean, you are recording it and that’s cool and, er… But I could… and I know that applies to you, to me and you, you know, cos really I, I, you are, I assure you, you can do anything you want, but… And in talking, I mean, that includes if… I want to… if I wanted to say nothing or if I… I want to act in an extr-extraordinary way… then I feel that that too is justified
INTERVIEWER: You have your relatives?
(cut in tape)
Syd Barrett on everything happening all at once
INTERVIEWER: Because, I don’t know, ya know maybe in a sense there’s something I could tell you I don’t know what it would be. And the same thing, ya know, I’ve done this a couple of times, not, not in interviews.. . but ya know, when I met someone who, you can see in their eyes this-s, depth, what am I saying… do you have anything to tell me?
SYD: (deep breath)
(tape cuts off)