Few of the other figures associated with the Beat movement were smarter or more gifted than Brion Gysin, the vanguard visual artist and writer who died in Paris in 1986. Yet he never attained their level of recognition, partly because he was not skilled at husbanding his c.v.
Here is how his biographer John Geiger describes him in 1950, at the midway point in his life: “In half a lifetime he had accomplished many things, but by any conventional measure he had also accomplished very little.
He was a scholar without necessary academic credentials; he was a promising painter who had not exhibited in over a decade; he was a writer whose attempts to get published had met with little success, leaving him in ‘deep chagrined despair.’
For all his intellectual sophistication, personal flamboyance, eminent acquaintances, and radical creative impulses, Gysin had failed to divine a career for himself. At 34, he was ready for something to happen. What happened can be expressed in a word: Tangier.
George Fetherling, Books in Canada