[Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, Boulder, Colorado, 1974. Photo c. Rachel Homer]
A follow-up class to the one we’ve previously been serializing. Allen returns, recuperated, but Gregory still manages to take over/dominate the class!
NAROPA in 1975 transcripts.
AG: (It's like I'm)...substituting for Gregory Corso! He may actually show up. He and (William) Burroughs went off with some friends up to the mountains and (he) actually said he’d be here, so he may come in, and I brought some of his teaching materials along.
So what did you think of his teaching?, I wonder(ed). I heard the first day’s tape, which I’d heard described, and it did sound outrageous as a style, as Chogyam (Trungpa Rinpoche)’s style of being outrageous too. Can you hear me in the back? The one thing I noticed was that the material he presented I was somewhat familiar with. I had heard over the years different presentations of some of that material, but I had never heard it developed, or put together, so exquisitely, and actually, so coherently, so that the tape makes a remarkable text (in terms of Loka, which was what I was thinking about, which was that magazine they had last year  that compiled some of the discourses and tricks of the teachers here, and students. The main thing that I got out of that Monday lecture was the Wheel of Years, the Great Year, the length of the Great Year. Did everybody understand that? Did everybody remember..what was it?..24,000 years, for the Great Year? How many remember that? That it was actually 24,000. How many did not? Were you here? Okay, what he was explaining was the concept of "the Great Year", as you will find it in William Butler Yeats, and in any number of more archaic Gnostic poets, probably (Percy Bysshe) Shelley mentions it too. Gregory?
Gregory Corso [arrives in the classroom] Hi – I’m so happy you’re here. I just saw the great mountains, the vista up there!
AG: I brought Shelley and I brought Minutes To Go.
GC: So why don’t you take care of it. You’re here, do it..
AG: You got anything?
GC: It comes out of my head. I never bring notes. Now I thought of this one today to bring, Minutes To Go. (It's icy... No, there won’t be Isis – that’s all religion again) – how long have you been with these people, Al?
AG: Five minutes.
GC: Five minutes?
GC: Twenty, alright, the students and people in the class, twenty. What did you lay on them in that five minutes, so I can know, (connect)?
AG: That I listened to the tape of your first class .
GC: And you saw I made an error on the first tape, when somebody said “reality”, and I said, “the way I answer reality is I’ll call it and leave”?
AG: I forgot to mention that.
GC: Mention it, what you thought about it.
AG: When somebody asked a question.. on tape, it sounded like, “I’ll call it and leave”.
GC: No, I said, “I’ll call it an eve”!
AG: How many understand? “I’ll call it an eve” – E-V-E..
GC: There you go
AG: How many understood it as “leave”?
GC: More “eve” and less “leave” . But, because I was leaving with the eve! – Ah, yuk yuk.
AG: But, ok, there’s an enormous difference, aesthetically, between reacting to the question by saying “I’ll call it and leave”, to show what reality was, or (and) saying “I’ll call it an eve”, which is much more poetic. So, in other words, if we can’t give an example of a certain amount of delicacy of language, then we’re not teaching..
GC: That means that my conversation is fucked-up? That’s what you’re saying, right?
AG: No, no, no, that the hearing of “leave” is fucked up, but also [turning to the class] he (Gregory) doesn’t have so many of his teeth!
GC: Right, It was so embarrassing when I lost the uppers and I tried to say the “f’’s. It was very hard to say the “f”’s, but I got the “f” – “Flamboyant”, flamboyant? yeah, what?
Student: Too much hockey.
GC: Too much what? Too much hockey? Oh no no, I lost this in the service.
Student: What kind of service?
GC: Yuk Yuk Yuk
Anne Waldman [also present in the class]: Culture service.
Student: I was disappointed that we didn’t get to talk more about the evolution of poetry, since the '50s, (that's what I'd like to hear).
GC: Ah, I can give you that. And by giving you that, that would probably make the whole class today, because that’s the shot of what you’re at now. I think in the ‘50’s, something was woken up that had been.. (it) wasn’t dormant, it wasn’t there. It wasn’t something that was asleep. We had the big word in the ‘50’s, we really did. Here’s the guy who laid it on them, this one here [points to Allen] – It wasn’t a cut-up.. This here book, Minutes to Go, has all the cut-ups. It’s Burroughs book and I checked it out. I worked with him on a poem and I had written a poem in there.
AG: What’s the provenance of that. They’ve never heard of that, probably.
GC: 1958, ‘59
GC; Paris, yeah. Burroughs says, you had one Shakespeare book in your hand and you cut it up, you had many Shakespeares, because you’re using it as words. But then again I saw it worked out, and they did it, and it made no sense at all. So I saw it was the “I”. You can cut something up, but the way the “I” sees the cut-up and says, “Ah, that’s a good line”, bam, it takes it. It’s still the tailor. It’s still the poet picking it out, that it’s not just by chance, automatically cutting something up.
AG: So this book was, I think, the first presentation of Burroughs’ cut-ups (that he’s been talking about this week), with some works by Burroughs and some works by Brion Gysin, who suggested to Burroughs the cut-up idea (from painting), and some contributions by Gregory..
GC: It was a ball working with Bill on two of the poems of Rimbaud called “To A Reason”. He had this big bowl in the room, and he said, so you cut-up the Rimbaud and translate it, cut it up, put it in a bowl, and whatever you pick out, it’s still his words - but in English. Here's one of them - I’ll give you one – “Everywhere march your head”. Alright. A cut-up of Rimbaud’s “To A Reason”, "A Un Reason"..
W.S.Merwin: A Une Reason..?
GC: Ah, ok, give it to me in French, Bill.
Student: "A Une Raison"
GC: Yeah, A U.N.E.. “To A Reason”
..o.k. [Gregory reads then from this, from his Rimbaud cut-up] – “A rap of sound. A turn urns back O…”..”Everywhere march your head.” - It’s very difficult for this poem. Now, here’s a second cut-up of that and look at the different words you get (out) of the same poem, called “Sons of Your Inn” ( but all these words are the same, (are) from Rimbaud).
AG: Rimbaud? A little poem from Illuminations? – You know that?
GC: Alright [continues reading from Minutes To Go] – “Sons of your in TC rib tent in..”…”see the new change know the time tea” - (that is cut-up from the one I read, but two different numbers). So, yeah, you can go indefinitely, obviously, by cutting these things up. You get bored after a while with the same one. But you can get good numbers. So it’s all by chance, but the chance takes the “I”, and some chance sucks, and some chance is a gas, see? So the guy knows that it’s a gas, and takes it out, and uses it, for the poem...
[Audio for this can be heard at
http://www.archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_The_history_of_poetry_part_3_June_1975_75P004 Transcribed above is the first approximately nine-and-a-half minutes of t he recording.]