Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Spontaneous Poetics - 133
AG: That was one of the most influential (books) that I ever read - Being Geniuses Together. That's what determined my particular attitude toward companionship in the Beat Generation.
Student: Can you enlarge on all (that)?
AG: Well, a realization that almost every gesture (I) make is history, so I try and make pretty gestures. So I try to keep my gestures interesting..
Student: (That) must be hard work!
AG: ..like having nervous breakdowns in Naropa English classes!
Student: You don't look like you're having a nervous breakdown.
AG: Well, I really am.
Student: Are you?
AG: You wouldn't believe it. It's all your fault for telling me I was... [Allen addresses the rest of the class] - She was complaining when I was reading Whitman that my attitude to Whitman was blank.
Student: It was.
AG: I went to the doctor next day and I had (a blood pressure of) one hundred and fifty!
Student: See what it does to you?
AG: This time I tried (not) to exhibit any faggot Whitman in public and I get put down.
I've got to take my revenge by doing (William) Blake's "Tirzah" - "Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth/Must be consumed with the Earth" - Sick line - [Allen begins singing (sic) "To Tirzah"] - ""Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth/Must be consumed with the Earth/To rise from Generation free,/Then what have I to do with thee.."..."The Death of Jesus set me free./Then what have I to do with thee" - (It is Raised a Spiritual Body)" - That's Blake's "Tirzah". "Tirzah" was his name for the feminine creative principal that created the mortal degenerating world of samsara and suffering.
Philip Whalen: My great-grandmother was named Tirzah Gray
AG: I beg your pardon?
Philip Whalen: My great-grandmother was Tirzah Gray.
AG: I think he took the name "Tirzah" from one of the Gnostic names for the creative feminine principal - what created the Earth.
Student: (It) sounds like a bad experience..
AG: Well, apparently. "To Tirzah". That was Blake's Gnostic Manichean put-down of the "Vegetable Universe" (which is similar to (William) Burroughs', though Burroughs, apparently, has slowly been changing his mind, fortunately, lately) - That's an interesting poem - "To Tirzah" by (William) Blake. It's the last poem he entered in the "Songs of Experience" in the book, "Songs of Innocence and (Songs) of Experience". It's written later than the others. It was, like, a later reconsideration as whether he really did like what he called "the Vegetable Universe" - that is, I guess, the corporeal, material, world - or "Vegetative" - was it? - "Vegetative Universe" (as distinct from "Spiritual (Universe)" - So he was laying blame on (the) symbolic feminine principle, because it gave birth to matter, and he wanted to take it on and come out against motherhood (a pretty bold statement!) - - Someone had their hand up?
Student: Some editions don't include that last line, don't use that last line. Do you know why that is?
AG: Well, the last line - "It is Raised a Spiritual Body" is in the plate. It's in the plate and is not part of the four-line stanzas, but is written along the robe of a tall figure that's holding the dying Christ's body, so it's not officially part of the poem - it's just a little tag-end - it's there, printed on the plate, on the original plates... Has everybody here...
Philip Whalen: It crosses over with that line, "Woman, what have I to do with you?" That's what Jesus said to his mother when she came waltzing around to see what was happening. She says, "But Jesus, I'm your mama", and he says, "Woman, what have I to do with you? . And then the tag-line - "It is Raised a Spiritual Body". I've got rid of this..
AG: The Vegetative mode
Philip Whalen: ..now I'm pure spirit, and so on..
AG: So later on he took another opposite position anyway.
[Audio for the above is available here, starting at thirty-five minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in]