Monday, April 14, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 48 (A Reminder - Meditation as Counterpoint)

Allen Ginsberg, Boulder Colorado, June 1994. photo c. Steve Miles]

Allen's  1981 Expansive Poetics class transcripts continue.

Allen speaks out, noting Naropa's current (1981) financial difficulties, but, "whether or not Naropa survives"...

AG: I think one thing we have succeeded in doing [here at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa Institute] is carrying on something that started with Black Mountain (College), which was that practicing poets teach poetry in a community of poets. The idea here was to add on practicing poets in a community of poets and meditators, which I thought was doubling the consciousness, or doubling the treasury, doubling the richness.

And while we're at it, I wonder, has everybody here taken advantage of the free meditation instruction, yet? (because we've been here weeks). You ought to do it - get it on. You don't have to meditate for the rest of your life, but at least you should find out the classical traditional Buddhist method, since that's practiced here, and it's famous, and it's old, and it's a big footnote, as I said, to twentieth-century American poetry. If you want to understand (Gary) Snyder, (Philip) Whalen, (Diane) di Prima, (Joanne) Kyger, myself, (Peter) Orlovsky, many others - (Jerome) Rothenberg, I believe, Armand Schwerner. A good many poets relate to meditation practice, which is a unique thing in the history of any national poetry. And it's a wave of intimacy with a classic practice that's been central to one branch of American poetry for the last twenty to thirty years. If you really want to understand American poetry, even as a dry, clipped, scholar, it would pay to experience meditation instruction and then sit for at least an hour out of your four-score years. So at least you know that much about it. You'll have one hour's understanding of it. If it becomes addicting, then, that's your problem, but in any case, just as a taste is important, just so you know what people are talking about when they're talking about breath, spirit, in terms of watching the breath.

Also, it seemed to me (that) last night's poetry party [sic] was a little bit drunk and raucous and slobbish, I must say, with lots of unresolved aggression and people not knowing how to take care of themselves and leaving clean-up for other people. I had to get up in the morning and wash the dishes. Some lack of mindfulness maybe? - I think meditation practice does cultivate that [cultivate mindfulness].

See, the tendency in the Beatnik poetry scene is to get increasingly disharmonious, drunken, and aggressive and sloppy, in certain respects. Among the faculty here.. we have a funny faculty, you know. We have Peter (Orlovsky), who is, in certain respects, an idiot, although very clear what he's doing, Gregory (Corso), who is a velvet genius, but, in other respects, a monster who creates a lot of chaos, as last night. Then there are people who come in on the scene, hanging on, like this Beatnik guy with the beard last night who started to hit Gregory, and was screaming about God, and wanting violence!

Now in order to maintain some sense of community stability, awareness and clearness and sanity and cleanliness and order, which is necessary to balance against the wild freedom, wild mouth, imaginative, expansive, heroic, romantic-al temperament that's been cultivated by the (Jack) Kerouac School, hopefully, that is, heart, heart expansion, then it really is necessary to develop clarity - clarity of awareness and sanity and balance and moderation, on another level, so that when you do leap off the balcony, you know you have a net under you. You've prepared a net.      

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