Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ginsberg Rare Video Footage Addenda

Following on from yesterday's posting of Allen in Scotland in 1973, there's a fourth and final video that we omitted, but include today just to give you the complete picture. 
It consists of documentation of a press-conference (but with considerable intrusive ambient sound interference, not to mention amateur camera-work, making it almost impossible - indeed quite literally impossible - to transcribe - Listen hard and you can, perhaps, glean a few of the highlights.  

Approximately sixteen minutes in, that conference concludes, and the focus shifts to Allen in a performance of the popular Hindu mantra, Om Namah Shivayaaccompanying himself on harmonium and with back-up by Victor and Allan, the two local guitarists. 

The tape concludes with Allen announcing what he will read (the preamble to what was presented on yesterday's tapes) and we hear the very beginning of his setting of William Blake's "Spring".

"(Is Tom here?). Well, is he supposed to set it off for me. Is he going to ring a bell or something? do you know? [turning to one of his accompanying guitarists] Your name? - Victor here from Glasgow,and Allan from Glasgow also. So we all met about an hour or so ago and have been rehearsing while you [the audience] were coming in. So, the music, (or that portion of tonight that will be music), which will be.. mantra(s) as this last [Om Namah Shivaya], there'll be some..(what I'll do next) some of (William) Blake's Innocence and Experience set to tune(s) which can be chanted in unison. In other words, community singing. I'll read poems written since I was last here (which was 1967), probably mostly of the last year or so, and sing some blues songs also, most of which we have not rehearsed so 
that we'll be improvising to some extent, or improvising musical parts.
Tom, do you want to begin the program, or is there any formal thing to be done? - Tom McGrath - since we started..  (I've an) old friendship with Tom McGrath, who's working with the Scottish Arts Council (who was one of my first publishersin England, actually) and John Schofield here, who worked under the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh."

"To (William) Blake. We haven't done this so I'll sing the verses, that's three verses, which will be in G and C  and which I'll do unaccompanied, but where there's a refrain that's repeated you'll join in. So I'll repeat the refrain four times after (the) first verse, four times after the second verse, and then a longer, an infinite number of times after the third - "(To) Spring - a very slight lyric by Blake.You may not have noticed. It's in Songs of Innocence - "merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year"           
from the press conference (excerpts):

"In terms of this Buddhist scheme, ok, my outlook's pretty close…My heart chakra is relatively open..through chanting, vocalization.. AH! - that's the mantra, AH!… without being mystical about it..simply the relaxation of the pressure"

"Well, yes, I've lately I've seen it for myself because I find if I really don't smoke, (and maintain) a good diet, don't (jerk) off, I get laid more!"

"and also general lightness of the body, lightness of mind, lightness of temperament. You just feel lighter"

"When you meditate you get skin itches.. If you scratch it itches more and more. If you don't scratch it goes away within about thirty seconds"

 [Question - What are your fears?] - "Ultimately, not too much, because, at this point,there's not much I have to lose. Pain, I think more than anything else (is a problem to confront) and I had a great deal of that this year. I had a hernia operation in the last twelve months and then a very bad broken ankle - four months in a caste - so pain was the most difficult situation."

[Question - Was that your first? - "No, no I've had other experiences but it was the one I was able to resolve. This time I got into it a little more by (the beauty of) prayer. In moments of pain, relieving my attention from the pain of the leg to the heart area, breathing lightly into the heart area and then singing to myself, singing mantras to myself.."

"..finding out everything I could figure out to pray to, from human beings to gods to teachers to swamis to yogis to faith-healers - and out-breathing.."

[Question - You said something before about looking into a camera's eyes? - " (Yes) In this situation, in this moment - looking into a camera's eyes."

"I had a really interesting experience ..last year…with a famous kundalini swami named Swami Muktananda..who was (recognized) by a lot of people as being a big deal - and is - (not a big deal like (the) Maharishi) - a technician, a great technician of what is called shaktipat, which is touching you, giving you a signal and turning you on, awakening the kundalini, the kundalini being certain body vibrations from the base of the spine all the way up to the crown of the head. So he was someone that I understood, that I was told was real in that area, and was competent and trustworthy. He was told to me (by) people that I trusted, namely Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass) and Swami Satchidanananda (whom I did know) and Swami Satchidanananda's teacher, Sivananda Saraswati. So, within this family of gossips who all knew each other, Swami Muktananda was considered someone to learn from. I went to see him….We held hands and he looked me in the eye and I looked him in the eye, and it went on for a long time. And I was trying to figure out what he was laying on me. And I suddenly realized that his eyes were completely empty. He wasn't laying anything on me. And that was precisely the teaching!"

"Later on, I checked back and that was the teaching - with no oppression, no story, no trip.. no fantasy…"

"..looking at it from another perspective, say, not looking at each others' eyes but looking at flowers on acid - you can see faces or dragons, or you can see… 
So the "no trip" trip on acid is…(the) indestructible one, everything else is subject to your fantasy and..  but not seeing..not seeing faces, not projecting, not tripping is ultimately the highest perfect wisdom.."

"so in that scene, trying to use this situation to try and make a little turn.. to where we would actually know what we're talking about (whereas if we're sending a message saying what that might be) or what's really authentic, you know, and (then) it's mystery again…

[Question (Ego) - … Is there anything, something in your poetry that you're especially proud of? - "I try not to be (proud), If I catch something… In confronting that proposition, it's interesting practicing traditional Tibetan yoga. Traditionally, you're supposed to keep your mantras secret, but I've never been able to do that (so that my inhibit my development). On the other hand, I feel that poetry is where I deal with it. So everything goes into poetry."

"I'm lazy, I don't write enough"

"I find less occasion when  I want to write, when I want to memorialize... Like, say, visiting Durham Cathedral with Basil Bunting . (Now) I was reading (William) Wordsworth last night and he had a poem about…(when) he went to see Sir Walter Scott, and he thought that was a big deal and he could write a big poem out of it (and he did write a beautiful poem about  (meeting) Scott and that situation, and art, and friendship (and everything)) - and I didn't have the heart or (intention) to write a big poem about visiting Durham Cathedral with Bunting and I was wondering about that - am I getting tired? - or, is it.."

"I mean, (also) a conversation with (William) Burroughs in the…station, or a conversation with a beggar man in the corner (also - different). So, finally everything… because everything's equal. At that point, something can be boring, so.."

"In other words, having lunch with the Queen would be just as boring…as having lunch with Harry Fainlight (in fact, probably more exciting with Harry Fainlight! - more upsetting, because of the situation - that you'd have to deal with it more).
 (Fainlight is a poet-friend of (Tom) McGrath's)."   

"I'm finding more and more perplexity finding the impulse of writing but at the same time finding more freedom to do with writing any time I want, so I improvise…"

(Question - When you improvise do you…(embody) -  "Yes, the inspiration it's a certain embodient... Inspiration's breath (and that drives it).. (So) there’s a certain point in improvising when the reading comes very easy, words come on the breath ..  now it's steady one-in-five times , it's extended, sometimes it goes on for twenty-minutes or an hour (or more). And, after about ten minutes or so you might get a little tight force in your blood.." 

" It’s a lost art.. the reason I'm talking about is it's a lost art  it's the twentieth-century art of  jazz and blues - George Melly (has done a little), it's a "trad" form. Among poets it's not considered a practical thing to do…"

(Question - Do you add to your improvisation? I mean do you improvise and (then) re-improvise Do you add (to) it? - " Well, I guess that I've been doing it for about a year and I haven't really got round to taking it down. I 've got a few tapes…. It'd be an interesting project (but) it'd be a lot of work. It's just as easy to write something  down, to start over and write something down. In other words, you improvise and (so) why bother to write it down?, why not just ... (No), In other words, the present moment is the most interesting thing, rather than.. the past, the present moment, in any case, where we're sitting right now (or where we're standing up singing) is the most interesting, because that's where the whole body. mind, the possibilities (are)"

(Question - regarding releasing of the tapes with Bob Dylan - "I was eager to do it a first because of the glory of it! - but still, natural factors intervened (to do with Apple - (John) Lennon wanted to do it with Apple) then - and they even had the cover set in type and designed - then.. they never sent a contract. And then Allen Klein stopped answering the telephone, and  Lennon and Klein severed their relationship, and around the same time, Klein  sent me a message that they'd lost interest (and if  that date had not been (met in) twelve months, then the impulse was gone (and my vanity kind of set in)"

"Then I got a letter from Dylan saying forget about contracts . Energy spent. No point going on, save songs for your friends, make your friends happy..' 

[Allen to one audience -member - "I know you write for the newspaper" - "Yeah (but) newspaper people have all run away to meet deadlines"  - Allen -  "I said the wrong things then!"         

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Allen Ginsberg in Glasgow, Scotland, 1973

More vintage video today (courtesy the CCA (Center For Contemporary Arts), Glasgow), documentary footage of Allen's reading at the Scottish Arts Council Building in Blythswood Square, on August 10 1973, divided into three parts.

Part One - [Be aware of the technical difficulties at the very beginning (for approximately the first minute), but audio and video soon emerge] and Allen is seen close-up, in mid-song, ecstatic joyful, playing the harmonium, accompanied by two young Scottish guitarists, (Allan and Victor), and repeating the refrain from William Blake's "Spring" poem (from "Songs of Innocence") -  "Merrily, merrily, we welcome in the year"  (Allen, at one point, slyly changing the lyric - "Merrily, merrily, we welcome in the apocalypse"). This rendition goes on until approximately three-and-a-half minutes in, after which, Allen introduces several further settings of verses from that volume - "On Another's Sorrow" 
(Can I see another's woe,/And not be in sorrow too?/Can I see another's grief,/And not seek for kind relief?"…."O! He gives to us His joy/That our grief He may destroy;/Till our grief is fled and gone/He doth sit by us and moan"), "Infant Joy" ("I have no name/I am but two days old/ What shall I call thee?"…"..I sing the while/Sweet joy befall thee"), "a version of "The Lamb"" ("also turned into mantra at the end, because some of the lines in Blake are suitable for that"…) - ("Little lamb, who made thee/Dost thou know who made thee"..."Little Lamb, God bless thee/Little Lamb, God bless thee") - and (starting at approximately twenty minutes in) - "Night" ("The sun descending in the west,/ the evening star does shine,/The birds are silent in their nest,/And I must seek for mine…"…"..For, washed in life's river,/My bright mane for ever/Shall shine like the gold,/As I guard o'er the fold") -  "I have tuned a lot of these songs and try to vary the ones I sing, so sometimes I'll improvise on them, and so sometimes make mistakes, but rather than a fixed mode, (I'll) try something a little more dangerous". 
Allen next turns to reading his own poetry, beginning (at approximately twenty-six minutes in with "an odd poem, half-poem half not-poem, a chain poem, which I've never read aloud (there not being any particular occasion to do so), written on May 8, 1972, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and myself. (Chogyam Trungpa is a Tibetan lama who worked at Samye Ling, and then now is working in America). So this was written in Boulder, Colorado" - Allen proceeds to read a long Scottish-themed/Buddhist-themed improvisational collaborative work  ("Moon has eclipse/Walking down Market Street by the parking-lot.."..."Dharma practice is militaristic/It is a work of art/Save us from the Church?") - "Most of the Scottish material in this", he notes, "was contributed by Chogyam Trungpa, who had been here before me". 
Next (at approximately thirty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in), Allen begins some introduction to  "Continuation of a Long Poem of These States " - "This is July 1972, beginning by flying to the political convention in Miami. That is, the Republican and Democratic Conventions were taking place, so these are, like, prophetic notes, taken on the airplane, going down to get tear-gassed. It's, like, an evanescent poem, in that it mentions all the Presidential candidates gone that year already into eternity, and so, in that sense, a complete waste of literary time, but I like it. I haven't published it, and (have) read it rarely, but it's interesting, because it's actually, like, a little slice of that particular time, with all the paranoias and the fantasies of that moment."
"And it is based mainly", he continues,"on Chogyam Trungpa, Milarepa, that Tibetan line of descent of Tibetan.. meditation, the main mantra of which is A-H [Allen breaths out - AH! AH!] - as mantra - AH! (for purification of speech - AH! - that is the vibe in the larynx itself, so wiping out all babble, so it's physiological purification of the speech-center - AH! - as well as appreciation of limitless spaciousness, no conclusion.." [audio and video at the conclusion cut out, leaving Allen in mid-speech] 

Part Two - [this section begins, as does the first part, with some technical cue-ing up of audio and video tracking but then, by approximately fifteen seconds in, audio and video are in synch] - and Allen can (again) be heard singing from William Blake's Songs of Innocence - this time, the refrain from "Nurses' Song" - "And all the hills echo-ed" ("I over-read one time and didn't get back in place" (he briefly critiques his performance), "but that was my fault") -  Next (after banter among the musicians  and sound -check -"How's the balance among instruments? Can you hear the guitars?".."Is Vic audible?")  another song, this time, one of Allen's - "Broken Bone Blues" (from First Blues) [starting at approximately two-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately six-and-a-quarter minutes in] - "Broken Bone, bone, bone all over the ground.."..."And I'll come back and bless you again", followed by another (similarly in First Blues) - "Prayer Blues" ("When you break your leg/ there's nothing to stand on"…"Lord Jesus Come (Jesus Christ)/Come in my heart…")

Next [at approximately fourteen-and-a-quarter minutes in], having dismissed the musicians, Allen reads solo - "Yes And It's Hopeless", ("A hundred million cars running out of gasoline/A million coal stoves burning carbon mist over city/Hopeless, I'll never get laid again…"/.."the live corpse of Ginsberg, the prophet, hopeless").  followed by "Returning to the Country for a Brief Visit" ("Each little section has a title from a Chinese poem", Allen explains - "In later days, remembering this, I shall certainly go mad" - "Reading Sung poems, I think of my poems to Neal…"…"How will all these people worship the Great Mother?/ When all these people die will they recognizr the Great Father?")  [both these poems subsequently published in Mind Breaths]     

At approximately twenty-one-and-a-half minutes in, Allen reads  "Mock Sestina - The Conspiracy Against Dr. Timothy Leary" ("The government's charged Tim Leary for conspiracy. They kidnapped the philospher from Afghanistan under arrangements prepared by the burglars of Watergate…"
At approximately twenty five minutes in, "another short song"  [Allen originally intends to perform "Everybody Sing" ("Everybody's just a little bit homosexual, whether they like it or not"), but then recognizing several chord changes decides "these are too complicated to goof around with", and instead choses to perform "Put Down Yr Cigarette Rag" - ("continuing with the problem of the dope menace then, another song…the rhythm's tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, don't smoke, don't smoke, don't smoke, don't smoke") - 

[AG on the musical collaboration: "The main thing is the songs (are) pretty good, and we hadn't rehearsed it at all, we just picked up from about three thirty-second conversations about each song, at one point or another - but no rehearsal"]

"It's ten-thirty now so I don't know what to do - read a poem two hours long?…I'm looking for..  Shall we take a break or go on now?.." - [Allen decides to read] -  "Washington Indo-China Peace Protest Mobilization, May 9th,1970" ("White sunshine on sweaty skulls/Washington's monument pyramided high…"…."from the paranoia smog factory's East Wing") ("That was written on the platform on that day up at the.. I was singing "..merrily merrily, welcome in the year" [from Blake's "Spring"], later in the day, and tear gas passed through").

Tape concludes with "Two Haikus" - ("Who am I?  - Vegetable soup?/ Song? Empty Mouth?/ Saliva?"- 'No, that should be "Saliva/Vegetable Soup/Empty Mouth" - "Who am I? -  Saliva?/Song?/ Vegetable Soup?/Empty Mouth?') & ("Hot Roach/Breathe Smoke/Suck In")

Part three - [As with previous sections initial hook up of audio and video with tracking, but after, approximately fifteen seconds] Allen is seen and heard reading from long poem and notebook annotation on Cherry Valley, East Hill Farm (with attendant national and political ruminations, ruminations on friends, etc), (concluding approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in). He then finishes with a song, a mantra -  the Prajnaparamita Sutra (or Heart Sutra) - gate gate paragate parasamgate, bodhi, svaha - ["ga", Sanskit "gate", gone, gone, gate gone, gate gone, paragate - para - big - parapsychology - pargate - completely gone, gone to the other shore - parasamgate - sam - so much - para-summa-gate - para-summa-gone, completely utterly gone to the other shore -   gate gate paragate parasamgate, bodhi, svaha] - [Allen concludes chanting]   

"We'll be back Sunday night and I'll probably do somewhat different poems and different Blake (some..different Blake) and  other various matters". [Tape concludes with brief snatch of conversation between the cameraman and guitarist Allan Tail - "I got some great double-frames of you and Allen, Allan"] 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 199 (William Blake's Birthday)

William Blake’s Lambeth Studio To Be Rebuilt For New Ashmolean Exhibition - ArtLyst Article image

Today is William Blake's birthday. Next Thursday, William Blake - Apprentice and Master, a major exhibition opens at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum (through March 1, 2015). More on that exhibit here and here 

Meanwhile, crunch-time for the Blake Society's plans to try to buy Blake's Felpham cottage. If the goal of  £520,000 is not reached by today, the real-estate agency, Jackson-Stops & Staff, which is handling the sale, will put it back on the open market.

Money and the market-place (but also, and more importantly, creativity exonerated and re-discovered) - the hot news this week was obviously, (as we reported on on Sunday,) the remarkable re-emergence of the legendary "Joan Anderson letter" (that Neal Cassady sent to Jack Kerouac) - quite a discovery! ,  nothing less than the ur-text/inspiration for On The Road ! 

Here's Lynn Neary's basic run-down of the story in her report on NPR

Here's Jean Spinosa - the woman-who-found-the-letter

Global press interest, obviously. Here, for example (and it's just a smattering), are a few Spanish,  Italian  Dutch, French, and Greek reports.

John Rogers followed up his initial AP filing with a second story on Gerd Stern, "the eighty-six-year-old poet and playwright from New Jersey" wrongly considered to have been the one to have mislaid (even destroyed) the valuable correspondence. "Why did Ginsberg say Stern tossed the letter?", Rogers asks him - "At the best he forgot that I gave it to him. At the worst he just said it to stick it to me" Stern replies. "But it doesn't matter", he adds, ("with a chuckle"), "Allen's dead, Jack's dead, Neal's dead. But I'm still alive."  

[Gerd Stern]

The auction of the letter (part of the Golden Goose Press Archives, to be sold as a single lot) will take place in Calabasas, California on the 17th of December.

The catalog can now be perused here.  

The European Beat Studies Conference concluded last week in Tangier (and from all accounts was a great success), here's a photo by Michael Kellner of four of the ne'er-do-wells /participants - Oliver Harris, Eric Anderson, Regina Weinreich, and Greg Bevan.

[Oliver Harris, Eric Anderson, Regina Weinrich, Greg Bevan, at Hotel Chella, Tangier, Morocco, November 2014 - photograph by Michael Kellner]

The focus this year was Morocco - the Beats in Morocco. See Sana Guessous here (en francais) for a brief basic primer.

The Burroughs Centennial -  Opening at the October Gallery in London on Thursday - William S Burroughs Can You All Hear Me?, "an exhibition of his art including rarely-displayed pieces". "The show will (also) highlight artists who have been profoundly influenced by Burroughs' life, including Brion Gysin, Genesis P-Orridge (Genesis Breyer P-Orridge), Liliane Lijn, Shezad Dawood, Cerith Wyn Evans and Thomas Ashcraft."  

et aussi à Aix-en-Provence 

News of a new (vinyl)  edition of Nothing Here But The Recordings

Sad to have to note the passing of Coffee House Press impresario, Allan Kornblum (from complications from leukemia) this past Sunday, at his home in St.Paul, Minnesota. Friend of the poets, friend of poetry, poet, editor, publisher (of several of our friends here), dedicated and devoted spirit.
Among his numerous books, as Mary Ann Grossman's obituary notice points out, was a small pamphlet by Allen - Honorable Courtship (from the Author's Journals, January 1-15, 1955, Wood Engravings by Dean Bornstein, Edited by Gordon Ball), from 1993, as part of his " Coffee House Expresso Editions").  

An obituary notice in the LA Times may be read here

[Allan Kornblum (1949-2014)]

[Toothpaste Press - Coffee House Press]


Thursday, November 27, 2014


Well, it's become something of a tradition itself (an alternative dyspepsic tradition), and in the year of the Burroughs Centennial, we sure as heck weren't going to miss out on this one - 
William S Burroughs lays down a wry litany of reasons-to-be-grateful, the United States of America celebrates its own shameful history of exploitation and consumption.  Happy Thanksgiving!

For John Dillinger

In hope he is still alive
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts 

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison – 

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger – 

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot – 

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes – 

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through 

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces – 

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers – 

thanks for laboratory AIDS – 

thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs – 

thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business – 

thanks for a nation of finks – yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore – 
thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meditation and Poetics - 11

[Jean-Marc Barr as Jack Kerouac in Michael Polish's 2013 film adaptation of Kerouac's 1962 novel, "Big Sur"]

AG:  What?  Did you…? 

Student:  Yeah.  This is making me nervous, but I wanted to say how it [Samatha Vipassana meditation] was different from (Jack) Kerouac's sketching.  Like when you lose yourself, like when he went down to the sea 
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student:…and then you're aware that you're listening to the sea, or that you're listening to the wind, rather than just having it come through, and not… you know?... I wanted to (know)…

AG: What's the difference between what we were (doing) and…

Student: Yeah

AG: Well, we just began with the breath

Student; Yeah, I know, I know

AG: We just began with the breath. I'm just trying to establish some common space that everybody would know what we're talking about from the very beginning..

Student: Yeah

AG: …without any difficulty, without ideas.

Student: Yeah, I didn't want to bring it up, any..

AG: Withouy ideas. Then we'll get to applications.

Student: Yeah. Just the difference of not being aware and having the wind come through or thinking about the wind and going in it.. Yeah.. that's..

AG: Well, there's some similarity, actually, between being totally concentrated on listening to the sound, or totally concentrated on paying attention to the breath. Some similarity. It's the concentration - and the absence of day-dream - or the recognition of day-dream as day-dream.
I guess you're thinking of Kerouac's poem about the ocean at the end of Big Sur?

Student: Just about sketching yeah

AG:  …and his notion of sketching, which he exemplifies best (including sketches of sounds) in  Visions of Cody. Something I might recommend as a writing exercise - to check out, in relation to this, Kerouac's Visions of Cody. I have a handbook-guidebook to those sketches called Visions of The Great Rememberer - which you an check out in the Library the Naropa Library. It's a little blue book, which is an outline of Kerouac's big thick Visions of Cody, and there's some discussions of sketching and some mention of the different sketches. His idea was just sort of bare atttention to the phenomena outside his eyeball, bare attention to the optical field, sketches, almost on that level, or bare attention to the auditory panorama.

Student: Is your outline more than just the Introduction?

AG: Yes. The outline is more than the Introduction. The Introduction is boiled down from about a third of that…So it's about three times that size. It's a whole book discussing the sketches. 
Kerouac began from this point of view of examination of universal mind, or examination of mind. In other words, what we're talking about is mind, amazingly. Stop talking about poetry and we're talking about mind. Does everybody recognize that? And how can you make poetry out of mind, or how can you take hints from actual mind, from the way you think, from the structure of mind, from the procession of thoughts in mind, from the way the mind operates? How can you take hints from actual mind as to how to make a work of art out there on paper? or vocal?. In other words, what structures do you notice in the mind that can be applied to sentences? What sequences or ways of thinking do we find inside of ourselves when we observe them that could be reproduced on a page (like with blank pages for, blank lines for no thought, with cutting off a line in the middle when a thought wakes from itself, or when you wake from a thought. Like, (William Carlos) Williams has a poem called "The Clouds" that I always thought was…"The Clouds" is that in here? 

Student:  Is it in the "(Collected) Later (Poems)"?

AG: Maybe

Student: It's from the (19)40's

AG: Yeah

Student: "The Clouds"?

AG: Yeah. It's one that ends, "…plunging on a pismire, a moth, a butterfly, a…." (dot dot dot dot).. He just sort of broke up in the middle of the sentence  - "…plunging on a pismire, a moth, a butterfly, a…." And he read it that way. So he got that from his head. It's just the way he thought, like everybody thinks, sometimes. The thought stops, or you get exasperated and say, "Oh, forget it, I don't want to finish that". But he used that as a model for how to put it on the page. In other words, he didn't have to finish the sentence. In other words, he was using mind and operation of mind as a model for how you would write, as Kerouac did. That's why I started talking about mind. Kerouac was interested in mind, in the jewel center of the mind, as he called (it) - which is a litle complicated, the attention, where the attention was, for him. You brought up the sketching, so I was trying to fill (in). Yes? 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  forty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-seven-and-a-quarter minutes in]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Meditation and Poetics - 10

[Buddhist Practitioners (students of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) - Shambhala Training - Land O' Lakes Seminary, 1976, Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin]

Student: I just wanted to you're a famous poet, okay?

AG: You're day-dreaming

Student: I'm day-dreaming, yes, okay..

AG: You see, I hadn't thought about that, amd maybe most of the class..

Student: I'm thinking…

AG: ..was involved in the subject, I think, at this point..

Student; I'm thinking of the stimulus. I'm thinking about you as a stimulus to come out, you know, you create, you create with your words, you create imagery. You take things that happen. I do that. I'm very similar. I get a flow (my name's Allen too), I get a flow and I hear it all around, and then you bring it to tone, and then you start from the self, and then you work out - or do you work out - to the self, is what I'm…

AG: Actually, not really. I think you misunderstand.

Student: Really?

AG: I'm starting from the no-self

Student: No self. Okay.

AG: Yeah

Student: Right

AG: Then you're bringing up self

Student: Yeah, okay

AG: So what I'm saying is we can forget self

Student: Okay, That's what I wanted to get into

AG: You forget self. That's the whole point.

Student: Yeah. Forget self.

AG: We don't have to bring it up.

Student: Yeah

AG: Except it comes up, like an object, like a microphone

Student: Okay

AG: Okay, Allen?

Student: Thank you.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  forty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-tw0-and-a-quarter minutes in] 

Meditation and Poetics - 9

                  [Allen Ginsberg, 1980 - Photograph by Jan Herman]

Allen's class on meditation and poetics (from July 1978) continues

AG: For the purpose of what we're doing in the class, there may be a Dante-an structure that somebody might want to work with, later. But right now we're reducing everything right down to the first breath.  The first thought.  To bear attention to what is called Samatha Vipassana in Buddhist meditation.  Samatha  - bare attention ,or attentiveness, or mindfulness, or tranquilization of mind -  and Vipassana -- insight.  The Vipassana part is the insight that comes when your mind gets calm enough. When your mind gets calm enough then you hear all the traffic noises.  You notice the breeze coming through. In other words, you're not thinking about why am I doing this? or (what) is he telling me?, or why did I get in this position?, or you're not occupied day-dreaming. Or, to the extent that you've calmed down your day-dreams and your mind isn't occupied, but you're careless, you're careless, you're carelessly sitting there breathing, it might be possible to notice, then, a pin drop, to hear a pin drop - Is that clear?  It might take a little time (or) more time sitting than that five minutes, but, after a while, you should be able to hear a pin drop, take into account the vibration of the venetian blind, the noises your own body makes, other people sniffling, shuffling, the whoosh of car wheels, the wind in the trees, the distant racket of traffic on Pearl Street perhaps [outside, Pearl Street in Boulder], whatever hooting you hear from the mountain, whatever thumps rise unborn..  

So that becomes a whole mandala of sound which has no particular meaning, actually.  It's just, as they say, unborn and that is there.  You could think about it and make a meaning for it,  or a meaning might rise.  Like some interconnected..  You might hear a large clanking crash and then a couple people yelling and then you realize maybe it's a car crash.  But you can be careless and let go of the sounds.  As you can be careless and let go of your thoughts in the sitting.  As you could be careless at a page at a desk in writing, and let go of your thoughts, (and) maybe notate half of it and then go on to the next thought.  So the approach to poetics might be similar to the approach to sitting.  (Like) I'm just sort of jumping around from thought to thought, now, trying to draw relationships and see how they might be usefully interconnected. 

You wanted to talk?

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-eight-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in] 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Cassady-Kerouac "Joan Anderson letter" - "the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation" rediscovered

[Catalog cover for the upcoming (December 17 2014) auction of the Golden Goose Press Archive Collection at Profiles in History, Calabasas, California]

The legendary Joan Anderson letter (featured on The Allen Ginsberg Project only a month or so ago) has emerged! - in its entirety! - after a sixty-or-more year hiatus! 

AP's John Rogers reports today that the "16,000 (word) amphetamine-fueled stream-of-consciousness" note to Jack Kerouac from Neal Cassady will be part of a December 17 auction at Joe Maddalena's Southern California auction house, Profiles in History.

 "It's the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation", Maddalena is quoted as saying, "and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it". 

Turns out it didn't disappear on Gerd Stern's Sausalito houseboat, as was previously asserted. It made its way (sent by Allen and unopened!)  into the archives of the long-defunct Golden Goose Press (erstwhile of Columbus, Ohio, later of Sausalito - publishers of Robert Creeley's first book of poems!) and was within a whisker of being thrown out into the trash, before "the operator of a small independent music label who shared an office with publisher Richard (Wirtz) Emerson came to the rescue". "He took every manuscript, letter and receipt in the Golden Goose Archives home with him". 
And there it stayed, until a mere two years ago, when "Los Angeles performance artist Jean Spinosa..found the letter as she was cleaning out her late father's house.. "He didn't understand how anybody would want to throw someone's words out".

The extraordinary story of the re-discovery of this letter is quite a story!  Here's Jerry Cimino of the Beat Museum's account (having previously been sworn to secrecy). 
As he notes, the on-line catalog "with all the photos and important details", "probably goes live on Monday"

More to come. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 12.09.33 PM

[Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac]

Saturday, November 22, 2014

William Burroughs and Ken Kesey - 1978 at Naropa

[William S Burroughs]

[Ken Kesey]

Vintage audio - William Burroughs and Ken Kesey reading at the Naropa Institute on July 19, 1978

Kesey begins/reads first

click here

Ken Kesey: This is a piece calledAbdul the Bulbul. [Editorial note -  published as “Abdul and Ebenezer”] It was published a while back [March 1976] in Esquire. It’s a piece from a work that I’ve been doing for some time called The Demon BoxThe Demon Box is a way of trying to write a novel, and keep your mind scattered upon raising four teenage kids, and whatever else you have to do. I conceive of the novel as not being bound like a novel but in the form of pamphlets in a box that are about the same people, and, to some extent, about the same theme, which is the demon that is in us, and in the United States,and just in the dark. It’s called "Abdul the Bulbul”

(Kesey also points out that the “Stewart” in the story, “is not Stewart Brand”. “Often people think that.. no, it’s my dog, Stewart”)

(The text of "Abdul and Ebenezer" may be accessed here)

Following Ken Kesey’s reading, there is a brief silence before Allen comes on (at approximately forty-three-and-a-half minutes in - recorded in media res), to introduce William S Burroughs

AG:  ...on this charmingly historic full house at..the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics series of poetry readings at the Naropa Institute... is the older writer, William Seward Burroughs, who, like Ken (Kesey), is compassionately lending his name, his power, and his intelligence, genius, to our school of poetics. William Burroughs lives here all year round (as does his son, the author, William Seward Burroughs Jr) who lives at Yeshe House. It is appropriate that William Burroughs read here, he being a co-writer and friend to Jack Kerouac. Kerouac and William Burroughs wrote an unpublished novel back in the early.. in the late (19)40’s And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, each one contributing alternative chapters, on the basis, I think, of a news-broadcast that Burroughs had heard and told Kerouac (about), or heard when he was younger maybe, which was that a..  there’s a fire in the St Louis Zoo (which is where Burroughs comes from) and the news announcer ended the account of the fire in the zoo with the (announcement)  “..and the hippos were boiled in their tanks”!  Burroughs’ next major work was Junkie, written in (19)49-1950-(19)51, published under the pseudonym William Lee, and that was the inaugeration of his formal career as a man of letters (in this case, anonymously, because, in those days, it was actually dangerous to publish a book with the title “Junkie” – at least the publisher thought so and I think authors and friends thought (it was) best to be anonymous on this one), followed by Yage Letters (correspondence with myself, a manuscript put together in New York in 1953), followed by the grand book Naked Lunch (which made an immediate impression world-wide and caused Norman Mailer to admire Burroughs with the praise that he was, if anyone, showing signs of genius in American prose, the one unique person as a novelist, Burroughs was the one person that Mailer could see directly, with a fire of that much intelligence, (as Kerouac had thought that..had said often that Burroughs was “the most intelligent person he knew on earth”). Soft Machine, Nova Express and Ticket That Exploded followed (written..begun in Europe, using part of cut-up meditation process, cut-up of your own prose work, or mixed, peppered in, salted, sugared with New York Times or Time magazine or Arthur Rimbaud or Shakespeare’s Tempest as a way of putting your mind out on the page, cutting it up, as you might have a gap between thoughts and a reshuffling if you were letting go of thoughts in formal Buddhist meditation style. Burroughs’ prophetic and practical Yankee ingenuity had found a way of putting his mind out on the table to cut it up. That was a trilogy of novels. There was a long interview which many of you may not know about called The Job (which is a giant book-length interview with all of Burroughs’ opinions on.. (everything), from Heaven to Earth, Exterminator!, a novel, Wild Boys, another novel- all of these, Job, Ticket That Exploded, Soft Machine, Wild Boys, all provided all sorts of cultural imagery which was picked up by the younger more sensitive rock people, and so, they were actually, in England, bands called Soft Machine, (and) Wild Boys (There’s) enormous satire in his work, tremendous clear solitary meditation, and, because of that, prophecy. He’s just finished his magnum opus of the last decade, Cities of the Red Night, a book which those who have seen have said is his most powerful work of his life (so) showing that one grows wiser, greater, and more powerful in age (rather than the current CIA-FBI rumor that people just get punkier when they get older) Cities of The Red Night is now being typed for publication. So, I hope you’ll welcome William Seward Burroughs

William Burroughs (beginning at approximately forty-eight-and-a-half minutes in): Can you all hear me? – I will start with my panacea for the world’s ills  - [Burroughs begins reading "My Own Business" (subsequently included in The Adding Machine - Selected Essays (1985))] - “The trouble in this world is caused by about ten to fifteen percent of the inhabitants and getting rid of these fuckers would precipitate a paradise. Yes, if everybody could just mind his own business"…"what we call evil is quite literally a virus parasite…(and)  “hell hath no more vociferous fury than an endangered parasite”..."Probably the most effective tactic is to alter the conditions on which the virus subsists".."I was on the panel with some old fuck called Magnus Pyke…")

At approximately sixty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in, Burroughs presents another selection (also later included in The Adding Machine, "Bugger The Queen" -  "This piece that I’m about to read could not be published in England. I talked to the man who organized the festival and he said “no I’d never get another cent from the Arts Council" – [Burroughs begins] - “I guess you all read about the trouble the Sex Pistols had over there in England over their song "God Save The Queen (It's a Fascist regime)". Johnny Rotten got hit by an iron bar wielded by HER loyal subjects. It’s almost treason in England to say anything against what they call  “OUR Queen” – I don’t think of  (President Jimmy) Carter as “our President”, do you? – he's just the one we happen to be stuck with at the moment. So in memory of the years I spent in England and in this connection I’m reminded of an old Dwight Fiske song, a sort of a bread-and-butter letter, "Thank you a lot Mrs Lousberry-Goodberry for an infinite weekend with you... (five years that weekend lasted)...For your cocktails that were hot and your baths that were not.." - (cocktails and baths gravitate towards a room-temperature in England) - So, in fond memory of those five years, I’ve composed this lyric which I hope someday,someone will sing in England. It’s entitled “Bugger The Queen” – “My husband and I” (the Queen always starts her spiel that way) -   My husband and I/ the old school tie/ Hyphenated names/ Tired old games/ It belongs in the bog/ With the rest of the sog (“bog” is punk for the W.C.) – Pull a chain on Buckingham/ The drain calls you”MA’AM” (you have to call the Queen, "Ma’am”, you know)." - "The audience takes up the refrain as they surge into the streets singing "BUGGER THE QUEEN"!  Suddenly a retired major sticks his head out of a window showing his great yellow horse-teeth as he clips out "Buggah  the Queen". A vast dam has broken. It's like in Ireland where they have a form of life known as The Gombeen Man. Now a Gombeen Man is a blackmailer, police informer, receiver, money-lender. In small villages, he often runs a shop and leans on the scale when he comes to the punch line.."Well now, Lord Brambletie, I always say that what a gentleman does in his own house is a gentleman's business, but there are those as thinks otherwise…"  (Lean…lean..lean)... 
"..for an Englishman, making it in front of the Queen's picture is like trying to have it off with a Gombeen Man at the foot of your bed..."Don't mind me - like a spot of fun meself you know""..."Now to come right out and say someone is a Gombeen Man is admitting you have something to hide, some reason you can be blackmailed, and so a good Gombeen Man may string it out for years before the moment of truth, when everybody looks into his neighbor's eyes, and says… "Did he lean on you?""…"The Queen is the fountainhead and motherlode of a snobbery that poisons the dank air of England with a smell of brussels sprouts cooking to a soggy green paste”…"Prince Philip comes out to say that after years of being the Royal Consort like a bloody stud horse, all he has to say is, "BUGGER THE QUEEN!"" …  "It's like a re-make of the Magna Carta. Owing to a power-shortage the Queen signs her abdication by flickering torchlight…and "good riddance to the Gombeen Woman"

The third selection (beginning at approximately seventy-one minutes in) is introduced by Burroughs“This short unpublished piece [Editorial note, later incorporated into The Place of Dead Roads - "The Count de Vile"]  is based on actual experience. I once was stranded on an island near Venice and had to wait five hours for dinner because the servants always eat first. I did actually know an Italian Count named the Count de Ville in the diplomatic service and when I asked him if he was going to have another appointment, he said that “I do not know if they will give me another assignation” – “An old gentleman was standing by the fire-place. At the sight of me, his thin face lit up and glowed with incandescent charm”. ..”  the old chateau crumbled into the oily waters, jugged hare, portrait galleries, the lot, erased like an error”

At approximately seventy-eight minutes in, Burroughs reads his final piece – "Now this last piece is derived from a rather enigmatic phrase that I heard in a dream – “Where Naked Troubadors Shoot Snotty Baboons” – so I elaborated this little piece here – “Boys in cod-pieces and  leather jerkins carrying musical instruments from the Middle Ages invade...”...”If these walls could speak what tales they could tell"

As an encore  (approximately eighty-one-and-a-half minutes in), Burroughs ] reads  “a short piece from Cobble Stone Gardens, "American Express"  - ("BJ? – that frantic character was drummed out of the industry. He invites Nick Shanker of World Films and Philip Granger of Amalgamated over for a possum dinner and he is boiling a yellow tom cat in a bidet full of piss heated by two leaky blowtorches…"…. "North wind across the wreckage weed grown tracks iron stairways rusted through a maze of canals and swamps overgrown dams and locks flaking stucco houses vast hot dogs and ice cream cones covered with vines…").