Thursday, June 25, 2015

Haiku and Desolation Angels


                                         [Jack Kerouac - cover of Book of Haikus  (posthumously published in 2003]

..tape begins in media res with Allen writing on the blackboard - "building on the ground, the film in.. (the) film crackling in plastic bags..under plastic bags in a breathing class" -  
(He continues reading his own short haiku-like poems)
Nagasaki Day– “Blue sky cumulus clouded  over the white plutonium plant /Rocky Flats mountains ridge west, Denver below in morning sun/ walking off with police and photographers"
Golden Court - "Waiting for the Judge, breathing silent/Prisoners, witnesses, Police/the stenographer yawns into her palms" - That’s the most accurate.
(Haiku) -  It’s a good way of centering your mind in moments of what would otherwise be curious stress. One that I hadn’t gotten to..
(Gregory Corso suddenly enters the classroom  creating  some distraction
AG: Gregory.. sit down..
GC: (I’m just getting a chair)
AG….’cause  I just started something here.
GC  (I’ll (not) do anything)
AG: What I had forgotten to do was..  the main haiku
[to Students] (Will you get your mind(s) back, please!)

 -  the main haiku is considering space - the main haiku considering space:

                      [Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) - woodcut -  "Wild Sea and the Milky Way.." ]

“A wild sea - / and stretching across to the isle of Sado/ the  Milky Way.” 
Let’s see how they have it here – Ah, “A wild sea - / and stretching across to the island of Sardo/ the Galaxy” - that’s about as vast a space-shot as I’ve seen (that’s Basho that I’ve seen in haiku. There are a couple others that I wanted to fill out .

"Coming out of the box…"
([to Gregory Corso] -  “You’ll have to be quieter because I can’t concentrate – ok?)
“Coming out of the box/This pair of dolls/How can I forget their faces?” [Buson]
This, for listening while sitting – “The banana plant in the autumn storm/Rain dripping in the tub/Listening that night.”
(It says three elements – (but there’s just two elements (here)) – “Behind a pot of azaleas/ a woman tearing up/ dried codfish”  -  [Tsutsuji ikete sono kage ni hidara saku onna] - that’s like “wiping my snot on the blossoms..” –
“A bowel-freezing night /Rain dripping in the tub…” No, “A bowel-freezing night / The sound of the oar striking the wave/Tears” – So that has three elements,  like  a long story.
One very famous one – “On a withered branch/A crow is perched/Autumn evening” (But that’s usually accompanied by.. that was accompanied by a drawing originally).

Kara eda ni karasu mo tomari keri aki no kure




(Jack) Kerouac was good at that also. [composing haiku]  In the beginning of Desolation Angels there’s a whole series of haiku. Has anybody read through Desolation Angels here? – Has anybody cracked open the book? – okay, well, if you crack open the book, check out the haiku. It’s done in classical style. I think it was self-invented in the sense that he knew the tradition, but he adapted it to the novel, the tradition being, say, a travel journey, prose, economical, paragraphs giving setting and suddenly the flash thought.

[Allen begins reading from Desolation Angels]

  
“The wind, the wind, and there’s my poor endeavoring human desk at which I sit so often during the day facing south. The paper and pencils and the coffee cup were ….the waiting’s long  – then in three lines, ending the paragraph – “On Starvation Ridge/little sticks/are trying to grow”
Then, on page 18 – “Then come the long daydreams of what I’ll do when I get  out of there, that mountain-top trap just to drift and roam down that road on 99 fast…" this first off this Haiku– “Hitch-hiked a thousand/ miles and brought you wine"
“Hiss hiss says the wind bringing dust and lightning near, tick…thunder in the mountains, the iron of my mother’s love.. - (Now where does he gets his mother’s love? It just came up out of his head, unborn)

“The days go/They can’t stay/I don’t realize.”  That’s like the haiku that Chuck Carroll [sic - Allen's student] read the other night

"Is Boston crazy?/or am I?/or am I in Detroit?"

"The fog in Japan/ Is the same as the fog in North West Washington”. -  (the sensing-being is the same) -  “and Buddha is just as old and true anywhere you go"

"The sun sets dully on Bombay and Hong Kong like it sets dully on Chelmsford, Mass"
"I called Han Shan in the fog. There was no answer"
"The sound of silence is all the instruction you’ll get"
"Whatever happens to me down that trail to the world is all right  with me because I’m God and I’m doing it all myself, who else?" – (While meditating/  I am Buddha/ Who else?)

Those are, the.. I think, the best of what I saw in Desolation Angels  (there are a couple of others
– “Neons, Chinese restaurants, coming on -/Girls come by/ Shades
"Eat your eggs/ and shut up" - "Sit in fool/ And  be fool/ – that’s all"
- (So those are more abstracted).

So they come naturally actually. They’re just thoughts that come naturally, I guess. Gregory (Corso) had one – that “(I)n the Mexico zoo/ they have ordinary/ American cows”  [from Mexican Impressions”] that was the American traveler’s flash.

[Audio for the above is available here beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding approximately eight-and-a-quarter minutes in] 

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