Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jack Kerouac and Kenneth Patchen





Student: Would you put down Kenneth Patchen’s  The Journal of Albion Midnight in that kind of [internalized subjective exploration] category?

AG:  I haven’t read it in so long, but I think that The Journal of Albion Moonlight does not quite have as much central focus point. See, this whole book (Kerouac's Mexico City Blues) is about the mind and the language of the mind, the language that you hear in the mind. I don’t remember what the subject of.. Journal of Albion Moonlight was, but I have a feeling it was just quixotic thoughts, and quixotic, somewhat sterile, and Romantic literary stereotypes - or, more, like in William Saroyan, a certain amount of Romanticism that isn’t painted after the nature of the mind, so, a sort of idealistic Romanticism. But here, Kerouac (with elements of Saroyan too) has gone back to use the mind as source for
his babble, use the actual mind as source for his babble, rather than more conscious composition, I think.  I’m not sure how you’d make the distinction. I have a feeling of Kerouac’s stuff that it’s real actual real-mind thoughts. I have a feeling about ..Journal of Albion Moonlight, that it’s more artificially literary – the original subject was not his actual consciousness. It wasn’t a graph of his consciousness, was it? (I may be wrong, because I haven’t read it in so long)

Student: Just journey and myth

AG:  Journey and myth?

Student: Yeah


AG:  Yeah, well, see, Kerouac wasn’t so much dealing with myth, except as it entered his mind at the moment of composition.  Like  Sravasti midnight dancing girls in the moonlight with bare shoulders” - [(from 65th Chorus) – “Sravasti late at night, tinkle/Goes the Indian Dancinggirl”] – His subject wasn’t myth, the subject was the emptiness of the mind.

And this is a perfect exemplar of that:

[84th Chorus]
“SINGING:-/By the light/Of the silvery moon/I like to spoon/To my honey/I’ll/Croon/ Love’s Dream/ By the light/Of the silvery moon/ We’ll O that’s the/part I don’t remember/ ho ney moon -/Croon-/ Love-/ June-/  O I don’t know/You can get it out of a book/ If the right words are/important”

[85th Chorus]

“Do you really need/the right word/Do you really need/Of course it’s all asinine/Forms of asininity/Once & for all/ Mr William Carlos/Williams/  Anyway,/An asinine form/which will end/all asininity/from now on/ There’s a poem/The poem/Will end/Asininity” – That is, the over-serious, over-heavy, over-intense trying to find meaning rather than the empty mind loose – or the empty mind let loose. (that’s a phrase that Robert Duncan quotes from the letters of John Adams, I believe - “In America, the mind must be loose” ["Let the human mind loose, it must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it." (John Adams, in a letter to his son, and 6th US President, John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816)]

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