Allen on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues continues
“They got nothing on me/at the university/Them clever poets/of immensity..” – That’s very funny, actually – “Them clever poets /of immensity” – “With charcoal suits/and charcoal hair/And green armpits…” – “Green armpits” – that’s because when we introduced Gregory Corso to John Clellon Holmes and he read some of Gregory’s early poetry, Holmes, who was a mid-town sophisticate, said, “Oh he writes green armpit poetry”. I guess you all know “green armpit poetry”. (There’s) much of it written around here [at Naropa]. It’s a whole genre of poetry, of beginning poets. But – “They got nothing on me/at the university/Them clever poets/of immensity/ With charcoal suits/and charcoal hair/And green armpits/and heaven ait/And cheques to balance/my account/in Rome benighted/by White Russians/Without care who puke/in windows/Everywhere./ They got nothing on me/ ‘Cause I’m dead/ They can’t surpass me/’Cause I’m dead/And being dead/I hurt my head/And now I wait/Without hate/For my fate/To estate” – i.e., no more ambition, no literary ambition, just pure mind, pure truthful mind. Yes?
Student : How is this different from what you would label as doggerel?
AG: There are elements of doggerel, but it’s handled so.. actually, it come so funny, it’s almost Emily Dickinson doggerel-esque. “And being dead/I hurt my head” - Quite literal - And now I wait/Without hate/For my fate/To estate” – It’s quite sensible.It makes a lot more sense than most doggerel. His fate has estated in this room. His fate has estated, that’s the funny part. It’s prophetic. But he’s not sure either.
So he says, in the 50th Chorus – “Maybe I’m crazy, and my parts/Are scattered still – didn’t gather/’em when form was passin out/The window of the giver ,/So I’m looking for derangement/To bring me landward back/Through logic’s cold moon air/Where water everywhere/Appears from magic gems/And Asphasiax, the Nymph/of India by the Sea/Dances princely mincing/churly jargots/in the oral eloquent air/ of tents’/Canopied majesty/Ten thousand Buddhas/Hiding Everywhere - /How can I be crazy/Even here?/ - or wait/Maybe I’m an Agloon/doomed to be spitted/on the igloo stone/of Some North mad.” – Typical schizophrenic trip. “Maybe I’m an..” have you ever felt like “an Agloon/doomed to be spitted/on the igloo stone/of Some North mad.”? – I don’t know how he gets it but it sounds to me totally archetypal, like anybody’s thought of how weird they themselves are in relation to other people. Some kind of goofy,lonely, ignu Eskimo doomed to starve on a whale spit, on a whale spear “of Some North mad.”
They’re funny. Actually, just the ordinary thoughts of an ordinary mind, saying, “Maybe I’m crazy or maybe I’m not crazy or maybe I’m “Agloon in the gloom”, you know? That’s the same thing you get in the bathroom when you’re taking a shit - “How am I?” - It’s archetypal self-reflections (which most people hide because they seemed too goofy, but by revealing them of himself), Kerouac gave permission to other people to realize their own natural ordinary mind idiocy.
Student: It’s being sensitive to the quirks of your mind
AG: Exactly.. Yes, exactly. Sensitive to the quirks of your own mind – the quirkiness. And, in this case, since he was such a language man, sensitive to the quirkiness of his own language – to both the mind-image and the language (I think they came simultaneously with him)