Thursday, March 31, 2016

Allen Ginsberg, Montreal, 1969 Q & A- 10) (Kerouac)

 [Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)]


Q: Do you feel that the death of Jack Kerouac has taken away his image for people, young people, in the (United) States now, to….

AG: Nobody depended on himHe was just a great drunken lout, fortunately! He did it purposely, he desecrated any image possible! – and he went on television drunk, on (William) Buckley (‘s) and burped and farted, just so he wouldn’t have anybody following him!  - I mean he didn’t want anybody.. I mean he used to… He thought that I was a monster for showing my face in public like I do  - my horrible hairy face, misleading children, trying just to get laid? – I mean, god! – 

Q: What I mean is the energy, say, from On The Road, inspired a  lot of people…

AG: Yeah

Q:  ….just to get on the road and follow it (Dharma Bums, you know, and Kerouac).  Do you think that that type of approach, defining any approach to our society is still (so)  popular?

AG: Yeah, the hero-character of Dharma Bums is Gary Snyder, Japhy Ryder, who is, like, 
a very great poet, and a very disciplined Zen Buddhist meditation practitioner, and an ecologist of note, who’s leading a lot of ecology action now around (the) Berkeley, San Franciso area, and infusing the whole Left revolutionary group there with some kind of ecological planet consciousness. So I think, like, conceptions that Kerouac was so lyrically exact about, and so sensitive about, and have proved to be like lasting perceptions about the nature of our country, and the American countryside.. See, what Kerouac was saying in 
On The Road was get out of the cities and go explore the land again, get back to the...get back to the body of the nation, get back to the Western twang, get back to the provinces, get back to the land, because “the earth is an Indian thing”  (I think that’s a phrase in one of the earlier books, possibly On The Road - “the earth is an Indian thing” – which he wrote in 1952, which is an early early vision of that,which is like coming true now, or coming true in people’s consciousness. It’s a pretty line – “The earth is an Indian  thing”
 (as distinct from, like “The earth is an engineer’s thing”   – “The earth is an Indian  thing” - [Editorial note - "The waves are Chinese but the earth is an Indian thing" - Jack Kerouac - On The Road, Chapter 5]

So, the other thing is…. I hate to (speculate).. It’s hard to figure out what his “thing” was – he had to take care of his mother, didn’t want to "throw his mother to the dogs of Eternity” he said. And so wound up drinking too much. I had, in fact, mixed feelings about.. in fact, I argued with him a lot. Especially, in the last few months, I wrote him big long letters, because he’d written something that was putting down (David Dellinger) and I thought that was not very Kerouac-ian!  And we’d.. you know, kept conflict quite a bit, you know, aesthetic, but, on the other hand, he was always smarter than me, I always felt, he was always way ahead of me in a lot of... you know, very.. Buddhist ways, and psychological ways, like, and language/poetry ways, so I really adored him as a guru, you know, and so it was hard for me to fight with him – in memory even.

I felt a funny kind of joy when he died realizing that I would never have to fight with him anymore! –And also that he was better, like where he wanted to be (“Poor!, I wish I was free/ of that slaving meat wheel/ and safe in heaven dead” – that’s a line of his. [Editorial note - from Mexico City Blues - "211th Chorus"] -  And it took me a day to begin crying. (I guess crying for my own youth that was dead, gone, finally). So it was a lyrical thing that he had and that lyricism is too exquisite to be by-passed, as long as people still have tender bellies and hard-ons - Yeah?

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in (fourth segment) and comcluding at approximately forty-nine-and-a-half minutes in] 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Carl Solomon's Birthday

Carl Solomon's birthday today. He would have been eighty-eight.

[Flyer for 1964 Carl Solomon reading at Le Metro Cafe, New York - designed & produced by Ed Sanders - from the Ed Sanders Archives]

[Carl Solomon, 1991 - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg © The Estate of Allen Ginsberg] 

For previous Solomon salutes (Solomon shout-outs), see herehere and here.

His reading (in 1982) with Jack Micheline at Naropa at the Jack Kerouac Conference has been transcribed and can be heard and seen on the Allen Ginsberg Project here

Allen, from his new book of posthumous poems: (the book, actually concludes with two Carl Solomon poems, "Last Conversation with Carl or In Memoriam", and the following, "Dream of Carl Solomon"):

I meet Carl Solomon
"What's it like in the afterworld?"

"It's just like in the mental hospital
You get along if you follow the rules."

"What are the rules?"

"The first rule is: Remember you're dead
The second rule is: Act like you're dead."

Allen and Ed Sanders recite the Prajnaparamita Sutra at his funeral service: 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Allen Ginsberg, Montreal 1969 Q & A - 9) ("Holy Ghost on the Nod over the Body of Bliss")

                                                   [Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Lord Chaitanya) (1486 - 1534)]

AG: Okay, the formulation I finally arrived at was... 

[Allen reads from Planet News] -Holy Ghost on the Nod over the Body of Bliss" -

"Is this the God of Gods the one I heard about/in memorized language Universities murmur?/Dollar bills can buy it! the great substance/exchanges itself freely through all the world's/ poetry money, past and future currencies/issued and redeemed by the identical bank,/electric monopoly after monopoly owl-eyed/on every one of 90 million dollar bills vibrating/To the pyramid-top in the United States of Heaven - /Aye aye Sir Owl Oh can you see in the dark you/observe Minerva nerveless in Nirvana because/Zeus rides reindeer thru Bethlehem's blue sky..It's Buddha sits in Mary's belly waving Kuan/Yin's white hand at the Yang-tze that Mao sees,/tingue of Kali licking Krishna's soft blue lips..Chango holds Shiva's prick, Ouroboros eats th' cobalt bomb,/Parvati on YOD's perfumed knee cries Aum/ & Santa Barbara rejoices in he alleyways of Brindaban/La Illaha El (lill) Allah Who - Allah Akbar! /Goliath struck down by kidneystone, Golgotha grown old,/All these wonders are crowded in the Mind's Eye/Superman & Batman race forward, Zarathustra on Coyote's ass. Laotzu disappearing at the gate, God mocks God,/Job sits bewildered  that Ramakrishna is Satan/and Bodhidharma forgot to bring Nothing."
(No, Bodhidharma brought the doctrine of the Void across, so "Bodhidharma forgot to bring Nothing")
 - So, in other words, that’s what I would see the whole relation as..  

Ramakrishna was the one who came up with a formula like that when asked, like, "What’s his scene? - He said, “I worship all Gods” – and attempted to practice the different sadhanas – And that obviously is a necessity, you know, at this point in planet history, because you can’t have one planet with about sixty different ethnic groups quarreling over which image of God is the correct one for an entire planet. So you’d obviously have to finally realize that, actually, as Swami Bhaktivedanta says, that Christ is Krishna and Krishna-Christ are identical - which means that the Jews have got to give up their God to get the Big God, and the Christians have got to give up their God to get the Big God, and Krishna-ites have got to give up Krishna in order to get Krishna, and the Mohammadens are going to have to give up Allah in order to get Sophia, to get back to the Abyss of Light, actually.

Q: What about Lord Chaitanya?

AG: Lord Chaitanya?  Well, I guess he’ll have to join the dance! – But I don’t think you can make any exclusive claim to any single name or form, finally. Because, otherwise, you’d have to accept the Christian’s exclusive claim (because they say they have an exclusive claim to an exclusive name and form). I don’t know what Swani Bhaktivedanta would say about that. I think he’d disagree, because he thinks that Krishna is the Supreme Person and includes all other supreme persons. Well, that’s alright. If it includes all other supreme persons, then any supreme person you name, like Christ, you’re naming Krishna, so, there’s no harm done.  Yeah?

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-one minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-four-and-three-quarters minutes in]

Monday, March 28, 2016

Allen Ginsberg, Montreal, 1969 Q & A - 8) (Judaism and Krishna)

AG; Now, about the second part, [sic - "How do you reconcile a return to a traditional Jewish root with an enthusiastic interest in Hare Krishna? Do you think that a rabbinical tradition can, in some way, be reconciled with a Hindu or Hare Krishna tradition?] -  (it) was a… I didn’t mean to..  

Like, I was saying,.. last night, I heard  - (and I’m sitting here in Hillel House,  so I don’t mean to make it quite that corny - "Well, folks, I want to announce I am now returning to the Hebrew tradition” – that’s not what I meant– that's not what I meant). No, that’s not what I meant. 

No it was, actually, oddly, I did hear Carlebach, Schlomo Carlebach, who’s a very great cantor and Hassid, modern hip Hassid, last night, and, like, I found that attractive, because I’ve had a lot of experience singing now, and I suddenly recognize a really great heroic spiritualized voice that sounds like it’s on a high note, it sounds like it’s coming out the top of his skull. 

The.. well, actually, what I’ve been into (I was explaining it to some students upstairs), my deepest experience, experience of any nature, was a mystical, or illuminative,  experience, or religious experience, or a hallucination, whatever you want to call it, that I got once while reading poetry – (William) Blakespecifically, And in going back into that, and doing a study of that, that has led me back to Thomas Taylor, the Neo-Platonist and Taylor’s essays on the Bacchic and Eleusinian mysteries. It’s led me into Dr Hans Jonas’ books on the Gnostic religions. It’s led me to the Mandaean Gnostic System.It’s led me to Manichaeism, and Paracelsus and Jacob Boehme, also to the Kabbalah and the Zohar, as it also relates.. you know, the same thing..what I would say is common in all of them is that the Buddhist void or nirvana or the Buddhist doctrine of the empty single void is very similar, oddly, to the…what I understand.. to the Mandean Gnostic conception of the Abyss of Light which gave birth to a shudder of self-consciousness which gave birth to Sophia” , Wisdom, or The Word. And she gave birth, I believe to Ialdabaoth and Ialdabaoth  had a thought and that thought was Io, and now.. Io’s first thought was Elohim and Elohim’s first thought was Jehovah and Jehovah thought us up and we’ve been stuck in Jehovah’s mind-garden ever since. According to the Mandean Gnostic system . 

So, according to that same system. Sophia regretting the fact that her hallucination had created all these myriad aeons, guarded over by archons, and guarded over by people who guarded this (harmony) this mind-creation, sent an avion, or messenger, or Caller-of-The-Great-Call, into the garden of Jehovah to tip Adam and Eve off that they were prisoners of Jehovah’s ego. And that messenger was the Serpent, according to that particular, that specific, Gnostic system. 

 The terminology of that system is not very different ..(of the aeons and the Caller) is not  very different from the Buddhist terminology of the many worlds in the ten directions in and out, and the bodhisattva. And the abyss, the original Abyss of Light, or the blissful empty nirvana of the Buddhists, the dharmakaya of the Buddhists, to be precise, is relatively.. well, is an image very similar to the Gnostic "Abyss of Light", and that’s very similar to what I see in the opening of the Zohar is a description of the original uncommunicable void from which  a point of light emerged.

Q: In other words..

AG: In other words, obviously, we’re dealing with one consciousness, in a strange universe, and, obviously all of these hieratic or esoteric or Gnostic or hermetic studies, all lead in to the same point of consciousness 

AG: Yeah, and what one finds in the Jewish tradition, the Chabadnik,  the Chabad, the rabbi songs – Chochma binna deat – Wisdom – what’s Chochma binna deat?Wisdom.. Does anybody know?

Q: Study and Knowledge..Understanding..

AG: Yeah, the rabbi songs are hypnotically repeated chants, sung at Simchat Torah (at least in Williamsburg where I heard it, which have a very similar physiological and mental ecstatic effect as the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. In fact, my chanting of the Hare Krishna, or of Buddhist mantra , is, probably, is more cantorial than Oriental – than Indian or Japanese, so I’m told.

Q: You wouldn’t say then that you were hovering between Lubavitch and Buddha or the Lubavich-strain and Buddha or Buddhistic strain…

AG: Well, what I would say is it’s… "Buddha sits in Mary’s belly","Shango holds Shiva’s prick" [Allen quotes from his own poemHoly Ghost on the Nod over the Body of Bliss"] - (Shango, the African divinity who’s  symbolized by a phallus, as is Shiva symbolized by a phallus. And.. I don’t know.. I don’t have my books with me. 
Does anybody have a book called Planet News here? Can I have a copy? I’ve got a specific statement to make

Q: We're adopted in all this. What can I say? 
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in, and concluding at approximately forty-one minutes in] 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Gregory Corso Weekend Part Two

[Gregory Corso, Lowell, Massachusetts - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg © The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

[One of Gregory Corso's triangles - a favorite game he played, drawing unexpected xonnections between kindred spirits - Courtesy the collection of Raymond Foye. - Raymond Foye writes: "He could spend a whole day on a game of this sort, in cafes & bars, testing out ideas, quizzing people, having fun. As the day wore on and there were more & more drinks, things would start to get edgy and challenging. It would eventually end with him screaming insults at everybody and tearing up all the diagrams".]

 ["The spirit is a charitable thief" - drawing by Gregory Corso, 1974]

Our Gregory Corso birthday celebrations continue with this miscellany of items…..

    [Gregory Corso - original drawing c. 1970's (from the Patti Oldenburg (Mucha) Archive - & see here]

[Gregory Corso - original 1963 Diary/Journal]

 ["To be done with darkness…" - Another page from Gregory Corso's 1963 Diary/Journal]

  ["Bomb" - original ms,, 1958 - "This is the first assembly of mine [sic] poem Bomb. The process of trying to      attain the mushroom shape, which was impossible to do at the typewriter - Also this poem is early draft in that final draft is very different in line changes, subject matter, etc " (Gregory Corso)  - via  University of Miami Library]

    ["A bluebird alights upon a yellow chair - Spring is here']

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Gregory Corso Weekend

                            [Gregory Corso, Boulder, Colarado, July 1994 - Photograph by Seth Brigham]

[Gregory Corso - Self Portrait (undated)]

A Gregory Corso weekend.. It's Gregory's birthday. He would have been eighty-six today. 

We've featured Gregory many many times on the Allen Ginsberg, starting way back in 2010 with this birthday announcement. 
Gregory Corso Happy Birthday of Death (sic) can be found here
Corso 2013 Birthday celebration - here
Corso 2014 Birthday celebration - here
Corso 2015 Birthday celebration - here
Not Forgetting Gregory Corso - here

Two vintage  Naropa readings - one (with William Burroughs)  - from 1975, and one (solo), from 1981 (a reading from Herald of the Autochthonic Spirit - that reading continues here

Original Beats, Francois Bernardi's film of Gregory and Herbert Huncke can be seen here  (additional footage from that movie - here

Here's more footage of Gregory

Here's Gregory reading The Bill of Rights on an East Village rooftop!

Die on Me is the extraordinary set of recordings put out in 2002 on Paris Records. A complimentary record, Lieders (with Marianne Faithfull) was also put out by Paris Records

Listen to to "Ah Roma!" (with Francis Kuipers)
(More Gregory-in-Rome here and here

Gregory heckling Allen? - It wouldn't be a proper Gregory memory if there weren't record of Gregory misbehaving. There's his famous 1973 interruption of Allen's uptown Y reading 

That same year, he wasn' t any less restrained at the Salem State Kerouac conference.

Gregory's more measured words on Kerouac (from 1986's What Happened to Jack Kerouac?here:

Allen and Gregory bickering over Shakespeare - here,
confessing he's in error - here 
and sparring with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, way back in 1975,  in a hilarious series of posts (eight of them in all) starting here - ("He wants to be like me - famous! - and Allen. He wants to get into the poetry racket, that's what he wants to do") 

That year (1975), indeed for many years, Gregory gave classes at Naropa. The Allen Ginsberg Project has featured several extensive transcriptions. The 1975 classes (serialized in seven parts) begin here (after "Two Shots From Gregory Corso"). This is followed by a four-part serializaton, (posted February 2012),  "More Corso At Naropa"  

Gregory interviewer and interviewee - 1961 -  the Journal For The Protection of All Beings interview - Gregory and Allen interview William Burroughs
From 1959, Gregory and Allen and Peter Orlovsky are interviewed by Studs Terkel
(plus a later radio interview with Allen and Gregory) 

Speaking of interviews, there's now this essential volume:

Gregory, the "great list poet". Allen evokes some of Gregory's longer works here
(and offers a shorter note - here)

in 1978 (in a four-part sequence) he joins Allen with a line-by-line reading (almost) of Whitman's revealing and foolishly neglected poem, "Respondez!"  

and there's more….

Happy Birthday, Gregory Nunzio Corso!

more tomorrow!

   [Gregory Corso,  September, 1959, in Athens, Greece, at the Acropolis - (for more from that particular occasion - see here

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 261

Recent Ginsberg volumes - The Essential Ginsberg (from HarperCollins) and Wait Till I'm Dead - UnCollected Poems (from Grove Press) - here's Library Journal's cogent and informative appraisals of the books: 

"The work and not just the poetry of Ginsberg (1926-97), one of 20th-century America's most important and notorious literary figures has finally been given the career-arching overview it deserves. Schumacher (Dharma Lion) has compiled the poet's greatest hits into this volume, including the regularly-anthologized, "Howl", "Kaddish", "A Supermarket In California", "America", and "Kral Majales". What distinguishes this book from other posthumous Ginsberg collections is that it also presents small samples of his songwriting, essays, interviews, letters, journal excerpts, and understated photography. Ginsberg's position at the center of the Beat movement is made clear through Schumacher's selections which highlight his key relationships with Jack Kerouac, William S Burroughs, Neal Cassady, among others. Similarly his involvement in the burgeoning American counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s is at the heart of many of these selections. By making this volume similar to the ones in Viking's "Portable Library" series, Harper Perennial has all but ensured the book's place in university classrooms for years to come. VERDICT: An essential starting-point for any reader encountering the artist's still-controversial work for the very first time."

- and, Wait Till I'm Dead

"Much more than a footnote to 2006’s massive Collected Poems, 1947–1997, this carefully chosen gathering of Ginsberg’s fugitive pieces, some unpublished and others long buried in obscure magazines, spans his college days in the 1940s through 1996, the year before his death at age 70. For five decades Ginsberg adhered to a personal ars poetica (“I must write down/ every recurring thought —/ stop every beating second”), which for better or for worse influenced generations of poets beyond the Beats. An example of this spontaneous aesthetic at its liveliest is the heretofore uncollected “NY to San Fran, a 27-page Whitmanic reverie of hallucinogenic scope the poet set down in a notebook during a 1965 crosscountry flight. But Ginsberg could pivot when appropriate, as in the formal unpublished elegy to his father, the poet Louis Ginsberg, composed in 1976. 

VERDICT: Together with the editor’s informative notes, this volume not only complements its larger predecessor but similarly offers an impressionistic microhistory of the 20th-century American counterculture, its restless consciousness and broad emotional register filtered through the unbridled visions of one of its most outspoken icons. Ginsberg fans and scholars alike will appreciate the wealth of new material included."

A review of last week's Berkeley "Howl "60th celebrations -  here

[Allen Ginsberg reading "Howl" , 1956 Berkeley Town Hall - Photograph by Walter Lehrman - © Walter Lehrman and the Walter Lehrman Beat Generation Photo Collection at the Merrill-Cazier Library at Utah State University, Logan, Utah] 

Some recent news that we've missed:  

Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, the Qatari poet who we reported on this time last year, has finally been pardoned and released (after being imprisoned, shockingly, for almost five years, for, as Carles Torner, international executive director of PEN, has noted, "simply reciting a poem in private". Al-Ajami was arrested in Doha in 2011 on charges of "inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime" and "insulting the Emir" relating to the content of two of his poems. The charges were brought after recordings of him reciting his poems at private gatherings were published on line.

[Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami]

  The Washington Post reports on a rare Walt Whitman letter, written for a dying (Civil War) soldier, found in the National Archives

[Letter, written by Walt Whitman, on behalf of an illiterate dying soldier (Private Robert N Jabo)  to his wife] 

(which reminds us, recalling this aspect of Whitman, of Charley Shively's moving anthology of just such letters, Drum Beats - Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers, now regretfully out-of-print, from Gay Sunshine Press   


 Images of Allen and Peter (and a whole lot of Dutch, English, and American poets (& a few Russians too) - from vintage Amsterdam '79 (courtesy Harry Hoogstraten) - (scroll down here

[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky - Photograph by Harry Hoogstraten © 1979-2016 Harry Hoogstraten]

Wednesday night (this coming Wednesday, March 30th, coming up) at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - "The Poetry of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg for Baritone and String Quartet" - How proud Allen was of his membership of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences!  -  David Kravitz and the Arneis Quartet are the performers featured

&amp (hot damn!) ; 

Allen's  "Plutonian Ode" made it, a week or two back, as a clue in the crossword puzzle in the New York Times!