Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Allen Ginsberg, Montreal 1969 Q & A - 6) (Drugs)

[Allen Ginsberg, 1966 poster from San Francisco advertising the famous Ken Kesey Acid Tests]

Q: What is your present [1989] thinking about drugs?

AG: Well, it looks like marijuana will slowly be legalized in the United States (since grandmother Margaret Mead came out for it the other day! ). So I saw an AP dispatch yesterday that said that Governor Kirk of Florida called her “a dirty old lady”

Q:  (He)..said she should be locked up with all the other degenerates!

AG: Yeah 

Q: But what was it about the stronger stuff?

AG: And then crime in New York and the larger cities will be cut in over half if the police would obey the law and allow junkies to go to doctors to get their medicine. That would cut out the Mafia (and) cut out the selling of drugs by the police which is rampart in New York City, So the only people who are profiting from the present dope situation in New York, or the hard-drug situation, are the police and the Mafia. So that could be easily solved if you..if we would, in the United States, adopt the English system, and, actually, legally, we already have that, because there was a  Supreme Court decision in 1925 that said that junkies really legally could go to doctors for maintenance doses, it’s just that the police have blocked that at every turn. And for speed (amphetamines), I would just quit the manufacture and sell speed to all persons including the Pentagon (which is operating mainly on speed (as far as I can see).   And for acid, I would (just) follow the recommendations of the National Student Association and institute intra-disciplinary psychedelic studies as an optional or elective course in freshman year at college.
Q: Freshman year in college?
AG: Yeah, or maybe late high-school.. Well, whenever the classical vision-quest time comes for a social group. In other words, American Indians go after their vision-quest about the same time as Jewish boys get bar-mitzvahed. You know, that’s thirteen, when manhood or puberty comes, the vision-quest in almost all non-Western societies is an ancient ritual. 
So, I guess you could institutionalize or ritualize, ritualize the use of psychedelics as part of. like, a normal vision-quest for younger people, elective, you know one of many. Maybe put the Boy Scouts in charge of that effort?
Q: Which of your poems have come to you while you were tripping?

AG: Not many. Part II of “Howl” is written on peyote. A few other poems are inscribed - “LSD", ”Mescaline”, “Nitrous Oxide”,”Aether” – those are the titles – and then there’s one long one (from) about two years ago called “Wales Visitation, which is a long Wordsworthian nature poem written on acid in Wales.

Q: Do you think you have to be tripping to enjoy your poetry to the fullest  – like tomorrow, when you'll be reading it.

AG:No, I don’t think it makes very much difference one way or the other. No. No, most of my poetry I don’t write on drugs, just that a few good things I have written. (In other words). Some poems I wrote on the typewriter and some scribbled, some I wrote on drugs and some I didn’t. I think the..the myth put forward by the police that no creative work can be done under drugs is folly.

Q: Of course.

AG: The myth that anybody who takes drugs’ll..will produce, produce something interesting is equal folly. It’s a great argument over nothing. A lot of people are being put in jail over folly.   Yeah?

Q: How important  is your poetry to your...

AG: Pardon me?

Q: How important is your poetry to you. Is it the most important thing?

AG: I guess, yeah, It’s the thing that I feel most sentimental about. I feel most.. (more than sex now - it’s horrible!) 
- [Allen turns to previous questioner] -  Actually, I didn’t really mean to be so.. I keep feeling that I was rejecting your question in a funny way and that..because of my own nervousness, and I don’t know if I answered it properly before (about death or whatever attachment the political was), I’ve forgot...

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-eight minutes in (fourth segment) and concludes approximately thirty-three minutes in]  

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