Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 282

[Allen Ginsberg working late]

                                           [Allen Ginsberg's Desk - Drawing by Allen Ginsberg]

The second-part of an in-depth interview with Michael Horowitz, Timothy Leary’s longtime archivist, recently appeared. The first (posted back in November 2015) can be seen here
The second, brings Allen in to the picture (Lisa Rein, the Archives digital librarian, is the interviewer):

LR: What was the dynamic between Ginsberg and Leary?
MH: The synergy between them was powerful. There's a book devoted to their psychedelic partnership, White Hand Society. It went back to the Harvard period when Allen and Peter were subjects in the psilocybin experiments. Allen's messianic enthusiasm for psychedelics was equal to Tim's, and brought him to New York City to turn on his Beat friends and jazz musicians. He introduced Tim - still a semi-straight academic - to the hipster culture. Tim had a sexual awakening on psilocybin with a beautiful model. Everyone loved the magic mushroom pills for their life-changing insights and shattering revelations, as well as their spiritual and sensual sides.
LR: Allen was a practicing Buddhist . What did he think of Tim's alliances with the Weathermen and the Black Panthers?
MH: Their friendship was tested publicly, when Ginsberg, like Ken Kesey and others, challenged the militancy of Leary's "Shoot to Live" mantra. For Allen, who was getting heavily into Tibetan Buddhism, meditation was a necessary revolutionary discipline; political action without spiritual consciousness led to the same dead end. Allen put out these ideas in an interview in the Berkeley Barb. Tim responded with "An Open Letter to Allen Ginsberg on the Seventh Liberation", defending the idea of armed self-defense and explain(ing) his new philosophy…"

Here's Allen's initial response (on being contacted, while Leary was in exile, by the Leary camp): 

[Allen Ginsberg to Michael Horowitz , August 14, 1970 - "Dear Bo  - [Horowitz had introduced himself as "Bodhisattva M.Horowitz"] — Kerouac used the Bo of Hobo for American Bodhisattva… Hey Bo! - Your plans sound excellent and I just pray you are a steady solid quiet cat who can safeguard & index & prepare mss. like a lovely scholar over years. When you have any specific word for me to put in anywhere please do call on me. I wrote a short 3-page addenda to Jail Notes mss. which together with earlier extensive essay on Tim in Village Voice can serve as a lengthy preface to the book, all dignified, like. Your letter if you follow up is really a bright ray.   Allen G.”]

A third segment of this interview  ("Kicked Out of Switzerland - Captured in Afghanistan - Back in the California Prison System") is forthcoming.

[Acid Test poster designed by Wes Wilson, 1966 - courtesy Stewart Brand (included in the upcoming "You Say You Want A Revolution.." exhibition at the V & A in London]

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966–70 opens at the V&A in London on September 10. In advance of it, don't miss Alex Needham's preview piece in The Guardian this week. Needham travels to San Francisco and interviews a number of counter-cultural luminaries, most notably, the Whole Earth Catalog visionary, Stewart Brand

& more San Francisco Beat history - For a recollection of San Francisco's legendary North Beach Co-Existence Bagel Shop by Judy Berman  "The Beat Generation Bagel Shop That Didn't Sell Bagels" - see here

                              [Co-Existence Bagel Shop, San Francisco, 1959 - Photograph by Mark Green]

Frank Rose, this week, reviews the ongoing Parisian (Pompidou Center)  "Beat Generation" show, in the New York Times,  
with particular focus on co-curator,  Jean-Jacques Lebel

                                                                     [Jean-Jacques Lebel]
"He was always transmitting, Mr Lebel said of Ginsberg, That's why we're doing this show, to continue the transmission." 
And, again - "I use the term "rhizome", it's the contrary of roots. Once your roots dig in, you're trapped - you can't move. But artistic and philosophical movements [such as the Beat Generation] work as rhizomes do - they're continually spreading across time and space. That's what I tried to do in the show, and in life [too]."  

 [Allen Ginsberg in a four-hour video from a series of interviews by Jean-Jacques Lebel in Paris in 1990, part of the “Beat Generation” exhibition at the Pompidou Center - Photograph by Dimitry Kostyukov]

(and here's (from El Mundo) a Spanish review)

Closing October 3rd, but the exhibition will be traveling, and will be having a second manifestation at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, sometime next year. 

Inky Tuscadero in Record Collector Magazine on the Last Word on First Blues CD - "Ginsberg's unique worldview outpunks anything coming out of CBGB's at the time"

Allen Ginsberg was a punk rocker! 

It's Guillaume Apollinaire's birthday today

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Naropa Classroom Conversations

                                                                  [Lyke Wake (in North Yorkshire)]

Minor matters today.  More one-on-one post-class discussion. Allen makes arrangements.

AG:  [to Student] - What have you got? some poems? 
Student: Some homework, from last week - Lyke Wake Dirge
AG: Oh great - good - Shall I take it home?
Student: There's a journal and a transcription.
AG: Oh yes, shall we make a date?
Student: Sure….. Mondays and Fridays are (the) best (days)...
AG: Mondays and Fridays?
Student: Mondays are good.. 
AG: Well, tomorrow I've got a reading.  (But) At weekends, I'm free, certainly...
Student: Weekends are fine.
AG: When?
Student: Saturday or Sunday? 
AG: Saturday?
Student: Sure.   Afternoons are probably good.
AG: What time is good? - Three?
Student:  Three's just fine - Ok, I'll see you at three. 

AG: Thank you for getting this (sic) ready.  We'll have this..  This is the… I want there to be.. could you make an index with the (poems)..
Student: Oh sure… 
AG: And I'll take this [the homework] home.  

[Francis James Child (1825-1896)]

Student 2: There's a singer who sometimes sings down at the James bar (sic) on Saturday's, I don't know her last name, but Christine.. She accompanies herself on autoharp and she's knows..
AG: She knows a lot? 
Student 2: She knows all the Child Ballads.

Student 3: Where?
Student 2:  The James.
Student3:  The James?

Student2: The James, yeah.. It's 13th Street, just off the Mall…Saturday night(s), ...she's not there all the time. It's Christine, that's all I know. But she knows all the old Child Ballads. And then, a lot of them that don't have music ..she's composed her own music.. 

Student 2:  I've found that a lot of them that don't have music  (like Lyke Wake Dirge). That they said.. most of the people said.. well, they just weren't that particular about taking down the music,  as the guy would sing with whatever instrument he had, passing the hat, or take it and do whatever he..(thought fit).. 
Usually, with the records, though, they'll be an insert in which the musician will say, "Well I got the music from here. I borrowed it from here". "We didn't have the original music but I borrowed a tune that would fit it", you know,  (a tune) that was current to the times. It's real interesting. And then how it would move from country to country. Each country would add its own flair, its own flavor. And something always happens in Child Ballads. It's not 
"I love her, and isn't this great?". It's, like, a storyand they end up (very) different from how they started...   

[Audio for the above can be heard  herebeginning at approximately forty-two-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately approximately forty-five minutes in ]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Campion's Prosody

Allen Ginsberg's January 1980 Naropa  class on Basic Poetics continues with transcription of one-on-one conversation that appears to take place after the formal end of the class  

AG: Pat (sic), did you ever read that -  (Thomas) Campion's treatises on the music and poetry?
Student (Pat (sic)) :  I've read the Observations in The Art of English Poesie 
AG: Is that the one that takes up quantitative.? 
Student (Pat): Yeah
AG: Do you have a copy of Campion ?  Could you prepare a little summary of his ideas on quantity...You know what he says about that?

[Allen is temporarily distracted by another Student - Student: Is this my book?  AG Yes. I brought it back in . Student;: Thank you. AG: Peter (Orlovsky's)'s got the other one.] 
AG: [proffering a copy of George Saintsbury's A History of English Prosody…] - Is this good?
Student (Pat): I enjoyed it immensely
AG: He [Basil Bunting] said the defect of it was  - a very great line - on.. Saintsbury, (that)  "in two fat unreadable books.."
Student: (Pat) Make it three, actually!
AG: Yeah, but  "in two unreadable fat books.."  -  and his point was that Sainsbury, "in two fat unreadable books, concluded that there was no other measure in English poetry but stress"
Student (Pat): Now, see Saintsbury is saying the exact same thing as Bunting, actually. They're just arguing about the terminology, basically.
AG: You think so?
Student (Pat): I think so
AG: I'm not sure. But you can hear it in Bunting's ear, as he speaks..

                                                            [ Thomas Campion (1576-1620)]

Student (Pat): So what do you want on the Campion?
AG: Well…It would be interesting to get into what really the quantity is. because, actually, I know how to write it, and I do use it, and I hear it, but I would like to be able to know it better, and then, actually, open it up for the class to get (them) to do something with it, so that they actually do get it.
Student (Pat): He's actually trying to evolve some rules..
AG: Right
Student (Pat): So ..They don't really work so well. They probably work as well as any rules..
AG: They're probably the rule(s), the general practice(s) that he uses in his writing, right? - or..?
Student (Pat): Well, he's… primarily in this. You see, he thinks in terms of, as I remember.. And it's just the last chapter of it, actually, that deals with quantity. He's actually more interested in getting around lines.. of getting an English meter forced onto the Greek trochaic and...
AG: Yeah.
Student (Pat): He does do specific things..
AG: So what's… what is he using.. what's the difficulty getting in English (that which) corresponds to…?
Student (Pat): Well, he slips up on the hexameter right away. He says it's just against the nature of the line. So..
AG: On iambic hexameter?
Student (Pat): No, the dactylic hexameter, the imitation of Homer, which was, at that time, or just previous to that time, a great problem. Everybody was trying to write English hexameters, and, you know, pragmatically, it wasn't working. So he limits himself pretty well to the trochaic and iambic meters and various combinations of these. Yeah, I could work through...
AG:  "Cause, yes..  Could you prepare a little summary of his gists and main ideas and how we can understand his poetry from his theory, his descent into.. I mean, how we can understand the quantitative element in his poetry

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-one minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-two-and-a-half minutes in , and also from approximately forty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in to the end of the tape]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John Dowland/Basil Bunting

                           [John Dowland (1563-1626)]

Allen Ginsberg's January 1980 Basic Poetics class continues (in preparation for future notes on John Dowland

AG; Apparently, I have.. the “Fine Knacks For Ladies" that you gave me the recording? – I have some  (John) Dowland around and I had that so I’ll try and bring in a… I was going to try and get Charlie (Ross - sic) to bring in a phonograph today. Were there any others on that  beside the "Fine Knacks For Ladies" ?   

Student: There’s Dowland’s setting of "Weep No More Sad Fountains" on that other one.

AG: Ah, good ok.. We've got both of them then -  "Dough-land" (that’s how  (Basil) Bunting pronounces it)  
Student: What's that?
AG:  You pronounced it (that way) also.
Student:  Yeah, I definitely lose points for saying "Dow-land"
AG: What?
Student: I definitely lose points for saying "Dow-land"
AG: Who knew better?
Student: "Dough-land" (from the Anglo-Saxon)
AG; "Dough-land" (Dowland) is the composer. 

                                                      [Basil Bunting (1900-1985)] 

In fact, I think what I'll do with the Bunting, I may.. I may bring in a tape and just play it, a few minutes of it, just some essential points, and also Bunting pronouncing (Sir Thomas) Wyatt and (Thomas) Campion (which is a real treat, because this is (with) this marvelous English, or Northumbrian accent with rolling "r"'s , and, you know, like, very finely pronounced consonants. It's really a pleasure to listen to). Nobody (here) knows Bunting? - I don't know. I've spoken of him here in previous classes, but.. He has Collected Poems, put out by Oxford University Press [Editorial note - now updated in the new Faber edition - see here]. He was one of the great..  with Marianne Moore, (Ezra) Pound, (William Carlos) Williams(W.B.) Yeats, in the early part of the century. He was in obscurity for many years but..  the phrase that I've used here over and over - "Follow the tone-leading of the vowels" - was attributed to (Ezra) Pound (it comes from Pound's introduction to Bunting's  Collected Poems (Dallas, Texas, 1950, a little paperback, the Square Dollar series of Pound. [Editorial note - Allen is factually inaccurate here - the 1950 edition of his Collected  published by Dallam Flynn, an edition Allen owned and treasured, was actually published by The Cleaner's Press, Galveston, Texas]    Then, later on, he was picked up by Tom Pickard and the younger British poets and then brought back to life by Jonathan Williams, and Oxford, last year, two years ago, [1978] published his Collected Poems. And he's really worth reading. And his specialty is condensation..

Student: What?

AG: Condensation. Like "minimum number of syllables, maximun amount of information". (Ezra) Pound quotes him in The ABC of Reading that Basil Bunting told him that "Dichten Equals Condensare" -  Poetry Writing is Condensing - and I would say, "Maximun amount of information, minimum number of syllables" - "Rut thuds the rim" is a line of Bunting's. The cart going over the country road - "Rut thuds the rim". You really get it all there - you get the physicality of the cart, the condition of the road, the era (or, at least, the anthropological era) - "rut thuds the rim" - a rut in the road, thudding against the rim of the wheel - "Rut thuds the rim" - "Pens are too light. Take a chisel to write" (talking about tombstones) -  "Words?"  ("Words", question-mark) - "Pens are too light. Take a chisel to write". Bunting is a great poet. You know, in this kind of tradition of absolute attention to the articulation of sounds and to measure and time of vowels. And you can hear it in his voice when he's talking. So I think I'll bring know, prepare some of that for next time. Okay..
 We might play some.. for the rest of the class we might play some of the.. a couple more of these.. a couple more of these ballads [Dowland's ballads] next time. So we'll hear the rest of them.  

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