Monday, March 31, 2014

Barbara Rubin (1945-1980)


Taken in England 1964



[top image - Allen Ginsberg and Barbara Rubin together at the Albert Monument, outside the Royal Albert Hall, London, May 1965, on the occasion of the First International Poetry Incarnation - bottom image - Barbara Rubin filming in the streets of London - May 1965 - photo by Allen Ginsberg  c. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]   

Last year's celebrations at the Anthology Film Archives and at Johan Kugelberg's New York City Boo-Hooray Gallery (specialists in the occluded and forgotten), suceeeded in shining a little light, perhaps, on the perennial "underground legend", Barbara Rubin, but not so very much. She seems to have retreated once again into her default mode - posthumous mystery and obscurity. 

There was a time (in the early 'Sixties) when she was a pivotal and important figure for Allen (not to mention, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol, and a whole host more)



"Barbara was a great bringer-together of people, often for her own projects", Gordon Ball writes, in his recently-published memoir, East Hill Farm . One of the projects she was key instigator of, it should be pointed out, was convincing Allen, in 1967, that he should indeed buy that (Cherry Valley) farm.
Bill Morgan: "(She) (Barbara) was relentless in her determination...and used all her considerable powers of persuasion to convince him..In the end no one ever knew if Allen bought the farm of his own free will or (simply) to appease Barbara". 

In 1963, she was 17 when she made her ground-breaking "underground (sex) movie", Christmas on Earth (see below)

The deep early connection with Bob Dylan?

Perhaps you recall her as the short-haired girl in the striped t-shirt, massaging Dylan's curly locks, on the back-cover of Bringing It All Back Home?



(an image of Allen in a top hat is placed, significantly, next to them)














[Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Barbara Rubin, Bob Dylan, and Daniel Kramer, backstage 
at McCarter Theater, in Princeton, New Jersey, September 1964 Photograph c. Daniel Kramer]















                     
(In 1965 she's with Allen, in London, in the front row, at the legendary Albert Hall Dylan concert. They go back-stage afterwards and that's where Allen first meets The Beatles.)  

Several weeks later, she's the primary instigator (not Allen, it turns out), of the great (likewise legendary) international poetry reading at that same venue - the Royal Albert Hall - the First International Poetry Incarnation Allen has confessed it: "(It was) all Barbara's idea"

Later in 1965, Barbara (through the intermediary of Gerard Malanga) introduces Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground (out of which was spawned...)

"When Barbara Rubin asked Gerard to help her make a movie about the Velvets playing at the Bizarre (sic). Gerard asked Paul Morrissey to help and Paul said why didn't I come along, and so we all went down there to see them." (Andy Warhol)

Andy:  She was "one of the first people to get multi-media going around New York"

Her subsequent utter renunciation of her art and retreat into a Hasidic community child-bearing ritual is a tale unto itself - enigma and erasure. 

Meanwhile...   

"Barbara Rubin's 29-minute Christmas on Earth is the filmic record of an orgy staged in a New York City apartment in 1963. This double-projection of overlapping images of nude men and women clowning around and making love is one of the first sexually explicit works in the American postwar avant-garde...Many consider it to be an essential document of queer and feminist cinema.." (Daniel Belasco in Barbara Rubin - The Vanished Prodigy)

More scholarly observation and contextualization here:
"Embodying the Spectator - Barbara Rubin's Christmas on Earth and the Pornographic Avant-Garde

Ara Osterweil at McGill remains the pre-eminent authority, download (in two parts) her definitive article here


and here (so the art outlives the artists) is the film. 


and here, as an addenda (with rare footage of Allen and Barbara in it) is Jonas Mekas'  film portrait "To Barbara Rubin With Love"

and here Allen, 1965, naked with Barbara


[Allen Ginsberg and Barbara Rubin, June 3 1965, in London at Barry Miles apartment, on the occasion of Allen's 39th birthday. Photograph by John ("Hoppy") Hopkins]

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mark Ewert


[Mark Ewert - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg  c. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

Mark Ewert’s colorful sexual revelations – “He lost his virginity to Allen Ginsberg and maintained an eight-year relationship with William Burroughs” - hit the internets this weekend with a vengeance – courtesy this article, in vocative, but further flamed and considerably amplified by this provocative header – “Allen Ginsberg Teaches You How To Give A Blowjob” - on that gossip-site par excellence, Gawker. The paragraph excerpted, and the justification for that lead, a direct quote from Ewert, runs as follows:

“Basically he blew me; that was a big part of it. And he was really good at it. He did this thing where he had his hand and his mouth working at the same time, and he'd take time out to explain to me what he was doing. He was like, 'See, you do this with your hand so that way your partner's penis is always being touched, and when your mouth is off it, your hand is there and it keeps it warm and it keeps the sensation constant, and that shows real consideration to your partner.' It's very Allen that he's always peppering anything he's saying with little tutorials. But I was totally down for that—it was what I'd signed up for. I wanted the tutorial, I wanted to understand how the fucking world worked. I wanted somebody to help me and mentor me."

Ewert goes on to single out Allen as being, far from predatory, an extremely thoughtful and considerate lover:

“Allen I could really talk to. I feel like I had some of the most real conversations with him than I’ve had with anyone in my life, really. Allen,  I definitely had a deeper relationship with..” – this, in contrast to the more cold and clinical “calcified persona” of Burroughs.

“Sleeping with Ginsberg and Burroughs concurrently”, the author writes,“Ewert felt he had arrived. He didn’t consider himself a groupie, citing a kinship he felt with both, as well as a precocious intellect that allowed him to hold his own in conversation. The fact he was eighteen and sleeping with a sixty-three-year-old and seventy-five-year-old was beside the point; Ginsberg was a skilled lover, and sex he had with both men became only more intimate and loving as things progressed.”

Bedroom secrets and bedroom tittle-tattle. We wouldn't normally be particularly alarmed ("Candor disarms paranoia") except that the reporting and the twist given in these reports makes for some troubling memes, false assumptions and flat-out errors - "Ginsberg had his way with Ewert and then passed him on to his friend Burroughs, whom Ginsberg decided could use a good lay", is Gawker's less-than-stellar (and less-than-accurate) description of Ewert's self-proclaimed pursuit of both men.

We at The Allen Ginsberg Project are just a tad  concerned lest demonization or vain glory take the place of poetic truth or proper understanding.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kronos Quartet - Howl, USA


Kronos Quartet “Howl USA”
[Kronos Quartet - Howl, USA (1996) Nonesuch Records - sleeve design Frank Olinsky]



The Kronos Quartet's 1996 Nonesuch release "Howl, U.S.A." (with its distinctive Robert Mapplethorpe cover) has been deemed "a real masterpiece in "modern" music" - "The rendering of (Allen Ginsberg's) "Howl" is spectacular, but to have three other impressive pieces that tie-in thematically, while presenting varied musical approaches..." (The other three pieces are "Sing Sing" (a "setting" of the FBI's J.Edgar Hoover - "We are as close to you as your telephone"! )),"Barstow" - Eight Hitchhikers Inscriptions" (a short selection from a longer Harry Partch piece), and "Cold War Suite from How It Happens.." (featuring the voice of the legendary pioneering journalist, I.F.Stone).  
"Kronos has made many great albums of widely ranging styles", the writer declares, "but "Howl USA" stands out as a particularly brilliant concept and presentation." 

Accompanied by the group, Allen reads "Howl" here in its entirety . 
The recording was made in May 1995 at Looking Glass Studios in New York.

[2014 update - Unfortunately this recording is no longer available on You Tube - but some sections can be listened to here]

Prior to that Allen had appeared live on stage with them. Here's Edward Rothstein's review (from January 1994) in the New York Times : 

"...the entire second half of Thursday's program was given to the world premiere of Lee Hyla [Kronos Quartet]'s "Howl" in which the quartet accompanied Allen Ginsberg reading his classic poem, an ancestral proclamation from the 1950's avant-garde [sic]. With an exuberant sing-song manner, Mr Ginsberg presented an allegro cascade of images and seemed reluctant to pause for breath. The poem is intoxicated with provocations, enthusiasms, outrages and celebrations of homosexuality.
Mr Hyla says in the program notes that his accompaniment was to be an equal partner with the poem. But the music was the least important aspect of the package. Its quirky exclamations, ostinato patterns and strenuous labors only undercut the text, distracting from the poem's angry tipsy whirl, as much as did the changing mood lights"

Er..perhaps that is meant to be a put-down, but it is the Kronos Quartet's respect (and restraint, and, on fitting occasions, full-out enthusiasm) that makes for a sustaining and pleasing, true collaboration. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 170




William Burroughs Centennial - We'll begin with the above, a short biographical documentary put together by the Los Angeles Review of Books, featuring Burroughs' biographer, Barry Miles - "William S. Burroughs - 100 Years".


[William Burroughs, NYC, 1984  - Photograph c. Kate Simon]

James Parker, in The Atlantic, on Burroughs (and Miles' Burroughs biography) is well worth reading (as is Davis Schneiderman & Philip Walsh's 2004 Retaking the Universe - William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization, now presented with a new preface and  new introduction, and available, in its entirety, on line, at that nonpareil in Burroughs scholarship, the estimable Reality Studio site)  


Other Beats - Todd Tietchen on his custodianship of Kerouac's The Haunted Life.

And here's Paul Maher Jr in the Los Angeles Review of Books (them again!) on that book.

And Douglas Kennedy in The New Statesman on Kerouac and Burroughs

Here's a sweet personal piece we missed - Guillermo Parra on "Visiting Jack Kerouac in St.Petersburg" (Florida).  Kerouac traces. If you're ever in Florida, don't miss out on the Kerouac house.

And another personal note - Tina Siegel looks back on Ed Sanders'  2000 biography-in-verse of Allen,  The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg.  


There's another review of that book here 

 - and another one here 


Kill Your Darlings DVD is now released (in limited markets).  Screenwriters, Austin Bunn and John Krokidas speak about the film here.

next week - in New York - next Thursday, in fact - CUNY's admirable Lost & Found Series (see here and here) inaugurate Lost & Found Series IV - "Editors will read, perform, present multimedia and discuss their projects, which include [sic] the Pauline Kael and Robert Duncan correspondence, a film script by Ed Dorn intended for Stan Brakhage, Adrienne Rich's CUNY teaching materials... and more. For further information on that event - see here   



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 43 (Robert Duncan)



File:Poet Robert Duncan.jpg
[Robert Duncan (1919-1988)]

Allen's Expansive Poetics lecture continuing...

AG: Now, the natural next one that I’d like to pick up on, the next text, I’d like to pick up on, is a jump almost a century ahead, but, another theosophist (or someone trained (and) who grew up with Christian Science and studied hermetic philosophy, and theosophy, and tarot, and (Carl Gustav) Jung, and medieval learning), namely Robert Duncan, who has a very beautiful poem, which relates to Walt Whitman again, written in the mid (19)50’s – [“A Poem Beginning with a Line from Pindar”] - That would be in the American section (of our Expansive Poetics anthology). Born 1919..  Is DM (a Student) here?

Student: Oh, I just ran into him (in the…)

AG: Oh, okay. DM has just read all through Duncan. And, if you’re further interested in Duncan, Joanne Kyger [currently at Naropa] studied with him very early. “ - “A Poem Beginning with a Line from Pindar” – He’s after Robert Lowell – it’s 1919

Student: So it’d be before (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti and..

AG: After…

Student: ..(Jack)Kerouac

AG: …(Robert) Lowell..

Student: Right after (Charles) Olson

Student (2): Incidentally, Robert Duncan is teaching Whitman – right now, in fact!

AG: At New College?

Student: Yeah

AG: Yeah

Student: It’s an interesting fact that these two courses are going on simultaneously

AG: Yeah. Do you know about New College in San Francisco?

Student: San Francisco?

AG: San Francisco. There’s a thing called New College, which is an older private school that’s been going on ten or twelve years or so, but, I think, partly in response to the challenge of Naropa, out in San Francisco they founded their own school now. And so the directors are Robert Duncan and Diane di Prima, both of whom have taught here. Duncan, I think, disapproved of the basic Buddhist influence here, and so he thought a more secular, American-oriented, extension of the Black Mountain ethos should be founded. And Diane, who is a Buddhist, who comes back and forth (between) here (and there), is also a teacher there. I’ll probably visit New College and teach there this September [1981] at least for a day. I’ll give a reading there. [to Students] - When you get finished with Naropa and you want another variety, (or), if you’re into poetics and want another variety of poetics, New College is probably pretty good.

Student: It’s interesting, because you could get a B.A. here [at Naropa] and then go on and get an M.A. at New College They have a Master’s Program there.

AG: Do we [Naropa] have a Master’s Program in Poetics?

Student: No

AG: We may devise one, if we survive [sic] – or, actually, you could go to New College for two years and then come here for two years and get a B.A, also. Actually, that’s a very interesting shot. I think it may take root, whether or not Naropa (does).. it may take root, whether or not Naropa survives (I’m talking about financially – it’s pretty difficult now – that’s why I’m laying out these little donation vouchers here[Allen digresses at this point into urgent issues of fund-raising]………

So..(Robert) Duncan.. “Poem Beginning With A Line by Pindar” (done in the (19)60’s, late (19)50’s, rather, or mid (19)50’s, I don’t know what year that was done, (19)58?, same year as the big explosion of poetry in San Francisco (got) recognized – maybe a year after On The Road came out – somewhat impelled and pushed into a populist heart thing by the San Francisco Renaissance, by “Howl” coming out, by the appearance of a great  phalanx of fellow-poets in competition with them – Gary Snyder and myself and (Jack) Kerouac, whom Duncan admired for his inclusiveness).
So this was one of the climactic pieces of Duncan’s writing. As a young man he’d been all over the joint – amazingly smart, and amazingly connected - with the Surrealists inNew York (the Surrealists that came to New York during the war). And he dressed in green velvet coats, and was a gigolo, and a man-about-town, in New York, and a real handsome kid, and was in and out of everybody’s bed in the (19)40’s, knew almost everybody. I think he knew (Ezra)Pound, and visited (William Carlos)Williams, and had correspondence with Laura Riding (and) with Hilda Doolittle, and all the old Imagists and Objectivists and all the Surrealists and international dandies of literature, (19)40’s, (19)50’s, (19)60’s – And had written a number of very brilliant poems - but more hermetic. And this, [“Poem Beginning With A Line by Pindar”], I found, or thought, was his most open, Whitman-ic, poem – 1958 – And so, in the “San Francisco Renaissance” issue of Evergreen Review - (which was a historic issue – I think number two -  of Evergreen Review – gathering together all the new poetry of the (19)50’s – San Francisco, Black Mountain, New York School – which is to say, Duncan, (Robert) Creeley, (John) Ashbery, (Kenneth) Koch, (Frank) O’Hara, and of the Beats, myself, (Jack) Kerouac, (Gregory) Corso  - in one issue, sort of (a) literary explosion) – this was the poem Duncan had in Evergreen.. and also the key piece that he had in the Don Allen anthology, New American Poetry.. – “The light foot hears you and the brightness begins.” – “A Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar – and so that’s the line by Pindar.

File:Francisco de Goya-Allegory of Love, Cupid and Psyche.jpg
[Allegory of Love - Cupid and Psyche - Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)]

[Allen begins reading Robert Duncan’s poem] – “god-step at the margins of thought,/quick adulterous tread at the heart/ Who is it that goes there? Where I see your quick face/notes of an old music pace the air,/torso-reverberations of a Grecian lyre./ In Goya’s canvas Cupid and Psyche/have a hurt voluptuous grace” – I must say, I don’t understand half of this poem (though I like a lot of the phrasing) until we get to the political statement and the appeal to Whitman, the address to Whitman – [Allen continues] – “In Goya’s canvas Cupid and Psyche/have a hurt voluptuous grace/bruised by redemption. The copper light/falling upon the brown boy’s slight body/is carnal fate that sends the soul wailing/up from blind innocence, ensnared by dimness/into the deprivations of desiring sight./ But the eyes in Goya’s painting are soft,/diffuse with rapture absorb the flame./ Their bodies  yield out of strength/ Waves of visual pleasure/wrap them in a sorrow previous to their impatience” – I don’t know what that means, actually – “Waves of visual pleasure/wrap them in a sorrow previous to their impatience” – Perhaps I haven’t looked at the canvas that he’s talking about – [Allen continues] – “A bronze of yearning, a rose that burns/the tips of their bodies, lips/ ends of fingers, nipples..”…”..they are not in a landscape/They exist in an obscurity…”…”Jealousy, ignorance, the hurt.. serve them”..”This is magic. It is passionate dispersion//What if they grow old? The gods/would not allow it./Psyche is preserved..”…”It is toward the old poets/we go, to their faltering,/their unfaltering wrongness that has style,/ their variable truth,/the old faces,/words shed like tears from/a plenitude of powers time stores./ A stroke. These little strokes…” – He’s talking about Whitman here
[tape ends – to be continued]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gregory Corso's Birthday




[Gregory Corso, aged 31, Tangier, Morocco, July 1961 - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg - c. Allen Ginsberg Estate] 


AN ACCIDENTAL BIOGRAPHY by Gregory Corso
 [An Accidental Autobiography - The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso (edited by Bill Morgan) (2003)] 

Kirby Olson has been compiling a “crowd-sourced on-line biography” of Gregory Corso since 2010. He sees John Aubrey’s classic, Brief Lives, as a model, and envisions a multi-faceted, impressionistic, “pointillistic biography", ("leaving it", as he declares," to some later person to connect all the dots"). Here’s Anne Waldmans exemplary start-up contribution:

Gregory Corso

Anne Waldman: "Gregory Corso invaded my shower one day in the little Townhouse apartment I return to in dreams as “Remember Some Apartments”. It was named “Emerson Apartments”. Ralph Waldo Emerson had always been an inspiration for my memory of this place although he would not have appreciated the commune spirit. Gregory was always barging in, rooting around looking for valium or anything palliative and high-making, gesticulating , checking out my books – did I have any art books? – and would I ever be as good as Jane Austen? So there was that, the sense of invasion. I was soaping my hair with lavender shampoo. We decided we would probably never sleep together. That was a good idea because he was so complicated to think about sleeping with. I mean, it wasn’t even an issue or much of a discussion. I was not going to get my transmissions from Beat poets, I proclaimed, by sleeping with them! I said would you be my pal? And will you behave? He hugged me as we were water rats together in the shower (This was 1975, Boulder, Colorado during a summer session of  The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University)

Here's Andy Clausen:



So whatever happened to The Whole Shot, that book of Gregory’s interviews that that guy was supposedly doing?

Even more monumental,  whatever happened to The Last Beat?

and how come there’s no PennSound page?

Gregory Corso.  Associated Press file photo by Ira Cohen

[Gregory Corso - Photograph by Ira Cohen]

Multiple postings on the Allen Ginsberg Project (Gregory is, typically, all over this blog)  -  Why don't you all just start -  here

We've had Allen-playing-himself-playing-a-character - acting - here's Gregory doing the same thing 



Here's from another film work-in-progress Canadian, (Italian-Canadian) Nick Mancuso plays Gregory in Bomb! Burning Fantasy

We love this (rare) footage of Gregory on Italian tv, of Gregory and Fabrizio de Andre (note - Gregory appears approximately seven-and-three-quarter minutes in)   

Had he stayed alive (ha!)  Gregory would have been eighty-four years old this fine Spring morning, birthday morning 
Birthday Greetings!, Gregory

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Expansive Poetics 42 - (Edward Carpenter 4)


File:Day, Fred Holland (1864-1933) - Edward Carpenter.jpg
[Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) - Photograph by Fred Holland Day]


AG: The other poem of (Edward) Carpenter's we might as well do, while we're on Carpenter, is "The Secret of Time and Satan". The reason I brought him up is he's one of the children of (Walt) Whitman and one of the people who applied Whitman's method of realistic all-inclusiveness, notation in present time, empathy in space, empathy and sympathy going out in space to make notions in present time. (It's) a more philosophical poem based on theosophical ideas. It has Whitman's basic impetus and openness. It has his basic cosmic optimism - belief in transformation and transmigration (of souls). I guess Whitman is a little more tenuous. In this man, I think, it's a very definite schematic idea of reincarnation. But the way he uses it is an uncanny idea. Where it arrives, at the end of this poem, is an amazing, rare, visionary trip - totally enthusiastic and totally personal. There is something about it that makes me think that it is true, (at the same time it's totally impractical - but, on the other hand, (there's) a kind of a heart-yearning in it that gives it a ring of deja-vu familiarity) - the final image (in) "The Secret of Time and Satan"   

The opening lines are very witty in a Whitmanic manner - "Is there one in all the world who does not desire to be divinely beautiful?/To have the most perfect body - unerring skill/strtength - limpid clearness of mind, as of the sunlight over the hills -/To radiate love wherever he goes - to move in and/out, accepted?/ The secret lies close to you, so close./  You are that person - it lies close to you, so close -/ deep down within -/ But in Time it shall come forth and be revealed./ Not by accumulating riches, but by giving away what/ you have/Shall you become beautiful -/You must undo thr wrappings, not case yourself in fresh ones,/Not by multiplying knowledge shall you beautify your mind,/It is not the food that you eat that has to vivify/ you/ but you have to vivify the food./Always emergence, and the parting of veils for the hidden to appear" - That tone is a direct steal out of Whitman..
The line "Always emergence, and the parting of veils for the hidden to appear" is exactly Whitman's tone and Whitman's syntax - "Always emergence" - "Always new mothers approaching" - 

Student: It sounds very Theosophical.

AG: Yes. Well, it is, yes. He was a..

Student:  Otherwise, rather than from Whitman.

AG: Well, Whitman got his from Theosophy too

Student: He did?

AG: A bit.. yeah.. the same.. Actually, Edward Carpenter was the tutor to the sons of the Royal Family - Queen Victoria, I believe..

Student:  When did.. do you have any dates for.. Oscar Wilde?

AG: No, I don't have him in here [in the Expansive Poetics anthology].

Student: Because it's sort of Dorian Gray..

AG: Well, they're of the same time.

Student: Phenomenology

AG: They knew each other. They knew each other, probably.
Carpenter was a tutor in the Royal Family (I forget (to) exactly who), and had a very high position in British respectable society, and was considered a very deep and respectable, thoughtful fellow. Then he gave it up, actually, and wanted to chase a spiritual life, and went to America to visit Whitman (who was having a vogue in England at that time). Everybody recognized that Whitman had made a great signal of openness, everybody interpreting him in their own way - the Theosophists, as transmigration of souls, the Democrats, as the man who had formulated a high-class democratic poetry, and exemplified it, and proved it by his images, proved a common humanity (which is what Carpenter (was) getting (at)). People were sexually interested. He seemed to make a "primeval password" for the first time in public, approving any sexual situation - so (Charles Algernon) Swinburne was interested. Then, the people who believed in Oriental philosophy, or Theosophy, found in him the best Western statement (of their beliefs), equal to the Vedas, actually - "Thou Vedic Caesar" ("Vedic Caesar" was Hart Crane's phrase - King of the Vedas, Vedic Caesar) - And (Chogyam) Trunpa (Rinpoche) even - I read some Whiman to Trungpa and Trungpa said, "It sounds like sutras", - as good as sutra - which is to say that expansive insight in sympathy into other sentient beings outside of your skull. 
He was involved, I think, with Annie Besant and other people, but I think it was more of a radical socialist humanistic social shot. I think he was also in favor of the working man. So socialist-labor - labor-oriented

File:Annie Besant in 1897.JPG
[Annie Besant (1847-1933)]

Student: (William Butler) Yeats a part of that (set)

AG: Yes. Gavin Arthur, who knew Carpenter, also knew Yeats and Maud Gonne. It's a small group of people. [Allen continues reading from Carpenter] - "..The child emerges from it's mother's body, and out/ of that body again in time another child/When the body which thou now hast falls away,/another body shall be already prepared beneath,/And beneath that again another/Always that which appears last in time is first, and/ the cause of all - and not that which appears first" - So that's a funny teleogical viewpoint - "Always that which appears last in time is first, and/ the cause of all - and not that which appears first" - [Allen continues, reading from Sections 2 and 3] - "Freedom has to be won afresh every morning"..."I tune the lute for thee, I prepare my body for thee/bathing unseen in the limpid waters.."..."Wondrous is Man - the human body - to understand/and possess this, to create it every day afresh is to possess all things"..."The eyes ordaining, directing, the feet and all that they indicate.." - that's a Whitmanic word - "the feet and all that they indicate" - "..the path they travel for years and years,/The passions of the body and the belly, and the cry for/food, the heaving breasts of love, the phallus, the fleshy/thighs,/The erect proud head and neck, the sturdy back, and/knees well-knit or wavering.." - To mention the phallus, I guess, in 1889, must have been a big deal. Just to put that in as an artifact and as part of the body I think, probably, was very shocking then, just to include it as one of the instruments of the body with the belly and "The erect proud head and neck, the sturdy back, and/knees well-knit or wavering/All the interminable attitudes and what they indicate -/ Every relation of one man to another, every cringing/bullying, lustful, obscene, pure, honorable, chaste, just and merciful -/ The fingers differently shaped according as they/handle money for gain or for gift.." - (That's a terrific line!)

Student: Really!

AG:  "The fingers differently shaped according as they/handle money for gain or for gift.." - that's a really perceptive piece of karmic observation.

Student: What does he mean by that. I..
AG: Well..
Student: I mean, it sounds like a continuation..
AG: A guy who is, say, handling money, in a bank, for gain, will have fingers that are...
Student: Turned in
AG:.. turned in (and they're certainly not roughened by labor, with the cows, or iron pipes, or Broadway..)
Student: He could be talking about just tension too, almost (a)..
AG: Yes
Student: Grasping attitude.
AG: Yes
Student: Grasping hands.
AG: Un-hmm
Student: He's talking about that
AG: He's talking about physiognomy reflecting attitude.
Student: Yes
AG: Which is tension.
Student: Yeah



AG:  The next line is interesting too, from that. He's introduced this idea - "All the different ramifications and institutions of/ society which proceed from such one difference in the crook/of a finger.." - which means, "won't you come in, in? with a cruxed finger, won't you come in the door?", or "Woncha come in?" - ok - so..  "All the different ramifications and institutions of/ society which proceed from such one difference in the crook/of a finger/All that proceed from an arrogant or a slavish contour/ of the neck" - That's a good one.

Student: Yeah

AG:  That is, "all that proceed", all the different consequences, ramifications, and institutions of society which "proceed from an arrogant or a slavish contour/ of the neck,/All the evil that goes forth from any part of a man's/body which is not possessed by/ himself - all the devils let/loose - from a twist of the tongue or/a leer of the eye..."..."What it is to command and be/Master of this wondrous/body with all its passions and/powers, to truly possess it - that it/is to command and possess all/things, that it is to/ create." 

That's a very Zen attitude, actually - the idea of becoming one with your body, possessing your body - a theme which you'll find in Whitman and which you'll find then spreading more and more and more in the twentieth century as a whole theory of society, with holistic medicine and what-not. But, in poetry, (it's) D.H.Lawrence (who is) continually on that subject of possessing, being in control or possessing a body. (Arthur) Rimbaud, the next poet in this book (the Expansive Poetics anthology), ended his Season in Hell with the phrase - "Why talk of a friendly hand! My great advantage is that I can laugh at old lying loves  and put to shame those deceitful couples, -  I saw the hell of women back there, -  and I shall be free to possess truth in one body and one soul" [in Louise Varese's translation] - "in one soul and one body"  ["Que parlais-je de main amie ! un bel avantage, c'est que je puis rire des vieilles amours mensongères, et frapper de honte ces couples menteurs,  j'ai vu l'enfer des femmes là-bas ;  et il me sera loisible de posséder la vérité dans une âme et un corps.] - Charles Olson in "Maximus" - "I feel that I am one with my skin" [ "I have this sense,/ that I am one/ with my skin"] (which is an interesting way of putting it) - "I feel that I am, at last, after all these years, one with my skin" - or Wallace Stevens [from "Esthetique du Mal"] - "The greatest poverty is not to live/ in a physical world, to feel that one's desire/ Is too difficult to tell from despair"..(and)   "..who could have thought to create so many worlds,/ so many sensuous selves,/ merely in living as where we live" [the exact quote is  "...who could have thought to make/so many selves, so many sensuous worlds,/ As if the air, the midday air, was swarming/With the metaphysical changes that occur/Merely in living as and where we live"]

- So it's actually akin to the Zen theory of "ordinary mind", or the Zen idea-conception of "ordinary mind", i.e. that the mind you have and the body you have, if worked with and accepted and entered into, becomes your possession, and then becomes sane and clear and lucid, (because there's no confusion, (no) looking for another world). You're in your body. But, then, some people don't like it, so they're looking for another (so that they're awkward in their own body because (they're) rejecting it).

Student: Isn't there also the idea of the macrocosm and the microcosm?

AG: Yes

Student: In the body is the universe.

AG: Um-hmm. Well, the body is the universe in a very direct way. It's through your eyeballs that you see space. And if you don't possess your eyeballs, then your view of space will be, like mine, myopic. It's (through) your ears that you hear - your ears - the sounds  of the universe, and if you're going to hate your ears, then all you're going to hear is bad noise, and so forth. In other words, since we see the universe through our senses, the macrocosm is a projection of our microcosmic body. Yes? 

[Allen continues his reading of Edward Carpenter's "The Secret of Time and Satan"] - "The art of creation, like every/other art, has to be/learnt/ Slowly, slowly, through many/years thou buildest up/thy body/ And the power that thou now hast/(such as it is) to/ build up this present body, thou/ hast acquired in the past in other/bodies,/So in the future shalt thou use again the power that/thou now acquirest./But the power to build up the/body includes all/powers./ Do not be dismayed because thou art yet a child of/chance, and atthe mercy greatly/both of Nature and fate,/Because if thou wert not subject/to chance, then/wouldst thou be Master of thyself,/but since thou art notyet Master of/thine own passions and powers, in/ that degree/must thou needs be at the mercy of/some other power -/ And if thou choosest to call the/power 'Chance', well/and good. It is the angel with whom thou hast to wrestle./  Beware how thou seekest this for/thyself and that for/thyself. i do not say Seek not, but Beware how thou/seekest./For a soldier who is going a/campaign does not seek/what fresh furniture he can carry on/his back, but rather/what he can leave behind,/Knowing well that every/ additional thing which he/cannot freely use and handle is an/impediment to him./ So if thou seekest fame or ease/or pleasure or aught/for thyself, the image of that thing/which thou seekest will/come and cling to thee - and thou/wilt have to carry it about..."
 - Boy, that's absolutely true - Absolutely!  - because the last few weeks I've been sort of lusting after various people and getting into relations with them and then I'm finding that my mind is dominated by it now, practically. So that I can't hardly make a move without having to consider "Let's see, who am I going to fuck tonight?" or "Am I going to get laid?" - and, it's a giant piece of furniture on my back, exactly as this. Yes
 - "And the images and powers which/ thou hast thus/evoled will gather round and form/for thee a new body -/ clamoring for sustenance and/satisfaction -/And if thou art not able to/discard this image now,/thou wilt not be able to discard/that body then, but wilt/have to carry it about./ Beware then lest it become thy/grave and thy prison/ - instead of thy winged abode, and/palace of joy" - (Carpenter) sounds like (William) Blake there. And Carpenter would have known Blake, also, or known of Blake, because, being friends with Whitman, he would have known Whitman's great friend in Philadelphia, Mrs Gilchrist (Anne Gilchrist), who was the wife, or the widow, of the first biographer of Blake (so there was oddly an intimate connection between Whitman and Blake, too).

Student: This sounds like a fairly direct connection to that little bit of Blake - "He who binds to himself a joy...

AG: Yeah

Student:  ...does the winged love destroy"

AG: Yeah. "He who binds to himself a joy", or "He who binds a joy to himself" - "He who binds to himself a joy/Does the winged life destroy/ He who kisses the joy as it flies/ Live in eternity's sun rise" [William Blake's "Eternity']


[Infant Joy - from "Songs of Innocence" (1789) - William Blake]


[Edward Carpenter, again] -  " ...instead of thy winged abode,/and palace of joy./For (over and over again) there/is nothing that is/evil except because a man has not/mastery over it" - (that's good (advice) about L.S.D. actually) - "For (over and over again) there/is nothing that is/evil except because a man has not/mastery over it, and there is no good/thng that is not evil if it have/mastery over a man..." - [Allen contines, reading on, until the end of the poem] - "And so at last I saw Satan appear/before me -/ magnificent, fully formed./Feet first, with shining limbs,/he glanced down from/above the bushes,/And stood there erect, dark-/skinned, wih nostrils/dilated with passion -/ (In the burning intolerable sunlight he stood, and I/in the shade of the bushes) - /Fierce and scathing the effluence/of his eyes, and/scornful of dreams and dreamers - (he/touched a rock hard/by and it split with a sound like/thunder) -/Fierce the magnetic influence of/his dusky flesh, his/great foot, well-formed, was planted/firm in the sand - with/spreading toes -/ 'Come out', he said with a taunt,/'Art thou afraid to/ meet me?'/ And I answered not, but sprang/upon him and/smote him,/ And he smote me a thousand times,/and bashed and/scorched and slew me as with hands/of flame,/ And I was glad, for my body lay/there dead, and I/sprang upon him again with/ another body -/ And with another and another and again another,/And the bodies which I took on yielded before him,/and were like cinctures of flame/upon me, but I flung them aside,/ And the pains which I endured in one body were/powers which I wielded in the next,/and I grew in strength,/ till at last I stood before him/complete, with a body like his/own and equal in mght - exultant in/pride and joy./ Then he ceased, and said, 'I love/ thee.'/ And lo! his form changed, an he/leaned backwards/and drew me upon him,/And bore me up into the air, and/floated me over/the topmost trees and the ocean, and/round the curve of/the earth under the moon-/ Till we stood again in Paradise." - So it really has a great visionary ending after all of that..talk.

   [The Fall of Satan (1805) - William Blake (1757-1827) in the collection of the Morgan Library, New York]

Student: Wow!

AG: It's a great poem, that last piece, I think.

Student: It's...after the dissertation..it..finally..

AG: Yeah, takes off. 

Student: ... (from) some kind of poetry or something.

AG: Well, the dissertation is so smart it's almost poetry. It's good. That's really rare. Some of these lines are almost as good, or equally as good, (as) some of the most perceptive lines of Whitman. And Whitman is a nonpareil - that is, there's one and only Whitman, and yet, he had a friend who visited him, who picked up enough from him to write great lines. There is in this four-volume work (Towards Democracy) at least one totally good book of poetry. It's worth looking at. And these two ("From Turin to Paris" and "The Secret of Time and Satan") I've chosen because they're the most moderne.  


Student: So what happened to him?

AG: Oh, he lived to a very ripe old age in England and was one of the founders of the Socialist party and one of the encouragers of revolution and rebellion among the young. I think you can find a little picture of him in old age in Gavin Arthur's description.
He wound up living in a cottage with a nice garden (a good-sized cottage and well-kept), in the (19)20's., with two young guys who were his lovers (one was something like twenty, or Gavin Arthur was twenty, and the next oldest guy was forty, and the next oldest guy was sixty, and then Carpenter was eighty when Gavin Arthur visited him. There was some kind of family arrangement that seemed to work out, balancing the ages, it's a funny story). So, actually he lived out his fantasy, or he lived out his ambition. He wrote innumerable books. There's a lot of books by him - the biography of Whitman - there are essays (he wrote a lot of Fabian.. Socialist essays, an Anarchist). He was involved in the movement for Arts and Crafts, (and hand-crafts) contrary to the Industrial Revolution.. Beyond that, I don't know much. I haven't read very much beyond it. I read a few essays, but it's mostly his poetry that I really admire. And it's so rare and unknown, it's amazing! - I've been trying to get (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti (at City Lights) to do a "Selected" Carpenter, because there's a lot of good little poems in it.  

I'll put these on reserve [Allen points to his editions of Carpenter]. I got them out today. I'll put these on reserve (in the library) if you want to look at more Carpenter. And it would be interesting..


(Audio for the above is available here, beginning approximately two-and-a-half minutes in and concluding approximately twenty-five-and-a-half minutes in)