Tuesday, July 7, 2015

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence - 6

                                       [Beggar with a Lyra (c. 1900) - Photograph by Nikolay Svishchev-Paola]

[Allen continues with his observations and annotations on William Blake's Auguries of Innocence]

AG: "The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air/Does to Rags the Heavens tear"  – That’s an interesting one – “The Beggars Rags fluttering in (the) Air" (and you just see a leprous beggar, lying down on the ground, with the rags fluttering in air).. actually, there’s a very funny sort of space-shot there – that the rags would be "fluttering in Air" ) – “Does to rags the Heavens tear” - What does that mean?

Student:  That he's disenchanted with Injustice maybe?

AG: Well, yeah, but how does it tear the heavens to rags? – Literal…what’s the literal..?

Student:  ….Oh, well, maybe from his perspective ..

AG: Right. I mean, obviously, or from anybody who sees through those rags into the air. Quite literally - he sees Heaven through rags - “Does to Rags the Heavens tear” – (or the Firmament itself, or the dome of Heaven, (which) has become split with excessive suffering).

                                [Chinese warlord displays his large sword (dadao) and Mauser pistol (c.1920)] 

"The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun/Palsied strikes the Summers Sun" – In other words, all that power, because only power, is like striking at, like, a greater luminousness, or greater power - the sun itself (so therefore is only "Palsied").

"The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more/ Than all the Gold on Africs Shore" – "Africs shore" (just as a little side-note -"Afric" – it’s funny in Blake, Afric – “all the gold on Africs shore” – Herman Melville also used “Afric” as an adjective – “There is a cold black angel with a thick Afric lip”, describing the guns, the cannons, outside Vicksburg - There is a cold black angel with a thick Afric lip” – the mouth of the cannon

                                  [Looking into the barrel of a Civil War cannon - Photograph by Stephen St John]

"One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands/ Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands"
"Or if protected from on high/ Does that whole Nation sell & buy" -  That’s a pretty strong one – "One Mite.." – you know, that’s a tiny bit, of money - "One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands" – (he wants to have it equal metricly, so he’s got L-A-B-R-E-R-S, “ Labrers hands “ not “Laborer’s hands”, that would throw the meter akilter) - "One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands/ Shall buy & sell the Miser’s Lands" - "Or if protected from on high does that whole nation sell & buy" – Now, how would you interpret that?  How can the unjust taxation, or strong-arm robbery, of a little tiny mite of money from a beggar, from a laborer, buy and sell the land?

Student:  (Once) the government..

AG: Yeah obviously the government is completely askew if it’s "wringing a mite from the laborer", the actual laborer’s hands, and so, in that sense, can buy and sell the whole nation, 'cause, it's  like "the dog’s bark at the gate predicts the ruin of the state" [“A dog starved at his Masters Gate/Predicts the ruin of the State”]

                                        [Young and Old - "the gap or connection, gap with connection.."]

"He who mocks the Infant's Faith/Shall be mockd in Age & Death" - and the beginning, remember, was  “see the world in a grain of sand”, so that corresponds. In other words, the introductory line - “see the world in a grain of sand” – and he’s showing the gap or connection, gap with connection .. between mighty magnificent huge, and almost tiny, just like For want of a nail the horse was lost, for want of a horse the battle was lost, forwant of a battle the war was lost"
"He who mocks the Infants Faith/ Shall be mockd in Age or Death” – So watch out for ageism or babe-ism! 

"He who shall teach the Child to Doubt/The rotting Grave shall neer get out"
"He who respects the Infants Faith/Triumps over Hell and Death"

"The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons/Are the fruits of the two Seasons"  - That’s sensible. "Negative Capability"  -  (That is to say, two separated, completely separated conceptions simply natural and unnatural perceptions of differing brains).

"The Questioner who sits so sly/ Shall never know how to Reply” -  I keep seeing that every day, actually, at those lectures, the big lecture [by Chogyam Trungpa] - "The Questioner who sits so Sly/ Shall never know how to Reply” – because the very slyness itself  is a funny kind of aggressive falsity so, obviously, when presented with something open or empty, the falsity becomes dumb

"He who replies to words of Doubt /Doth put the Light of Knowledge out”
 "The Strongest Poison ever known/Came from Caesars Laurel Crown" – (That is the poison of power)
"Nought can Deform the Human Race/Like to the Armours  iron brace"

"When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow/To peaceful Arts shall Envy bow"  - That’s a classic thing that (Ezra) Pound repeated over and over – and Robert Duncan also – Duncan pointing out that in Coricancha in Cuzco in the Aztec empire, there was a garden full of flowers and trees made of gold, that gold was used for art, for artisanship and art rather than as a means of usury. And who else said that? - Pound had that one.Duncan had that one.  And Pound also, I think, has some passages in the Cantos pointing out the same thing, that gold originally is to be used for..or ideally, naturally would be used for beauty rather than for commerce.

"A Riddle or the Crickets Cry/Is to Doubt a fit Reply"

“The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to smile" -  now he's talking about intellect and conceptuality here, and problems with conceptualization and over-rationalization – “A Riddle or the Crickets Cry" – that is Vajrayana, that’s Vajrayana aspects – “A Riddle or the Crickets Cry/ Is to Doubt a fit Reply” in that it cuts through conceptualization.  “The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to smile” -  “The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to...” -  that’s Einstein’s theory of relativity

"He who Doubts from what he sees/ Will neer Believe, do what you Please"
“If the Sun & Moon should doubt,/ They’d immediately Go out” ….

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here starting at approximately twenty-four-and-a-half minutes in and continuing until approximately thirty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]

Monday, July 6, 2015

Poetics and Meditation - (William Blake - Auguries of Innocence 5)

Continuing with Allen's reading from, and annotation of, William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence"

He who torments the Chafers Sprite/Weaves a Bower in endless Night" (William Blake)
AG: Do you know  what "the Chafer" was? – “He who torments the Chafers Sprite". What is a "Chafer"? – what kind of bird?

Student: No, (it's) an insect..

AG: An insect ? What kind?

Student 2: (... It’s a cicada..?)

AG: Ah! - Thus - "Weaves a Bower”

["The poison of the Snake & Newt/ Is the sweat of Envys foot" 
"The poison of the Honey Bee/Is the Artists Jealousy"]

AG: So how do we get the poison of the Snake and Newt being "the sweat of Envys foot"?, (as distinct from the Honey Bee, "the Artist’s Jealousy" the poison of the Honey Bee being "the Artist's Jealousy"). I’ve never understood  that.

Student: Maybe it goes back to the heel?, maybe that's how the snakes moves?. It's always, a little along the ground,  (having) their bellies on the ground?.. 

AG: How does Envy go out by the heel? - that’s interesting..  It sounds like a classic statement! ..

Student:  (On all people, a subtle balance)
AG: Pardon me?
Student: (On all people, a subtle balance)
AG: Yes

[“The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife/And yet forgives the Butchers knife”]

(Gregory Corso: But, see, for the butchers, Al  - Newt? Ergo? Ergot?)

AG: Yeah, we’ll have the toadstool in a minute.

“The Princes robes & Beggars rags.."  "The Princes robes and Beggars rags/Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags” – In other words, the rot of the miser keeping his money is Beggar’s rags or Prince’s riches – robes..

"A Truth…"  (and  (that) (here) it gets sort of..almost like (a) child-like-y insightful) - 
“A Truth that’s told with bad intent/Beats all the Lies you can invent“

“It is right it should be so. Man was made for Joy & Woe”
 “And when this we rightly know/Thro' the World we safely go" – Actually, that’s
 The First Noble Truth – Man was made for Joy and Woe – Existence contains Suffering - “And when this we rightly know/Thro' the World we safely go” – the concept of that, I think I mentioned before - it's not so much the Suffering of Woe, that is woe and pain, than  (it) is the suffering of Suffering, the echo of Suffering, the clinging to Suffering. The suffering of Suffering is the clinging to Suffering, the cultivation of it, the addiction to it 
(in the sense of repeated thought of it, rather than letting the thought drop to allow another haiku) -  "Man was made for Joy and Woe/ And when this we rightly know/Thro' the World we safely go” 

“Joy & Woe are woven fine/A Clothing for the soul divine”
“Under every grief a& pine/Runs a joy with silken twine” 
“The Babe is more than swadling bands/.Throughout all these Human Lands"
"Tools were made & Born were hands/ Every Farmer Understands" 
"Every Tear from Every Eye/Becomes a Babe in Eternity"
"This is caught by Females bright/ And returned  to its own delight"
"The Bleat the Bark Bellow and Roar/Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore"
"The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath/Writes Revenge in realms of Death"

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here starting at approximately twenty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately twenty-four-and-a-half minutes in]

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ben Schafer's Allen Ginsberg Memories

[Ben Schafer]

[Otis Gibbs]

Otis Gibbs interviews Ben Schafer about Allen and friends - halcyon days in New York's East Village in the late 'Eighties. We highly recommend this self-effacing loving and intimate recollection
Some related content - We've already featured Bob Rosenthal (Allen's secretary)'s memories in a four-part series here - and Steve Finbow has posted a working-for-Allen account ("What It Was Like Working For Allen Ginsberg; A Chat With His Assistant-Turned-Biographer") here  -  More memories to come on the Allen Ginsberg Project.   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Allen Ginsberg's Uncle Sam Hat

[Allen Ginsberg on Central Park Bandstand, 5th Avenue Peace Demonstration to Stop The War in Vietnam. 1966 -Photograph by Fred W McDarrah  c. the Estate of Fred W McDarrah and Getty Images]

Fred W McDarrah's iconic shot of Allen wearing his Uncle Sam hat - (an image that became transformed into a poster, that, at one time, in the 'Sixties, was ubiquitous, hanging on seemingly every student's bedroom or dormitory wall).

He (Allen) tells the story (of the events of that day, March 26, 1966)  in the recently re-published National Security Archives interview:

"I remember specifically one time, there's a very famous photo of me in an American hat an Uncle Sam hat, that was for a march [in New York] that began at Bryant Park, near the Public Library on Forty-Second Street and went all the way up to the Bandshell in Central Park. And although it had been organized by Women Strike For Peace and  The War Resisters League and the Vietnam Veterans, it was invaded by a group of what looked to be extreme left radicals waving Viet Cong flags, getting up in front of the march, getting all the publicity, with all the newspapers collaborating, and then, whn we got to the bandstand, taking over the microphone and not letting the originators and the organizers of the march speak; until after a long long while, an hour of arguing, the police intervened, or the marchers intervened. So the folks who don't have that historical memory should remember that very important thing: the sabotage of the Government during the political conventions, during the large Be-Ins, during the antiwar marches, the deliberate sabotage of the left, which was more extensive than just on the street: it was like secret manipulations to discredit and make misinformation camapaigns about them."  

[Allen Ginsberg in Uncle Sam Hat (with The Fugs (Ed Sanders et al)  on the 5th Avenue Peace Demonstration to
Stop The War in Vietnam, 1966 - Photograph by David Spieler]  

from the Sotheby's catalog (at the auction of Allen's possessions, by the Ginsberg Estate, in 1997, following his death):

"Lot 94: A vintage "Uncle Sam" top hat with label inside printed "Knox Fifth Avenue, New York" and "The Halle Bros Co. Cleveland" Paper "Uncle Sam" top hat - Cotton and velour….Ginsberg did not save the original hat that he wore in the [McDarrah] photo but he received several hats as gifts after the famous photo debuted. Ginsberg was given [this particular] paper hat in the early 1970s and he and friends were photographed wearing it. He kept it on a closet shelf with a label saying, "Allen Ginsberg's Uncle Sam Hat". The nicely constructed vintage hat with pieces of the American flag sewn over an old top hat base was used in Ginsberg's video of  "The Ballad of the Skeletons" filmed by Gus Van Sant. The cotton and velour hat was given to Ginsberg by a young admirer."

[Allen Ginsberg from "The Ballad of The Skeletons" video (1997)"]

Here's (1995) the hat placed on the head of his guru (teacher) Gelek Rinpoche 

[Gelek Rinpoche - Tibetan Vajrayana teacher, visited to say goodbye at his stident Yael Crawford's house, Cleveland. I'd stayed over with Philip Glass for Jewel Heart Meditation Center benefits poetry and music. A friend gave me this cloth-sewn Uncle Sam hat, too small for Rinpoche's dome. He'd just gotten US citizenship and passport.Dalai Lama enshrined over mantel, March 20, 1995 (Allen Ginsberg's inscription)] 

                                               [A Papier-mâché "Uncle Sam"  hat c.1900 - not Allen's ]