[Allen Ginsberg’s Desk – Drawing by Allen Ginsberg]
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.
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
“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]
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“
It’s Guillaume Apollinaire‘s birthday today