From a March 1980 classroom, Allen Ginsberg and Naropa students discuss John Donne and the experience of love, ecstasy, and hallucinations – continued from yesterday
AG: No, it says that they’re one [the lovers in John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”]…they become one. Well, maybe everybody’s experience of love is different, but I’ve had the opportunity in the last few days (and other times too) to just lie a long time looking into someone’s eyes, you know, for hours preceeding the actual physical love-making, and there’s a kind of ethereal deliciousness that goes throughout the body and makes the body feel very light – and, (it’s) like, a very gentle thing that.. so that the approach to the body becomes very slow, almost, you know, like a… real slow.. almost unnecessary, because the exquisiteness of just being together and accepting each other is so… such a relief that the whole body relaxes, actually.. That’s my experience.
So, I assumed that my experience was John Donne’s experience. But [to Student ] you assume that yours is,. So give us an example of one of these “common hallucinations” (that you refer to)
Student: Alright.. You mean , a specific example? Oh sure.
AG: From your experience..
Student: From my experience.
AG: ….of love..
Student: Sure, I used to…
AG: And then you’ve got to tell us if it’s true!…
Student: (Well, an example from my time) in the army – I assed about.. We’d all get stoned a lot, you know…. So we got stoned a lot… So I’d be real curious, you know, because we’d get in these hallucinations on grass. And I’d say, “Well, did you ever have the same hallucination with your girlfriend, before, or after, making love?”, you know, “Did you ever sit there laughing, you know, and go ‘Wow!, we can look at the same movie again there – (and the movie’s, like, in the middle of the air, you know, and you’re watching all this shit, and you’re just laughing your ass off!) . That is my specific experience – (and my girlfriend’s – although I don’t know exactly what she would say about it, having not seen her).
AG: Well.. but he (Donne) was describing something that lots of people have repeated.
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventy-eight minutes in and concluding at approximately eighty minutes in]