Composition and Condensation – 2

AG: Then another thing formulated with Rachel today [sic] was, in terms of condensation, if you can find three or four different ways of saying, of arranging the same words, generally, the spoken arrangement that is the shortest has the best rhythm and is the most vivid. [To Rachel (sic)] – Do you happen to have that poem with you? that one poem where we really discovered it. You remember the line?

Student (R)…”There’s not enough time to..”

AG: What’s the next line? There’s not enough time

Student (R) …”There’s not enough time to write all the notes down”

AG: Okay and the original was what? – There? has not been? ‘There will not be enough time to write all the notes down” – There will not be enough time to write all the notes down “ – It’s her boyfriend or somebody that’s.. some ancient friend that’s worried about life, you know, is he going to accomplish…. it’s.. . he’s.. a musician, was it? – “There’s not enough time to write all the notes..” – “There is not.. There will not be enough time to write all the notes down“ – There will not be enough time/ to write all the notes down “- And I said, there’s something wrong with “There will not be enough time”.  I mean, it’s just am empty line – “There will not be enough time”. –  there’s nothing hot about it. The idea’s there, you know, but it’s not… there’s just too many words, or syllables. So then the second stage I got to was.. ”There..” – well, I cut too much – “Not enough  time to write all the words down” (but that was too much towards code-pigeon talk – “not enough time” – “there will not be enough time” “to write all the words down” – dash – “Not enough time to write all the words down”  So the middle path was “There’s not enough time/to write all the words down.  So..

Student: Why did you cut out “is”?

AG: [Allen spells it out]  –  “There will not be enough time ..There will not be enough.. “There/ will /not/ be. e/-nough/ time” (seven) reduced to –  “There’s/not/e/nough/time (five) –  instead of “Not/e/nough/ time” (four) – I chose the five-syllable version over the seven-syllable or the four-syllable because the five-syllable was the easiest to say, and it had the most information – “There’s not enough time/to write all the words down” – “There will not be enough time” versus “Not enough time” or “There’s not enough time”

Student; When you do something.. like (that). you juggle in your mind what you’ve talked about with Jack Kerouac, even, taking the.. never blotting a line… 

AG : Yeah

Student: …and in that sense, that was a future tense,  and then, now, it’s just more of a.. general tense.. How does that change…

AG: Well now ..let me say.. , Now we’ve  got into that …how does that fit with never changing a line, never blotting a line?, and the explanation I was given was.. was giving was.. that some kind of practice like that, once you did it a few times and got the angle, gets built into your shrewdness while writing the first time. So that you get the experience of doing it and then you don’t write too much excessive, extra syllables later. In other words, you sort of go through like training (it’s just like meditation, after a while, you get the quick of it, get the hang of it). So you get the hang of writing down succinctly instead of not knowing what your goal is in writing (and) just writing everything, whether you think whatever varied vaguery comes because it’s there, Rather than going directly to the jewel center of the mind’s eye and interest of writing it down directly and economically, as interest(ingly) as possible . theoretically, See, you’ve got to realize, Kerouac trained for.. since he was fourteen to… twelve, when he started writing prose, through writing a big huge Thomas Wolfe-ian revised version of a regular family novel, The Town and The City  before , and so he had sort of practiced the scales, so to speak, or practiced composition of sentences, and practiced extensive sentences, and practiced (Ernest) Hemingway sentences, or, you know, practiced all different ways of saying things (not because he was imitating Hemingway) just practiced all different kicks in writing, before he finally got it perfected as a sort of formalistic thing with long sentences like Thomas Wolfe or Proust. And then, having got that down and knowing how to do it, then he opened up further and said, “Now that I can do it, I’ll never change a word, sand I’ll really blow, just start blowing now, (you know, because it’s sort of like a..like if you were going to… like a bicyclist or a runner who knows all the tricks of running, you know, you wouldn’t want to run twenty-four miles the first time you ran, you’d have to figure out how you’d conserve your energy, how do you drink? what do you do about thirst?. Same like that. Or, I don’t know, if you were meditating, you couldn’t just sit down for ten hours, somebody would have to tell you, ”Close your mouth and eliminate the air-pockets so you don’t accumulate saliva so you don’t have to swallow all the time”. So ..you make a few trial runs . So these are like trial runs. School, you’re doing trial runs at a school., You know, tricks, tricks of the trade. So that kind of intelligence gets built in after a while (not intelligence, that kind of experience, know-how, shrewdness and elegance, information), gets built in so you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. I mean, just like you.. first you have to learn how to ride a bicycle (first, someone tells you how to walk, then you walk and you don’t think about it).

So I found that from.. that one book that I did, pruning and revising like William Carlos Williams, Empty Mirror, I learned enough about counting syllables, condensation, cutting away everything that was excess, that it got to be a built-in lesson and then, from then on,  I just applied it when I was writing. So, once you get an insight it, like, sticks with you. You don’t have to think about it. That make sense?

[ Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-three minutes in]

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