Philip Lamantia – Part 2

Philip Lamantia (1927-2005)

Allen Ginsberg on Philip Lamantia continues

AG: Well, let’s get on to the actual texts, finally. One line I liked (page 39 0f Selected Poems).. did any of you get to read any of this? in advance? – Raise your hand if you did. Anybody not familiar with it at all?  Are these books unavailable or something? They were in the library, or two of them..

Student: No, they are walking off the reserve shelf.

AG: There is a back. You have to go in the back and look. It’s the same thing, except you go in the back. It’s dismaying, I don’t know why she (the librarian did that, but..

Student: Somebody took the..(rearranged the)..

AG: Which?

Student: Philosophy, Psychology (section)..

AG: Ah, oh, it’s really hard..Well..

So). At the end of a poem called “Intersection”, there’s one great line. (“my house in the cracks of the pavement !”) –  A lot of this was very much influenced by grass. This.. the dates on these I’m not quite sure actually, let’s see if they’ve got them.. (19)48-(19)61 – Trance Ports, it’s called (the section of the book is called Trance – T-R-A-N-C-E – Ports, ports of call in trance, also transports – (a) pun. So this section of the book would be our own time, or there’s the time we’re studying, so I’ll just go through some of that section. It’s at the end of one poem, an earlier one – [Allen begins reading] – “I’m thinking then/ a chain of words/ breaking at the fistfall of words.. – it’s page 38 – “I’m thinking then/ a chain of words/ breaking at the fistfall of words/ I’m thinking green funnels of light..” – he’s high on grass – “I’m thinking green funnels of light/sifting white water/flown in blue/that cut a breast of honey to free the air/  Here/ take my breath/out of all the cities I haven’t seen/from quick pleasures I haven’t noticed/ from a room without doors I wouldn’t want to leave…” – So it’s very contradictory, the opposite of ..sort of funny negatives – “out of all the cities I haven’t seen…”…”..In a secret room I dream/ the eye of the father closing/the eye of the mother closing/ the eye of the daughter/  opened” – almost naturalistic, the old folks die, the young folks live, (it) could make sense if you wanted, or, it could just be Surrealist movies – “They look to the winter sun/ that lifted a golden reef into the clouds…”….”I’m thinking/ going down the street” – “going down the street” becomes Surrealist – “I’m thinking/ going down the street”  – and there’s some kind of tea-high, grass head – “I’m thinking/ going down the street/not long to be seen/ not wide enough to be missed/ my house in the cracks of the pavement!” – that’s a very interesting image, the idea of, you know, somebody – everybody’s gotten high? – like your house is in the cracks of the pavement, that your attention is so microscopic that you get lost in the cracks in the pavement, you know – “My house is in the cracks of the pavement” – also, it’s like.. there’s a Whitmanic statement too, you could say, that my house… or “Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks”– or a (William Carlos) Williams statement – What would that mean?  sort of like a free spirit, or American Indian spirit, or free spirit, not exactly a hobo spirit, but a spiritual spirit, that inhabits all places and goes everywhere and doesn’t have a home, doesn’t have a bourgeois home, doesn’t have a middle-class home, has no habitation but the cracks in the pavement – or it could be…It’s like “I pump him full of lost watches”  My permanent home is in the times cracking up the city. It could be..  

Student: Saxi-frage means break-rock.

AG: Yeah, uh-huh. I didn’t know that –  frag, yes, frag-ment.
Student: Sax is rock
AG: Sax. Is that Latin?
Student: Yes.
AG: What’s the noun?
Student: Saxum
AG: Saxum? And what’s the verb?
Student: Fractar – Infraction
AG: Fractare?
Student: I think Frag you get Frago Frago or Fraga FragaFrago Fraga or Fractus
AG: Because Fragere (frangere) is the infinitive
Student: Right,
AG: Saxifrage. That’s a line of Williams, you know.  “Saxifrage – exclamation-point -is my flower that splits the rocks”. You know, the little things in the pavements of Rutherford, New Jersey, the little flowers. That’s probably earlier, and..

“Man is in Pain”.  Now this one on page 48 was published in the first City Lights Journal. So now we’re beginning to catch up to the integration of all the groups.. The City Lights Journal was a magazine edited, I guess in (19)54, by.. it still continues, but the first issue was edited by Ferlinghetti and a fellow named Peter Martin who, until about a month ago, ran a bookstore called The New Yorker Bookstore up-town at 89th Street in New York City at Broadway.

Student: It went out of business?

AG: Just recently with the decline of the book business.  What?

Student: (He) couldn’t hold the rent on that place.

AG: No. And he was the nephew of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Chairman of the Communist Party, or Secretary of the Communist Party and the son of Carlo Trescaa famous Anarchist, killed by Mussolini, so he was like… you know Reds? ..he was like the next generation, direct bloodline of that group. So it’s interesting, there he was editing City Lights Journal, and publishing “Man is in Pain” – [Allen reads “Man is in Pain” in its entirety] – “Man is in pain/ ten bright balls bat the air/falling through the  window…” …”ten bright spikes nailed to the door!” – “spikes” – this may have something to do with junk, and junk-pain and Christ, Christ-pain, the spikes. But also the tone of it is very similar to the Surrealist movies of Jean Cocteau, the movies of Dali’s, Chien Andalou, Jean Cocteau’s  The Blood of A Poet were there making  Surrealist appearances, like ten spikes suddenly appear on a wall or tennis-balls float backward into the air, back into the net, or.. all the images here, “the naval hook caught on the stone quarry” (“Man is in pain/with his naval hook caught on a stone quarry”) are all Surrealist images.

But then.. So this seems like just poetry or sort of, you know, dredging the unconscious, or combining the unconscious, or getting interesting allusive. But then, it gets almost cosmo-political or psycho-political – “Terror Conduction” where you begin to get modern robotic.. he great fear, so to speak – [Allen reads Lamantia’s  “Terror Conduction” in its entirety] –  “The menacing machine turns on and off/ Across the distance light inflicters active infinities …”like icebergs/like music/like boats/like mechanical toys/ LIKE/ RAINING/ SWORDS!” – It’s sort of like an apocalyptic.. and the words that I was emphasizing, “LIKE/ RAINING/ SWORDS!” are all in caps on this, if you look, see the capitals. And he reads sort of that way.Then the next is really good – “Put-down of the Whore of Babylon”, and that’s where, for me, Lamantia really came together, not merely as a Surrealist (“at the bottom of the lake, at the bottom of the lake”) but a really modern sociologic Surrealist, poet. So this is a “put-down of the Whore of Babylon”, which is to say, 20th Century mechanical heavy-metal culture – [Allen begins reading] – “Put down!” – so the title is “Put down!” or “A Hex”, a sort of magical hex, which, by this time, he’d be..”Put-down “High-voltage mires [sic] got into her jaw/ as she devoutly lit up her spine in front of Mammon/” – I think this is a misprint for “wires” actually –  “as she devoutly lit up her spine in front of Mammon “On the slopes of the Sierra Madre de Chihuahua/they dance night fires /cross themselves by mirrors” –  you know, this is the Tarahumara Indians

The Huichol and Tarahumara Indians of Mexico still use peyote in religious ceremonies. Here, a group of Tarahumara Indians participates in traditional games and dances. Phil Schermeister/Corbis.

Student: Is this Mexico?

AG: Yeah. Tarahumara and Chihuahua  – that would be, I guess, Northern Mexico…

Student:  Seventy-five miles or a hundred miles from Juarez?

AG: Lower, I think, maybe a-hundred-and fifty. There’s a.. No, actually, Chihuahua that could be.. no, actually, I was there a couple of months ago. That’s where the Tarahumara Indians are, and Antonin Artaud, the great French Surrealist poet, went on a Voyage au Pays Tarahumaras (Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumaras) and wrote a little book about that. The Tarahumara Indians take peyote, and have for centuries, and have rituals of gathering the peyote. So he went there to take peyote with them, in the early (19)30’s, I think.

Student: Artaud?

AG: Antonin Artaud, yes. And in 1944, an English translation of his Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumaras was published in Transition magazine. and Transition magazine was a kind of carry-over, hold-over of the twenties and thirties avant-garde and James Joyce’s Ulysses and parts of Finnegan’s Wake, and Pound’s Cantos were published intermittently in Transition magazine. So later, there’s Artaud’s Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara.. Artaud was a Surrealist, film-maker and film-actor also. Do you know Artaud? Have you heard of Artaud? Antonin Artaud – A-R-T-A-U-D

Student: I have that book, but it’s out now.

AG: Which was?

Student:  I don’t know..

AG: Oh, Voyage To The Land of Tarahumara.. yes

Student:  Well, I don’t know if it was that title. It just said something…

AG: Well, there’s an anthology put out by City Lights

Student: No, it was just a specific single book..

AG: Oh, okay

Student:  …which gives (an) account of (him) eating peyote and..

AG: He was paranoid. So his problem was that he got to think that he.. (that) they were deliberately not showing him the rituals of how they went out and gathered the peyote. (probably because they thought this honkey can’t walk, or something! – because they have to walk hundreds of miles up and down)

But anyway. So.. that’s the source of this imagery, actually. Although, Philip had lived in Mexico City for a long time also, so he’d probably been around there too – “On the slopes of Sierra Madre de Chihuahua/they dance night fires/cross themselves by mirrors/blood shot emaciated men who – they themselves tell us/ FELL FROM HEAVEN! / dance – light fires – eat bitter earth fruit/in a sense like manna – O man! O man! -/ the spit of plant lice..” –  “the spit the plant lice” – that’s directly from Artaud – “or black a pearl at the unheard sound..”…”NO!/NO!/NO!/not for this panic of idols coning our time/by flase angel clocks/but for the descended dove we make it to live!” – “We make it to live!” – So that was like a real manifesto, and reading, he was real vigorous and you’ve got these “NO! / NO! / NO”!  – like attacking his nervous system..He’s Italian, very much Italian, from San Francisco. And also, the other part of his background is that there was this great Anarchist circle that Kenneth Rexroth,  Robert Duncan, Thomas Parkinson (now Professor), Lamantia, Bill Everson, pacific-poet, printer, (Brother Antoninus), all had together in the thirties and forties, the forties in San Francisco, which led to what was called the Berkeley Renaissance 1948, where Duncan, was studying Mediaeval history and symbolism and theology, and Timothy Leary was a young psychology student, who knew Jack Spicer, the poet (Spicer was there)  and Harry Smith, the filmmaker-painter-archivist-anthologist was inventing the first machines that later turned, through Gerd Stern turned into the light shows that later developed into the mixed-media multi-sensory thing that flourished in the ‘Sixties in San Francisco and then spread around the world.

Student: Will we still be (studying) some of this?

AG: Yes

Student:  Allen,  What are those Artaud?  Journals? or what?

AG: A book called Journey to the Land of the Tarahumaras — [Editorial note: the translated title in English is The Peyote Dance]

Student: And City Lights just put it out?

AG: I don’t know who puts it out. I think it’s either in..

Student: I bought it in the Boulder bookstore.

AG: Right now? Is it available?

Student: I have it somewhere..

AG: No, what he needs to to..

Student: Just go the Boulder Bookstore and ..

AG: You think they still will have it? after these years?

Student: I bought mine about three years ago or something

AG: So, it’s not likely they’ll still have it. So what I was suggesting is, there is a large book of translations of Artaud by Helen Weaver Kerouac’s old girlfriend of 1957, about the time he was writing that poem on Heaven, published about five years ago by.. what’s the Catholic company?..Farrar Straus, I think ..(the) Farrar Straus anthology of Antonin Artaud, it’s about five hundred pages and it may have that in it also. [Allen turns to Student again] – You don’t remember the publisher of your pamphlet?

Student: It was a book, I don’t know.

AG: A book? A big thick book?

Student: Yeah, I have it in my box….I can go through it, or I can go to the Boulder bookstore

AG: That might be Helen Weaver…That might be Helen Weaver’s book …if it’s a hardcover?
Student: A paperback, a nice pretty psychedelic. yellow cover

AG:  Oh

Then there is.. So anything of this period of Lamantia is very thick and rich like a plum pudding, with this kind of [Allen begins reading]..   ‘Mild below Saturn..shades in the meadow enlighten the cows…sea.. dogs howled…  undeciphered glypghs.. blue and gold.. – very sort of  interesting  poetic images. Then there’s the famous “Morning Light Song”. The. This poem “Morning Light Song”) is maybe, for this period, his most vigorous and energetic run, in terms of a continuous stream of energy coming to a climax, just like that – “NO NO NO” – but it’s like a little orgasm in the poem, it just builds and builds and gets to be a blow-out – You’ve heard this haven’t you?

Student: I’ve never heard it.

AG: Oh you never heard it? – well, it’s a great..  As he read it, it was really interesting, I’m reading more or less in.. not so much in his voice but in the rhythmic style.

Student: Does he ever come to Naropa, or…?

AG: No, he’s boycotting. He boycotts not only Naropa but every organized place because he’s an Anarchist-Surrealist, so, unless he’s paid for a reading well (I guess, if we paid him a lot, he’d come)

Student: We’ll have him reading at…

AG:  Well.. “Morning Light Song” Oh well Anyway we got into this argument, as I was saying… I forgot the end of the story!…

Student: Ferlinghetti..

AG: (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti’s house..  He said “I never want to speak to you again. You sold out!”

Student: Was he serious?

AG: Oh he was actually angry, very angry  because he said that I said “somebody might have gotten killed, those guys were nuts”, and he said “somebody should’ve been”, and I said, “Well, you weren’t there, so you wouldn’t have thought it was so funny if you were actually there on the spot, this is just theory”
And then he got really mad at me and said that.. “You.. you’re a sell-out, you’re a whore, you’re a pimp, and you take money from the state to entertain, to entertain the state, and to certify the state as legitimate”

Student: Is this over dinner?

AG: Yeah, yeah, but then, finally, a year later we were talking again. So it all worked out, finally.

Bed of Sphinxes: Selected Poems

[Allen reads “Morning Light Song”] – “Red dawn clouds coming up! the heavens proclaim you, Absolute God/I claim the glory, in you, of singing to you this morning”…”That I hold converse with your fantasy That I am your beauty/NOT OF THIS WORLD and bring to nothing all that would stop me/From flying straight to your heart  whose rays conduct me to the SONG!”

That’s, like, really beautiful, like flight, breath, tremendous breath and a pretty good, I would say, pretty good imagery. At the end, I think it gets extraordinarily elegant – “that I am reborn from its opulence, that I hold converse with your fantasy, that I am your beauty..” that’s really.. completely… like  (Percy Bysshe) Shelley in that (like Shelley’s “Ode To The West Wind”) – but then, “I hold converse with your fantasy”

Around this time he was moving into a.. a period of Christ-adoration, I would say. As an old Catholic coming off junk and going into (the) chaos of the poetic scene. he was.. (he was one of the readers.. he did share with us, during that period, before the Catholic phase (and junk phase probably later, for a while), in Mexico and Spain, he was part of that community that read with (Kenneth) Rexroth and (Philip) Whalen and (Gary) Snyder and myself and (Michael) McClure. So that in San Francisco there was this really interesting brotherhood, McClure and Lamantia – John Wieners around at that time too. And, like, there was quite a bit of converse between us (also)

Then, “The night is space of white marble/This is Mexico” – page 59– so this is written in Mexico  – [Allen continues reading (from Still Poems”)] – “I’m sitting here, slanted light fixture, pot, altitudinous silence/ your voice, Dionysius, telling of darkness, superessential light/ In the silence of holy darkness I’m eating a tomato/ I’m sea from the altitude/something made my clogged head move!/ Rutman a week at beach in Acapulco/ Carol Francesca waiting till Christmas heroin rain on them!…” – “Carol Francesca”?, I think (that) was a murder of some kind (something), a murderess, does anyone know? – Carol Franchesca? – don’t know..  It might be Caryl Chessman that he’ s talking about – what was Chessman’s first name? (Caryl? Karl?). So this is probably, then, a pun.. this is probably a pun on Chessman. I’m not quite sure what the reference is to “Rutman”, but.. this is written in Mexico..  

Oh, before we get to that, there’s a very strange.. well, they’re so good.. (we) don’t really have much time, I hate to… but there’s some memorable phrasing in the one (“For Real”), before it (“Black Tom kills if you snitch on him..”). But there’s one phrase (which) I like the best (which) is – “I came with Thee, anointed One into mechano hells”..”into mechano hells at/ desecrations of the Lily”..”mechano hells” “I came with banquet of lovers at ruins of Tenochtitlan/swam the Hellespont of antique mystery/ landed on shores of Mu Atlantis Babylon/made fast for pool of the underworld..” and so forth…”(I) ate at tables..”, “(I) ate from tables of undersea gardens..” – sort of classical Surrealist poetry stuff

Now, The night is space of white marble has the same kind of nervous – I say the word “nervous”, meaning, not nervous in the sense of frail but, nervous in the sense of electricity emitted from the fingertips, sort of, and fast changes of mind, and organic speediness, sort of not amphetamine, but organic, (an) organic delicacy, nervousness.

“In the silence of holy darkness, I’m eating a tomato” (like the tomato becomes a Surrealist object in the middle of this) – [Allen resumes reading] –  “In the silence of holy darkness…”.. “Saint Dionysus reminds us of flight to unknowable Knowledge/the doctrine of  initiates completes the meditation!”

So he’s really getting into hermetic matters here, but mixed up with a slip of  “sign here – the slip of dung”  – sign here dash the slip of dung – (“Sign here – the slip of dung/ technically we are all dead”)  or, “In the silence of holy darkness I’m eating a tomato” And.. “your head, Charlie Chaplin” (“I see New York upside down/ your head, Charlie Chaplin – in a sling”) – and I like that line, “it’s all in the courts of war”

Then the.. for my money, one of the great poems of,  lyric poems of, the century, done in American idiom satisfying William Carlos Williams, where the rhythm of the poem is actually the rhythm of excited speech (but real speech), and where the syntax actually follows excited American syntax to a point where, at one point, he gets so excited he doesn’t finish (his) sentence but breaks and jumps to the next thought.

[Allen begins reading] –  “There is this distance between me and what I see/everywhere immanence in the presence of  God/ no more ekstasis..”

breaks off – it’s in there probably – “There is this distance between me and what I see”.. you got it?  – in the Don Allen anthology – what page?

Student: Page 157

AG: Page 157, Don Allen anthology – get it? One-five-seven – got it? You got it? – Everybody got it?) – [Allen resumes the reading and reads the poem in its entirety  – “There is this distance between me and what I see..”…”This nothing ravishes beyond ravishing/There IS this look of love Throne Silent look of love”.

Isn’t that amazing?

Student(s): Yes

AG: When he breaks – “I long for the/ It is Nameless what I long for” – it is just so..completely, like somebody excited, you know, it’s really on (I don’t know what he was on, actually, there – but on anyway!) – This is “There is this distance..” Page 60 Selected Poems, Philip Lamantia, City Lights, 1967, First Printing.

Selected poems, 1943-1966 by Philip Lamantia

I think that’s a really great poem just because it’s unique in expressing the nervous system, you know. It’s a direct expression of breath and nervous system and it’s ..tho’ it’s very elegant talk, still the cadences and the syntax is American. It’s like an American kid, totally knocked-out, a kid from San Francisco totally knocked-out, and, you know, dealing with the question.. ((of course) the problem here is (that) what he’s dealing with is something that’s not there, in a way – It’s like a mystical experience, you know, it’s what you can’t talk about, and which probably.. well, you know, is it grass?, or is it acid, or is it (natural), on the natch? – or is it Catholic, or is it..

(The imagery is from) Saint John of the Cross, the darkness of the night.

AG: Yeah, Well, almost taken for granted. It’s true. Perhaps most people don’t know, the imagery is from the Catholic mystics (in this case “the dark night of the soul of St John of the Cross) and “the Tower of David” and “the throne of wisdom” are all…well, there’s a certain amount of tarot in this (imagery comes from tarot, to some extent – in all these poems, by the way, mention tarot – “Saint Bruno” – “Saint Druida” Mu”, “Atlantis” “Babylon”, Duc D’Y’s” – earlier, these are the people he mentions – “Count Saint Germain”
So the references, the hermetic references, are quite varied – “Mayan” “knights and tripled queens” (“Knights go scattering swords/The Tripled Queen on a resinous wall”)

Then next is a great, another great one, another one of the close..  now this.. around..around this time, both he and Gregory Corso are writing really remarkable poems of the same elevated imagery. [Allen reads “I have given fair warning..”] –  “I have given fair warning/ Chicago, New York, Los Angeles have gone down/I have gone to Swan City where the ghost of Maldoror may still roam/The south is very civilized..”…”A poppy size of the sun in my skull/I have given fair warning/at the time of corpses and clouds I can make love here as anywhere”  –  (I mean) some floating god-spirit that’s going to cause an apocalypse! – it’s like an Indian god, you know, (a) warning of (to?) Western civilization,  “the meccano hell”, the put-down of href=””>the whore of Babylon.

Then, this one is like pure grass – “High” – so it’s about being high – “O beato solitudo! where have I flown to?” – this is page 62 of the Poems (Selected Poems). Is this in the Don Allen book?

Student(s): No

AG: Ok – (then) that book, Don Allen book, in Philip Lamantia is very lacking, because it doesn’t have all these really great poems. These are really amazing poems and they’re not in any anthology and they will blow any high school kid’s mind if he got to check them out. What?

Student: Are you talking about the..

AG: No, I’m talking about the Don Allen anthology. You know, it’s too bad that some of these things are not.. more of these things are..  Little shorts.

Student: You should do an anthology

AG: Well I have done an anthology. We made for last summer here –“O beato solitudo! where have I flown to?/stars overturn the walls of my music/ as flights of birds, they go by, the spirits/opened below the lark of plenty/ ovens of neant overflow the docks at Veracruz..”  – nothingness – “ovens of neant” – He got the energy in that, but he really came out of, out of language there, finally, “I am ONGED”. That’s really…everybody.. when that poem came out, everybody knew what that meant. He just made it up, but everybody knew exactly what that meant because everybody was smoking a lot of grass, everyone was taking a lot of peyote or somethin’ around.. this in nineteen fifty-seven, eight, nine, actually, I’ve forgot, forgot exactly when this was but it’s..well it’s between.. it’s before (nineteen) sixty-one, and.. so I would say nineteen fifty-eight-fifty-nine/

Student: Michael (McClure) uses a lot of.. simultaneous..

AG: They were all, you see..Wieners, McClure, Lamantia, were all in San Francisco (or Mexico, back and forth) right at that time, showing each other poems and sharing the same grass, the same books, the same community, the same poetry readings, and were influencing each other and attempting the same experiments, sometimes going beyond language..“I am ONGED”

Student:  What?

AG: “Resurrections” – “It is I who create the world and put it to rest/you will never understand me/I have willed your destruction/ This flower talk will get you nowhere/   I will not be involved with people I call true distance” – no, [Allen reads the line again]  -I will not be involved with people I call true distance,/ I invite you only to the door of horror/Laughter/ I keep stoning you with black stars” – (I) keep stoning you, throwing black stars at you…”.”Christ is superior to Apollo/bodhisattvas are drunk with being God/ he who is living lives only the living live/ I will hate and love in the Way..” – theTaoist way – and this – “A theater of masked actors in a trance/according to the virtues of sacred plants” – so this is all based on getting high –  [Allen resumes reading the poem] – “There are those dying of hunger/mankind is sanctioned crime/ men should not die of hunger..”…”the Bomb/ in its mushroom flower actions round a dumb Black Angel cloud” That’s really tremendous, prophetic, cutting to the heart of the whole “Meccano hell” Capitalism/Communism ..”Ranka uraniku bahaba” [Allen attempts the sounds again ] – “Ranka uraniku/ bahaba hi olama/sancu pantis droga/harumi pabunaka”….That’s more like it

Student: What is that?

AG:That’s invented language and it comes from Antonin Artaud’s style  –Dakis tekel …”– from a book, a, great poem called “To Be Done With The Judgement of God” which is his major work, actually..Artaud..who used a strange mystic language. He broke out into it, just like this does. The main body of the poems is regular words and then   “Dakantal/dakis tekel…”

Student:   Is that him speaking in tongues?

AG: Well, yes, some kind of high original..”Ranka uraniku/ bahaba hi olama/sancu pantis droga/harumi pabunaka” – “Ranka uraniku/ bahaba hi olama/sancu pantis droga/harumi pabunaka”– I mean, it’s clear, literally clear – like “ONGED” is  – like, remember when I said “ONGED”? (when he said “ONGED”, everybody reacted, they knew exactly what “ONGED” meant – did anybody ever hear the word before? – It come(s).. – O-N-G-E-D  – it just comes straight out of the Atlantis,or something!  comes straight out of Shangri-La, or, you know, it comes straight out of peyote.It comes straight out of the bottom of the lake – [Allen continues reading “Resurrections”] –  “I never see enough/ with those who fly tortoise-shell in the infinite hang-up/words slow unraveling song/  the gods are vomiting/I am entering earth, I am walled in light, I am where the song is shot into my eyes / O hyperdermic light” – So you know where he is!

Student: So he’s really a Surrealist poet.

AG: Yes, he’s a Surrealist. That was what I was saying.That was what we were talking about. Not only that, but he had the official stamp of approval of Andre Breton and all the Surrealists of Mexico, New York and Paris.

“From the Front” [Allen begins reading] –  (so it means the frontier of the mind, the front of the spiritual battle) “Tenochtitlan!…” – this is..Mexico City the pyramids of Tenochtitlan, the ancient pyramids..

Student: Page number?

AG: Pardon me? – Oh I’m just doing one-by-one as they go along, they’re so nice – Sixty- six..From the front – “Tenochtitlan!/ grey seven thousand feet high/mist of dust – tin door open/to slow motion immobilized traffic..”…”sail of dead ghost opium people/fantast – the fields of Egluria..”– I think “Egluria” might be out of Poe, I don’t know – these watches promote me/venetian blinds/Chicagos of Zeno” – Zeno the Greek philosopher. “Chicagos of Zeno” is an amazing phrase.. what did Zeno preach? Does anybody know Zeno? – a nihilist or something – maybe – I’m not sure – The mountain erupts/landmasses grab the Pacific/earthquakes/the sky is peeling its skin off!”…”..zeroguns silence the street / mute traffic – desperate surrealism/ backfire from motorcycles/waves over empty roof tops/ Geneva of movies, who are the dogbrick sandwich?” – that’s a great.. good one,  “the dog brick sandwich” – “waves over empty roof tops” – so it’s all, like. real Impressionist Surrealism, but it’s actually natural – I mean it’s all, you can see that all the images are taken right around and it’s fast, on amphetamine, or something).

Student: I think Zeno was the guy who came up with the arguement that if you continued to ride space, that you’d always have an infinity between yourself and that wall over there  and you may never get there..

AG:  Yes. Zeno’s tortoise? Whose tortoise was it?

Student: Yes, I think so.

AG: There’s a tortoise going so slow, you know, that half the time, half, cutting space in half, by-half-by-half-by-half, so you never get there.  Zeno, the Eleatic.

And the third… the last poem of this period. So we’re up to 1960 now “The Third Eye” – [Allen begins reading] – “Contra Satanas” – Against Satan – “Contra Satanas – /thy light is higher than light, angels/brighter than angels/Moons whisper their lights/it’s the end of the world/Fasting and reborn the Crystal forms out of moonlight and sunlight/Day and night, Green Crystal, Red, White, Black, Blue CRYSTAL!/ Yellow Crystal! /Brown Crystal!…” – (Brown Crystal? – must be local junk) – “..Here is face of old water man buried/in quick green lime fountains of/ Zut Gut/ accent over “u”/  the waves/photojournal   seascape/ fin.” – Fin –end – and that’s the end of that period.

to be continued

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