Spontaneous Poetics – (Political Commitment – 3)

Allen Ginsberg & members of the ad hoc Rocky Flats Truth Force meditating in the path of  an approaching train that was carrying radioactive detritus away from the Rockt Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, 25 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, July,1978

Student: I wanted to ask (Allen) a question.

AG: Yeah

Student: You don’t have to take the mike.  Do you really think that.. I mean, I think that this country, and all power structures like it, can absorb, I don’t know, I think, can absorb millions of sitting Buddhists, and continue with the same activities, and be not conscious of them one way or another, or be conscious of it, and (but) it will have little effect on (the) genocide. I just wonder, if you really believe that non-direct.. I’m not necessarily talking about violent, but non-direct, confrontation of power-sources, at the source of power, at the decision-making level, actually achieve, (either in the short, short-run, or long-run), the goals that perhaps you and I would like to see, in a political sense, and whether it, such a change of consciousness, for most people, is possible?

AG: Well, I’m not sure that all the radical activity of the last fifteen years [1961-1976] has done much good, actually.  It may only have confused matters worse.  I was thinking they may have just worked along the way they work anyway, anyhoo . So, in some respects, the people of the last Movement, in a sense, may have just been doing theater for themselves, for their own cheering-up  (or, maybe it had some good, I don’t know). I’m not sure you’ve exactly defined an alternative strategy, when you’re saying, what? confrontation at pressure-points of power? What’s your alternative?

Student: Well, first, I was thinking of.. I mean, you confront people in the work-place, you confront people in the(ir) communities, you…

AG: Well, what do you mean by “confront” here?

Student: Take a group of people that are responsible and  good act(ivists)… responsible people acting in their own interests. (to)..change the things within the places where the decisions are actually made? In other words..

AG: Well, no, that’s a Buddhist method, that’s perfectly alright. No question, no problem there.

Student: Okay

AG: But it depends on..

Student: But sitting?

AG: .. but, if you mean, like, by “confront”, you go up and hit them with a dead fish and say, “You’re evil and responsible for the use of gasoline..

Student: No….

AG: .. in America”, and then you go off and drive away in your car!

Student: No, legislative means. Legislative means, not violent means

AG: Okay, but, see, I’m thinking about.. what. .My big enemy..hatred totem is Rockefellerwith whose gasoline I just drove to this class. So, I haven’t figured out.. Well, what am I going to go confronting him about? I’m trying to figure..

Student: (Right)

AG: And that’s the big thing – energy, gasoline energy.That’s the central issue, I would imagine. And I haven’t solved that problem for myself, nor figured a blue-print, really. I’ve got some ideas about it, about decentralized energy-sources, that I got from Gary Snyder and (Californian) Governor (Jerry) Brown, or something. But I haven’t got enough really to.. I think Rockefeller has those ideas too.  He doesn’t do it.

Student: No, I just wondered if you really did, if you really believed that sitting in Washington would make a difference?  I mean..

AG: Oh, I think that would make a tremendous fuckin’ difference! – tremendous difference! If you really got a million people to sit around in Washington for ten days? God, all the difference that would make! (An) enormous difference! That would be more than all the anti-war rallies that ever took place piled up (if you could pile them up) from 1870 on!  I think it would be just a fantastic mind-blowing thing in America. Television wouldn’t know with it! – it would just feed all that silence into television,  feed all that silence into everybody’s brain. It would change everybody’s head completely.

Student: (So why don’t you organize it?)

AG: Pardon me

Student: Organize it

AG: Yeah, “walking on water wasn’t built in a day” – that’s what (Jack) Kerouac said – “walking on water wasn’t built in a day”

(Audio for the above can be found here, starting at approximately five-and-a-half minutes in and concluding approximately ten minutes in)

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