“America is a permissible dream” – This is in (19)53, and Henry Luce was writing about the “American Century”, and Henry Luce was having lunch with John Foster Dullesevery week in Washington, and spreading the basic CIA moral American line through Time magazine and the Luce Empire, and so everybody was thinking, “America, America” – big deal – “American Century”. (So) Kerouac’s 1952-53 comment – “America is a permissible dream,/Providing you remember ants/Have Americas and Russians/Like the Possessed have Americas/And little Americas are had/By baby mules in misty fields/And it is named after Americus/Vespucci of sunny Italy,/And nobody cares how you hang/Your spaghetti wash/On the Pasta Rooftops/Of Oh Yawn Opium/Fellaheen Espagna/Olvierto Milano/Afternoon, when man/gamble & ramble & fuck/and women watch the wash/with one eye on the grocer boy/and one eye on the loon/and one eye/in the universe/is Tathagata’s/Transcendental/orb of balloon” – Emptiness. Balloon is Sunyatahere.” – It’s very funny. Tis is 1953, now, that he’s got pasta rooftops of Olvierto Milano/ Afternoon” – “Olvierto Milano/Afternoon” – “Olvierto”? – I don’t know what Olvierto was, in those days, what reference Olvierto was (but I bet it was an Olivetti typewriter)
Onward to further poems about poetry:
“Rather gemmy,/Said the King of Literature/Sitting on a davenport/at afternoon butler’s tea./ Rather gemmy, hm,/ Always thought these sonnets/Of mine were rather gemmy,/As you say,/ pureperfect gems/of lucid poetry/ Poetry being what it is today/ Rather gemmy, I concluded/ thinking you were right -/ it isn’t my fault that Buddha/gave me helmet.Of Right Thought, and indices/of long Saints/To Cope my Lope along/with,/Seeing I never had harm/from anything/But a Heavenly Farm.”
“I’d rather die than be famous/I want to go live in the desert/With long wild hair, eating,/At my campfire, full of sand,/Hard as a donut/Cooked by Sand/The Pure Land/ Moo Land/Heavenland Righteous/sping/the thing/ I’d rather be in the desert sand,/Sitting legs crossed, at lizard/High noon, under a wood/Board shelter, in the Dee Go/Desert, just west of L.A,/Or even Chihucha dry/Zackatakies, High Guadalajara,/ – absence of phantoms/make me ni o king – / rather go in the high lone land/of plateau where you can hear/at night the zing of silence/from the halls of Assembled.”
He was constantly preoccupied by shabda – sounds – the zing of silence, and the sounds coming into the window of the mind through the ear, which is the phrase he uses in the opening line of “Old Angel Midnight”, which is a lot of rapping and bopping on pure sound (actually, the sound of a friend, Lucien Carr, the sound of his voice, the sound of his kind of St Louis-New York newspaper-ese drunken talk). That was “Old Angel Midnight”’s characteristic.
“To understand what I’m sayin/You gotta read the Sutras,/The Sutras of the Ancients, India/Long ago, when campfires at night/Across the Rahuan River/Showed lines of assembled bo’s.. “ – Hobos? Bodhisattvas? – “Showed lines of assembled bo’s/With bare feet bare the naked/Right shoulders of the passing houris/Sravasti late at night, tinkle/Goes the Indian Dancinggerl – / There’s One Thousand/Two hundred and fifty/Men/Sitting around a grove/of trees/Outsida town/right now/ With Buddha/is their leader/Discoursing in the middle,/Sitting lotus posture,/Hands to the sky,/Explaining the Dharma/in a sutra so high” – It ended in doggerel, right? – “In a sutra so high” – It’s a very funny projected imagination of what it would have been like with one hundred and twenty five thousand hippies listening to Buddha outside of Sravasti (Sravasti, where Buddha discoursed). So there goes the Indian dancing girl! – Probably quite correct. That was probably exactly what was going on there. Why not? – “Sitting around a grove/of trees/Outsida town/right now” – I’m just trying to check through the things that are exemplary of pure poetry”