Allen Ginsberg on Mexico City Blues continues
AG: I’m just trying to check through the things (in Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues) that are exemplary of pure poetry
“”Darling!”/Red hot,/That kind of camping/I don’t object to/unless it’s kept/within reason” – You got that? – “”Darling!”/Red hot,/That kind of camping/I don’t object to/unless it’s kept/within reason./ “The coffee is delicious.”
This is for Vidal Didn’t know I was.a Come-Onner, did you? (Come-on-er)/ I am one of the world’s/Great Bullshitters,/Girls/Very High Cantos.” – (It’s whatever he thought).
“This is about a kind of funny bebop complexity or bebop simplicity in poetry – 80th Chorus – Goofing at the table with Bill Garver, actually. The situation was Bill Garver (was) in Mexico City, sharing an apartment at 220 Oruzaba Street, an old junkie retired from New York, who had a legal (prescription) for morphine in Mexico, and who had retired to live out his days there. Kerouac was living upstairs and would go down and visit Garver who was shooting-up, or just talking, or…
“GOOFING AT THE TABLE/ “You just don’t know.”/”What don’t I know?”/How good this ham n eggs/is/”If you had any idea/whatsoever/How good this is/Then you would stop/writing poetry/And dig in.”It’s been so long/since I been hungry/it’s like a miracle”/Ah boy but them bacon/And them egg– /Where in the hell/is the scissor?/ SINGING: -“You’ll never know/just how much I love you.”
That’s the 80th Chorus. So it’s dispersed mind, but it’s actual recollection of the things happening there.
“Mr Beggar & Mrs Davy/Looney and CRUNEY,/I made a pome out of it,/Haven’t smoked Luney/& Cruney/in a Long Time./ Dem eggs & dem dem/Dere bacons, baby/if you only lay that/ down on a trumpet/Lay that down/solid brother/’Bout all dem/bacon & eggs/Ya gotta be able/to lay it doen/solid -/ All that luney/& fruney”
“Fracons, acons,& beggs,/Lay, it, all that/be boppy/be buddy/I didn’t took/I could think/So/bepo/beboppy/ Luney & Juney/ -if-/ that’s the way/ they get/ kinda hysterical/ Looney & Boony/Juner & Mooner/Moon, Spoon, and June.”
“Don’t they call them/cat men/That lay it down/with the trumpet/The orgasm/Of the moon/And the June/I call em/them cat things/William/Carlos/Williams – He knew William Carlos Williams’ work and advanced on it into the mind. In other words, not merely vernacular thought but vernacular mind. So that’s why it ends – “I call em/them cat things/ “That’s really cute, that un” – that one – that un – “That’s really cute,/ that un”, William /Carlos/ Williams.”
Bobbie Louise Hawkins (in attendance in the class): (Did you make that up “vernacular mind”?)
AG: I just thought it up this minute. That is to say, Williams was working with actual speech as he heard it around him and arranged it. (He) composed his poems, as he says, of the elements of the speech as it is heard around. But he was primarily preoccupied with quotidian speech, or vernacular speech, or Rutherford (New Jersey) speech. Kerouac was more preoccupied with the quotidian mind, that is to say, the sounds in the ear, or the sounds in his head,
Bobbie Louise Hawkins: (What) is that word? – “quotidian”?
AG: Quotidian – Q-U-O-T-I-D-I-A-N – Everyday. Everyday mind, or, in Buddhists-speak, Ordinary Mind, i.e, what is actually happening in the mind and the stream of language that goes in and out of the mind, as in those early poems when he’s saying, “DON”T IGNORE OTHER PARTS/OF YOUR MIND/…when you’d let the faces/crack & mock/& yak & Change” – the “yakkety-yak” of the mind, the matter-babble behind the ear – “yak & change/& go mad utterly/in your night/firstmind/reveries” – as a baby. “Bo-bee-zabba-dooble-wee-blue-di-doo” [Allen parodies mind-language, scat singing] – Anything you do with it. The actual mind sounds, rather than the household sounds of Wiliams’, orthe doctor’s sounds. So Kerouac was really preoccupied with the internal vernacular
Bobbie Louise Hawkins: So it’s like his mind is the locus of experience..
Bobbie Louise Hawkins: ..and the source of his language
AG: Yes, rather than Rutherford (New Jersey). In that sense, I think, there was an advance over Williams (not over, but an advance from Wlliams’ base) because previous writing of that kind of gobbledygook nature, or Surrealist, or automatic, writing, or Dada had been senseless, but literary (rather than senseless, but painted after nature..sketched after nature). Jack was sketching after what-he-heard-in-his-mind-nature, His mind was Mont St.Victoire and he was constantly sketching Mont St Victoire, his brain was Mont St Victoire, so that he was constantly making paintings of (that), rather than the speech out of the mouth, in the street, So, as we were moving from, say, Objectivist, Imagist,1930’s clear lucid material world preoccupations to a later psychedelic, more internalized subjective exploration (in the) (19)50’s and (19)60’s, this was sort of like a signal…what do you call it? – graduation or move or evolution, in terms of his and others’ preoccupations to what’s going on inside my head.