AG: …. But to capture the spirit, the breath of the moment, you have to love it. You’re going to have to love the breath of the moment…(Understand it) that way. So I’m saying, “Love the breath of the moment”. Don’t be afraid to love the breath of the moment, even if it’s got garlic on it. It’s not a rule, it’s just sort of an opening, I’m saying. There’s an opening there (that you can) go into and…
(So many).. classical traditions (are) precisely this. Chinese landscape painting is like that. There’s great training in the rules, but, finally, it’s the instant moment gesture of the arm. And that practice was taken over in America by the Abstract Expressionist painters, the Action painters, who were actually interested in the gesture of the brush stroke as subject, rather than the external picture. In other words, there’s a whole field that has to be explored, given the fact that we are creatures of conditioning and much too much over-thought, too much conditioned thought. It’s a way of exploring unconditioned thought. It’s a way of surprising ourselves, finding out what we don’t know that we know.
Another problem with revision is that you tend to impose your ideology on the finished work, rather than let the trees make sounds of themselves.
Anyway, my lesson was being pushed over the cliff by (Jack) Kerouac in his house one day in Northport, Long Island. He just sat me down at the typewriter and insisted that I try at least, that I try to do that, instead of having ideas against it, (which were based mainly on shyness and embarrassment with myself, for fear that I’d say something bad or wrong or stupid or silly – for fear of being silly or stupid) – that was fear. It was lack of trust in myself that made me distrust his method at first, and it was a great discovery when I found that it was kind of weird but it was real interesting, and probably more weird-interesting than what I’d been writing before, or the way I’d been going about it before. And, actually, it wasn’t that I hadn’t been writing that way. I had been writing that way all along in my journals, except I didn’t think that they were poetry, because I thought poetry was supposed to be revised. So I would, then, encourage poets to try it out a little.
Then the other point is, actually, classic poetry very often is written that way. After a poet has practiced many years, he gets to do that anyway, Gregory (Corso) was telling me that the great sonnet “Ozymandias” by Shelley, which s considered sort of a pure pluperfect lucid gem of poetry (as Kerouac says) was actually written in ten minutes to show a friend how to treat the subject. It was not intended to be a poem, it was just, sort of, his friend had been laboring over a sonnet all night long and then Shelley came in and said, “It would be easier if you did it this way”, and then just wrote out a sonnet like that – whatever thoughts came to his head.
The point is that what is already in our heads is a profound water treasure – that means, a profound treasure already. What’s already in our heads is (as) profound as the universe because we are the universe. We already are the universe. We already are as deep as the universe. So it’s a question of acting as if you were the universe, instead of, in the process of creation, being afraid that you might make the wrong world. So there is a question, again, of trust.
Another aspect of this is that not everything you write is any good, naturally, mainly because of inattention, but if you do a little bit of writing every day, you’ll notice at the end of the year there’ll be five or six clear moments that are workable, or usable, or you can show to other people. You might have to throw out everything else, but occasionally, by accident, you’ll fall into your natural mind – and probably come up with something memorable.
I don’t know if that fully satisfies…I don’t know if that satisfies the problem, or resolves the problem..
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in, and concluding at approximately fifty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]