Studs Terkel’s 1959 interview with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and a taciturn Peter Orlovsky (courtesy PennSound) continues
ST: So in other words you believe in compassion ? (or) you’re afraid of that word too?
GC: Compassion is a beautiful word.
AG:I’m in favor of compassion in other people.
GC: That’s compassion for Gregory.
ST: But you feel you are not.. Now are you putting.. Is this a façade?
AG: I don’t know if I’m compassionate or not, I’m just doing what I feel.
ST: You don’t want labels, I see.
AG: No, it’s not that I don’t want labels, but if I go around.. if I say, ”I am a compassionate poet audienceman. I’d rather hint it sideways.
ST: Well that certainly makes sense.
ST: Well what about. What do you think, Here’s a question, Perhaps you can answer it..
AG: In other words, how do we dispose, once and for all, this problem of being “anti-life” (from the journalist aspect).
ST: You have said.. I think..
AG: We might find a poetic way where it’s beautiful to be “anti-life”.
ST: Certainly what you last said and did (here)..
AG: You know, I turn it over to Gregory to carry on the “anti-life” battle again. (And I would buy Gregory’s “anti-life” battle)..
ST In case there are some listeners, I think, who are.. I think Gregory horses around a bit too. I think Gregory, no, I think, basically, basically..
GC: No, I’m natural. I’m just me.
AG No, he waits for inspiration, yeah.
GC: I’m just being me. I’m this way all the time. I’m sorry. I don’t horse around at all. That word, I don’t understand it. I am the way I am. I really am.
ST: Yeah, well I apologize for using it then. You are the way you are.
ST: Well that’s pretty important to be who you are.
GC So maybe I’m goofy, but nonetheless that’s me.
AG: Yeah, he’s right.
ST: And Allen’s point there, the point you made about Carl (Solomon), about this man who seemed bereft of what we think is sanity, right?
AG: Yeah well partly I was saying, like he really isn’t bereft of sanity.
ST: That’s right.
AG: The nation itself is bereft of sanity.
ST: Ah, then our values, we’d say our values, our accepted values, are cock-eyed.
AG: Sure. Well, Everyone knows that anyway. You can see that in Time magazine at this point.
ST: Yeah, but they don’t quite say it that way.
AG: Yes they do.
GC: They do in a way..
AG: They do – Just turn to their religion page and you’ll hear all sorts of harangues about our values being screwy – Well everybody knows that anyway…
ST: What made you, you think, the poet you are, what, do you think, brought about the feelings you have?
ST: You (Allen) say suffering and you (Gregory) say God?
AG: Lollipops, Peter?
Peter Orlovsky: Lollipops, Pennies.
ST: Now where does that leave us? – I don’t know where I’m left at the moment but where does this leave us ?
AG: Well what made you the way you are?
GC: Where does it leave you?
AG: Did you have a dream last night?
ST: Where does it leave me, you say? Yeah. I’ll… I’ll have to figure this one out. But I want some…not that I’m looking for anything specific, if.. I know it can’t be done in a sentence, but since you are…
AG: But we’re not refusing to be specific. He was talking about gum-machines and hair, and I was talking about rocket-ships and people (a very specific person I know who’s in the bug-house who I dig). And he (Peter Orlovsky)’s talking about lollipops. So this is not refusing to be specific.
But, in the Diamond Sutra, which is a conversation by Buddha, it says that all conceptions of the existence of the self or the non-existence of the self are equally arbitrary, being only conceptions, so that when asked a question, “What is your conception of this?” and “What is your conception of that?”, I realize, in advance that any answer is going to be.. is going to…evade the grist of things, actually.
ST: But don’t you think..
AG: You weren’t listening to that, you were looking at his (Gregory Corso”s) poem “Bomb” so let’s continue with “Bomb”
ST: No, No I’m sorry. I do.. At the moment… As you were talking, Allen.. You were right in chastising me (there) ..
AG: Well, I wasn’t listening to myself either. You were the audience.
ST: Just as you were talking, Gregory ..
AG: It’s in the end of the Diamond Sutra
ST: thrust a dart into in my hand called “Bomb”. Before we go into “Bomb”, there was something you were saying …
GC: I handed it to you gently
AG: No, it’s a great poem
ST: (to GC) You did handle it gently. I apologize
AG: He waved it. He waved it like a pheasant’s feather…to be continued
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-six minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in – 2018 update audio no longer available]