Barry Farber – 7 (interview concludes)

The Allen Ginsberg-Barry Farber radio transcription that we’ve been serializing continues and concludes today

BF: I want (you) to read from the Table of Contents, like the virtuous…
AG: (It’s) [“Wales Visitation‘] a bit long, like eight minutes or so. Something.. And I had been used, generally, on television, to be told to please make it one minute – “Please make it two minutes” – (because they don’t realize the power of poetry, they think, you know, that everybody’s going to get bored!)
So I’ll read it again and I’d like to dedicate the reading to the absent visitor tonight, Ed Sanders, who was supposed to be here tonight but got snowed in in the town of Woodstock, because this evening when we’re speaking, I think it was like sixteen below or something – driving down – and couldn’t get out here . Because he just published a book that is relevant to what we were talking about here, a very funny parody of all the received notions and ideas and stereotypes – an enthusiastic book called Tales of Beatnik Glory

I’ll read a paragraph of it because it’s very funny, about a kid (who) runs away to New York to join the beatniks in Washington (Square) Park in Greenwich Village – [Allen reads a brief section from Ed Sanders‘ Tales of Beatnik Glory]

“Yea, Plains of Gold, Nebraska had lost its finest artist when Johnny took a suitcase full of sketches and headed for the Greyhound terminal. And what was it that Washington Square Park gained? It gained a stunned young mammal scribbling with joy, who plugged into a heaven of body-burning solipsism, sex, pot, liquor, and beatific Buddhism. Just to walk unnoticed in the harsh city for months, that alone was Total to Johnny.…… {Allen continues to read from Tales of Beatnik Glory]….

He’s got his own language, it’s really great. He’s got a funny energetic use of slang and sort of a post-Beatnik hip talk, very American and newspaper-ese, and at the same time, like, a police report, and at the same time just totally poetic, capping one piece of neologism – “parklings” – like making up a little word for the kids around the park – “parklings”. So I’d recommend it. It’s called Tales of Beatnik Glory, published this month, by Ed Sanders, Stonehill Press. Ed was supposed to be with us, so I’m reading it, hoping he’s listening. The reason I ‘m dedicating this poem to him is that he was one of the founders of LEMAR, (the) legalize marijuana movement, which wanted to change the laws. It was because of my participation with Peter and Ed in LEMAR that we began getting our federal government files, secret files built up around the time, This written on LSD, so let’s..
BF: While you were under LSD?
AG: Yeah
BF: Uh-huh
AG: I was in Wales in England in a mountain valley, called Llanthony Valleywhich actually in the ‘twenties had been a hiding place for bohemians and mystics, Eric Gill – they had a man named Eric Gill who was an aesthete, who had a press there.  And it’s on Lord Hereford’s Knob – there’s a mountain called Lord Hereford’s Knob, a mountain. That’s in that Valley,  Capel-y-ffin is a little chapel at the bottom of it . So this is a description of the panorama of the valley through the eyes of LSD – with details) – [At approximately thirty-nine-and-three-quarter minutes in, Allen begins reading “Wales  Visitation“] – (“White fog lifting and falling on mountain brow”….”Upward in motion with wet wind”)

Allen Ginsberg at Llanthony Valley

BF: I don’t believe that was eight minutes. It seemed like a minute and a half to me.
AG: Well, probably five minutes.
BD: Do you remember what Bill Buckley did at that point. Can you…
AG: He approved of the poem but I don’t remember his words.
BF: Aw!, he.. First of all, it had to be television, and it had to be the face of William F Buckley listening to Allen Ginsberg reading a poem that was written under the influence of LSD. And afterwards..and Bill just sat there absorbing it and liking it, and after it was over, he smiled, and said, “Nice, nice”.
AG: Yeah. Well the reason I read it, actually, is I think he had commented earlier. He just repeated a sort of stereotype police-state idea that nothing, nothing wholesome could be done on LSD artistically, and I had that as a specimen of something that was an intersection between the normal world and the world of slightly altered consciousness of LSD
BF: Do you remember writing that poem? What does LSD do to you?
AG: Oh sure. Well, at first, the first few years it sort of freaked me out, actually, because the changes were so great And I was constantly searching for God. I had the notion of God and I kept thinking that if I didn’t find God when I was high that I’d be damned forever. And so I got scared. But at a certain point I suddenly realized that I was pushing too hard and what I should do was just relax and breathe. And, at this point I had been doing some meditation (which I think is very good to combine with LSD if you can use it at all, that it’s a safety measure, observing the breath coming out of your nostrils, say, you know, fixing your mind on some empty space, like in front of your face, traditional Buddhist meditation, actually. Stabilize your mind so that you don’t get caught up in your fantasies or in your daydreams. In other words, staying here where you are, taking a trip without a trip so that you notice the particulars in the space around you, like the gossamer hair of the lambs that was caught in the thorns, “beaded with rain”. So it’s kind of like this precise microscopic observation and insight into the actual scenes around you instead of making up a nightmare or a heavenly universe Does that make sense?

BF: It makes a good deal of sense?
AG: You know, just staying where you are. Ordinary mind. Ordinary mind.
BG: It makes a great deal of sense. I wish we knew a bit more about the impact of LSD, or even marijuana also
AG: Well, for those of us who were taking it,  better do it, if you’re going to take it at all, better have some safety thing and I would advise meditation as a sort of compass. and would say, even, meditation, if you had to choose between the two, choose meditation.

BG: Do you know at which point in your life you peeled out of formation and followed your own targeting..?

AG: Well, yeah, very early, fourteen or so, I realized that I loved boys, that I was a homosexual, as they say, if you want to categorize it, that my sexual conditioning or preference or desires were different from what I was supposed to.. what the other kids in high school were like. I was in love with some kids in high school and I had my own private universe, as almost everybody does, actually, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, there is a fantasy of a love, which is hardly ever satisfied in youth, in that very tender age. So I realized that my own private esire and understanding was different from what was supposed to be official, and almost every direction that I turned, whether it be politics, or the question of drugs, later on, marijuana particularly, or just the notion of what the universe is and what we’re here for, I kept feeling that my own understanding was just different from what I was told on the radio by the CIA or something.
BF: If you’re … I’m going to let that go. We… You and I need to talk CIA, we’ll talk CIA.
AG Oh, remember CIA was subsidizing Encounter magazine and a good deal of intellectual life in those years, the National Students Association and other things, in those crucial years in the “Fifties.
BF: I took the first trip the CIA ever paid for the National Student Association
AG: Yeah, they really sort of got everybody in their game, you know, chose people who..want to be safe.
BF: When we meet again on this, Allen, I will, not flippantly but fully..
AG: Okay, we’ll go into..
BF:  …explain why I am proud to have been on the first CIA-sponsored trip, under the auspicies of the National Student Association (I didn’t know it at the time,but I’m glad that there was at least one American institution at the time that was aware that a very important war was going on).
AG: The Cold War?
BF: The Cold War…student section.
AG: Well, they made it themselves.
BF: No, well there.. Come on, Allen! Come on!
AG: It takes two to make a war. They helped make it.
BG: Allen, when we come back..
AG: It takes two to make one war. You can’t.. Everybody’s responsible for everything, and we can’t decline responsibility for our aggression in the Cold War, too..
BF: What two did it take to take the war to..?
AG: Dulles Dullles Dulles Dulles, Dulles! .both Dulles’ – Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles having lunch with Henry Luce, Time-Life magazine, promoting the Cold War,’ ”the China Lobby”
BF: Did you believe this before you took massive quantities of LSD?
AG: Oh I knew that long ago
BF: What about.. what about..
AG: Oh that was what I read about in Time magazine, what I read in Time magazine about what life was like. As you may remember, a poem (of mine) in 1956, called “America”, said, “America, are you going to let your emotional life be controlled by Time magazine?” Remember?
BF: I’d rather it be controlled by Time magazine than by Pravda because besides Time, there’s Newsweek
AG: Not much difference, not much difference there.
BF: In a free press, there’s all the difference in the world We can pick up some Ginsberg if we get tired of the Communist Party line or the CIA line.
AG; Wild-eyed Ginsberg! – That was the… The Time magazine view was “wild-eyed” – “wild-eyed poet Allen Ginsberg”!

Jonathan Robbins: I should like to make some comments on the subject of tripping, on the use of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. I have been using LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, etc, since the age of fourteen on close to a hundred different occasions. I find that it is absolutely indispensible, delightful, and I heartily advise everyone to take LSD
AG: Yeah, but you haven’t tried meditation. You haven’t  tried meditation yet.
BF: Because you are seventeen years old, I am not going to run you through the wringer. I think that what you say is your opinion. I’m glad, for your sake, you’re living in a country where you can have that opinion. I think you are contravened by a tower of data to the contrary of your statement, which would embarrass anybody, except perhaps a seventeen-year-old who writes poetry..
AG: Thank god for seventeen-year-olds that speak their mind!. That’s all I can say.
BF: Needless to say, your opinions are..
AG: I don’t agree with his opinions but I’m glad to hear someone who can cut through all the official bullshit and say what he thinks, you know. There’s enough of that.
BF: Uh-huh. alright, fine. Why use dynamite when a sneeze will..
AG: Why use dynamite when you’ve got the Atom Bomb?
BF: Precisely. Allen, do you remember the last time you wore a necktie?
AG: I think it was about a week ago.
BF: Oh really?
AG: Yeah
BF: Oh how I’d like a picture of Allen Ginsberg in a necktie!
AG: I have one turtle-neck. Your audience may not know that I’m beardless also.
BF: If we assign a value of one hundred to the drastic-ness of your high school homosexuality (don’t forget that was back then)
AG: That was just the first.. I mean that was just the sense.. a very root thing. That was just the first..
BF: Alright, but I’m going back to the age of fourteen
AG: Yeah. Sure
BF: And when you were fourteen (forget what exactly what year that was, we all know more or less), it was drastic, lets say it was a hundred, scored a hundred, and
AG: I was fourteen in 1940, say
BF: Okay, that was a real. Well it was a. It was a prison, I mean, you had no other options. That was heavy.
AG: Yeah, none that I knew of, anyway
BF: Okay, lets call that heavy to the tune of one hundred. If we assign one hundred to the heaviness of your homosexuality when you were in high school, then today that would have dwindled down to, gee, I don’t know, about twenty-five, don’t you?
AG: I hope so. I hope so
BF: Alright, question – if you came along today instead of then, do you think you would have been the cyclotron of creativity that you became, having been in a one-hundred percent prison and not a twenty-five percent prison?
AG: Okay, the instance of my,, let us say not liberation but search, a search for some sense of reality may have been bad, but actually it seems that, in a sense, all of our existence is beset by illusions and egotism or my existence is beset by selfhood and egotism and the job to pierce through that veil of maya, or to get, or to understand the mountain of selfhood existences and to go through the obscurations and coverings of my own bad actions and my own illusions is so vast that , at any age, in any time, on any planet, any man will have to look into his soul and discover whether life is life and death is death and what the relations are, discover his own free nature, discover his own suffering. And so, at this point , I would say, for. the task is perhaps even harder for someone now, but, at the same time, even more deep a need (which is why I’m a Buddhist and why I meditate)
BF: Allen, you are an example of a life-style, are you not also a survivor. I mean, where are all of your buddies from those days, how did they work out?
AG:: Happy and singing, most of them,
BF: Looking at you, you look ten years younger than when I saw you ten years ago. I don’t know what you’ve been taking..
AG: No, I just shaved my grey beard
BF: Is that it?
AG: And I didn’t smoke so much
BF: And you lost weight
AG: I don’t drink anyway and..
BF: I think you’ve lost weight and you look happy ,you look up
AG: I’m sorry!
BF: You’ve got a book on the broadcast table. It looks like it’s ten years old but it just came out. You’ve been carrying this in your back pocket – First Blues, Rags, Ballads and Harmonium Songs 1971-1974, published by Full Court Press
AG: Yeah, that just came out this month. I’ve been working on the music. Actually, my teacher, to some extent, has been (Bob) Dylan, (he) taught me chord-changes for the blues. So I’ve been writing, like, Buddhist pop songs, like I sang before and trying to get into music and singing blues. So this is a result of that. There’s about thirty-five songs, which I hope I’ll be recording sooner or later.

BF: It’s that corner-end of the broadcast now, where it’s too late to do anything except..
AG: Sing!
BF: ..unfinished business – Alright, go ahead, good idea, good idea! – (make up a song on the spot). Let’s sing us all the way out. Are you going to make up a song on the spot?
AG: Sure. Are you going to help me?  – How many minutes we got?
BF: Two minutes.
AG: [begins improvising]  “Two minutes left we gotta make up a song on the spot/Living on the planet, that’s every day’s lot/Well at least this song ain’t gonna be covering what is not/ I’ll take you there, (you blue-eyed, trespass the bounds of peace)/Well we’ve got to get of the air so I’ll give you some release/Well, good night Barry Farber, be at ease”
BF [joining in]: Allen Ginsberg, King of the May, /Knight of the might..
AG: Say what you’re going to say..
BF: Prince of Permissivemess..
AG: We wish you a good..
BF: High-Priest of Poetry and Persuasion too/Thanks for bringing your friends who accompanied you/Thanks to my journalist on my right and has never been on the air before but covered a shooting in uptown Manhattan earlier day and came down here to tell me all about it because I had to edit tape in time to play on the air instead of his own observations and recollections./ Allen come soon and often
AG: And we’ll end our moannnnn…aaaaah...
BF: Mantra, a mantra, give me any mantra, a mantra..
BF: Or Orlovsky’s a good mantra. Thanks to Peter Orlovsky [also guesting on the show], thank you Jonathan Robbins, Bob Goodman, and there he is, the Big Chief himself, Allen Ginsberg.

[Tape – here – concludes at, approximately,  the end of the tape – (remaining two minutes of the tape are a fragment of overheard discussion – two musicians tuning up and in conversation – speaking of Joe Tex, and jazz-guitarists Johnny Smith and Jim Hall]

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