AVO: You’ve been out as gay for so many years. Were you ever in the closet?
AG: I was, very much so, in Columbia, when I was going to school, at first, the first year. I was afraid somebody would find out, actually, and I never.. didn’t want to tip my mitt or tell anybody, because I was afraid I’d be mocked or made fun of. But I was hanging around with some very tolerant people – (Jack) Kerouac and William Burroughs. And the amazing thing was that even after.. (I knew Burroughs, I’d met him once, and knew Kerouac well), I still hadn’t told Kerouac, (partly because I had a crush on him, so I was afraid that he’d reject me if he found out my horrible secret!) – So I just behaved very straight, (or straight-laced, but sensitive), which he liked. So there was, like, an innate attraction anyway, but I was just completely dumb.
AVO: Did he know that you were attracted to him?
AG: Well, no. See, finally, there was one night after, I think, about, finally, after we’d known each other at least half a year, (or almost a year), that he stayed over in my room in a little hotel near Columbia (University) campus on 115th Street. So I gave him my bed and I put a mat on the floor and we were up late talking about poetry and friends and what-not. And I said, “You know, I have something I want to tell you” [laughter]. And he said, “Well, what?” – And I said, “Well, actually..” (I forgot what I said, actually, but it was something like, “I…you know..I like..I like..I..er..” [more laughter] -“I like men”, or something, )
AG: “I prefer…”..”and, actually, Jack, I like you. I’d like to sleep with you”. And he said [more laughter] – “Aw!.. no..” [laughter] ( – he didn’t realize that he’d nourished a serpent in his bosom all this time!) But, actually, we worked it out one way or the other. He was very tolerant, friendly.. And the other night, I wrote a poem from that…
AVO: How did the rest of your family react to the (gay) relationship between the two of you (Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky)
AG: Oh, all my aunts and uncles got friendly, after a while. My brother, (who would be more concerned maybe, because of sibling relationships, having some basic pattern relating to later homosexual development, sort of unconscious relationships), was probably a little more embarrassed by it than the rest of the family, but he’s very fond of Peter, at this point (in fact, he’s, all along, a long time he’s been). And, like everybody that’s been married-and-divorced and married-and-divorced and fought with their wives, and so, nobody is sure about any ground of any kind of relationship at this point, so any relationship lasting as long as Peter’s and mine is.. just simply the quality of endurance is kind of… terrifying! for anybody who wants to be critical at this point. -“Let he who is without divorces cast the first stone”, so to speak.
AVO: Did the..
AG: I think it tends toward ordinary mind, ordinary.. ordinary thought, rather than a big deal. And part of that is our discretion (in the sense that we don’t suck each others cock in front of the family, so to speak. Or go around campy and swishy and being aggressively demonstrative)[laughter]. On the other hand, there is a good deal of hand-holding, which is obvious and friendly, and nobody gets upset as we try to.. just follow our noses, act the way we feel like. And being involved with Buddhist meditation practice, there arises, automatically, a certain aawareness of ones own aggression, or pushing, or.. tendency to offend, or impress, or..
AVO: Do you mean…
AG: Lay trips on people.
AVO: Pushing one’s own..desires?
AG: Well, yes. Well “pushing”, in the sense of just wanting.. wanting credentials.. wanting confirmation, wanting approval (which is a kind of aggression, a kind of aggression, actually). So, it’s like the sound of one hand clapping (i.e you don’t need a second hand to complete the solitude, you don’t need a second hand to complete the sense of reality). In other words, no credentials are requested, no approval is requested. The approval is implicit in these situations and so there is no petitioning and so there is no rejection. And there’s a little space for (a) relationship rather than (a) vote – that is, in other words, it isn’t.. there’s no need to..to force other people to approve – or disapprove – it’s simply a fait d’accompli.
In other news – next Friday in Fort Myers, Florida, the Jack Kerouac On The Road scroll hits town, a prominent feature of the Jack Kerouac and Ed Ruscha – On The Road exhibit taking place at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College (through until August 18) – The scroll you’re all familiar with, right?
The Ruscha perhaps less so? – Having created his own limited edition artist-book version of On the Road in 2009 (published by Gagosian Gallery and Steidl, and illustrated with photographs that he took, commissioned, or found), Ruscha followed this up, in 2011, with an entirely new body of paintings and drawings taking their inspiration from Kerouac’s work. A Kerouac aficionado. As he remarked around that time – “I first read it (On The Road) in 1958 and felt an immediate connection to the vision of the characters in the story. They were like ambassadors of optimism. They were jumpy and impulsive and they loved the highways.”
A.J.Lees we’ve noted here before, but notice of his Mentored By A Madman – The William Burroughs Experiment seems well worth repeating.
Ayahuasca in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Our good friends at Dangerous Minds give an interesting over-view of the work – here
and the re-evaluation of psychedelics continues full force. Michael Pollan‘s profound and engaging How To Change Your Mind : What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence elicited a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review a couple of weeks back (and continues to spark healthy debate)
and as for Mr. Leary..
Allen’s famous bet with CIA director Richard Helms regarding CIA drug trafficking (Allen won the bet) is the subject of an informative in-depth piece in The Conversation just out (complete with links to original memos in CIA files) – well worth a read.
“All these dealers were decades and today/the Indochinese mob of the CIA”
Such a smart thing to combine cold hard facts with the jaunty beat of calypso!