“French Revolution” – 3

Liberty Leading The People – Eugene Delacroix (1830)

Allen Ginsberg continuing his notes on “The French Revolution”

AG: “In the den nam’d Destiny a strong man sat,/ His feet and hands cut off, and his eyes blinded; round his /middle a chain and a band/ Fasten’d into the wall; fancy gave him to see an image of  despair in his den, / Eternally rushing around, like a man on his hands and knees, /day and night without rest: /He was friend to the favourite…”

So this is a guy who’s….

Peter Orlovsky:  Is that Lafayette?

AG: Well, like Lafayette somewhat. He’s like a good man who’s turned parasite.  It’s Andy Warhol. (Well, that’s off the tip of the tongue.  A good man turned parasite or stuck in despair, he thinks that tyranny will win forever.  In other words, he has the right inclinations but he’s sticking around the side of the favorite, he’s sucking up to the favorite – the King (The Shah) of Iran, or something – because he thinks he’s going to win, he’s going to be forever, so he might as well (collaborate).  There’s no point fighting City Hall.  He thinks City Hall is going to last forever.  He thinks the Bastille is going to last forever, he thinks the old order is going to last forever, so he’s scared to rebel and so (here’s his) destiny, here’s his karma –  “a strong man sat,/His feet and hands cut off, and his eyes blinded;”  – (he doesn’t see what’s going to come) – “round his middle a chain and a band/Fasten’d into the wall; fancy gave him to see an image of despair in his den.”  In ther words, he despaired that there would ever be a change.  No hope.  So he just sort of compromised and that was his destiny.  Destiny.  Prison.  You could say this is the archetype of the minds at Time magazine.  The guys who write Time magazine. It is their destiny, their fate. Precisely their psychology.

Peter Orlovsky:  Day and night without rest.  You mean, he .. Lafayette didn’t take rest and enjoy relaxation.

AG:  No, no.  “(F)ancy gave him to see an image of despair in his den/Eternally rushing….”  The image of despair is always rushing “around, like a man on his hands and knees, day and night without rest.”

Peter Orlovsky:  Um-hmm.

AG:  In other words, continually in his mind there is this image floating around of being beaten down and not succeeding, not rebelling, not liberating himself.  There never will be a liberation.  There is only despair.  There’s no way out for him. He better take the best he can get and accept his father’s fortune.  Or whatever.  But doing it out of despair, rather than out of joy or out of playfulness or out of some sense of liberation.  Doing it for fear rather than pleasure.

So “He was friend to the favourite. In the seventh tower, nam’d the tower of God, was a … ” -patriot –  “… man/Mad.” A mad man, a patriot. According to Damon‘s interpretation.  This guy is a patriot, and so he’s considered man with his “… chains loose, which he dragg’d up and down; fed with /hopes year by year, he pined/ For liberty: vain hopes: his reason decay’d, and the world of attraction in his bosom/ Center’d, and the rushing of chaos overwhelm’d his dark/ soul. He was confin’d/ For a letter of advice to a King, and his ravings in winds are heard over Versailles.”

In other words, this was some kind of political libertarian nut who wrote a letter to the king saying, “Hey, why don’t you let everybody go?”  Like a letter to the President full of idealistic notions and patriotic conceptions, and they came and arrested him.  He sent a letter to the editor of the newspaper and they arrrested him:  “and his ravings in winds are heard over Versailles.”

But the dens shook and trembled, the prisoners look up and assay to shout; they listen,/ Then laugh in the dismal den, then are silent, and a light walks round the dark towers./For the Commons convene in the Hall of the Nation..” – (Okay, so now the Commons are getting it together..)

But it’s 9:05.  So we’ll continue (next time)  I think it’s time to quit, right?  So we’ll continue with “The French Revolution”…act by act.

Peter Orlovsky:  What’s the homework for next time?

AG: Finish the “French Revolution” and go on to “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” and we’ll do those two. And also the poem “Let the Brothels of Paris be Opened.”  Look it up in the Index.  “Let the Brothels of Paris be Opened”, and the footnotes to that poem –  “Fayette, Fayette, thou art bought and sold.”  Actually I’ll give you the page.  Page four ninety for the poem on Fayette, and the footnotes to it.

Class concludes with Allen announcing to the students the situation of availability of the various Blake books and addressing the bureaucratic needs of a particular student 

Student: Allen I haven’t got my…

 AG:  Oh, one moment.  One moment.  There are copies now of the Blake illuminated works, which we’ll need. There are three copies for sale at the Boulder Bookstore and there are ten copies coming in and another fifteen coming in to the Naropa Bookstore, but they’ve got ten at the Naropa Bookstore, so you can pick those up now.  The Erdman text has been mailed UPS to the Boulder Bookstore, about fifteen copies, [and] should arrive any day now. And I sent to New York for as many copies [we can find from] second hand bookstores of the dictionary.  So check out, so far, the Boulder Bookstore and the Naropa Bookstore.  Naropa preferably because we asked them to order it.  

Student: I haven’t been in any of the classes (indecipherable). Student: Is there anyone here who has read the Talking Poetics book. AG: Aren’t you in here? Student: No.  And would like to (see the Blake illustrations) AG: Well, check them out then, will you?  I mean check it out of the (library).Student: (I did) I read about half of it. …I wasn’t in the Apprenticeship Program.

tape and class ends here

to be continued 

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