Ted Berrigan – 5 (continues)

Ted Berrigan continuing from here

TB: Yeah, Art. habits of writing. I don’t think you can get yourself five hundred postcards because it’s expensive to get five hundred postcards printed up that say, “Postcard by…” (with your name on it and on the back a blank, you know, so that you can put anything you want on it), but.. sometime, someone might ask you to do that. Well, then, that’s one way.

But Bob Creeley often talks about (how) the size of the paper you write on is influencing tremendously the art you make when you’re writing., And Bob, in fact, often writes in notebooks like this [Ted shows his notebook], (in fact, even smaller). Now, that’s not why he makes those little poems, I mean. Its because he likes to make those little poems that he gets those notebooks. But still, knowing that, you might want to see how it would be, to make little poems, you know. Or, really, instead of getting a book of Creeley’s poems and putting a piece of paper in the typewriter, maybe you should get yourself a smaller notebook instead of.. instead of the kind (that) I like to get, which are kind of like this size (sic) , you know, and even here, like I..I get this because it gives me the freedom to scribble a lot and not have to see, necessarily, a final version. For that I’d have to get one about eight-and-a-half by eleven because I like the typewriter-size, myself, and, page size, myself, and I…for the first twelve years or so I wrote… I wrote everything on the typewriter, but then I got too lazy to get up off the bed so, you know.  Now I write everything in here [Ted points to notebook again] – Also, I got a little bored with throwing away pieces of paper and then not remembering what it was I’d put out and that I could use in something else later, so, I started putting them all in all these books. You need some books, like this, you know (at least one, not too many because otherwise you’ll get confused), but you should have a book like this, and you shouldn’t carry it around with you every minute because you’ll look pretentious, but you should take it with you when you’re going to have some time to.. you know, like when you might be going to write in it, (like on a plane or a bus or whatever). And you should have it by your bed, or you should have it by where you sit (even if that’s where you sit when you watch tv , because you might want to write something down, and it might not be that you want to write a poem, you might just want to write down something somebody said just a minute ago on this tv, .. anything. You just want to..)  And sometime when you feel like writing and there’s no content there, you start thumbing through your pages and you find these things you wrote down and you see that there’s something in there, something going on that you have a little grip on. And so you start putting those things in, and in some order (you’re typing them up and putting them in in some order), and you find out yourself  what your subject-matter is. (So) It’s a discovery trip rather than just a words and music trip, you know, but, well, there  are all sorts of ways. It is valid to have it all down in your head and type it up and its equally valid to sit at a typewriter with nothing there, and go. Everyone is interesting, is an interesting person, with an interesting line, interesting shapely.. everyone.. And, like, any time, any time at all, it just takes the energy (not the inspiration, the inspiration will come out of the work, the working process if it’s not there already). In fact, if it comes before, sometimes it will be too strong and you will not be able to put down any words good enough to match and you’ll have to wait (you can always try a few valium or a couple of drinks, but that will just usually distract you, you know, you’ll be likely to write an “Ode to Valium”, which you really probably really don’t want to do, but.. or if you do, you should tho’… but if you get some.. you get some small notebooks  but.. and.. this is… — (shows poetry postcard)

But see, when I’m making these I’m aware that these cards are going to be taken out of these envelopes, which have other cards in them that have been hand-printed with poems on them and bookmarks and other sort of things (there’s many things in there) and just one person that I know is going to get one of each. Nobody but me and a couple of my friends and the person sending them out is going to see all of them. But, on the other hand, I’m going to have all of them later. I’m making copies of them all (not the way they look, I mean, I’m typing them up, (all), even if they don’t seem to be poems because maybe I’ll have a five-hundred page work, which I’ll no doubt have to cut down. then I haven’t yet..I mean, seen a five-hundred page single poem made up of a lot of individual poems that was any good, let alone written one, but I mean it might make something else. But I’m very aware, anyway, that they’re going to take this out and so I’d like them to get a postcard. I’d like it to look like something that’s.. I can’t make postcard art, not good enough,  but I can make something that if you saw it on a postcard rack it might look different enough and intriguing enough that you might want to buy it, (I mean, if it didn’t cost too much) and send it to someone (I mean I’m not making things for people to collect necessarily, tho’ they can do what thy want. I mean. If you get this in one of those packets, a postcard by me, hand-written, and since dealers don’t care if the poems are any good or not, might be worth about two dollars from a dealer. Still that would be a thousand dollars, except no dealer would buy a thousand postcards by me because they don’t have that many customers for me, so I don’t care about all that.  So sometimes I play with them after. But I’m trying to write a poem on each one, you know (but) I also play with them. I have a bunch of magic markers and a few things to paste on, you know, And here’s…and sometimes.. I just make poems..I like found poems, you know. 

When I’m reading something I suddenly see something jump off the page and it’s a whole poem. I see it and maybe I also see it in this other way. What I saw on the page it said, “Art is not your life it is someone else’s” (it was in a piece by Frank O’Hara, whom I knew, and, in fact, heard him say things like this on occasion). So I thought it’d be nice to write it on here (on the postcard) to see if it looked like a poem. “Frank Said” – “Art is not your life it is someone else’s”/Frank said.” I did want to drop the dogmatic quality out of it at the end. I mean who the hell is Frank? Who does he know? – but it’s nice to see those words. Sometimes it is your life, you know, but. but..  

I made a rule, too, that when I wrote these poems, I would make a line underneath all the titles, because I knew it would look ugly, and therefore I would have to work a little harder at making it look better. But I wanted there to be some unifying factor on every postcard and I didn’t want it to be thematic, you know, So.. But. there’s a couple of pieces that had something to do with this festival (sic)  here you know… 

But this is nice, I read this somewhere and I’d copied it in a journal in 1973, and I, in doing these postcards, I looked through every old notebook I had, (I mean I have a bunch where I just started to write poems, but then I tried to make something that was…) Now this is something that someone wrote, and I copied it out. The way I copied it out (and in the notebook I copied it out in) I liked the looks of.. well, I mean, what made the line breaks. (I sort of automatically made them where I would have made them as if I’d have been inventing it myself, and it turned out be a poem in a certain prose way)

This is called “Research Note” and its in quotes and I’ve actually credited who it’s written by though (tho I mean if it’s a poem then it’s by me and I do mean it to be a poem, in fact. Which means therefore it’s this person who says this. It’s what he says and he’s the person who says this. And then there’s a third person, another person, rather, me, then there’s the reader. Well, three makes art. You have to have three. Two’s not enough. Two won’t get it up in the air. You have to have three points to make the thing that you can make that will turn into a circle. You can’t do it with two.  _ 

 (Ted reads “Research Note” –  (“The relative rareness of the conditions necessary for the conscious state may of course be matched by its relative unimportance. No useful purpose has yet been established for the sense of awareness that illumines a small fraction of the mental activities of a few species of “higher” animals. It is not clear that the behavior of any individual or the course of world history would have been affected in any way  if awareness were non-existent.”)

It is very possible that that is so, I think – and it’s very interesting if it’s so since we all think that what we think is so damned important, you know, That is, we often think that our lives are what we are thinking at the moment  – “Everything is awful”, you know, “Ah God! I’m gloomy.” – “You’re gloomy? have some Wheatiesor something, you know”

but then there’s some other kinds, too. 

Just one or two more of these – right, here’s one called “Inexact Quote”.   I tried to do a bunch of them (where) I didn’t put anything on there except.. the words, since I actually have this really marvelously classical American handwriting which is perfectly legible and insane – and all the letters.. each letter goes in some different direction – slightly. And no human being, I’ve been told, writes, could write, like this, except on purpose!   But I don’t do it on purpose. I mean, I was just trying to  be.. as Jack (Kerouac) said, “I just want to be sincere”, and I’m just trying to be clear – [reads “Inexact Quote”], circa 1973 – (“You seem to be suffering from brain cancer so I thought I should be nicer to you all the time but now I see it’ only excessive rage so I might as well go back to being the prick I really am!”). That’s a sort of a domestic discourse .  

“since I actually have this really marvelously classical American handwriting..”

And here’s a work which I decided to call “Henry Cooper”, since I copied this out of his autobiography, which unfortunately was ghost-written by somebody else, but this was supposed to be something he said. And if you don’t know who Henry Cooper is I can’t help you because I imagine that most anyone who gets this probably won’t remember who he is. So “Henry Cooper” (Ted reads “Henry Cooper”) – (“When you are down, you should stay down as long as possible. Your head may clear but you will have to consider your legs as well, and the longer you rest the more the strength will come back into them”)  – And therefore, as goes unsaid, then your clear head will be of some use to you (which it won’t be, it’s not very useful to have a clear head while your lying on the ground having people aiming their foot at it, you know, for example – especially if you are the one doing the aiming!..

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-three-and- a-half -minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in 

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