Allen Ginsberg 1983 interview with Ole Reitov continues from here
AG: (Allen is talking about the record industry, creativity, and commercialization) So it’s this funny balance that gets set up where the stranglehold on the money and on the distribution breaks of its own weight. And I don’t think it can be imposed in a dinosaur way for any length of time, it’s just cycles.
OR: Yes, and it will develop into another dinosaur after some time..
AG: Not necessarily, that’s a typical Marxist view, or a typical negative view, but sometimes it might develop into a giant Buddha-field.
OR: Does that go also for political movements, because…
AG: I don’t think so
AG: No, I think the nuclear movement has developed in a decentralized way. The green movement has seen a good amount of decentralization. That’s the problem of the whole civilization since the technology tends towards centralization, particularly in the field of energy, which is the basis of industry, if you’re dealing with it in, say, some classic Marxist terms.. the means of production determine the super-structure..the means of production of energy is below the means of production of goods…the means of production of energy is petrochemical and nuclear, those require centralization. There is monopolistic and government conspiracy to maintain petrochemical and nuclear power sources, although they’re wasteful and they tend to centralize and bureaucratize the entire society. So (as in the record industry, or the book industry), it would be better to develop individual meansof energy (like solar, or other), and it would be more efficient. And the same thing goes for agriculture, I think. So my interest is decentralization. So my original publishing is.. I made my own book on a mimeo machine, and then instead of publishing in New York, I published for City Lights in San Francisco, outside of the center, and it has been for twenty-six years, and I still do (twenty-seven)
OR: But obviously it’s sort of a parallel development, because, on one side there is a decentralization in a lot of areas of daily life, and, at the same time, we are seeing that the states are getting more centralized, we are getting a sort of stronger power-state..
AG: Yes, and I’m saying that’s because of the technology, and the technology is based on the energy source, and if you want to get to the problem you’d have to go to the energy source. But to go to the energy source you’d have to go to the psyche.. So that people are interested in their own..straightening their own scene out..beginning with their own minds…then straightening their own street, or household (which means where they get their energy, and where they put they shit, and where they get their water from), and that’s a democratic thing which can only be done by cell by cell (otherwise you’d have the centralized direction either from Mao, or from the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the dictatorship of the monopoly of CBS)
OR: Yes, but at the same time, don’t you think it can lead to a situation where groups of people or groups of small countries, who are sort of decentralized, in the sense of the power-centers of the world… that it can lead to a situation where it gets more difficult to sort of get an overview of what is actually happening in the power-field…and what that would lead to?
AG: I don’t think tactics of requiring an overview of the power-field are so important as putting energy in developing the powerless field. Because all you can do is complain otherwise rather than act to decentralize your own consciousness and decentralize your own immediate activity and family activity.
OR: Please correct me if I misunderstand you, but do you think that means that if the more knowledge we get about what is going on (or what they tell us is going on, like in Chile, or wherever), that leads more to a situation where we get paralyzed, unless we sort of put our energy into..
AG: Probably, yes (laughter).. I’m not saying ignore what’s going on. Like, I went down to Nicaragua last February to find out for myself, ’cause I didn’t like the New York Times version and I knew it was wrong, much less the Time magazine, or State Department version, but, on the other hand, to get some action and insight into what’s wrong…all you have to do is try making your own power and you immediately encounter the power-structure and get to analyze it (that’s the most effective way of analyzing the power-structure, actually to try making your own power.
OR: Does that mean that…
AG: It gives the most insight.
OR: …that the people that are getting aware of these mechanisms are avoiding more and more, sort of, the modern media (like television, and so on)..to avoid getting more stupid?
AG: No, I didn’t mean that. I just meant that the main energy, individual energy, might as well be put into constructive work. In that way, you get lots of analyses of what’s going on, (and everybody reads the newspapers or sees television anyway, so they know what’s going on, and everybody subscribes.. everybody who’s interested can subscribe to Amnesty International, or..what was the one you mentioned?
AG: Index on Censorship. So we do get all that information, but I’m saying there’s not enough attention paid to alternative… people tend to get paralyzed by reading the newspapers and staring at television four to six hours a day.
OR: But of course now you’re talking about very selective people who are sort of actively getting hold of things like Amnesty International or Index on Censorship, and so on, but if..
AG: Well, we wouldn’t want to monopolize that and centralize that and have everybody reading that…it would be just as bad
OR: But I mean the average consumer of media… the more one watches television maybe the less one knows?
AG: Not necessarily. I think it depends on your own individual consciousness, whether or not you are non-attached and able to look with intelligent eye.
OR: Hmm.. because I understand that on the American television, about ninety-nine percent of the programs being shown are either produced in America or by American companies..with their eyes.
AG: Yes, right, so it’s strictly an insular shot and insular panorama
OR: What kind of alternatives are there in the society today?
AG: Decentralize video, which we have… like people have their own video.. like Nam June Paik has made a great breakthrough there. And I think it will spread. (editorial note -Allen is of course speaking prior to the era of You Tube)
OR: Because, you know, the discussion in our societies these days is the other way round. A lot of people see video as a danger, because the kind of material you get on video here is just another Dallas, or another… you know, that kind of stuff.
AG: Well, also video itself is a medium which has is own message, which is more video…until people sit passively and watch pseudo-evnts or things happening somewhere else. So I would recommend not… I don’t have a video/tv (player) (I mean, I have an old cranky machine that I get on sometimes, but I look at it maybe fifteen minutes a week). I don’t have time. I am busy making my own visual scene (or enjoying looking out the window, which is just as interesting as what you can see on television!)
to be continued