Allen Ginsberg – Chicago Trial Testimony – 2

Press Photo of Allen Ginsberg – Associated Press via Chicago Tribune, December 12, 1969. the caption reads: “RAISES FUNDS FOR CONSPIRACY DEFENDENTS [sic] — Bearded poet Allen Ginsberg appears at an art auction in Chicago held to raise funds for seven defendents [sic] on trial for conspiracy to incite mob action during the 1968 Democratic Convention. Ginsberg testified for the defense during the trial in Judge Julius J. Hoffman’s U.S. District Court in Chicago yesterday and today.”

Allen Ginsberg’s 1969 Chicago Conspiracy Trial Testimony continues from here

Leonard Weinglass

Leonard Weinglass (defence attorney): Directing your attention to the month of April 1965, did you have occasion during that month to meet with the defendant Jerry Rubin?
AG: Yes.
LW: What, if anything, did Jerry Rubin say?

AG:  He said that to insure a peaceful gathering in Chicago, so that a lot of people would come, encouraged by the peaceful nature of it, that they were applying as a group to the Chicago mayor’s office to get a permit, but that apparently they were having trouble getting the permit. They would continue negotiating with the City, with City Hall for that permit. He said he felt that the only way a lot of people would come is if there were really good vibrations coming out of us and that he wanted it to be a peaceful gathering.
I told him I was scared of getting into a scene where I would get beaten up or a mob scene because I was not used to that and I didn’t want to, I was just simply frightened of too large a gathering which would involve conflict and fighting and getting my head busted in, and so I asked him how he felt about it, whether he was going to work for an actually peaceful gathering or not, because I didn’t want to participate unless it was going to be organized peacefully, and he said he wanted it to be peaceful because he wanted a lot of people there.

LW: Now, directing your attention to August 13 at approximately 5:30 in the afternoon, where were you in the city of Chicago?

AG: I went up to City Hall to the mayor’s office. I told Mr. Stahl that I was afraid of getting into a violent scene. I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra to Mr. Stahl {Deputy Mayor David Stahl] and Mr. Bush [Earl Bush, Mayor Richard Daleys public relations representative] as an example of what was intended by the Festival of Life and I asked them to please give a permit to avoid violence.

LW: Could you chant for the Court and the jury the mantra Hare Krishna as you did that day?
Thomas Foran (prosecutor): Objection.
Judge (Julius Hoffman): I sustain the objection.

LW: Could you speak without chanting for the Court and jury the mantra Hare Krishna?
AG: Hare Krishna/hare Krishna…
TF: I object.
Judge: I sustain the objection.

LW: Directing your attention to the morning of August 24, 1968, where were you?
AG: I was on a plane coming from New York to Chicago.
LW: Now, en route to Chicago while you were on the plane, what if anything, did you do?
AG: I wrote poetry, wrote out a statement of what I thought was going on in Chicago at the time.
LW: Could you read to the jury that poem?

AG: Gladly. I believe you have the text.
“August 24, 1968/Going to Chicago 22,000 feet over hazed square vegetable plant floor/Approaching Chicago to die or flying over earth another 40 years to die/Indifferent and afraid, that the bone shattering bullet be the same/As the vast evaporation of phenomena cancer come true in an old man’s bed/Or the historic fire heaven descending 22,000 years end the Aeon./The lake’s blue again, sky’s the same baby, though papers and noses rumor star/Spread the natural universe’ll make angels’ feet sticky./I heard the Angel King’s voice a bodiless timeful teenager/Eternal in my own heart, saying Trust the purest joy,/Democratic anger is an illusion, democratic Joy is God,/Our father is baby blue, the original face you see, sees you./How through conventional notice and revolutionary fury remember/The helpless order the police armed to protect the helpless freedom to protect, the helpless freedom the revolutionary/Conspired to honor? I am the Angel King saying the Angel King/As the mobs in the Ampitheatre, streets, Coliseums, parks and offices/Scream in despair over meat and metal Microphone.”

LW: At approximately 10.30, August 24, where were you?
AG: I was in Lincoln Park.
LW: And what occurred in Lincoln Park approximately 10.30, if you can recall?

AG: There were several thousand young people gathered, waiting, late at night. It was dark. There were some bonfires burning in trashcans. Everybody was standing around not knowing what to do. Suddenly there was a great deal of consternation and movement and shouting among the crowd in the park, and I turned, surprised, because it was early. The police were or had given 11.00 as the date or as the time,,,
TF: Objection, your Honor.
LW What did you do at the time you saw the police do this?
AG: I started the chant,  O-O-M-M-M-M-M ,  O-O-M-M-M-M-M..
TF: All right, we have had a demonstration.
Judge: All right.

LW: Did you finish your answer?

AG: We walked out of the park. We continued chanting for at least twenty minutes, slowly gathering other people, chanting, Ed Sanders and I in the center, until there were a group of maybe fifteen or twenty making a very solid heavy vibrational chant of OM that penetrated the immediate area around us, and attracted other people, and so we walked out slowly toward the street, toward Lincoln Park.

LW: I now show you what is marked D-153 for identification. Could you read that to the jury?

AG: “Magic Password Bulletin. Physic Jujitsu. In case of hysteria, the magic password is AUM, same as OM, which cuts through all emergency illusions. Pronounce AUM from the middle of the body, diaphragm or solar plexus. Ten people humming AUM can calm down one himself. One hundred people humming AUM can regulate the metabolism of a thousand. A thousand bodies vibrating AUM can immobilize an entire downtown Chicago street full of scared humans, uniformed or naked. Signed, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders. OM will be practiced on the beach at sunrise ceremonies with Allen and Ed.

LW: Could you explain to the Court and jury what you meant in that last statement of your message?

AG: By “immobilize” I meant shut down the mental machinery which repeats over and over again the images of fear which are scaring people in uniform, that is to say, the police officers or the demonstrators, who I refer to as naked meaning naked emotionally, and perhaps hopefully naked physically.

LW And what did you intend to create by having that mechanism shut down?

AG: A completely peaceful realization of the fact that we were all stuck in the same street, place, terrified of each other, and reacting in panic and hysteria rather than reacting with awareness of each other as human beings, as people with bodies that actually feel, can chant and pray and have a certain sense of’ vibration to each other or tenderness to each other which is basically what everybody wants, rather than fear.

LW: Now directing your attention to the next day which is Sunday, August 25, what, if anything, did you do in the park?

AG: First I walked around to the center of the park, where suddenly a group of policemen appeared in the middle of the younger people. There was an appearance of a great mass of policemen going through the center of the park. I was afraid then, thinking they were going to make trouble…

TF: Objection to his state of mind.
Judge: I sustain the objection.

LW: What did you do when you saw the policemen in the center of the crowd?

AG Adrenalin ran through my body. I sat down on a green hillside with a group of younger people that were walking with me about 3.30 in the afternoon, 4  o’clock. Sat, crossed my legs, and began chanting  OM –  O-O-M-M-M-M  – O-O-M-M-M-M – O-O-M-M-M-M – O-O-M-M-M-M!

TF: I gave him four that time.

AG: I continued chanting for several hours.

Judge: Did you say you continued chanting seven hours?

AG: Seven hours, yes. About six hours I chanted OM and for the seventh hour concluded with the chant Hare krishna/hare krishna/krishna krishna/hare hare/ hare rama/hare rama/rama rama/hare hare.

LW: Now, directing your attention to Monday night, that is August 26, in the evening, where were you?

AG: I was by a barricade that was set up, a pile of trash cans and police barricades, wooden horses, I believe. There were a lot of young kids, some black, some white, shouting and beating on the tin barrels, making a fearsome noise.

LW: What did you do after you got there?

AG: Started chanting OM For a while I was joined in the chant by a lot of young people who were there until the chant encompassed most of the people by the barricade, and we raised a huge loud sustained series of OM’s into the air loud enough to include everybody. Just as it reached, like, a great unison crescendo, all of a sudden a police car came rolling down into the group, right into the center of the group where I was standing, and with a lot of crashing and tinkling sound of glass, and broke up the chanting, broke up the unison and the physical—everybody was holding onto each other physically – broke up that physical community that had been built and broke up the sound chant that had been built. I moved back. There was a crash of glass.

LW: What occurred at that time?

AG I started moving away from the scene. I started moving away from the scene because there was violence there.

LW: Mr. Ginsberg, very early in the morning, about 6:00 A.M. on Tuesday, where were you?

AG: I was on the bench at the lakefront at Lincoln Park, conducting a mantra chant ceremony, that had been arranged to be performed by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and the other people who were planning the weekly schedule of Yippie activities.
LW: What occurred at this ritual?
AG: We got together to greet the morning with Tibetan Buddhist magic prayer formulas, mantras, beginning with Om raksa/raksa hum/hum/ hum/phat/svaha, the mantra to purify a site for the ceremony.

LW: Now, at approximately 8.00 p.m. where were you?

AG I came with a party of writers to the Unbirthday party of President Johnson (sic) at the Coliseum.
LW: Who was with you?
AG The French writer, Jean Genet, poet, novelist. The American novelist, William Seward… (W. S.) Burroughs, the novelist..the novelist, Terry Southern, (who had written  Doctor Strangelove), myself. We all write together.

LW: Now, when you arrived at the Coliseum, did you see any of the defendants present?

AG: Abbie Hoffman. I went down and sat next to him and kissed him, and then pointed back up at Jean Genet and told Abbie that Genet was there.
LW: Where, if anywhere, did you go?
AG The group I was with, Mr. Genet, Mr. Burroughs, and Mr. Seaver, and Terry Southern, all went back to Lincoln Park.

LW: What was occurring at the park as you got there?

AG: There was a great crowd lining the outskirts of the park and a little way into the park on the inner roads, and there was a larger crowd moving in toward the center. We all moved in toward the center, and at the center of the park, there was a group of ministers and rabbis who had elevated a great cross about ten-foot high in the middle of a circle of people who were sitting around, quietly, listening to the ministers conduct a ceremony.

LW: And would you relate to the Court and jury what was being said and done at the time?

AG: Everybody was seated around the cross, which was at the center of hundreds of people, people right around the very center adjoining the cross. Everybody was singing, “We Shall Overcome,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers,” I believe. They were old hymn tunes.
I was seated with my friends on a little hillock looking down on the crowd, which had the cross in the center. And on the other side, there were a lot of glary lights hundreds of feet away down the field. The ministers lifted up the cross and took it to the edge of the crowd and set it down facing the lights where the police were. In other words, they confronted the police lines with the cross of Christ.

LW: And after the ministers moved the cross, what happened?
AG: After, I don’t know, a short period of time, there was a burst of smoke and tear gas around the cross, and the cross was enveloped with tear gas, and the people who were carrying the cross were enveloped with tear gas which began slowly drifting over the crowd.
LW: And when you saw the persons with the cross and the cross being gassed. what, if anything, did you do?
AG: I turned to Burroughs find said, “They have gassed the cross of Christ.”

TF: Objection, if the Court please.

LW: What did you do at that time?

AG: I took Bill Burroughs’ hand, and took Terry Southern’s hand, and we turned from the cross which was covered with gas in the glary lights, the police lights that were shining through the tear gas on the cross, and walked slowly out of the park.

LW: On Wednesday, the next day, at approximately 3:45 in the afternoon, do you recall where you were?

AG:  Yes. Entering the Grant Park Bandshell area, where there was a mobilization meeting or rally going on. I was still with the same group of literary fellows, poets and writers. I walked tip to the apron or front of the stage, and saw David Dellinger and told him that I was there, and that Burroughs was there and Jean Genet was there and that they were all willing to be present and testify to the righteousness of the occasion, and that we would like to be on the stage.
LW: Were you then introduced?
AG: Yes. Jean Genet was also introduced.
LW: Did you speak?
AG:  I croaked, yes.

Judge: What was that last? You say you what?

AG:  I croaked. My voice was gone. I chanted or tried to chant.

LW: Did you remain for the rest of the rally?

AG: Yes. I didn’t pay much attention to most of the speakers that followed. There was one that I heard. Louis Abolafia, whom I knew from New York.

LW: And who is he?

AG:  Kind of a Bohemian trickster, street theater candidate for President. He had announced his candidacy for President a number of times, and his campaign slogan was, “I have nothing to hide,” and he showed himself in a photograph with his hand over his lap, but otherwise naked.

LW: Was he introduced?

AG: No, he just appeared from nowhere and got up to the microphone and started yelling into it.

LW: Do you recall hearing what he was yelling?

AG:  “The police out there are armed and violent. You are walking into a death trap.”

LW: When you heard him yelling that over the microphone, what, if anything, did you do?

AG:  I went over and sat next to him, and grabbed his leg, and started tickling him, and said, “Hare Krishna, Louis.”

LW: Now, when the rally was over, did you have occasion to talk with Mr. Dellinger?
AG: Yes. He looked me in the eyes, took my arm and said, “Allen, will you please march in the front line with me?
LW: And what did you say to him?
AG:: I said, “Well, I am here with Burroughs and Genet and Terry Southern.” And he said, “Well, all of you together, can you form a front line and be sure to stay behind me in the front line, be the first of the group of marchers?”
LW: And did you form such a line?
AG: Yes.
LW: How were you walking?
AG: Our arms were all linked together and we were carrying flowers. Someone had brought flowers up to the back of the stage, and so we distributed them around to the front rows of marchers so all the marchers had flowers.

LW: Mr. Ginsberg, I show you a photograph marked D-158 for identification, and I ask you if you can identify that photograph.

AG:  Yes. It is a picture of the front line of marchers as I described it before, consisting of William Burroughs on the extreme right, Jean Genet, Richard Seaver, his editor at Grove, myself.

LW: Now, Mr. Ginsberg, you have indicated you have known Jerry Rubin since 1965?
AG: Yes.
LW: Would you indicate to the Court and jury whether or not you have ever seen him smoke a cigarette?
AG: I don’t remember.
LW: I mean a tobacco cigarette.
AG: Offhand, no.

LW: Now, Mr. Ginsberg, you have had extensive training in Zen and in other religions of the East. Have you acquired an expertise in the area of peaceful assembly and peaceful intent?

TF: I object to that, Your Honor.
Judge: I sustain the objection.

LW: Did you see during Convention week either the defendant Jerry Rubin or the defendant Abbie Hoffman or any of the other defendants who are seated at this table commit an act or make a speech or do anything, do any other thing to violate the precepts of your own philosophy?

TF: Objection.
Judge: I sustain the objection.

LW: I have no further questions.

TF: Your Honor, I have to get some materials to properly carry on my cross-examination of this witness. It will take some time to go downstairs to get them.
Judge: Are you suggesting we recess?
TF: I would think yes, your, Honor.
Judge: All right. We will go until two o’clock.

WK:Your Honor, we asked for five minutes two days ago in front of this jury and you refused to give it to us.
Judge: You will have to cease that disrespectful tone.
WK: That is not disrespect, that is an angry tone, your Honor.
Judge:  Yes, it is. Yes, it is. I will grant the motion of the Government.
WK: You refused us five minutes the other day.
Judge: You are shouting at the Court.
WK: Oh, your Honor…
Judge: I never shouted at you during this trial.
WK: Your Honor, your voice has been raised.
Judge: You have been disrespectful.
WK: It is not disrespectful, your Honor.
Judge:  And sometimes worse than that.
AG: O-o-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.
Judge: Will you step off the witness stand?
WK: He was trying to calm us both down, your Honor.
Judge: Oh, no. I needed no calming down. That will be all….
Judge: You have finished your direct? You may cross-examine.

Thomas Foran

TF: Mr. Ginsberg, you were named as kind of the Yippie religious leader. Do you think that is a fair designation of your connection with the Yippie organization?
AG: No, because the word “leader” was one we really tried to get away from, to get away from that authoritarian thing. It was more like—
TF: Religious teacher?
AG: …religious experimenter, or someone who was interested in experimenting with that, and with moving things in that direction.
TF: In the context of the Yippie organization?
AG: Yes, and also in the context of our whole political life too.

TF:  And among the others named are Timothy Leary.
AG: Yes
TF: And Timothy Leary has a kind of religious concept that he attempts to articulate, doesn’t he?
AG: Yes, it is a religious concept that has a very ancient tradition in Shivite worship and in American Indian worship services or ceremonies.
TF: And one of the parts of that religious concept is the religious experience in the use of hallucinogenic drugs, isn’t it, Mr. Ginsberg?
AG: In India, in the Shivite sect, they refer to it as ganja or bhang, which in Latin is cannabis and which in the American language is marijuana, or pot, or grass.
TF: In the course of his teaching, he makes use of those drugs himself?
AG: I think he says that they are part of the legitimate religious meditation and worship exercises.

TF: Now when you went out to the Coliseum and you met Abbie Hoffman, you said when you met him you kissed him?
AG Yes.
TF: Is he an intimate friend of yours?
AG: I felt very intimate with him. I saw he was struggling to manifest a beautiful thing, and I felt very good towards him.
TF: And do you consider him an intimate friend of yours?
AG: I don’t see him that often, but I do see him often enough and have worked with him often enough to feel intimate with him, yes.

TF: You feel pretty much an intimate friend of Jerry Rubin’s too?
AG: Over the years, I have learned from them both.
TF: By the way, you were asked on direct examination whether you had seen Jerry Rubin smoke any tobacco.
AG: Yes, I said I didn’t remember seeing him smoke.
TF: Have you seen him smoke anything?
AG:  No, I don’t remember seeing him smoke anything. I don’t remember ever seeing him smoke.
TF: Anything?
AG: Yes.

TF: Now, you testified concerning a number of books of poetry that you have written?
AG: Yes.
TF: In The Empty Mirror, there is a poem called “The Night Apple”?
AG: Yes.
TF: Would you recite that for the jury?

AG:  The Night Apple – Last night I dreamed/of one I loved/for seven long years,/but I saw no face,/only the familiar/presence of the body;/sweat skin eyes/feces urine sperm/saliva all one/odor and mortal taste..

TF: Could you explain to the jury what the religious significance of that poem is?

AG If you would take a wet dream as a religious experience, I could. It is a description of a wet dream, sir.

TF: Now, I call your attention in that same Government’s Exhibit No. 59, to page 14. That has on it the poem, “In Society.” Can you recite that poem to the jury?

AG: Yes, I will read it.   In Society – I walked into the cocktail party/room and found three or four queers/talking together in queer-talk,/I tried to be friendly but heard/myself talking to one in hiptalk./”I’m glad to see you,” he said, and/looked away, “Hmn,” I mused. The room/was small and had a double-decker/bed in it, and cooking apparatus:/icebox, cabinet, toasters, stove;/the hosts seemed to live with room/enough only for cooking and sleeping./My remark on this score was under-/stood but not appreciated, I was/offered refreshments, which I accepted./ I ate a sandwich of pure meat; an/enormous sandwich of human flesh,/l noticed, while I was chewing on it,/it also included a dirty asshole.
More company came, including a/fluffy female who looked like/a princess. She glared at me and/said immediately: “I don’t like you,”Turned her head away, and refused/to be introduced. I said “What!”/in outrage. “Why you shit-faced fool!”/This got everybody’s attention./”Why you narcissistic bitch! How/can you decide when you don’t even/know me,” I continued in a violent/and messianic voice, inspired at/last, dominating the whole room.
Dream 1947.
It is a record, a literal record of a dream, as the other was a literal record of a dream.

TF: Can you explain the religious significance of that poetry?
AG: Actually, yes.
TF: Would you explain it to the jury?

AG: Yes. One of the major yogas,  (or “yoking” – “yoga” means yoke) – is bringing together the conscious mind with the unconscious mind, and is an examination of dream-states in an attempt to recollect dream-states, no matter how difficult they are, no matter how repulsive they are, even if they include hysteria, sandwiches of human flesh, which include dirty assholes, because those are universal images that come in everybody’s dreams,
The attempt in yoga is to enlarge consciousness, to be conscious that one’s own consciousness will include everything which occurs within the body and the mind.
As part of the practice of poetry, I have always kept records of dreams whenever I have remembered them, and have tried not to censor them so that I would have all the evidence to examine in light of day, so that I would find out who I was unconsciously.
Part of the Zen meditation and part of yoga meditation consists in the objective impersonal examination of the rise and fall and disappearance of thoughts in the mind, all thoughts, whether they be thoughts of sleeping with one’s mother, which is universal, or sleeping with one’s father, which is also universal thought, or becoming an angel, or flying, or attending a cocktail party and being afraid of being put down, and then getting hysterical.
In other words, the attempt is to reclaim the unconscious, to write down in the light of day what is going on in the deepest meditation of night and dream-state. So it is part of yoga which involves bridging the difference between public, as in this Courtroom, and private subjective public, which is conscious, which we can say to each other in family situations, and private, which is what we know and tell only our deepest friends.

TF: Thank you.  You also wrote a book of poems called Reality Sandwiches, didn’t you?
AG: Yes.
TF: In there, there is a poem called, “Love Poem on Theme by Whitman.” Would you recite that to the jury?

Walt Whitman circa. 1852

AG: “Love Poem on Theme by Whitman,” Walt Whitman being one celebrated bard, national prophet. The poem begins with a quotation of a line by Walt Whitman. It begins with Walt Whitman’s line: “I’ll go into the bedroom silently and lie down between the bridegroom and the bride” – those bodies fallen from heaven stretched out waiting naked and restless,/arms resting over their eyes in the darkness,/bury my face in their shoulders and breasts, breathing their skin,/and stroke and kiss neck and mouth and make back be open and known,/legs raised up, crook’d to receive, cock in the darkness driven tormented and attacking/roused up from hole to itching head,/bodies locked shuddering naked, hot lips and buttocks screwed into each other/and eyes, eyes glinting and charming, widening into looks and abandon,/and moans of movement, voices, hands in air, hands between thighs,/hands in moisture on softened lips, throbbing contraction of bellies/till the white come flow in the swirling sheets/and the bride cry for forgiveness, and the groom be covered with tears of passion and compassion,/and I rise up from the bed replenished with last intimate gestures and kisses of farewell -/all before the mind wakes, behind shades and closed doors in a darkened house/where the inhabitants roam unsatisfied in the night,/nude ghosts seeking each other out in the silence.”

TF: Would you explain the religious significance of that poem?

AG: As part of our nature, as part of our human nature, we have many loves, many of which are denied, many of which we deny to ourselves. He said that the reclaiming of those loves and the becoming aware of those loves was the only way that this nation could save itself and become a democratic and spiritual republic.
He said that unless there were an infusion of feeling, of tenderness, of fearlessness, of spirituality, of natural sexuality, of natural delight in each other’s bodies into the hardened, materialistic, cynical, life denying, clearly competitive, afraid, scared, armored bodies, there would be no chance for a spiritual democracy to take place in America. And he defined that tenderness between the citizens as, in his words, an adhesiveness, a natural tenderness flowing between all citizens as, in his words, an adhesiveness, a natural tenderness flowing between all citizens, not only men and women but also a tenderness between men and men as part of our democratic heritage, part of the adhesiveness which would make the democracy function; that men could work together not as competitive beasts but as tender lovers and fellows.
So he projected from his own desire and from his own unconsciousness a sexual urge he felt was normal to the unconscious of most people, though forbidden, for the most part, to take part.
Walt Whitman is one of my spiritual teachers and I am following him in this poem taking off from a line of his own and projecting my own actual unconsciousness feeling of which I don’t have shame, sir, which I feel are basically charming, actually.

Judge: I didn’t hear that last word.

AG: Charming

TF: I have no further questions

Judge: Redirect examination. Nothing?  (to Allen) You may go sir.

AG: Thank you.

Judge: Call your next witness.

 

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