Allen Ginsberg Naropa classroom transcription continues from here
AG: So.. does anybody know..There is another view that you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s just for yourself.
Student: I think it’s like drawing blood. You’re just born with it, it’s like flesh, it’s like fingers.fingernails..
AG: I don’t think that’s good enough to last you until sixty
Student: Well, it’s not good enough..
AG: I hope to..
Student: Well, no, but I think that’ s the desire. I think you’d have to, like, you know, direct that desire. I think it’s, you know, I mean, it’s just something that’s really strong.
AG (to class): Are we going to go over time?
AG: What time does the class end?
Student: Well, we’re running overtime because we started late.
Student: I was just wondering, we’ve been going two hours now
AG: Okay, my own desire from experience is that desire would be the irresponsible solipsistic artist, who has great ideas but.. (has great ideas but he doesn’t use them)
Student: But I don’t think that’s irresponsible. But that’s not what I’m saying tho’.
Student: … (It’s that) that’s where desire comes from, you know, It’s, like, a (simple) way to rationalize.. I can’t say… I can’t.. I don’t want to be a psychologist or therapist where they go to school and study it and practice it. I mean it’s, like, something that comes from, you know, who knows where? – like from your soul or something. You can’t really pinpoint it. You have to direct it outward.
AG: OK and so it”s mystery?
AG: I guess it is…
AG: But, you know, with mystery. If you leave it as mystery, I don’t think.. I left it as mystery for a long time. It’s still mystery. You know, “I don’t want to explain my poems. I’m not responsible, I’m an artist. I just think these things up and write them out. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not up to me. It’s magic.” You know, “Don’t blame me if somebody takes acid because I wrote a poem about it”. There’s that line of (W.B.) Yeats, “Did that play of mine send out/ Certain men the English shot? /Did words of mine put too great strain/ On that woman’s reeling brain? – Do you know that poem? Anybody know that? Does everybody know William Butler Yeats? He’s really great. (I might even teach him here. I brought a variorum edition of his Collected Poems.) Anyway, “Did words of mine put too great strain/ On” – “Did some verse of mine send out Certain men the English shot? (talking about there troubles in Ireland) – “Did some verse of mine end up getting certain English shot/Did words of mine put too great strain / On that woman’s reeling brain?…all seems hopeless until I/Sleepless would lie down and die” (and then there’s an echo – the poem is “Man and the Echo” -“lie down and die” – it echoes to Yeats, yeah, lie down and die!)
So I find that the mysterious thing isn’t good enough now that I’m approaching sixty. I want to… It’s too.. it makes too much trouble leaving it mysterious..
Student: Yeah, well, I’m approaching thirty.
AG: …it thins out.. Huh?
Student: I’m approaching thirty. So.. that’s the reason why..
AG: Well, thirty, forty…. I’m not. I’ve been lying to myself too long – about politics, about sex, about everything. So I feel that, you know, the use of (a) mystery alibi, or “poets-don’t-explain” alibi, or poetry-cannot-be-translated , there’s a certain element of alibi in that so that you don’t have to confront what kind of trip you’re laying down (but that creeps up on others). It would certainly be interesting to…
So..If you calculate the (nature) then you alter it, that’s the problem..It’s a really interesting problem, (especially if you’re ambition is bodhisattvic, that you try and find space for other people).
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately one-hundred-and-fifteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately one-hundred-and-twenty minutes in