AG: (to his Naropa class) – So the homework. I am going to be taking Wednesday off, because I’m going off to Longmont (Colorado), and I want more time to rest now, to rest my weary brain after these labors of understanding, and after the weekend. And also my mother is coming to town, so I want to repose in Beulah for a while.
So Friday let’s meet again. I’ll try and discern the main outlines of the second book and the main good lines. The main outlines and the main brilliant language and zap through the second book, and go book-by-book now, speeding up and accelerating, since we have some basis of the whole story. We have some of the characters straightened out. We’ve got some ground. I don’t know. There’ll still be lots to look up, like Reuben and Penmaenmawr (“Reuben slept on Penmaenmawr & Levi slept on Snowden”) and Gwendollen and Ragan and Sabrina and Gonorill and Mehetable…
Student: I was going to suggest if there’s … if there’s a lot of confusion maybe the class could meet on Wednesday and have a discussion.
Student: Go over the first book, if people are interested.
AG: Would you like to meet here when I’m gone? That would be delightful.
Student: …How many people would be interested in meeting Wednesday? – (show of hands)
AG: That’d be great. Okay.
Student: And we’ll just review (Book) One.
AG: Yeah, Peter will be here, I think, also. (to Peter Orlovsky) Can you come?
Peter Orlovsky: I’ve got a reading Wednesday night. I’d like to write something new.
AG: Okay. And maybe it can be taped and then I’ll catch up on it. That’d be great.
What should you do? What’ll you do? You got any idea or you want to figure it out then? Zap on through or just discuss? … well, whatever you do.
Student: Oh, on Wednesday? I was going to say we should review (Book) One. I think that’s … I know there’s a lot.. to gloss on
Student: Talk about … yeah.
AG: Have you ever tried to go through this minutely?
Student (2): I’ve never gotten further than about Plate 3 of Book One when I tried to do it line-by-line because there’s an incredible amount of….
AG: The first time I read it I read it this way – line-by-line with cross referencing.
Student (2): I mean it’s a….
AG: But fast. You know. Since I didn’t have to explain it, I just … you know, in one ear and out the other, checking it out..
Student(2): If you go through it line …
AG: And I got through the whole book.
Student(2): … you get this really queasy sensation that Tharmas himself gets, that, you know, everything that you think of as fact turns out to be a distortion of fact when spoken by one of the Zoas.
Student (2): You really begin to feel what it’s like to create a universe out of nothing… with no reference at all. And I think that’s the point …
Student (2): … you know, so that, as you said in the first class, that state of confusion, I think that’s really important. But it’s also important to try to … you know, find your (own way)
AG: Yeah, well, I think, see, he’s making it up as he’s going along. He’s trying to figure out his system. So page-by-page he’ll be consistent within his thoughts of that day or the next day but it’s a provisional thing and he’s trying to make a large outline, so it isn’t really necessary … I mean, Blake obviously didn’t get it together. That’s why he abandoned it.
Student: Well, yeah, except that I think that it’s more subtle than that sometimes, that he’s trying to show us that each of the Zoas has a specific way of looking at …
Student: … reality.
Student: So that he gives us information which we accept as truth. It’s just like reality, like we do.
Student: We hear something some way and you say, That’s the way the world is, and then realize that that person had a point of view that’s specific, which we then got later some other information.
Student: So we have to bit-by-bit piece the universe together. And I think by putting … I mean, by putting the first book in after he’d written the rest of it …
Student: … he intended us to have some kind of experience, and also to be able to come out of that experience.
Student: To work it through.
Student: Right. Once you find the first book probably the most confusing.
Student: Yeah, it’s the most confusing, yes.
AG: Is it? Yeah. I’d forgotten.
Student: We have to be Tharmas in the first book.
Student: We have to be coming into this body and feeling lost, lost, lost. That’s really important. He wants us to have that experience, I believe.
AG: I would describe some of that just to the natural chaos of some guy just trying to write a book, you know. You know, he’s not omniscient. That’s the whole point. He’s not omniscient. He’s….
Student: It’s philosophy.
Student: No, he’s not omniscient.
AG: I used to think he was, but looking at this manuscript and reading this carefully I see the jokes – certain human jokes and errors that are very funny. The original text is really good, because you can see where he changed his mind occasionally. You remember that mountain that talks to mountain? Ephraim talks to Zion? I would suggest that you read that “Ephraim called out to Zion” footnote in Bloom. It’s really sort of funny and he nails it down what it’s about. [“Mount Ephriam represents the Northern Kingdom of Israel, centered on Tirzah, Mount Zion the Southern Kingdom of Judah, centered on Jerusalem”]
Well, I think it would be great if you do get (together) and if you’ll excuse me Wednesday. I may get back but I doubt it, because I’m going to go off to Longmont (Colorado) and give a reading Tuesday night, and just see the mountains. I haven’t been out-of-town all this summer, so I’ll spend some time up in the mountains. I want some air.
Class and tape end here
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximatelyninety-nine minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape