William Blake Class Assignment – A Reminder

Allen Ginsberg’s 1979 Summer Session at Naropa on William Blake’s The Four Zoas  continues from here

Allen proposes a class assignment

AG:  Well, I’m wondering.  It might be a good idea for us to get together with the credit students and I’ll repeat the assignment for credit students and for anybody else who wishes to (try it) – it’s to write a brief prophetic book.  Did you all get that, (especially) the credit students..? –  A brief prophetic book.  That’s two pages, three pages, long lines, enjoy yourself.  “Exuberance is beauty”.  “The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom”. [Allen is, of course, quoting Blake from the Proverbs in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell here]  Just make it up as you go along, and symbolize your own life, or your own fix, or your own vegetable garden, or your own horses, and your own epic.  No reason why not. You can go as far out as you want and be as fantastical as you want.  You can do it in science-fiction form, or you can do it in the form of an erotic dialogue with rape scenes, or you can do it in the form of a mythological shot, or a fairy-tale shot, or a children’s story, as long as it’s in lines of one kind or another, preferably even.  They can be long or short.  Three to seven beats.  And just create a universe of your own.  Some of you have already done that, actually.  I found the last class I taught in the winter worked out very well that way.  And you can illustrate it, too, with crayons or oils.  You can do anything you want, as long as it’s prophetic – and by “prophetic”, I mean just project your own deepest intuitions in some form of symbolic figures and cover the world, cover the universe.  Cover the cosmos.  Make up your own cosmos, or explain your own cosmos.  And we might get together with the graduate students.

Roger Easson, who is a great scholar, who edited the Shambhala color-illustrated mass-produced versions of Milton and  (The Book of) Urizen said that he might come here over the weekend, bringing a bunch of slides, so if he comes here before Friday we might have a slide show here Friday.  If not, maybe over the weekend have a slide show party, maybe at Gerda (Norvig)’s house.  But we’ll know Friday?  So we can do it Saturday.  And maybe I’ll get a chance to talk to some of the credit students then.  If not, some time or other before next Monday, which is our last class I think.  Is everybody able to come next Monday?  I think it’s the last class.  When’s the last day?  That’s the 20th.  When’s the last day in the dormitories?

Student:  Wednesday.

AG:  Twenty-second.  Okay.  So we’re safe.

Audio for the above can be heard here,  beginning at the start of the tape and concluding approximately three-and-a-half minutes in

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