Nineteenth-Century Poetry – 6 (Helen Luster and Allen Ginsberg Debate Metaphysics – 2)

Paul Gaugin – Mahana No Atua (Day of The God) 1894 – in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

continuing from here 

Helen Luster (1899-1988), poet, parapsychologist, seeker, wise and respected elder, maintained,  according to the University of Buffalo, the repository of her papers, a ‘relationship, both social and professional” with Allen, over a wide period. She was “his secretary at Naropa, took many of his classes, was his biographer, and possessed a large literary collection of Ginsberg’s work”. This is the second of a number of classroom debates between them. See a previous posting here 

Helen Luster:  Well, you know the people in the South Seas had it all so good – they’d just reach up and get a banana or mango or whatever, and a perfect climate, a perfect diet and everything, but they weren’t bored because they … they did all kinds of rituals and dancing and singing and stuff like that.

AG:  Well, they weren’t bored because they were going to die so that was just a brief moment when you enjoyed it.

Helen Luster:  But they were really….

AG:  But what if you just never died?

Helen Luster:  Yeah, well, I was wondering about…

AG:  There was nothing to have rituals about.  You know?

Helen Luster:  There are a lot of people around that want to live four hundred years, you know.  Right now.

AG:  Four hundred years, anybody could stand.  We’re talking billions.  Well, nobody knows anything about what it might become like, except Blake had this whole prophetic book called Tiriel – T-I-R-I-E-L  –  what it would be like if the Garden of Eden hung around forever and Adam and Eve hung around in it.  Actually, it’s a visit to the Garden of Eden by King Lear or something like that.  King Lear with all his tragedy and mess goes visiting the Garden of Eden.  Tiriel is this angry king who’s been overthrown by his children, and he goes back to the Garden of Eden to see Har and Heva, who are the big main characters  (Adam and Eve) who are being guarded by some kind of nurse, because at this point they’re so senile and hopelessly idiotic.  But having been in this unchanging beautiful landscape for all eternity.  Finally when he sees then there’s a big denunciation of them by Tiriel.  Because Tiriel is reacting … he didn’t like the idea change in the actual world, he didn’t like his kids overthrowing his kingship, so he went back to check out if everything had been stable.  Then he goes there and he doesn’t like that either.  So he goes wandering.  Blake is taking up this point.  Wandering in the void after that, angry and cursing both sides, cursing eternity and cursing earth.  Cursing the earth world.  Cursing time and cursing eternity both.  It’s a nice big subject, actually, to write a big epic about.  It’s something everybody thinks about, so it was a basic idea, basic takes on existence.

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here  beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-and-a-quarter minutes in

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