On Mexico City Blues (11th Chorus)

“musician stops,/brooding on the bandstand”  – The Jay McShann Band at The Savoy  (Charlie Parker is in front of the second bandstand, on saxophone) – James F Condell Collection, La Budde Special Collection, University of Missouri, Kansas City

Allen Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues continues from here

AG: Next,  the 11th Chorus. – “Brown wrote a book called/The White and the Black/   N a r c o t i c  C i t y/ switchin on/  A n g e r  F a l l s” –  (which is capitalized –  Anger Falls – so it’d be like Niagara Falls Anger Falls).

Then there’s a big gap in the page

– (and then)  (“musician stops,/brooding on bandstand”)

So he (Kerouac) started a chorus, (and) found it incompletable – except it’s kind of interesting –  “Brown wrote a book called/ The White and the Black. /   N a r c o t i c  C i t y/ switchin on/   A n g e r  F a l l s- / (musician stops,/brooding on bandstand)” – So he literally was totally spontaneous – whatever came’s acceptable.  But fast is the point.  And uncensored – “swans of Balls” – anything goes as long as it sounds.  So it’s got to be some kind of sound.  Either make some kind of sense or some kind of pretty sound.  And not very many poets are willing to give up writing poetry and just write pure, pure, pure poetry that has no…  that doesn’t have to excuse itself by having to mean something.  Except maybe some unconscious meaning or little ditty sound.

Is that an idea that’s acceptable, or does that sound too self-indulgent?  I mean, what do you think of that?  What do you think of coming to that pass –   “(musician stops,/brooding on bandstand)”?  I thought it was the greatest poem I ever saw when I saw it myself.  Just because it showed the art at work, and he wasn’t scared to cut.  He wasn’t scared to be stumped.  He realized it was like a great musician on a bandstand who was suddenly turned off or scared or spaced out.  He was thinking of Charlie Parker, actually.  The “(musician stops,/brooding on bandstand)” while the other musicians keep playing.

Does this sound unreasonable?  I’ve wondered.  Of what?  [to Students] What is your reaction to this kind of….
Student:  It doesn’t strike me reading it.  There’s no “oh.”
AG:  Well, I went “oh” when I saw “(musician stops,/brooding on bandstand)” and saw this big empty spot on the page.
Student:  Yeah.

AG:  He was so free of ambition in the poetry that he could write anything he wanted.  I thought it was funny.  You know, start a big poem – “Brown wrote a book called/The White and the Black” – so starting very literary – “N a r c o t i c  C i t y/ switchin on/ A n g e r  F a l l s – ”  – And then discontinuity.  So he elected to include the discontinuity in the poem rather than saying, “Oh, well, that didn’t work, I’ll start another poem.”  It’s like a workbook of notes.

Then he finally, I guess, having exhausted what was thoughtful from The Outline of History  and Buddha and all that, the attention turns in the “12th Chorus” to the street, around, in Mexico.

Audio for the above can be hard here, beginning at approximately fifteen-and-a-half  minutes in and continuing until approximately nineteen minutes in

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