On Mexico City Blues (14th Chorus)

“I got more water/Pissed in the Ocean/As a sailor of the several/seas/Than Sallow’s/ /Aphorism/will allow.”

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

AG: And the 14th Chorus – “.And when they saw me/ Rowin my sailin canoe/Across the lake of dreams/In the Lotus Valley Swamp” – (“The Lotus Valley” would be some Buddhist pad or Buddhist symbol –  “the Lotus Valley” –  soft, dreamy, sensitive-looking valley.  Swamp, he says.  So it’s a soft dreamy swamp of earth)

“And when they saw me/Rowin my sailin canoe/ Across the lake of dreams/In the Lotus Valley Swamp,/And arrested me/For the size/Of my heart,/T’s’ then I decided/’Don’t Come Back’/They’ll eat your heart alive/Every time./But there’s more blood/I shed/Outa my pumpin heart/At Teotihuacan/And everywhere else/Including Turban Block,/Lookout, Ork -/I got more water/Pissed in the Ocean/As a sailor of the several/seas/Than Sallow’s/Aphorism/will allow.”

Sallow is a character in Shakespeare.  Which play?  Does anybody know?  Well, it’s a Shakespearean name and it’s some Fool in Shakespeare. [Editorial note – there’s no Sallow in Shakespeare –  some close equivalents, Justice Shallow, a fictional character, an elderly landowner in Henry IV, Part 2 and The Merry Wives of WindsorShadow, pressed into military service by Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 2Strato, a servant of Brutus in Julius Caesar, Varro, not a character but alluded to in Timon Of Athens, but the point remains, Sallow clearly has Shakespearean resonance]
And I don’t know what Sallow’s aphorism is – it must be something parallel to that, like – “I have more wounds than….”,  some Shakespearean phrasing.

Peter Orlovsky:  “I shipwrecked more times…”

AG: “”I’ve been shipwrecked….”  Sallow might say, “I drowned in the puddle behind my house more times than many a sailor on the sea has been shipwrecked by the typhoon.” –  Something like that in Shakespeare.  It sounds like some Fool’s speech in Shakespeare.  I’m just making it up.

“I got more water/Pissed in the Ocean/As a sailor of the several/seas/Than Sallow’s/Aphorism/will allow” – (Funny internal rhyme.  Just pure sound rhyme)

“Than Sallow’s/Aphorism/will allow”

Kerouac liked that particularly.  I remember him reading and talking about a lot of these and pointing out … because my first reaction is “These don’t make any sense, so what good are they as poetry?”  And he said that was pure Shakespeare.  Pure Shakespeare sound.  Pure sound.  And then he would cite “I got more water.”  But Shakespeare sound done in Okie talk.  In fact,  [to Student] could you read that?  I’d like to see what it sounds like with an American voice.  Can you pass that back?  Well, that kind of Southern voice, because he actually had that a lot in mind. It’s on the left-hand side of the page, I think.  Just read it in the Southern (accent).  Where are you from?

Student:  Tennessee.

AG:  Yeah, okay, read it in Tennessee accent.

Student:  “And when they saw me/ Rowin my sailin canoe/Across the lake of dreams/In the Lotus Valley Swamp,/And arrested me/For the size/Of my heart,/T’s’ then I decided/Don’t Come Back’/They’ll eat your heart alive/Every time”.

AG:  That’s perfect.  Wait a minute.  But the way he said, “‘Don’t Come Back/They’ll eat your heart alive” is actually pure American speech that Kerouac is writing.  I’m probably reading aloud with some kind of Jewish-New York-English-Cambridgean accent, but when he says it, it somehow fits as sound, which was what Kerouac was intending.  Say that again and go on.

Student:  You mean start all over?

AG:  No, just that last – “They’ll eat your heart alive…”

Student: “For the size/Of my heart,/T’s’ then I decided/ ‘Don’t Come Back’/They’ll eat your heart alive/Every time/.But there’s more blood/ I shed/ Outa my pumpin heart/At Te….”

AG:  Teotihuacan.  Teotihuacan.  Is that what it is?

Student: “Teotihuacan/And everywhere else/ Including Turban Block,/ Lookout, Ork- / I got more water/Pissed in the Ocean/ As a sailor of the several/seas/Than Sallow’s/Aphorism/will allow”

AG:  Yeah.  Pieces of that.  When he said “Lookout, Ork” it sounded just like an ordinary American geographical name to me.  So Kerouac was making one archetype Ork – I guess for Oklahoma and Arkansas both.  “Turban Block,/… Ork.”  What is that?  Window Rock, Gallup, Window Rock.

Student: Gallup Rock, that’s Grand Canyon

AG:  No, it’s actually on the border between New Mexico and Arizona – Window Rock, Arizona, or Window Rock, New Mexico, I think.  I’m not sure.  So he didn’t say… He said “Turban Block.”  Turban, you know.  Turban Block.  It’s just a weird name for an American town – “Turban Block/Lookout, Ork” – or Lookout, Arizona.  Is there a town called Lookout?
I think (so) – [Editorial notethere’s a Cape Lookout in North Carolina, and Lookout Mountain in northwestern Georgia]. When you go driving west from Gallup there’s all sorts of funny names like that – Route 66 (from On The Road  or “Get your kicks on Route 66” ) – “Turban Block/Lookout, Ork” – So he’s poeticizing – he’s taking the essence of some of the American- sound names and poeticizing it and making it into Turban Block and Lookout, Ork – celestial names for towns.

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

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