On Mexico City Blues – (10th Chorus)

“The great hanging weak teat of India” (Jack Kerouac)

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

AG” And the next line (the opening line of the 10th Chorus) is great for geography, I thought – “The great hanging weak teat of India on the map’ – Amazing, because I had noticed that.  Everybody’s noticed that – it looks like a big hanging teat from Asia, but I don’t think anybody had ever written that down before –  compared on the map what India looked like on the map).

Student:  Doesn’t South America look like that, a hanging teat?
AG:  Nah.  Not like India.
Student:  Um-hmm.
AG:  It’s too thin.  Chile’s too thin.
Student:  Um-hmm.
AG:  A “great hanging weak teat”  – T-E-A-T.

“The great hanging weak teat of India/on the map/The Fingernail of Malaya/ The Wall of China/ The Korea Ti-Pousse Thumb”- ( The thumb of Korea.  “Ti-Pousse”  is Canuck – French Canadian  –  and Jack’s nickname, given to him by his father.  The Little Thumb.  As a kid.

” The Korea Ti-Pousse Thumb/  The Salamander of Japan” – (Pretty good sound.  I wonder if anyone ever compared Japan to a salamander?  The salamander Japan, salamander Japan.  So it’s sound)

“(T)he Okinawa” –  and here’s what he says about Okinawa – ” the Okinawa Moon Spot/The Pacific/The Back of Hawaiian Mountains/ coconuts/ Kines, balconies, Ah Tarzan – /And D W Griffith/ the great American Director/Strolling down disgruntled/ Hollywood Lane/- to toot Nebraska..” – (To t-o-o-t Nebraska –  To the town of “Toot” in Nebraska or to “toot” in Nebraska)

” Indian Village New York,/Atlantis, Rome,/ Peleus and Melisander..” – [Pelléas et Mélisande (sic) – (It’s a title of an opera by (Maurice) Maeterlinck)]. [Editorial note –  (Debussy wrote an opera in five acts based on Maeterlinck’s play “Pelleas et Melisande.” –  There is also a “Pelleas und Melisande” which is a symphonic poem by Schoenberg, completed in 1905, also based on his play.  Sibelius and Faure also wrote music under that title.]

“And/  swans of Balls/ Spots of foam on the ocean”…

His mind took off after that big list, the one that began comparing names – “Atlantis, Rome,/ Peleus and Melisander/ And..”

And then there’s a space –  “swans of Balls/ Spots of foam on the ocean” – (What “swans of Balls” means, I don’t know.  Nor did he.  But he thought that was his best line at the time.  He liked it so much because it was completely unreasonably pretty.  It was empty of meaning.  I always remember that line, “swans of Balls.”  I think he would pronounce it, “Swaaaans of balllllls – like W.C. Fields.

“Spots of foam on the ocean.” – ( So all the geographies and histories are “Spots of foam on the ocean.”  And that image of “Spots of foam on the ocean” comes back actually later on toward the end.  He’s got a poem, ” – Nil, none, a dream,/A bubble pop, a foam snit/ in the immensities of the ocean/at midnight in the dark” –  … a foam snit/ in the immensities of the ocean/at midnight in the dark” (that’s in one of the later poems). So he got that far.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifteen-and-a-half minutes in

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