On Mexico City Blues continues – (October)

October was Kerouac month (“He was always writing about October”)

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

AG: So the essence of Kerouac is that almost surrealist juxtaposition of ordinary household words – like “straw,” “grape” – to give you a strange synesthesia – mixing of the senses.  Or cryptesthesia – the senses mixed up, sort of.  Like to synthesize disparate strange thinks, or think – you know, a flash – and seen almost raw and put them together swiftly and unnaturally – like unnatural thoughts put down naturally, and then you find out that those thoughts that are unnatural – “tarpaulin power,” “mosquitoes of straw,” (and) “grape dirigible stars” – actually make sense and the prettiest poetry that anybody was writing around, because nobody had that kind of verbal imagination, and he had it because he depended directly on his mind to make the discoveries, and he didn’t try to interfere.  He didn’t look with “a craft gleam” to see if it could be improved.  So his method here was not to revise, not to retouch.  Yeah?

Student:  Is there anything he wrote that he did revise?

AG:  Yes.

Student:  Like what?

AG:  Well, The Town and The City, his first book.  Likely, the first long…  chapter two of Visions of Cody, another early work which is a Proust-ian, Wolfe-an, long sentence chapter describing very coherently a series of people in a pool hall, where he combined the spontaneity of the original writing with putting it together, balancing it out and making it more careful.  Also probably Dharma Bums, which is short sentences.  And probably he may have worked on that.  He was asked to write a little specimen of that kind of short-sentence writing that people could understand – 1959, or ’57, 56..

Student: When did he die?

AG:  Sixty-eight. Sixty-eight.  October, this month.  In fact, his death anniversary is …

Student: Twenty-fourth

AG:  … October 24th.  Now, he was always writing about October – “Old October Sun” – from Shakespeare –  “What old October’s bareness everywhere” (from Shakespeare’s Sonnets). [Editorial note – Allen is misremembering Shakespeare’s Sonnet here – from Sonnet 97 – “What freezings have I felt! what dark days seen!/What old December’s bareness everywhere”]   And October was his favorite month for moody description of Lowell, Massachusetts and autumnal sadness and melancholy and the disappearance of the great balloon of life.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventy-four minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-six-and-three-quarter minutes in

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