Allen Ginsberg on Vanity of Duluoz – 10

Allen Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac’s Vanity of Duluoz continues from here

AG: So, he had actually this one..  Book seven has just this one long section of several pages, in which he’s quoting his journal (which I read from and ended).

Then the second of the little chapter-ettes in Book seven:

“But my hands weren’t sea-netted and chapped by rope endwise, as later the next year as deckhand, at present time I was a scullion. I’d vaguely heard of Shakespeare yelling about that, he who washes pots and scours out giant pans, with greasy aprons, hair hanging in face like idiot, face splashed by dishwater, scouring not with a “scourer” as you understand it but with a goddamned Slave chain, grouped in fist as chain, scratch, scrouch, and the whole galley heaving slowly.
Oh the pots and pans the racket of their fear, the kitchen of the sea, the Neptunes down here, the herds of sea cows wanna milk us, the sea poem I aint finished with, the fear of the Scottish laird rowing out with the nape of another fox neck in the leeward shish of S H A O W yon Irish Sea! The sea of her lip! The brattle of her Boney! The crack of Noah’s ark timbers built by Mosaic Schwarts in the unconditional night of Universal death. – Short chapter”  ( –  Part 3)

So it’s just a little piece of writing which didn’t lead anywhere, so he said.. or. it led to a little lyric, but nowhere in terms of the narrative, but a little bit, in terms of the statement), but he didn’t eliminate it, or make anything, just a short chapter.  And in this book, it’s funny, there are a lot of little comments on the writing –  (“Proceed to Book 5”).

The writing is so easy. It’s almost, like, (a) little negligent..    remember that phrase he was saying. and “I idly then became tossed off the..  tossed off a plan,  “idly” then,
So this writing is very idle. Like, idle tales told to his wife in old age, because it begins “Well wifey dear, now I’ll tell ya”.   So because he’s just talking to his wife he doesn’t have to be a great litterateur, he can just idly make whatever little nonsensical ditties he wants to.

Student: Well by that time, it was almost like a babble..

AG: Well I think it was a little hard for him to write “”Wrack my hand with labor of nada” ( Editorial note – from the 217th Chorus of Mexico City Blues),  because he didn’t….   You see.. Writing about this was probably pretty tough. because what he had to do is judge his youth-time, and finally come to the conclusion that, “Ah,  (the) vanity of Duluoz was a lot of shit. What had it come to?  Nothing!” – (which is what I just read from the last chapter) – “What it’d come to? –  I did it all for one thousand two hundred pages and .. Ugh! -Nothing!”  Alcohol and sea body-pain and brain sea-wrack, or something. So that actually writing it might have been a little psychologically difficult until, maybe when he finally sat down it was like falling off a log because he didn’t believe in anything anymore, so all he had to do was to remember a few details and I think maybe occasionally apply himself, like look up his old journals, write it down and make funny little comments like “O Gee! “ – but loose and relaxed, really honest (because he didn’t care, he’s no longer maintaining his mythology. In fact, he mentions in this book – “and among mythologizers, I’m an expert”, he says, at one point, I’ll get to that later.. where he de-mythologizes, in a sense, or he laughs at mythologizers, he de-mythologizes his own (at least in his own head). So that there’s a quality in this book that is really delightful truthful of that – and, if you’re interested in writing pure writing, there’s  that delightful playfulness, negligence,  (idle,  that idly, “idly”, the word “idle” he used)  comes through very clearly in this and is a good..    I mean, anybody who can be that idle and care-less  is really, like, an accomplished master who with a few  strokes,  had done it so much,  knows how to turn a phrase, and finally would make to turn a phrase just to turn a phrase when there is no..  nothing to talk about particularly, just the pleasure of tuning a phrase.  –  Where did he get that?  those phrases, that sound, it’s an interesting composite – “You may notice that the sea of he lip the brattle of her Boney! the leeward shish of S H A O W yon Irish Sea!..Irish Sea”- there’s a little element of Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and Ulysses and Finnegans Wake were also great archetypes for him among writing.  I guess, Wolfe and Joyce originally, and then later, Celine (maybe Genet? Wolfe, Joyce and Celine probably, but as a kid, Wolfe and Joyce – and Shakespeare. So this is like Wolfe, Joyce and Shakespeare. But how does it get articulated in everyday talk like this ?

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-two-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-four minutes in

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