Allen Ginsberg on Vanity of Duluoz – 5 (Jack & Allen)

Jack Kerouac on Firing Line with William F.Buckley – The Hippies, September 3, 1968

Allen Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac’s  Vanity of Duluoz continues from here(with today a brief detour as a (Naropa) student asks him a question)

Student: Allen, (were you around) when Jack was around, when he was writing this?

AG: I was..  No.  When he was writing this I was in Europe with my family.. When I got back… We talked to each other on there phone a lot, actually, and that year I saw him, actually, he came up to do a program with…  The next year I saw him 1968 – when we got back from.. I hadn’t seen him for about a year, I think, year and a half, but we..  He used to phone in the middle of the night, drunk, and really insulting and angry , “Hey, what are you doin’, you faggot Communist Jew, now?  I’m with my mother.I’m not going to do to my mother what you did to yours. I’m not going to throw my mother the dogs of eternity!” –  I remember that, yeah!   Actually, 1962, he came into, he came in drunk (to) where Peter and I were living on East 2nd Street,  (it was) kind of awkward, disturbing –  Well, I had this little household there,  or I had this little household that I was trying to keep going  (as he had his household – if you came in(to) his household, to his mother’s place, and you made a mess or made a lot of noise, and went whoopee, he’d freak out). So he did his freaking-out in other people’s households. So he came into our household and Peter had a virgin sister who was training to be a baby nurse sleeping in one of the rooms and Kerouac went in…(turns to Peter) what’d he do?  to Marie?  – a great cinematic boogie-man shot, (which he thought was funny, being drunk), which scared her back to the bughouse.  (Anyway)..and I started screaming, “What are you doing in my house? – bla bla bla – at this hour! – four o’clock in the morning! -What are you…” – He fell down on the kitchen floor, laughing, and said, “Ginsberg, you’re a hairy loss!” (which was really perfect unstoppable…I’ve never been.. I’ve never been better..lost by any Zen master lama – but the same lost, the same absence). I really resented it at the moment being called “a hairy loss”. I didn’t realize it was absolutely true,  it was inevitably true.

So from 1962 on, the relationship was of that nature – contentious – sometimes close, funny.. odd..  occasionally he’d come by, like, really drunk, and want me to blow him, , and get very insistent, “Nobody loves me you know, give me a blow-job!  Come on, you’re a fairy, give me a blow-job!  Nobody loves me, I’m too fat and old and red-faced. I’m lonesome!” – Care-less and  he didn’t give a shit anymore  what I thought, or anybody thought,

Student:  By then he was back on…

AG: I think, yes, he was, by ’60.. Well in 1960, (in) the book Big Sur, he registers himself as an alcoholic. but then coming off and on and off and on, but I think there was considerable drinking from then on – so that, basically, he was afraid to come into the city, because when he came into the town, from Northport, Long Island, or from Cape Cod where he was living, or from Florida, going into town, he would get into trouble in the bars drinking too much and people beat him up or insulted him, or,  yeah, he got into problems. I didn’t see him in bars in those last years to know but I kept hearing rumors. But most of our communication.. a lot of our communication.. was just telephone , maybe once.. often..  once every couple of weeks.

PO:  A couple of weeks in the middle of the night

AG: Yeah,  and he was up in the middle of the night, reading, not reading or writing, he’d get very…  he’d get …maybe on benzedrine?  he’d call – A lush – And then very funny conversation. He would be..  I thought he was being mean to me over and over again – “You stole this book!  You stole that line about “kind king light of mind”, that was my line” – I thought we were..  So I got vert upset because I thought we were, you know, just like Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, just trading phrases (but I hear he took phrases from me, I found out),  but he kept accusing me of stealing, plagiarism of his phrases. which I found out was probably true. I took them much more unconsciously than I was conscious of. But he thought it was some kind of stealing rather than just  natural absorption. So he would… every time he called, he would put me down. So, finally, I realized what his key was, and I said.. Well, he said something to me about  -“Ginsberg, you’re a…what you hanging around with all those dirty Jew Communists anyway?” – So I said, “What the fuck!  Is that what your mother put in your mouth? Tell your mother you’ve got a dirty cunt and I’m going to put a coke bottle in it and put some gasoline in and explode it if she doesn’t stop eating your ass out!”. And he started laughing, and all of a sudden got very very sort of like friendly and pleasant, began  talking common sense instead of the usual contentious macho.. treating of..  ego pin-pricking. So I found what he was actually doing was seeing how much ego I got and how much attached to it I was and if I could be upset still – until I finally just one day just slipped over to the other side and laid it back on him, realizing he was just being playful with me rather than really mean – or it seemed finally to be playfulness rather than meanness – that I was so hung-up that I would really get insulted, you know, by this improvised Rabelaisian gibberish (with whatever little insight it had coming to unconsciously, because, yes, I was hanging out with aggressive nasty mean hairy Communist Jewish trouble-makers like Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffmannand I was another one of them, as he insisted, and it was all true). But he didn’t give a shit, you know! (And) I just thought it was important that we were all clean angels or something!

So, and it was only when I turned.. just turned my back on him, just gave him back the same, that I realized that he’d all the time been much more aware (and less drunk) than I thought, or just looser (looser, I was little scared about looseness)

Because it also seemed like dissolution too (which it was, partly). It’s hard to tell when you have somebody who is a genius and a drunk, or mad or genius or a saint or whatever, it’s hard to tell the difference between total sanity,  such as you might find in a drunken Tibetan lama (sic) or meanness such as you might find in a drunken Tibetan lama,  or anybody.  In other words, where do you draw the line? Everybody knows somebody who’s absolutely great, that they’re in love with their alcoholic uncle, or their last girlfriend or boyfriend, or their ex-junkie lover whatever, the guy who beat you for all your money and took your stash and all your phonograph records and your bank book and your diamond ring and went away, the day after you’d decided you’d all get married, or something. He had it figured, you know, with his habit, you know, as an excuse.

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

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