Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac and Columbia days continues from here
AG: So I went into Dean McKnight‘s office. Now I had already read (the) Celine that Burroughs had given me. The beginning of the Celine Journey To The End of the Night is – he and his friend Robinson are at a cafe drinking, getting a little bit drunk. It’s the time at the beginning of World War One. All of a sudden they see a big happy parade of drunkards coming down the street with bands and fifes and toodling and flags and ladies, and everybody’s happy, and they get arm-in-arm, they get up and join the parade, and they wander off to the edge of town, still drunk and still drinking, and finally a gate shuts behind them and they find they’re.. in the army! – Recruiting parade for the.. A French recruiting parade – World War 1 – Chapter two – they’re in the field of battle. And Celine looks around and there are all these people crying for their mommies, bombshells whistling over, and insane captains demanding that the horses be brought forward, and issuing contradictory orders to Celine to march forward into the face of battle and the teeth of the bullets. And he has a sentence about – “I suddenly realized that everybody around me was completely insane and I had to take steps to..” ‘if I wanted to survive in this situation, I’d better take steps to disassociate myself completely with their mad schemes..” – or “to evade completely”, “to make myself invisible”, or..” It was a very funny sentence. I mean it was a great.. I think it’s one of the great moments of Western literature, when the hero, Celine, wakes up in the middle of the battle and realizes that everybody around him is crazy, and figures he’d better figure out what’s going on and get out of there. That.. I would say that would be the essence of hipness. Whatever was hip, (whatever) the word “hip” was supposed to be.. in 1945, whatever we thought of it. It was that attitude, of waking up in the midst of the rest of society and finding out that everybody was crazy, and (that) it was a mad scheme that was going to destroy everybody, and nobody was going to get out alive, (in fact prematurely, it was premature pain and death). So with that attitude in mind, I walked into the Dean’s office.
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-five-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in