1994 BBC World Service Interview -2

Allen Ginsberg, March 1995, NYC , photo  taken by Gregory Corso with Allen’s camera

Allen Ginsberg 1994 BBC interview continues from here

DW: You’ve been very critical of US domestic policy, there, for example, you’ve also been very critical of US foreign policy over the years, especially for example Vietnam ..

AG: Well, I..

DW: ..And yet you still live in the US, do you have. do you see any problem there?

AG: I don’t why I’d go from the frying pan to the fire, go retire to Iraq or something? And my poetry’s banned on the air in America (1994) by the same Jesse Helms who’s a lobbyist for tobacco, and is this right-wing political demagogue putting in a law saying, oh, so-called “indecent” language should be banned twenty-four  hours a day – and the FCC is trying to enforce that!
DW: At the moment you’re banned between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
AG: 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. – but the FCC has just appealed to try and close that gap to 8 p.m. to midnight now, to “protect the ears of minors”, who read my poetry in schools during the same hours they’re banning it if  they read the Oxford anthology or the Norton (sic). So, no, the reason I stay in America is.. I’m American! – I think that’s my country,  I own the place! – I’m the American, not those jerks in Congress or the FCC. The individual.. You know America is about the individual’s liberty of imagination. There’s all sorts of demagogues who want to close down the imagination and control thought-forms and control the mind but, as one of the founders of our country, John Adams, said, “The mind must be loose” (Editorial note – “Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmagtism cannot confine it”)

DW: You’ve protested about Vietnam, you’ve protest about The Gulf (War)..

AG: Protest means.. pro – in favor – attestation – witnessing, “in favor of peace”.

DW: You seem like the ultimate pacifist. Is there anything you’d fight for, physically?

AG: Yes, I guess so. If someone attacked me, I’d try and push them away – and hurt them if I could do it – but usually I try not to get into those situations, but the world is so full of monstrous vanity, and pride, and aggression, and ignorance, and clinging, and it’s pretty difficult to stay out of harm’s way.
Well just think of all the people in Rwanda, Bosnia, or Croatia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico (they’re being crushed very much or very often by American-military-trained local dictators and military officers (as in Haiti now)

DW: As a Jew, would you have fought against Hitler?

AG: I am not so sure.. I’m also a coward and I don’t mind admitting it, I’m a total coward. So I don’t know. If I were up against the wall I would have had to, (and as an adolescent, not subject to the draft, I was a warmonger – you know, like wanting to.. wanting to beat Hitler, but, you know, it was like a sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen-year-old fantasy rather than a real choice on my part.

DW: William Blake said one day you wake up dsisguised as an old person. Has that happened to you yet?

AG Why yes,  I’m..  the.. the key thing is “The Nurse’s Song” (from “Songs of Experience) – “When the voices of children is heard on the green (the hill).. /And laughing is heard… And whisperings are in the dale/ The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind / My face turns green and pale / Then come home my children the sun has gone down And the dews of night arise /Your spring ( your youth) and your day are wasted in play /And your winter and night in disguise. – meaning,  “your winter and night” –  you’re grey-haired and old, (but everyone has to disguise their adolescent eros, which still continues in the mind, even when you’re sixty-eight, like myself, and can’t even get it up physically!)

DW: You’ve written two poems called “Don’t Grow Old”

AG: Yeah

DW: What are they about?

AG: Well, I had a boyfriend, Peter Orlovsky, because I’m gay, who lived with me many many years. And my father was at first a little aghast at that but then got to accept Peter. And then when my father was very old and he had.. and was quite ill.. and he had cancer and was dying (and) Peter was an ambulance attendant, (and) so we took care of my father, on and off, for the last half-year of his life. I remember trying to…raising him,.. me and Peter raising him, naked, out of the bath, and bringing him into his bedroom and putting on his pyjamas when he was very weak, and he turned his head round (he had on.. his false teeth were in a dish),  he turned around and looked at Peter and said, ruefully, “Don’t ever grow old” – It’s a poem. I used that as the title of a series of poems on my father’s death.

DW: I saw you perform last night, You use a lot of energy in your performance (as) you play your harmonium.

AG: Yeah.

DW: You’re a practicing Buddhist, does that help you get through your long days?

AG: Yeah, just do sort of one thing and empty my mind, and do the next thing and empty my mind. and realize that there’s no hell to pay ultimately because everything is transitory.

DW: So there’s no conflict between having taken lots of psychedelic drugs and being a spiritual buddhist?

AG: No, no,  the Buddhist view is whatever you do do whole-heartedly and do sincerely, try not to do damage to other people or yourself, extend yourself as far as possible in sympathy, drive all blames into yourself (don’t start blaming others), and, to the extent that you can, relieve your own suffering, and then go on to relieve the sufferings of others (sufferings which are self-imposed or are superficial, aside from the natural suffering of being born, growing old and dying). To the extent that you can relieve others suffering, that’s your purpose on earth, as artist, as businessman or as doctor,  or as broadcaster (sic)

DW: How would you like to be remembered when you’re gone?.

AG: I think for “Father Death Blues” poem, song-poem, or as poet certainly, maybe as Buddhist poet, maybe as gay Buddhist poet, maybe as Americanist gay Buddhist poet, maybe as Jewish Americanist gay Buddhist poet meditator singer photographer artist (poet, mainly)

DW: I’ll just say Allen Ginsberg, thank you very much

AG: Thank you for having me on the air.

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