We Dissent – 3 – Philip Lamantia

Continuing this week with transcriptions from the soundtrack of a lost 1960’s film – Kenneth Tynan‘s commissioned tv documentary on dissidents and representative American dissidents, “We Dissent”   Next up,  Philip Lamantia

Narrator (William Clark): Still in San Francisco, and along Grant Avenue is the Bread and Wine Mission House, and here another Beat poet recites from his own works and then explains his way of life.

PL:  My name is Philip Lamantia. And I go around with whoever, which means all kinds of weird persons I like. Junkies, tricks, dummy poets, mads, hold-up men, squares, priests, monks, professional bums, Beat Jews, Jew-haters, Spade trumpet-players, pot-heads, Zen nuts, anti-Spades, super gigolos, coke-heads, murderers, Okie poets, smugglers, hippies, flips and black supremacy, white supremacy, and red Indian supremacy  – wild ones. My myth is my people – They make grass grow on sky fire and who knows when the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe lumins my nights. I’m high most of the time, the sickest of San Francisco all around me. I’m the sickest of San Francisco.
I want opium. Police confiscate opium. I want police to give me opium.  I want them to stop busting non-criminals, people who want to recover their sense of being, dig?, searching for God, smoking marijuana and eating peyote. And because (the) Chinese (aren’t) afraid of us, do not deny not smoke as mandarin (shoot) (just) heroin for we are all niggers and mandarin now. I’ll buy all the stock of Chinatown. I’ll buy all the junk of Oakland. I’ll buy all.  For I’m rich with the free gift of grace. And the point, precisely (is) if you haven’t (made it) any other way to taste Heaven, coca, marijuana and opium make it for you. For me when I’m in pain they take the pain away. If you are square, ok, but stop pointing ignorant stupid scandal fingers at me and getting us all locked up. If you are hip, you know what I signify. If you’re listening you’ll see me through the scales in my eyeballs, and weigh my words well .

I made a few notes this morning about the Beat  and I have here something about avowing poverty, and humility and extreme freedom from intellectual shackles and a direction by these people towards religions and enlightenment.
There was this other level to the Beat that we all called apocalyptic. And yet it was related to doom under the atomic age. Some of us became aware of it (then) and I remember several people had visions of a great sunburst. This level was mostly related, as I say, to visions. Everyone was having visions at that time, one kind or another, and there was a vision-exchange thing going on too. In a broad sense, the only thing we did have in common and I suppose still have in common, is not having money. And also being interested in Zen Buddhism, or, as I personally am, in the mystical element of Christianity. And of course praying and generally accepting life as it is (and, for me) not thinking in any preconceived notions that were handed down to me by my teachers and mentors.

As far as rebellion – this of course brings up all sorts of notions, of nineteenth-century (notions) of rebellion. And I don’t like that label, and I don’t like, don’t like the label “Beatnik” which is contemptuous – or the sinister ghostly image that the mass media has,up until now, produced of us (in the USA) as a group of some sort of really subversive influence. Our visions may be interpreted as subversive, that is for you to decide, but we don’t really consider ourselves particularly revolutionary, or revolutionary only in the (old) sense that Christ himself was a revolutionary… Leave it there. “

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *