Surrealist Symposium Concludes (Ginsberg reads Corso)

The 1988 Naropa Surrealist Symposium that we’ve been featuring this past week concludes here with some “cafe conversation-denunciation” from Jonathan (Jacob) Rabinowitz and Allen reading poems by Gregory Corso

AG: I think…
AW:  Jonathan, one last question?
JW: You talk first
AG: You want me to talk first?
AW: Come on gentlemen

AG:  Me first, then him.  In regard to cut-up, when Burroughs and Brion Gysin proposed the cut-up in their first book, Minutes To Go, the handbook of that, Gregory Corso contributed by saying, “My poetry is a natural cut-up”. So, since Gregory actually is a Surrealist himself in terms of the texture. I’ll read three short poems by Corso
Student: Right on!
AG First of all, (they’re) separated by a twenty-five year gap) – two short ones from Gasoline –  “Birthplace Revisited”. (“I stand-in the dark light in the dark street/and look up at my window, I was born there. The lights are on, other people are moving about/I am with raincoat; cigarette in ny mouth,/hat over eye,/I cross the street and enter the building./The garbage cans haven’t stopped smelling./I walk up the first flight; Dirty Ears/aims knife at me…/I pump him full of lost watches”)
and then, “The Last Gangster” (“Waiting by the window/my feet enwrapped with the dead bootleggers of Chicago/ I am the last gangster, safe, at last,/waiting by a bullet-proof window./  I look down the street and know/the two torpedoes from St Louis/I’ve watched them grow old/… guns rusting in their arthritic hands”)
So there’s a little photo-montage in both of them  “I pump him full of lost watches”  and “I watched them grow old, guns rusting in their arthritic hands”  which is a pure poetic poetry language Surrealism
and then, 1980, “The Whole Mess Almost”, which is a kind of sleight-of-hand trick rabbit-out-of-hat treatment of abstractions  – “The Whole Mess Almost”. –
(“I ran up six fights to my small furnished room… ” … “out the window with the window”)

JR: Ok time for a ringing and irritable cafe conversation-denunciation of Surrealism.. Yes
Student: Why?
JR: It’s the mode
Student: Ah, true Surrealism!

JR: True Surrealism . It’s probably not more ..So… the fact that it can be adopted in an equally convincing way by a.. you know, by English mathematicians of the nineteenth-century and utterly banal rock stars of the twentieth-century probably shows that it’s not more significant in the general context of Modernism than, say, chiaroscuro is in the context of the Baroque.  It may yet be another feeble and ineffectual attempt by the French to find something else to think about beside food, something else to write about besides adultery, and, in time, to adopt a political stance which won’t involve getting their clothes wrinkled!

AW: Further comments?   I think that..
Student: That put the kibosh on it.
AW: Put the kibosh on it.

[Anne Waldman concludes with “a couple of announcements – “let’s cut it up, let’s cut it up” –    introduces William Bevis, “scholar of the poetry of Wallace Stevens, which might interest some of you.”]

Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes and concluding at the end of the tape

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