Allen Ginsberg on Dharma Poetics – 14 (Williams)

Allen Ginsberg – Dharma Poetics continues from here

AG: In William Carlos Williams, in all of his poetry, the notion of sacred world coming from appreciation of mortality and attention to the attentions to the details of the world is the primary philosophy and statement and manifestation in Williams.  The notion of the sacred American world in the sense of holding his own speech, his own idiom, his own street, his own Rutherford, New Jersey, as the place.  His own icebox as the place.  I didn’t prepare any particular Williams to read, actually, except there is one really pretty poem appreciating his wife that might make sense here.  Well, I might read his creed – credo – first.

“A Sort of A Song”  – “Let the snake wait under/ his weed/and the writing/be of words, slow and quick, sharp/ to strike, quiet to wait, /sleepless/ – through metaphor to reconcile/the people and the stones./ Compose. (No ideas/but in things) Invent!/ Saxiflage is my flower that splits/the rocks.”

Saxiflage is a little flower (from) the East coast (of) Paterson, New Jersey that grows up through the pavements.  It’s called saxiflage.  It’s that weed that breaks down the rocks of preconception.    Yeah?

Larry Fagin (1937-2017)

Larry Fagin: (I never understood that – “through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones”)
AG:  Pardon me?

Larry Fagin:  I never understood (what Williams was saying there – “through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones”)

AG:  Well, he wants to reconcile the people and the stones –  which is to say the stones are the Falls of Paterson and the stones of the City Hall and the stones of the street.  And to get them together or get the people to understand them, to reconcile the people to the Falls, to the natures of the city and the history of the city, the nature of the city as well as nature itself and the Falls.  Since it can’t be done except by exemplification and direct showing forth by pointing out similarities, metaphor, the relationship, he will have to, I think, invent a language that comes from Paterson, invent the parallels, use his mind to invent a new poetry that will connect it all.
Larry Fagin:  It can’t be done by pointing.
AG:  No, it can’t. Not by pointing, but by manifesting it by real objects rather than generalizations.
Larry Fagin:  So what is there to invent?  (“Invent!”)
AG:  The language is the one that does the pointing.  So he still has to invent a language out of his speech that will do the pointing, instead of taking over Shakespeare’s speech and saying, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds in Paterson admit the difficulty of reconciling the people to the stones,” I guess.
Larry Fagin:  Is that (true invention)?
AG: ” Invent!” –   Invent a new mind.  Invent his own … invent a new mind instead of taking on the old mind.
Larry Fagin:  (Isn’t he combining from old mind?)
AG:  Well, he’s combining there all his different slogans.  “No ideas but in things,” “Saxiflage is my flower that splits the rocks,” and “Make it new” from … (“Make it new,” which is Ezra Pound from the essay by Lu Chi, that Wen Fu).  There’s a….
Larry Fagin:  So he doesn’t mean making something up.  He means gathering together…
AG:  Yes, I would say gathering together.  But I would say making up a language from the language spoken around him is what is intended there more than anything else.  I like the… But the homely use of saxiflage is the whole point, I think, because he’s invented saxiflage as his holy flower instead of the rose of chivalry, or the lotus of meditation.  The lowly realistic Zen-like saxiflage of Rutherford, New Jersey is his metaphor – saxiflage.
Larry Fagin:  Cop a new attitude, or something.
AG:  Well, his other great slogan, which I didn’t pronounce yet, is totally Buddhist and Einsteinian–  “A new world is only a new mind.” –  “A new world is only a new mind.”  It’s very brilliantly put for an American slogan of that post-Einsteinian understanding of the relativity of how the perception of the phenomemal world depends on the measuring instrument and the perceiver.

to be continued

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