Allen Ginsberg on William Blake

Ginsberg on Blake, January 8 1979

We return to further transcription of Allen on William Blake from 1979 at Naropa.

This tape has a number of significant lacunaes, but we still thought worthy of presenting.

Randy Roark provides the useful note that –   “The tape machine malfunctions throughout this recording. A mechanical hum, sounding like a short in the microphone or recorder itself, interferes with the recording, which alternately comes in clearly.  The tape is labelled “Intro to Blake Vala”  – but almost none of this remains”

AG:   If you’ll follow it with this page I’ve got here (points to paper) The page is not necessary….

Blake divided human nature into four basic characteristics, which are almost like humanistic or ordinary mind archetypes, not very far from the kind of liberal thinking that people might indulge in now.  It’s not a very mystical or far-out system. It’s very easily comprehended.

Human nature, so to speak, has four characteristics, according to him, or four basic reference points, or four basic directions.

(tape initially malfunctions)

(First)  is the intellect.  Rationality.  (The) Thinking process.  (which would have the characteristic of sight, clarity….

(tape  further malfunctions)

(other) aspects. . What we know so well as reasoning, thinking, rationalization (but) which could tend to (become) rationalization, neurotic explanation, over-intellectuality, insistent aggressive intellectual arrogance, schizophrenic insanity, double-talking, meth-freak mumble, free-associational punning.  Just extremes.   In other words, it’s just ordinary reason, ordinary common-sense reason, which, however, could shade off all the way up to complete insanity.  A great logical structure, castle in the air, that has actually no reference point, has no body, no imagination and no art to it.  No emotions, no relation to a physical earth and… no spaciousness of imagination….. just pure demonic reasoning when it’s out-of-phase, when it becomes a spectre of itself, so to speak.  When it’s unhealthy and becomes a spectre of itself, so to speak, it can be as we….

(tape malfunctions)

… meth-freaks, or schizophrenics with logical systems or….

tape malfunctions

… or Blake was thinking of it in terms of the philosophy of his own time, (John) Locke, and others.  (Sir Isaac) Newton, Locke, Bacon, with their so very proud presumption of or rational explanation for the universe, thinking they could explain everything, and so… (in terms of) mechanical industry.  Remember, his point of view was (that) he was an artisan, craftsman making only one copy of each book.  There was only one copy made of his final work,  Jerusalem  one copy printed and colored.  Twenty-seven copies of  Songs of Innocence and Experience , sixteen copies of Urizen maybe.  Two copies of Milton, probably.  So he’s an artisan and handcraftsman.  But when (he) begins printing books, then he immediately…..he begins to realize that the medium is the message –  that pretty soon the medium….  (Blake)  pointed out, that the mechanical extension of the brain is going to begin taking over and reshaping the brain.  So, he was one of the first prophetic, intuitive people who warned against what is now….

(tape malfunctions)

 “dark Satanic mill.”

Sort of the ultimate extension of reason.

to be continued 

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