William Blake – from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell – 9

Allen Ginsberg on “The Proverbs of Hell” from William Blake’s The  Marriage of Heaven and Hell continues from here  

AG: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”.   Anybody have any experience with that one?  I mean, all life is excessive – your hair falls out.  Many a drunkard knows that, many an acid head.  If you take too much acid you finally have a reaction, you say, “Ah, I had this experience”.   Fuck all your life.  Like a lot of extra fucking brings about the wisdom of “Say, well now, I think I’ll do it for quality rather than quantity.”  However, (it) “..leads to the palace of wisdom”.  So this would be as the opposite of constant prudence and, what is it?  “Discretion is the better part of valor”.  It’s the opposite of “Discretion is the better part of valor.”

Student:  (It’s like he’s saying “do it!”)
AG:  Pardon me?
Student:  It’s like he’s saying, do it, you know, go out and …
AG:  Yeah, do it.
Student:  … (experience)

AG:  Find out.  Or later on it will say, “Enough, or too much.” Yeah, “Enough, or too much.
In other words, this unbounded imagination.  Unbounded action.  Unbounded energy.  Try it out, no matter what it is.  Go into every corner.  Total inquisitiveness.  In Buddhist terms this would be inquisitiveness.  In every direction.  In William Carlos Williams‘s terms, it would the image of the trees out in the rain, saying, “Look at the poor humans inside.  Don’t they have enough sense to come out in the rain?” [“The trees—being trees thrash and scream/guffaw and curse—/wholly abandoned/damning the race of men—/Christ, the bastards/haven’t even sense enough/to stay out in the rain“] –  Quote – “No part of us untouched.”  – unquote – [Allen here quotes the poem’s final line] – “no part of us untouched.”  That’s a modern, 20th century version of that. Yes?

Student:  Who said, “The fool who persists in his folly would be wise.”

AG:  Yeah, same thing, it’s in the same … did you read the text?  “If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.”  And that’s in here, too.

Student:  Sounds like the same (sentiment).  Sounds like the same thing.

AG:  Yeah it is.  It’s just another version, or it’s a different angle – a different version – the same.

The next one, “Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.”  – Same thing.  That is, if you don’t want to go out to excess, yes you can be prudent, but it’s really just an ugly old maid and you can’t get it up anyway, so the restrained finally becoming weak as he says earlier in Plate V:  “And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”

Peter Orlovsky:  He must have known some ugly old maids then, huh?

AG:  Yeah.  Actually, there is a … sure.

Peter Orlovsky:  If not many..

AG:  Read his biography.  All of us (are ugly old maids).   “And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”  I think there is a sort of funny scientific psycho-sexual 20th century study which says that you can keep making it past the age of ninety and a hundred as long as you’ve got somebody there to make it with, but that if you fall out of the habit, or if erotic situation or stimulation isn’t present, then you get the impression your sex life is over.  So some people have a continuous permanent sex life until they die with healthy bodies till a hundred-and-thirty (sic) or so, and some people quit at sixty, frustrated, and shift their attention elsewhere, (though I don’t think you need to take a moralistic view, either or either).

He is.. he’s a young man.  He’s only thirty-three – A time of being crucified. I mean, that’s the beginning of the whole thing – a new Heaven is begun and it is now thirty-three years since the Advent, since his Advent.  So, anyway, he’s only thirty-three, so he’s still… this is written again during  The French Revolution time – 1793 (is the year of) publication.  So he’s still got his juice running.

to be continued 

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