Like Staying up All Night with Your Best Friend

Allen Ginsberg, Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness, edited by Gordon Ball

There are many influences that went into my creating Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, and Allen Ginsberg was a major one. Here are quotations from reading Allen Verbatim in 2006, with my comments relating to subsequent Dear Layla project in brackets…

So what I do is try to forget entirely about the whole world of art and just get directly to the most economical—that is, the fastest, not most economical—the fastest and most direct expression of want it is I got in heart-mind. 107 [The chapters in novel are certainly economical!]

Start with what you desire, heart, instead of what you think you are supposed to do. 124 [E. once told me after she received my correspondence, “That’s the best love letter I’ve ever received.” That became the end of the novel many years later.]

… in which the prose sentence is completely personal, comes from the writer’s own person—his person defined as his body, his breathing rhythm, his actual talk. 153 [This is why this book of correspondences worked best for me.]

Kerouac then got more and more personal in his prose, and finally decided that he would write big book without even having a plot, but just write what was going on, without like an “impersonally” constructed plot, impersonal to his life. He would just write a book in his own persona, as if he were telling his best friend the story of what they did together in a five-year period of running around the country in automobiles. 154 [Like Jelly Helm once said: “Everything in here is true, and some of it actually happened.”]

So what he did was try to write it all out, as fast as it came to his mind, all the associations; the style being as if he were telling a tale, excitedly, all night long, staying up all night with his best friend.154 [My style emerging as if I were writing a 200 page letter to a confidante.]

…but called Visions of Cody, meaning instead of doing it chronologically, do it in sequence, as recollection of the most beautiful, epiphanous moments. Visionary moments being the structure of the novel—in other words each section of chapter being a specific epiphanous heartrending moment no matter where it fell in time, and then going to the center of that moment, the specific physical description of what was happening. 155 [I abided by Jack’s “Something that you feel will find its own form,” namely a collection of, among other forms, “meditations.”]

So I told [Pound] that I thought that since the Cantos were for the first time a single person registering over the course of a lifetime all the major obsessions and thoughts and the entire rainbow arc of his images and clingings and attachments and discoveries and perceptions, that they were an accurate representation of his mind, and so couldn’t be thought of in terms of success or failure, but only in terms of the actuality of their representation… 181 [As per Book of Mev epigraph from Sheri Hostetler, “Hold it all,” here is my wild mind, my laughter mind, my Buddha mind, my sick mind, my nothing is sacred mind.]

Leave a Comment

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