“. . . which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish. . . “

Who was Peter Orlovsky's husband?

Who was Peter Orlovsky’s husband?

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving
hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry
fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the
starry dynamo in the machinery of night. . .
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in
the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish. . .

Five hundred forty-two. That’s the number of posts I’ve published on my two blogs in 48 months. That’s 10.9 per month. This is number 543. A blogger has no way to know how many people read her palaver. “Followers” aren’t counted in the stats if they read from their email.

But the number of “hits” my blogs get from search engines or “ping-backs” or whatever source keeps growing. Apparently more people have time on their hands than one would have guessed (and less rigorous mental discipline than one might have hoped).

The fact is I’m both amazed and grateful that anyone reads what I write.

I intended to announce a contest with a valuable and covetable prize for the first person who named the poet quoted above. But then the “inspiration” for this writing would have been obscured (don’t you love the passive voice—Prof. Carolyn Channell, a colleague at SMU, calls it “bafflegab,” the purposeful or painfully unaware obscuring of the subject of a sentence so as to baffle the reader).

The Emperor of Filmdom has no clothes?

The Emperor of Filmdom has no clothes?

Oh, yes, back to the inspiration.

I heard Terry Gross interview Daniel Radcliffe who plays Allen Ginsberg in a new movie about the beat generation poets. Kill Your Darlings has received good reviews at both the Toronto and Sundance festivals.  I have it on good authority that many people will see it to see Daniel Radcliffe. I’m one of three people in the country who has never seen a Harry Potter movie, so I don’t have a clue what that’s about.

Oh, yes. The lines above are from the opening of Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl, Part I.” I don’t knows lots and lots of poetry and other literature. But “Howl” was new—and riveting to gay boys—when I was in high school, and I read it surreptitiously, without much understanding, I must say. Ginsberg (actually the City Lights Bookstore) was tried in 1957 for obscenity for the poem’s mention of homosexuality (I had learned the word a couple of years before and knew I was one) and acquitted.

Last year when my college rhetoric classes were writing about the First Amendment, I came across Judge Clayton W. Horn’s ruling acquitting Ginsberg saying, “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?”

Allen Ginsberg endeared himself to me not so much as a poet (I really am NOT a sophisticated reader) but for his listing of his lifetime partner, the poet Peter Orlovsky, as his “spouse” in Who’s Who in America at a time when most of us gay boys were afraid to say publicly that we were. Here’s a little-known fact that will be left out when my biography is written: I remember being—Oh, come on, stop being a prude—sexually aroused seeing that in print.

So the movie Kill Your Darlings (a caution for writers to delete the sentences over which they have labored to get them just right, thereby destroying all spontaneity—no one can accuse me of that because most of my writing is unedited, but I do often tell my students that “your words are not your children—you can kill them”) is being released in places like Amsterdam and New York, so none of us will get to see it.

I will live awhile longer without knowing why Daniel Radcliffe is a heartthrob to so many people. But I’ve never watched an episode of Breaking Bad, either, so you know what kind of pop-culture-deprived bore I am. Or perhaps I’m one of three people in the country who has the suspicion the emperor-of-filmdom wears no clothes (and I don’t mean in Equus).

The beat poets were my favorites in high school and college. I’ve written about Kerouac in earlier posts. I once tried writing on a roll of toilet paper (being as susceptible as the next guy to urban legends) to see if my prose came out like Kerouac’s.  It didn’t. Have you ever tried to write on toilet paper?

Like everyone else in the country, I grew weary on the second day of the Great Government Shutdown and Tea Bagger Attempt to Blackmail Us All into Submission. (You realize, of course, they were trying to do exactly what they—led by Michelle Bachmann—praised the new military dictators of Egypt for doing, that is, subverting the will of the people as expressed through [more or less] free and open elections. That Bachmann and Cruz love military dictators ought to tell Americans who they really are. But it won’t.)

To coin a phrase, I digress.
I reread part of Howl last night and came to this stanza.

. . . who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue
amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regi-
ments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertis-
ing & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down
by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality. . .

The nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it. Every goddamned aspect of our lives, from Facebook to the Tea Party to Harry Potter to Kroger’s Shell gasoline giveaway points is controlled by the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising. I didn’t start this writing thinking that was my point, but that’s the anguished angry place I’ll stop. Without killing my darlings. Just stop.

". . .reduce his vocabulary  to vapid innocuous  euphemisms. . ."

“. . .reduce his vocabulary
to vapid innocuous
euphemisms. . .”

6 Responses to “. . . which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish. . . “

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