Jack Kerouac’s 30 tips for life and prose - Aleph
with detailed accounts of Ginsberg's private relationships with Jack Kerouac, . so violently on poetic method that I hesitate to ask him for advice and criticism. When the letters are written by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, twin avatars of that counterculture that spawned all things 20th century. The attractive bohemian couple, who were unabashed leftists, hung around In , Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs moved into an apartment with a woman He was required to enter psychoanalytic therapy at Columbia Presbyterian.
Indeed, it seems like the process went like this: Some of what Kerouac and Ginsberg write are word riffs stolen from a jazzy underworld that has moved on; what the lay reader cannot identify brings him no closer even by throwing a lifeline into Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, or calling your eccentric uncle back home who knows everything.
In the late '40s, there are multiple factors influencing Ginsberg and Kerouac. Were they lovers then? Ginsberg certainly wanted to be, and unable to consummate his lust for handsome Jack, he turned to poetry to help sort out the stumblebum of desire eating away at his mortal heart. After which I rise, caress her placid face, which is still damp With joy, and from her head unscrew her eyes Like bulbs out of the sockets of a lamp. Are we as readers made aware of this?
Kerouac and Ginsberg stun us with their frankness, bewitching us with an all-seeing eye, a revelatory time travel illuminating sudden spectacles of intelligence, wit and utter vulnerability. By the end of the year he is ready to take the hand he is dealt and comprehend from the incomprehensible that which will allow him to conjure from chaos a new world of creation.
Whitman describes comrades as such: I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies, I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks, By the love of comrades, By the manly love of comrades.
Sexuality in the Beat Generation
It is manly love. After On the Road hits the streets, Kerouac will remark that men can no longer look each other in the eyes without negative insinuation. Go ahead and look a guy in the eyes as you pass him on the street, see what he does. But do it not as a dude eyeing another dude, but as two vessels of Mortal Humanity passing through this life, never to see one another ever again.
He has already been wandering the feverish road in a marijuana haze, he conjures anew his memories of being lost with Cassady in deep mystery swamps, or deserted by Cassady when he is sick in the hallucinogenic Mexican deserts. Swarming visions of dark endless highways can easily become the back drop, he just needs to people them with characters.
There are loves, lost loves, and of those left behind to someday come back and pick up where he left off. There is also the sensual mystery of a beautiful Latina girl. Ginsberg and Trilling first became acquainted in Springwhen Ginsberg took a class with Trilling in the Great Books. Both Allen and Lucien remembered that Ed Gold was the only other student in the whole class who was even slightly interested in the course.
All the soldiers and sailors filling the rest of the seats were in school just long enough to become officers. Teaching under such circumstances must have been disheartening for Trilling, and his three intellectual students naturally became the focus of attention. He was always worried that I was getting in too deep. I was very frank with him, trying to explain about marijuana, or talking about Kerouac and Burroughs.
A student makes the acquaintance of his instructor and right away families are involved. The dynamics here—Morgan provides just a taste of the full correspondence—have a Dostoevskian intrigue to them. Ginsberg may have been the beseeching would-be son, but he did not hold back in his efforts to scandalize his professor, whose fastidious sensibilities he recognized from the start.
The following month the nineteen-year-old Ginsberg was exhorting his professor to read Rimbaud. That you are unable to understand why I make so much of Rimbaud dismays me somewhat. Though I should dislike to be over bumptious about it, with your kind permission I must witness his defense. I think of Rimbaud as a hero in the sense of having a violent, varied—and finally mature—response to a fairly representative social situation.
I admire Rimbaud not as the poete maudit, the decadent, but the representative hero, the sociologically concerned, and in the highest manner politically minded poet. Season in Hell seems to me the most individually expressive poetry I have run across—more than any poet, I can understand the personality—half childish, half sardonic, somewhat sentimental, furious, jealously personal and strikingly dispassionate—from the poetry.
I mean, it is so compressed and flexible that it contains whole visions in a single line.
Manly Love: Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg's Letters - PopMatters
Imagine the scene of Lionel Trilling engaged in serious intellectual struggle with an undergraduate student who is all of a sophomore in college. But it was Ginsberg after all, and Trilling understood well that he was being challenged on grounds of taste that had moral implications. Trilling would have none of Rimbaud. But that was never an option, and Trilling wrote back: Its right condition is set by the original connection between us, that of student and teacher, and by the difference in our ages.
If you present your life to me in the manner that you have done, I am willing to receive seriously and affectionately what you tell me, but I can do that only as your teacher and older friend; it would be impossible and pointless for me to reciprocate in anything approaching kind. When called upon for academic support and practical help, Trilling spoke up for Ginsberg with Columbia deans and civil authorities. When Ginsberg was first in trouble with Columbia for writing obscenities on his dorm window in MarchTrilling and Van Doren both intervened with Dean Nicholas McKnight to prevent his expulsion, though to no avail.BEAT GENERATION Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs
McKnight insisted that Ginsberg undergo psychiatric counseling and work at a job for a year before he could reenroll. Four years later, in Aprilwhen Ginsberg was arrested with Huncke, Melody, and Russell, Trilling was among those whose intervention diverted Ginsberg to the mental hospital rather than prison.
The Columbia Dean, Harry Corman, called the district attorney, a Columbia alumnus, and arranged a plea of psychological disability, on condition that Ginsberg be placed in psychoanalytic therapy. Since he had, at best, a weak case against Allen, the District attorney agreed. Trilling may have been generous with his time, but he was stingy with praise. He said he was beginning to wonder when I was going to purge self and rhetoric of self-pity.
It is of immense cultural importance. Where was this all headed? To a couple of defining events, I think, that would harden the relation between the two men into its final shape. What I used to like in your poems, whether I thought they were good or bad, was the voice I heard in them, true and natural and interesting. There is no real voice here. As for the doctrinal element of the poems, apart from the fact that I of course reject it, it seems to me that I heard it very long ago, and that you give it to me in all its orthodoxy, with nothing new added.
What could Trilling have meant by that? One guess is that it was the Moloch incantation of part II, with its unmistakable reprise of Depression-era anticapitalism. Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies!
Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb! Trilling had heard such melodramatic fervor in the anticapitalist lyrics of the proletarian and popular front days of the s. America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain.
Everybody must have been a spy. So that was the orthodoxy of which Trilling, with his own youth spent in a Communist Party front organization, the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, had had quite enough. Among its causes was the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine African American men accused of the rape of two white women on the Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, He had had his taste of the Stalinist-Trotskyist faction wars and with the rhetorical intransigence of Communist agit-prop—with indeed the whole mentality of art as a weapon in the class struggle—and they had propelled him about as far away as he could get: Forster and Matthew Arnold, to the fiction of sensibility and manners, and to Sigmund Freud.
Diana Trilling had attended the reading in the company of two other faculty wives, but sans husbands, who had begged off, and with the expressed disapproval of friends like Dwight Macdonald and W.
Diana Trilling herself was discomfited—or was it bemused? But I was mistaken. But the audience was clean and Ginsberg was clean and Corso was clean and Orlovsky was clean. She had gone expecting body odor and discord and found herself at a bar mitzvah instead. Though Lionel Trilling had not attended, neither Ginsberg nor Diana Trilling could leave him out of the evening.
I liked it very much.