Exemplar of Epistolary Ecstasy
by Mark Chmiel
Bill Morgan, ed., The Letters of Allen Ginsberg
“Recommending Hare Krishna to one and all” 375
It might have taken me 12 hours to read this book line by line, but it’s more important to trust and intuit at look of page, and find what is useful, and not read like pedantic scholar or (still) anxious grad student scrupulous about comprehensive exams.
There’s not much to say here, except this: I have been a pathetic slacker when it comes to correspondence, and so it was worth the 20 bucks I spent on this volume to allow this vow to arise: I vow to write 1 person each day in old style 1989 letter for 15-20 minutes, JUST A SINGLE PAGE, bang it out.
So, thank you, Allen, for being role model, exemplar, candid explainer, exhibiter of neuroses, free thought fun thought, intimacy engenderer, and I think of people I need to at least write one page to: LW, CT, CG, AW, TS, JL, SM, LD, RK, and 50 more! Revive the great era of letter writing! Use letter as warm up for any writing I want to do. Wish to be ancient, marginal, anti-up-to-date, within 24 hours of me receiving from you, you will have response in mail… training (again) in wild mind.
Plus, List 50 luminaries—literary, political, spiritual and write them letters. Fearlessness. Charming notes to sages, authors, mentshes. N.B. Correspondence as a response to something: Book, event, circumstance, insight, feeling, memory…. [Best writing comes in letters, hence, the epistolary form for future book]
Reading this book, I want to start exhaustive correspondence log, including date, addressee, form (Facebook, email, letter, postcard).
Poem to write: Allen Ginsberg Healthy at 83—Twitter, Facebook, 84,000 prostrations of the Mind
Try this: A harsh critique of Ginsberg’s pathologies and blindnesses
Write Commentary of Kerouac precepts for someone, KM?
Novel: Re-imagine what I can create of the Wiesel-Shushani relationship.
I am trying to write a Palestine Howl. Alas.
“The technique of writing both prose and poetry, the technical problem of the present day, is the problem of transcription of the natural flow of the mind, the transcription of the melody of actual thought or speech.” 135
Kerouac and Ch’an: “… a short piece of explicit instructions by Kerouac, titled “Essentials of Modern Prose” showing exactly how to meditate and transcribed the ordinary or elated mind, a statement of method you see….” 144
[Subterraneans’] “value seems to me to lie in that, he [Kerouac] trying to find new personal intimate direct mode of expression.” 182
A 1000 word salute to The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, for Nima… 274
“You gotta find some way of intensifying the sentences without becoming gnomic arty or stiff-spoken—so as to keep the authentic talking to yourself style and its inspirational cheerful ease—at the same time not water down the density of poetical mind-speed or page gleam possible.” 391
Novel: a character is translating Allen Ginsberg into Yiddish.
Letters to reread: John Hollander on Howl, etc., 202 ff; Eugene Brooks, on Israel, 254-56; Tax resistance letter, 346-347; Antler, 389ff; Charles Rothschild, his eccentric and proud CV, 404-11.
Establish a list of 100 books I want to read in the next three years.
Read all of Melville
Read Robert Duncan
Read: Philip Lamantia, Lew Welch, Ted Berrigan, Corso,
Read: Celine, Genet, Artaud
Read: Whitman, Apollinaire, Lorca
Read: Voznesensky, Yevtushenko,
Read EE’s three volumes of Gita commentary
Read Mexico City Blues, just to imagine some other new forms for myself…
More poets to read: Diane di Prima, Tuli Kupferberg, Eliot Katz
Explore: Best Bengali writers?
Read sons of Ginsberg: David Cope, Marc Olmstead, Michael Scholnick, Tom Swartz, Walter Fordham
Man of letters = someone who is actively engaged in the literary and intellectual world. Xviii
Meyer Shapiro: p. 23. P. 35. Makes me want to read a bio of him—that’s the kind of teacher to be… “a man of such sensibility” “He told me to come over, and sat talking with me about the universe for 2 ½ hours; also told me about how he was in jail in Europe for being a stateless bum.” 35
Study of Blues form
Ask J the healthiest way to make lentil soup.
What is the equivalent today in USA to I.F. Stone Weekly? Of course, Counterpunch!
Travel: walk across and up and down India for 6 months.
Shop at Salvation Army stores, Brook Brothers indestructible suits
“At least Mao Tse-Tung spent ten years in a cave studying Confucius, and writing odes.” 99
“I’m not Ford Foundation.”
“Regarding politics, any action taken in hostile emotion or with aggression as motive leads to more hostility & aggression, & aggression in form of capital monopoly or psychic power monopoly is root of personal & social woe—aggression to maintain & reinforce illusion of separate egohood & its powers.” 376
Corso as “some kind of human koan” 382
“God is unworkable, there’s no God to appeal to, that’s my empty minded conclusion.” 392
On too much alliteration, 68-69
Critique of Mess of Visions of Cody 78 ff.
Howl: “a long prose poem strophes, sort of surrealist…” 120
Lala: “Everyday of life is a foreign country”
Litterateur, Rigazzi, Simpatico, Tourista, Whazammater
Promoter of friends
Ten places I want to travel to…
A day without Bach is a sad piss of a day
Polyglot or die
Amateur scholar or bust
Be an agent for my students
All my projects
Am I waking the young to national disaster? 372
All the Beats should have gone to Plum Village
Some projects I want to finish before I die