H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






from Beyond Imagining


Brunnenberg Castle, Dorf Tirol, Italy, 7.8.90


Dear Anne [Waldman]:


“Symons, the poet who helped (Yeats) create the city of imagination was

mad; Synge the man who urged him to ‘renounce the deliberate creation

of a kind of Holy City in the imagination, and express the individual,’ was


––Stone Cottage, James Longenback


Italy, northern, non-tourista, very beautiful. It was on the train from

Munich to Merano I really arrived. Standing alone in the corridor, against

the open window, the world, this world, moving past...





Dublin, Ireland, 9.24.90


Dear Anne:


From Portrait of the Artist: “Aristotle has not defined pity & terror. I have....

Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave

& constant in human sufferings & unites it with the human sufferer. Terror

is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave &

constant in human sufferings & unites it w/ the secret cause.... The tragic

emotion... is a face looking two ways, towards terror & towards pity, both of

which are phases of it. You see I use the word arrest. I mean that the tragic

emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited

by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing” (p. 209, Paladin Edition).

The discussion continues the next 20 pages including the line “You see that

it is that thing which it is and no other thing” (p. 217). Statically &

esthetically & pornographically & especially didactically yours ––





Aran Islands, Ireland, 10/14/90


Dear Anne:


What does one do after reading all of Personae & the Cantos in E. P.’s

library, Ulysses & Portrait in Dublin wJoyce’s nephew & Yeat’s Collected

in Sligo, Galway, Coole Par, & Thoor Ballylee? Well, drop $50.00 on

3 lbs of Beckett, of course. Have mailed home 56 lbs. of books so far.

I’ve developed something of a routine. I wake up, have breakfast & walk

or do errands thru lunch till about 6 –– have dinner, then go home & read

from 7 p.m. till midnight. I don’t go to pubs & haven’t felt like seeing

movies, tho did see Wild At Heart which was mildly entertaining. After

a bad da when I didn’t want to do anything –– in fact, I’d bought a bus

ticket to Gort (Coole Park) & sat & watched it drive off w/out me ––

I ended up taking myself out to McDonald’s, buying some massage oil to

make my skin feel nice and a black Levi pearl-button cowboy shirt & black

jeans, and doing my laundry. By dinner I was ready to go on & had

half-a-dozen new ideas. It was also my halfway point on the trip ––half of me

couldn’t believe I had so much time left to fill. Hope all is well ––





Paris, France, 11/17/90


Dear Anne:


Turns out I was a little hasty about the Louvre –– I’d only seen the Sully Gallery

which had the archeology exhibits, the household furnishings & 14th-17th C.

French ptg –– not my favorite epoch –– all that Alexandrian bloodletting –– I

went back for the Denon Gallery & that was it –– Italian art makes me swoon.

Even the Christian stuff is mostly great. I do get tired of ptgs of the Venetian

canals as The Holy City. Today at the Musee D’Orsay I got lost on the way

out & discovered another entire wing I’d missed –– including B&W Seurats,

Man Ray’s photo “La Mort Du Proust,” the only Claudel sculpture I’ve seen

this trip (tortured ins’t the word) altho you can’t help tripping over Rodins,

& a Mondrian port scene. A Good day. Sentimental Education was amazing ––

I bought Bouvard & Pecuchet just to see where he could possibly go from there.

I can see why M. Bovary is more popular –– it plays to the emotions whereas

Sentimental Education is written as if beyond the grave –– it’s not just the intel-

ilgence or wisdom... I don’t know how to describe it. Back to the Louvre ––


There’s one gallery so shocking I thought for a moment it might be intentional ––

it’s the Medici Gallery –– XXIV gargantuan ptgs of Medicis at major historical

events, like the Woody Allen movie w/him superimposed on old film clips

(Zelig) –– there’s even an apotheosis or two. I’d never go as far as to say any

art should be burnt, but if some had to go....


At the Pompidou Center today I discovered Allen G. was just here –– what a

shame I didn’t know. A photo of his in the window of Shakespeare & Co.

(Ferlinghetti at a cafe table). Today I wondered if choosing Proust was a mistake

–– what about Collette? But this is probably my only chance to plow through it.

I haven’t read a female writer yet.


How will I live without French pastry?





Firenze, Italy, 4, xii,90


Have I earned the right to use European date notation? Almost. Florence

has been around long enough they date the century as well as the year ––

5, xii. ‘990. Dante is worthy of study –– Penguin (Mark Musa) has good, if

slightly haughty (“Most Critics think it’s ‘x’ whereas it’s obviously ‘y’”) notes.

Also worthy of study is why Florence contributed within a century (& before

that, 1267-1337, “1st Renaissance ptr.” Giotia Bondone):


1) Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) 1st use of mechanical perspective

2) Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)

3) Masaccio (1400-1428) perspective master

4) Fra Filippo Lippi (Botticelli’s teacher) (1406-1469) –– a great story, too.

Commissioned to paint a Madonna portrait he asked for a particular

nun as model –– granted, they ran off together after a couple of days,

along w/the nun’s sister (no pun intended), also a nun, & lived

together –– the model eventually bore

5) Filippino Lippi (1457-1504) & this is where it gets interesting ––

6) Botticelli (1444-1510)

7) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

8) Michelangelo (1475-1564) –– all three of whom met for intense debates

over cappuccinos.


The Medicis? Can money create Botticellis, da Vincis & Michelangelos?

Maybe. I think they created a forum, gave plenty of commissions (thus

“creating” masterpieces) & more or less created an informed audience. W/all

that in one place, they had philosophical discussions (particularly concerning

Neo-Platonism & Savonarola) so their art was using & reaching for “higher

thought” & art was charged by their demands.


Oh yeah, Merry Christmas. Tomorrow I go to the park where Shelley wrote

“Ode to the West Wind.”


The Botticelli rooms were closed! Only 6 of the 18 ptgs were on display. I had

to sit down in the hall, stunned.





Athens, Greece, 26.xii.90


Dear Anne:


“For those two unscrupulous adventurers put their heads together & decided

that human life is ruled by a pair of tyrants called hope & fear, & if you treat

them right, you can make a lot of money out of them.” Lucian, circa 180 A.D.


During the night I read Greek Tragedy & by day I sit in the Theatre of Dionysis,

below the Acropolis where they were performed. It looks like I may make it to

Egypt after all, tho I won’t know till tomorrow. Two agencies flatly refused to

sell an American a ticket because of the political uncertainties. There’s plenty

more to see in Greece but I’m set on making it to Eygpt if only for one line in

my prose journal. I’ll explain later. Christmas here was weird. Hope all is well ––


p.s. Theognis calls hope & fear “dangerous daemons” (cited in Dodds, The

Greeks & The Irrational, p. 41 ––great book, tho difficult).





Luxor, Egypt 3.1.91


Dear Anne:


Aeschylus. Agamemnon “with hope of better mingling fear of worse.”

It’s funny, but most of what I’ve learned this trip has been about myself.

The trip itself is mostly a blur –– but I’ve always seen everything thru me ––

and that’s okay, because I like me. But it’s disappointing to realize I never

really shook free of me, even when I wanted to –– because I bore myself

sometimes, too. Walking through the backstreets of Luxor w/a young

German woman I realized how much more impassioned her being there was.

She wasn’t afraid. I’m overly aware of my limitations & sometimes feel my

life a string of failures I drag behind me –– w/out hope of a new way or moment

when something wipes the slate clean. I don’t know if I’ve changed at all but

I know that I’m not a student any more. I needed to get away –– not

because everyone treated me as a student but because I only knew how to act

as one. Now, in my notebooks, I know I have something new to say w/a

vigorous authority. And altho it was always there in the shadows, I couldn’t

find it for distractions. Somehow I’ve learned to write a sentence that holds

in it an idea. I hope all is well ––I’ll see you soon.



[Originally published in NHS 1993, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs93/index.html#11.]