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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.]