Poetry – Meaning Jack and Allen

Meaning Jack and Allen

Searching for meaning,

Truth and beauty

In the back streets

Away from the plastic

Neon falsity of Mammon.

Searching for a raw

Unprocessed chord,

A burst of inspiration

Blast of energy

Among the processed

Refinement of rehearsed notes.

Searching for energy.

Searching for words of passion,

Fury and eloquence,

Words that are meant,

That are revealing,

Inspiring and awakening.

Searching for candour

Amid the controlled,

Those robbed

By the political correctness thieves

Who steal souls in the name of respect.

Searching for compassion

Among the dead

Moribund corpses

Who walk the well-lit streets

Without a mind,

Regurgitating indoctrinations

And believing it.

Searching for someone to offend

Argue with

And learn from.

Who has the balls to speak;

To scream the images

That adorn the inside of their skull.

Searching for reality

In the midst of a culture

That has sold its spirit

To both religion and business,

That is bankrupt,

Devoid of ideas;

That consumes the planet

In the madness of its death throes;

In a mindless self-fuck;

That thinks plastic is perfect –

It’s what the suckers want –

It makes bucks.

Searching for the spirit

Of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassidy

On one long crazy rapture

One night of endless madness

With no limits,

No end.

Spitting words, dreams, visions and thoughts

In sounds

Beyond words

Beyond meaning.

On an endless drive

Of desperation

Roaring across plains,

Up mountains,

Down canyons

In search of crazy;

In search of ultimate kicks.

Goofin’ with eternity,

Lost in honking sounds,

Mad fuck

And high on anything –

Just so long as it will never stop,

Never be understood,

Never be explained.

But it is there –

It exists

In the Zen of an instant,

A rock, a sax solo, a raving stanza,

A drooling poem

Spontaneously bursting into existence

Climaxing from the tongue

In an orgy of sudden understanding,

Realisation

Real

Unfettered, furious,

So orgasmic and crude

That it throbs through your groin

To explode in your brain

With uncontainable joy.

Searching for an explanation

For the madness

Wreaked on humanity,

On the planet,

The poor trussed planet;

The enslavement of humanity

The taming,

The reduction

Containment and boredom,

The pressures

That causes people

To explode

In cruelty and barbarism.

Searching for the love

That melts the soul

In ecstatic waves;

That swamp, crash and churn,

So that we are absorbed,

Enlightened,

And reborn totally alive,

And free.

Searching through words,

That squirm and metamorphose,

Through my mind

My dreams –

Searching for expression,

Substance and delirium.

Searching through images

Extracted from the mundane,

With shape, texture and colour

Never before glimpsed!

Creating poems to reflect

The turmoil;

Truths that stalk the coils

Within the skull.

Opher 21.1.2016

Meaning Jack and Allen

It is great to reconnect with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg every now and again. The visions they espoused created images in my head.

Allen altered poetry. He opened my head up and gave me eyes to see. He brought poetry to life from the rotting carcass it had been.

For me Allen’s forte was that there were no rules.

Allen wrote poetry in the same stream of consciousness that Jack wrote prose. It was a revolution.

That revolution brought a whole new way of writing, thinking and feeling. It created the modern world. Others had done it before – Henry Miller for one, but nobody connected in to that ‘reality’ the way Allen and Jack did. They were searching for the meaning in life, the ultimate kicks, to tune in to the craziness of life, to live.

They weren’t satisfied with the plastic, the superficial, the mundane; they wanted something that had depth; which meant something.

Society is empty.

Real living was to let everything out – all that emotion, feeling, energy and joy.

They wanted to live and life had to burn. If it wasn’t real it wasn’t worth a fuck.

Extract from Life and Times of a 60s Freak – Beat Generation

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Beat Generation

The Beat generation was where it all started. They were 50s generation that began the process of rejecting the American Dream and looking for some alternative zen. Wasted and beat wading through the streets of America, talking Black jive, digging cool Jazz, smoking dope, taking peyote, careering through the highways of probability, scrawling poems on the inside of the skull.

Kerouac invented stream of consciousness and became the principle recorder of what was going on – raising the status of the hipness of black culture with its wild jazz and existential attitude. Seeing the horrors of American society, its conformity, war lust and seeking a crazy journey through zen into the cosmos beyond, in search of meaning, questioning existence. Kerouac whose tales of fire watching on mountain tops while seeking sartori and bumming round on boxcars or else storming around in cadillacs with crazy amphetamined lunatics, goofing on jazz, buzzing on marijuana and rockin’ in Mexican brothels, painted a new canvas of possibility for a whole generation. From the dull picture of conformity and the drabness of a lifetime of mind numbing work to a colourful alternative of wildness and crazy. Life could be as exciting and meaningful as the wailing saxophone solo of some black jazz musician who was reaching down to his very soul for inspiration as he blew. After Jack we all knew that there could be a different beat to life. That there was fire and craziness was fine, and there was a possibility of some greater rhythm behind reality, a rhythm that you could seek and connect to. From the constraints of his catholic upbringing he reached out to Zen. It’s true that he later fell back to the security of his mother, Catholicism and alcohol and died rejecting the son he had brought into the world. But that’s just sad.

 

A friend gave me a copy of ‘On the Road’ and I read it when I was eighteen. I wanted a car to roll around those back roads of Mexico. I wanted to ball around on speed, smoke marijuana in the heat, fuck and laugh with Mexican senoritas in bawdy bordellos, get pissed and yell and whoop to loud, loud jazz. The technicality of not actually greatly liking jazz was irrelevant. I was in love with the idea of it and what it represented.

Then Dharma Bums captivated me. I immediately wanted to get into Zen like Japhy. I wanted to ball around on boxcars, climb mountains, seek solitude and write poetry. I wanted to crack that code of life. Fuuuuuck!!!

Then Ginsberg, subject of obscenity charges for scrawling graphic homosexual imagery in Howl. Howl – the first poem that brought me back to poetry after school had destroyed it. And Ginsberg, an American Jew, writing great clouts of tirade against the monolithic state of America, the futility of civilisation, and the bankrupt souls of Western culture; Ginsberg, an outsider, daring to point fingers and show us an alternative way to live.

 

 

I was watching the best minds of my generation in the process of being destroyed. Where was the excitement? The possibility? The exploration of life, the soul and reality? They were being bored to death! We were being stifled before we had learnt to see. We were being locked in straitjackets, blinkered and taught what to think. Religion, education, society, careers, and our place. Suddenly there was a poem that was shrieking out loud about it. They were holding me down with a pillow over my face and suffocating the questioning out of me. Then along came Ginsberg and you were not alone in living under some fiery firmament that didn’t make sense. That the cosy church services did not make sense of. That it was a possibility to investigate reality and go crazy. That craziness was more sane than the insanity of this cosiness. The pillow was lifted and you could breathe a heady mix of uncharted stimulation. It was all up for grabs. You were well off the highway heading down the trails to the wilderness.

Ginsberg rescued poetry. It was again something that you could relate to purposefully. It spoke to my generation again. It wasn’t something you had to learn by rote and recite at request or suffer a detention.

And what of Burroughs who shot his wife through the head playing William Tell with an apple and wrote the naked Lunch and Junkie on an exploration through junk, peyote and yage. So far outside the cosy security of what my life seemed to have mapped out for me. Here were the squalid dreams, hallucinations and existence of a junkie. It was a totally different perspective on reality. Maybe not one you’d choose to pursue but one that had as equal a validity as anything else. That was what was important. We had broken out of the grey room. There was a universe out there and nobody understood it. Not only that but nobody seemed at all interested in exploring it. Everything was too safe! Yet there was no safety. The only thing you could be certain of was that you were going to die. At least these outsiders were fundamentally involved with grappling with the issues.

 

 

The eyes were opened to Corso, Ferlinghetti, Snyder and hundreds more. So where were our poets? Where were our equivalent of the American Beat Poets? Surely there had to be some British maniacs? Some British explorers of the soul and advocators of craziness? But Horrozitz, Pete Brown and Roy Harper were still a way off in the future and Adrian Henry and McGough were not far out enough to really compete.

Crazy outsiders and social misfits, explorers and seekers after different ways. That’s what was essential. Those were the credentials. Straight society might have its preoccupation with money, status and power through orthodox careers, status symbols, and your place in society, but we were looking to play a different game with entirely different rules. To play this game you could not use your present hand of cards. Those numbers did not add up. This was a hand of hip jokers. These cards won regardless of the others hand. Social position? Wealth? That wasn’t where it was at. The world was turned upside down. You aspired to be a black minstrel telling it as it was or a beat poet riding the blinds and seeking sartori, wild music, wild women and crazy stonedness in equal measures. The rules had changed.

 

The smokey Jazz cellars developed into the early 60s Folk scene. The hip talk, the dope and poetry were allied to Civil Rights, Anti-war and Socialism.

Dylan was adopted by Allen Ginsberg, who can be seen in the famous Subterranean Homesick Blues clip. The philosophy of beatness and Zen spilt through into the lyrics and life-styles. Dylan epitomised this. In his early incarnations he was a commentator on social, racial and political issues. He raised awareness of the senseless brutality and futility of war, of the racist suppression of blacks and the vagaries of the class system and social justice. In a slightly later incarnation he was a hip surrealist poet, amphetamine crazy, spouting and snarling Beat poems over a pounding, weaving background of strident rock.

In Britain poets like Roy Harper developed from Jazz poetry to acoustic guitar and contemporary acoustic word pictures. I wouldn’t even dare to insult it by calling it Folk. It may have come out of the Folk scene. It may have used the Folk scene. But this was a new thing. Dylan, Harper and hundreds of others were melding together poetry inspired by the Beats and modern day issues into a new type of music.

In New York Beats like Ed Sanders took it into street theatre and formed the Fugs. They staged happenings, like trying to levitate the pentagon. They took political stances. They used satire and send-up. They were sexually explicit. More importantly they were completely crazy and were not in the business of producing product for mass consumption and exploitation. What was more important was to express what you felt, connect with other like-minded people, have fun, and change the world in the process.

Out of the Beats grew the 60s underground, a linear progression. Not a fashion but a complete rejection of the social values and attitudes that straight society adhered to. Fuck the rat race. Life could have room to fuck, chill out, create, feel, express, love one another, seek mystical communion, experience reality and get stoned. It was alright. Fuck the Puritanism. It was time for new, more liberal rules.

If anybody is interested in this book I’ll put up the link.

That is the coffee table size.

I’ll do a new publishing at a smaller size which might work out cheaper! I know you’ll be dying to get your hands on it and can’t wait though.

The Sixties, Hippies, Beatniks and Psychedelics

The Sixties, Hippies, Beatniks and Psychedelics

The big difference between the Beatniks of the Fifties and the Hippies of the Sixties was the drugs of choice.

The fifties Beat Poets used marijuana (tea) and alcohol (as well as some amphetamine and heroin). The sixties Hippies used marijuana and Hash (Pot, weed, bush, spliff) with psychedelics like LSD and Mescaline (there was also a lot of speed but junkies were generally looked down on). The prevailing attitude of the sixties was that these psychedelics and pot were harmless. Indeed there were many who saw them as brain vitamins and a necessary way to augment a musical event complete with lightshow, a film (like 2001 a Space Odyssey) or the creative process. Many bands were producing long drawn out improvisations geared to an audience on psychedelics.

The Hippies thought that pot and LSD were much safer than alcohol and nicotine, and that the older generation were being hypocritical. It is only later with the psychosis and depression created by the drugs that there is perspective. They are not as harmless as they seemed.

For the Beatniks satori was to be aspired to by meditation in the traditional Zen manner. It took years and had to be mastered.

For the Hippies it was as simple; you just dropped a tab of acid and an hour later you were there – instant nirvana.

But were they talking about the same thing?

For straight society it was all very worrying whichever way you looked at it. All this desire to attain a mystical union with the cosmos was disturbing. It was wacky, weird and most unwelcome.

The abiding question of the time was were you hip or were you square? Were you straight or were you cool? Did you opt in or did you drop out?

Allen Ginsberg – the reawakening of poetry.

Poetry – Allen Ginsberg and seeing the light

Poetry was destroyed for me by school.

Firstly in Primary school there was the emphasis on memorising great chunks of turgid verse.

Each week we would be given a long poem by Wordsworth or Tennyson to learn by heart. You were called to stand and recite a verse. If you had not learnt it you had to stay in and miss your Physical Exercise. Now PE was something I really looked forward to and although I had a good memory I could not always be bothered to memorise the meaningless drivel. Many was the afternoon I spent watching morosely out of the window while the rest of the class were outside.

It did not get much better in Secondary school. We analysed the metre, rhyme and metaphor until the whole process was just a bore. I did not want it any more. The only highlight was the whole class excitedly chanting the Jumblies.

Poetry was moribund. It was the stuff of the old and dreary. It had no connection with my life or the world I inhabited. This was the sixties. There was loud music, parties, girls, motorbikes and excitement. Who cared about daffodils? I was young, wild and drinking in life. All that stuff pertained to a boring old world.

Then a friend gave me a copy of Howl. I was seventeen and the words leapt out at me. We were up against the establishment; a mouldering old set of values, a dreary, grey bunch of old foggies who were shoving careers and exams down our throats, who wanted us to settle down in suburbia, mow our grass, wash our cars and have two babies just like them. We were screaming for colour!!

We were alive and wanted to live, to burn and to run free. We didn’t want shackles, restraints and cages.

They hounded us from all sides and we laughed in their face.

Suddenly there was a poem for us. I saw the best minds of my generation trying to smash out of the cage, trying to piss in their petrol tanks, put sand in their gear-boxes. We didn’t not want in to that mortuary. We wanted to live.

Here was a guy I could understand.

I’d been bopping through those negro nights high on life, talking my head off, shouting up at the stars, drunk on being.

I devoured it like it was ambrosia from the gods.

I had discovered Allen Ginsberg. Poetry had come alive. We were all angel-headed hipsters looking for a mystical connection to the universe; wanting to make sense of it all.

Life was a wild journey and we had to wring every last drop out of it.

No more lawns to mow, cars to wash or careers to follow – this was a mad saxophone wail into the torment of the cosmos and I wanted my soul to be in that wail. I wanted to live.

There was a mind to explore, limits to transgress and all possibility to challenge.

I knew I had people to meet, places to go and minds to explore. There was ecstasy out there. There was truth, Zen and a whole teeming inferno to explore!

I had discovered Allen Ginsberg and he had opened my eyes.

Poetry was communication on a level that made sense at last!

Poetry could be about real life!!