Saturday, May 07, 2005


Allen Ginsberg Retrospective

After the recent death of Hunter S. Thompson, (& a reading challenge to all to spot the Thompson tribute over at the most recent Yawp) I've been finding myself thinking about a lot of those folks I read as a teenager, those writers in relationship to whom I would be more likely to use the word 'adore,' rather than 'respect,' the ones that made me see that writing was everyone's business, and everyone's right, in terms of legacy. Bit odd, really, because, although the writers I have in mind were preceded by another group of writers, many pulled from the genre of horror (hey, I was 13...and I did learn many things about time and perspective from the writings of Stephen King, though I haven't picked anything up by him since I read Different Seasons before it came out in paperback...), these were the writers who were not only fun to read, but who showed me that it was my art, too. 'You're a genius all the time,' and all that. What's odd about thinking about them only recently in terms of legacy (and Kerouac has always been legacy for me) is that many of these writers preceeded Thompson into death--writers like Kesey (v. big one for me), Burroughs, Brautigan, get the picture--and while Tom Wolfe isn't dead, after picking up the Bad Sex award, he might as well be. Thing is, I haven't really been compelled to review any of their work. It's like a teenage love affair...who wants to find out that the fox you used to drool (and worse) over in those lonely, hormone-driven nights has turned out to be a dumpy housewife type who has never ventured further than 50 miles from her hometown? With Thompson, between being genuinely interested in his writing, especially that masterwork, F&L in Las Vegas, and the fact that the book that propelled him into the national spotlight, Hell's Angels, happened to be laying around my house, I recently cracked some of his work open again, and was honestly thinking about how his work might be assessed 50 years from now. No conclusions, just a bit of startledness on my part to be thinking of him in those terms.

All of which is a much longer wind-up than I'd meant to post to lead to a rather interesting blog entry over at Philly Sound, 3rd entry from the top in the April archives, entitled "How Some Stand on ALLEN GINSBERG Today". Interesting cross-section of reflections on a poet who did indeed open up some new spaces in American poetics, but one whose lack of discipline left many, myself included, cold near the end of his career.

Still, maybe it's time to crunch through Howl again. When I do, though, I think this time I'll be reading while wielding a red pen...just for kicks.

Thoughts, on a slow day. --tchitch.

when walking about legacies, I think we have to look much farther than what one did at the end of their career, or even just focusing on their creations at the peak--either way, it's a bit one-sided---a true legacy not only spans the entire scope of their life, but the many influences they spawned, not to mention whatever else was done in their lifetime other than their creative output-Although Ginsbergs poetry may not have been as intense at the end, he was still a voice of Truth---and who's to say getting the work out there isn't just as important as creating it in the first place--even Kerouac, who seems to have self-destructed, continues to inspire successive generations of readers---I have a friend who hates Kerouac because he drank himself to Death--thinking he's a loser because he gave up, but then, my friend never wrote " On the Road" either
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