Saturday, February 18, 2006

An Echoing Howl

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,

Thus begins Allen Ginsberg's HOWL, and how eerily prescient he was to us fifty years later.

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz

Toronto, 2006 and hardly anybody gives a damn.

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

There is great poetry being written out of the Project ghetto. Some of it is reaching TVO here in Ontario, but many of the poets unsung.

Well, I'll try to sing for them, but my song is getting weaker all the time.

How is it that a man, a man fouled, almost disgusted by his own homosexuality can write something so prescient, so ahead of its time that we can only look at the poetry and shake our heads. Allen Ginsberg is talking about NOW.

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
tainable dollars! Children screaming under the
stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men
weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the
loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy
judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun-
ned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni-
bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac-
tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De-
spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the

Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor

The after-effects of slavery go well past any civil war. There was the real civil war and all the unofficial civil wars after it, the struggle for that mule and those forty acres. The emoluments never came.

And yet there is a deeper kind of oppression, the oppression of blue-eyed minorities, the homosexuals Ginsberg talks about, yet in the end, in another poem he says he loves America and wants to "put my queer shoulder to the wheel."

Putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

My own shoulder isn't especially queer, but I know for sure what Ginsberg and the American black are talking about. I love the blues, I love Ginsberg' poetry. These are antidotes for cultural oppression, and for a long time,

I as an ethnic, had been oppressed. But I was saved. Saved by the good graces of a good profession, saved by an education that had heretofore been denied me. Saved in fact, by the Jews, who gave me all and I offered nothing in return.

Yes, yes, they were breaking their back carrying Moloch, but there was lots left for me and mine.

And so now I'll have to stop being the novelist manqué, put my "queer" shoulder to the wheel and become a mensch, a mensch who looks after his family, unfortunates outside his family and tries to be as good as gold.

That is it. That is the secret. That is the entire secret, your damn communism, capitalism, "empowerment" and bullshit be damned.

If I am not a good writer, at least I can cite someone who is good, who is very good.
And if we listen to his message we can avoid the fire next time.

Have I become Jewish?



Not necessarily. But I can sing the songs, read the incredibly prophetic poetry. And forge "in the smithy of my soul" the uncreated consciousness of all the races.

Listen to the prophets of the garbage cans and the flowers.

Out of filth grows the flower.

They say in the Holy Grail legend that Christ emerges as a naked man.


Anonymous said...

Ah yes. Allen Ginsberg and "Howl." My copy, acquired while I was in college was plainly printed on paper folded over and stapled. No hard cover, and not even heavy paper for a cover. Looked like it was produced in somebody's living room. Published by City Lights Bookstore in San Fran. Tonight, I could make a book like that on this computer, would have to find the stapler, though. Except for the writing. Yes, that writing. Allen was not the typical leader of a generation. But he talked to a generation. I think the generation didn't understand the words until it was too late. How many times has that happened?

Allen was just one influence on me in those days. Salinger, Joseph Heller, John Knowles, Papa Hemingway, F. Scott, Norman Mailer, Bob Dylan. You didn't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing if you were Bob, and the answer blowin' in the wind was tear gas in a Chicago park. Time to make some big decisions when you are just twenty-one. Was it forty years ago, or was it just yesterday? Summer of love followed by the winter of our discontent.

The good thing about memory is that most of the bad stuff is forgotten, and the good stuff remains. That's why the past is known as the "good ole days." Interesting memories you have stirred up, Ivan. Like what happens in a puddle on a dirt road when a truck drives through it.


ivan said...

Thanks Tom,
Didn't know you were that much into serious writing, or, for that matter, Allen Ginsberg (whoops, gotta watch that montage of words)!
Yep, the American geniuses were right, right up to the present time.

Bernita said...

Frankly, Ivan, I don't find they hold a patch on you.
But sometimes, the ears are stopped, waxed into deafness.
The bureaucracies stuff the score into a drawer and slam it shut on the tongue.
Don't let your music die.

ivan said...

Gracious and very much on. Thank you!
ON because in my dealings with the Canada Council: Ottawa 1 Ivan 0.

Ontario was better. Bob Rae 10, Ivan 11 (I got the grant).
...But then they sent me to a bum agent. Not to worry. The work got out.
Maybe we Canadians should borrow a page from the Americans. Canadian literature should support itself?
But how could that be? There would be this incredible silence.

Anonymous said...

Never could get my head around this Canada Council thing. If an artist produces something others think is good, money changes hands, and WORTH is established. If it has value only to the producer, it pleases at least one person. Sort of like taking a leak in a blue serge suit; you get a warm feeling for awhile, but nobody notices.


ivan said...

Well, Doubting Thomas, I'll tell you the truth, which, of course (hah) you'll doubt.
My list of referees included my old prof, Eric Wright (The Night the Gods Smiled, Collins) another English teacher and an editor from Star Weekly, all accomplished men.
When I got my answer, the explanation was that there were so many applicants that I just couldn't make the handout round.
The guy to get past on the Council was Hugh Garner (remember him?).
I chose new works rather than The Black Icon, my tried and true.
Result: Clang!
I do believe there is a kind of profile they look for when they build a Canadian writer (at least under Trudeau's reign, i.e., left of centre, angry about the right things and the right things only,and multicultural. I was multicultural, but that's about it.
I was angry with a Canada that I perceived was a nation of weasels, subject to the whim and terror of its politicians and its unelected supreme court judges....Did I mean Liberals?
Anyway, I was an angry young man and in Canada at the time, you could only be angry about proscribed issues...Or maybe the work was just inchoate, and it is here that you may be on the nose.
Fact is,the way it works in Canada, the writer gets money the publisher gets money and the civil servants get money. Book sales are kind of beside the point. The novel is just there as a submitted document.
Still, I can not really be angry.
My job at the Canadian Star Weekly was designed for people who were serious Canadian writers, but who needed some sort of income gleaned through journalism, writing about Canada and Canadians. So the job itself was sort of a grant. I was probably spoiled rotten.
Still, I hated interviewing baton twirlers and the inventor of the snowboard. I wanted to be Dostoevsky. Nice work if you can get it.
I scratched the surface, I suppose,with My Black Icon. The novella, in fact probably clinched my job at the Star Weekly.
But I thought I was Dostoevsky and quit. And what a crap pile I'd put myself in, starving for a while and my family with me until lucky wife got an inheritance. That meant I could drink, and drink, and drink, and imagine myself Dostoevsky. Screw the work. You could be the drunken author, you could live the life. Wife gives me slap alongside head. Write. I wrote, finished The Hat People and saw it promptly rejected. Back to drinking, but then I had an idea.
H.L. Mencken, the genius columnist was well known as a great beer imbiber. "I can do that," I belched. So I became a columnist at once, drank my way into an award through the Ontario Weekly Newspapers' Association and almost thumbled my nose at the Canada Council. I had made it as a commercial writer.
And then again, the curse of the drinking class. Drove my wife crazy. So now it's sort of Ode To Billie Joe:
"I sit here dropping flowers offa Choctaw Ridge."
Kind of like an Italian in Italy.
"No future, but what a past!"
...Too much information, I know.

Erik Ivan James said...

For me, visiting here, is going to school. Thank you. And yes, "No future, but what a past!"

ivan said...

Thank you, Eric.
People have called me the nutty professor in the past, and like the Charlie Chaplin figure in Modern Times, I can't seem to cut it out. Probably also a frustrated
priest (Rabbi? Iman?) who wants to conduct a mass on his blogsite...Otherwise why play the music? All the good stuff comes from West Senegal, musical and theological, and maybe that's why I'm fascinated with black icons. Also with "church" services,though I hope I'lm not placing bets on a private black mass for me.
Yeah, no future, but what a past!
I keep playing it back, religiously, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Leonard Cohen lived the good life in Greece on Canada Council funds. He reminded me of the guy in college with 12-string guitar (missing a couple of strings) that would mess his hair up in front of the mirror and methodically roll up his shirt sleeves carefully so they looked as if he was a worker just before he went "on" at the coffee house. Leonard got Greek sun, the hordes of fanatic fans, and never had to work in the car wash to make ends meet. Does his work have legs? He was a member of the club.

Life ain't fair. We all have to deal with it. Some writers get on with it, and others do a lot of navel-gazing. Are there any Fitzgeralds, Hemingways, etc. any more? Will there be any more? Could these guys have made it in the current book business? Tom Thompson was a commercial artist before he followed his star and made very good art. He was famous after his death. Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive. James Dean got "big" after he died. Kinda depressing, eh?


R.J. Baker said...

I'm a die hard believer that capitalism will eventually prevail. The current trend is to publish and sell brain-candy of the throw away diaretic type.

The public will tire, and small publishers and self-publishers will break out.

There is a chorus in the blogsphere of "commercial" writing. Right. The ones who innovate and cut their own path will be the next Van Goghs, Fitzgeralds, and Hemingways. There is very little room in any marketplace for "me too's" and the room there is, is marginal.

Oppression, in any form is detrimental to society as a whole. Racism, sexism, religious intolerence is a blight all humanity.

With all of our problems, and we have many, including self-loathing, the US still stands as a beacon to those nations around the world in religious tolerence and freedom of speech.

I have traveled the world and most foriegners I have met hate the American goverment but love the American people and their spirit.

Unforunately, America is very slow to act and usually under severe pressure, but when it eventually does - it usually moves in the "right way."

Yes, America is self-serving, obnixious, and trampling of many, many rights of other nations but at its core, at its heart, its people want peace and prosperity, for everyone.

In times of crisis this is evident to the world. I wish our leaders would understand this, and make us true leaders in the world instead of what the world thinks of us now.

Chuckercanuck said...


not many countries claim a better record.

because the country encourages Ginsbergs and Bushes in the same rush forward?

ivan said...

Chuckercanuck is a sharp little guy. I'll let you gentlemen go to it.

ivan said...

It is my opinion that Leonard Cohen is not only the best poet in Canada, but possibly the world. He is entirely welcome to my Canada Council money, especially now that he's crying poor--and aren't we all? I sure as hell won't say the same for the late Irving Layton, randy old fraud like the rest of us.
Curiously enough one of my English teachers, Jack Hersh says he went to Baron Byng too and has wondered for years what all the fuss was about. He remembers Layton and Cohen as pretty regular guys. But then there was the "great" Layton and the incomparable Leonard Cohen while poor Jack remained getting jack.

Cohen, I think, is a genius and a prophet. Everybody knows it, here in Canada and in the U.S., certainly in Greece.

The story is apochryphal, but a tale is told of a fight between Kildare Dobbs and Leonard, and Dobbs, hearing Cohen was in Greece,said,"I heard you visited the isle of Lesbos. That makes you a lesbian.".

...I keep getting fired by the papers for inaccuracy. Hope I got it right. Why let the facts distort a good story?

Yeah, we relative unknowns. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, hacking away at the Toronto Star in
l966 and suddenly Cohen's first novel came out, "The Favourite Game." Mother**ck! Marvellous!
No wonder he was grabbing all the grants.
A year later, I came out with my Black Icon. Critical success, but not too much money made.
Oh well.

R.J. Baker said...

I have no idea how history will judge the US. Flawed and corrupt as our system is, it seems, the current best working option.

The whole world seems out of kilter. One super power cannot be good. Yin and yang. A counter balance. Our politics has lost civility and reason. Our candidates are no long a true choice but a "hold you nose" and pick the lesser of two pretty offensive individuals.

The whole essence of Eisenhower's industrial complex speech has become, in many respects reality.

The two party system is now a joke. We need true reform, where will that come from?

I wish I knew the anwser, but it escapes me.

ivan said...

The answer, I would imagine,from over here,would be your Constitution, but hardly anybody is paying attention to what it posits for a balance between the presidency and the two houses.

Let's just see what Chuckercanuck has to say if he's still reading this blog.

Erik Ivan James said...

Yes Ivan, the answer is our constitution, but the career politicians keep forcing it towsrd becoming a whore with they as pimp.

Back to the past---I'm trying, trying to rise from the bottom of mine. Still reaching up to touch that bottom though.

ivan said...

I have fallen off the wagon, gotten back on and fallen off again. Don't know what the answer is, except time and good people.
Lord, I have met so many good women after my disaster. They all tried to help and this cad, after hitting the cups would exploit them, take advantage of them.
There is certainly the other side, uncannily not unlike the ancient
Greek idea of "sweetness and light."
I did write something like "Light
Over Newmarket" during the worst of my alcholism, separation, rehab,pain. James Polk, an expatriate American and editor of House of Anansi over here, said.
"How in hell did you go through all that and still churn out a novel?"
It was certainly good therapy.
But I did it on a manual typewriter, fifty thousand words tending to exhaust you and I was soon in the amber haze of bars, constructing great sprawling novels through the smoky air, lying, bragging,you know the drill.
And then the luck. The dumb luck.
I met a woman involved with government whose job it was to give money o Canadian writers.

Well does a cat have a tail?

I took the money, got drunk again, ended up living in an old car and then again, a lady from government.
Fairy godmothers are few and far between. I think you might have one
You might be a lucky man.

P.S. A note of hiliarity.
I did get a phone call during all this from another writer, John Simpson, who had a sense of humour:
"Ivan, this is your fairy godfather speaking."

Erik Ivan James said...


Oh, I've not fallen off the wagon----yet. I never crawled aboard until about six years ago when I awoke one morning still so drunk I didn't even yet feel better with a hangover. Had to hang on to the shower head with both hands to keep from being sucked down the drain. Couldn't even masturbate. But by then, I had drank and wallowed away all---the career, the money, the friendships, the marriage and the worse, my dignity.

There are Fairy godmothers for sure. Enough for the both of us it seems. My bride of now five years is one, and it is she who considers my past as being over. Indeed I am lucky.

It is up to me now to sprinkle the magic dust upon her in return for the uplifing hand she lowered into my hole. Ah-hah! I'll write, make money; we'll get by, she works. Not to be, neither of them, not yet.

Still haven't fallen off---not yet.

ivan said...

Wow. Sounds like you had hit Hades without an asbestos suit, a much harder fall than that of this Spaceman.
As for your recovery, attitude and the good news of a fairy godmother:

Erik Ivan James said...


Yes, enjoying each new day. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get paid for that.

Chuckercanuck said...

"hold your nose before voting" isn't such a bad thing. the trick is to play with smaller consequences.

ivan said...

I know you fell from a high place, but what I did was to take a job delivering auto parts.
It gave my hippocampus (space perception) a good workout,and certainly improved my darts and snooker skills. I even got to be something of a stick man, fearing all the time during my alcholism that I'd grown impotent.
Thank God for NAPA auto parts for improving my lovemaking to at least mechanical standards.
But it was a drop for me. I had been something of an untenured professor and some of the Damon-Runyon types were starting to get to me with endearing remarks such as "If you don't deliver that part in ten minutes, I'm going to wrap your face around your neck."
Schooled, naturally, in the school of repartee, I anwered, with wonderful grace: "F*ck you," which merited several punches to the head
and a permanently affected right eye.
Life sure gets teedjus, but now I can at least gather some of the emoluments of that humiliation and scuffle.
Said the ward doctor: "I would say you are manic-depressive. Ever have a blow to the head?
"Yep. Several."
And that, dear pal, is how I got to be the way I am.
Still, a "mindless job" is one way out, though I hope like me, you don't suffer the consequences.

ivan said...

Yeah. That's what I did the last time here in Canada.
Loved Harper, disliked Liberals, even though I used to "hang" with Belinda at cocktail parties.
But with what I thought was Tony Soprano running Greater Toronto politics, I held my nose and voted NDP. They were accused of all sorts of things, but Developer-corrupt they were not.
Held my nose.(Which, by the way, had been broken a couple of times when I tried to take on the big boys politically. No wonder they call it a blood sport).

Anonymous said...

Billy Cowsill died in Calgary very recently. After years of addictions, his friends dragged him to Calgary, gave him space to get clean, and he was active in the Calgary music scene. Fifty-eight years young. RIP


ivan said...

Doubting Thomas:
Yeah. Billy Cowsill. Too bad.
The rest of us reprobates just keep on going, with half the talent.
Was he Aboriginal?
I may have seen him on the Aboriginal People's Television Network, where, surprise of surprises,there is this great music, especially in "Beyond Words," produced by a Doug Proulx.

Anonymous said...

The Cowsills were a family band from Rhode Island, probably best known for the song "Hair." Billy went on his own about 1970, and toured Canada with his own bands quite often. His band, the Co-Dependents were the house band, I believe, at the Mecca, a kind of roadhouse, which was torched in 2002. He died on Feb. 18 at home after a lengthy illness. He lived and died for his art. Gentlemen, remove your hats and reflect on your life and your mortality.


ivan said...

I must say my ignorance is herewith totally pointed out. Should have known, of course, but it's been so long ago. Hat off for sure.

But then, like most clowns, I would probably spoil it all by citing some lyrics from Hair:

Why are those words so nasty?

It's the only bit I can remember; shows you my true nature.
Oh yeah, there's :

I'm hairy high and low
Don't asky my why
I don't know.

Then at the end, all the cast held hands, starkers.
Je me soviens.
But all the wrong images, I fear.
I recall Gail Garnett as being especially hirsute.
...Yeah, yeah, it's late and I am out of cigarettes and booze.

Here's to Billy Cowsill.
He has achieved Broadway immortality.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ivan, weren't those the days for the full monty? Hair, Lori Lane's theater on Yonge, nude paint by numbers at the Mynah Bird. Seems like another age...guess it wuzz.

Thomas (still doubting)

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas,
Those were the days indeed. I keep thinking of them. Guy thing...My erection is no longer semi-annual. Yes, paint by numbers. Grannys.Woah!
Can't stand it.
Shortly after seeing Hair at the Royal Alex, I did a number of reviews and stories about Honest Ed Mirvish.
Ed plastered my stories all over the kiosks in and around the theatre. Got the old name around and a couple of free roast beef dinners at Ed's Warehouse.
"When we were young, and sure to have our way..."
But then, if you look carefully, most people from those days are still around, save maybe for poor Billy Cowsill and a couple of other greats.
Just last year, I called up Gino Empry, the old booking agent, my p.r. man to all the stars. He is still very much alive, still on tranquillizers and nothing seems to have changed in thirty years.
We write our autobiographies too soon?

R.J. Baker said...

Great comment about the US Constitution. That document has held the fragile experiment together. It'll be interesting to see what the newest incarnation of the Supreme Court does to our Constitution.

The up coming elections/blood lettings should be very interesting.

ivan said...

Yeah, I hope the Democrats can mount a coherent and logical front this time. They certainly seemed all over the place with Kerry.
Recruit some good constitutional lawyers?
Seems the only way today to block a Repulican initiative these days is to sue them. I don't think that's the constitution at work.
But what do I know? I have looked high and low for our own Canadian consitution and all I seem to be able to find, after we broke away from Our Girlfriend, was the rights of provinces (states) and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which any number of lobby groups have seized on lately to promote anything from marrying your cat to Supreme Court sanctioned swingers clubs. Our Liberals were toying with polygamy as a human right until our Conservatives defeated them.
I don't know what it is with supreme court judges. They can hear the sound of the moral music all right, but they are tone deaf.

Chuckercanuck said...

off-topic, but I can't help but remark:

as I scroll down to see where this conversation has gone, I scroll past the picture of a silly naked man in a silly pose.

have I gone to planet Morzoid? I wonder. But then another question grips me - why can't I insert photos to my blog? Why am I so incompetent?

Yes, some well-meaning person will post a brief explanation of how this is done and they will type with the assurance that it is easy work. But it will not work for me. This, I know, before I read the first word of that kindly-intentioned response.

So Ivan can giggle as he posts the photo of a naked man trying to portray the form of whimsy.

I cannot respond with a doodle or download from my new phone/camera.

Shesawriter said...

This was educating. I get something every time I visit here. I'm completely out of it because I have never heard of Allen Ginsberg. Thanks for enlightening me.


ivan said...

Hey Chucker,
I thought you'd have a bit of dialogue with R.J. in these pages
about the state of American politics. I think you might be a little on the right and R.J. likely a Democrat. I have tried to keep the blog kind of artsy-fartsy, to hide, I suppose, my true nature as a stone perv.
But every time we veer into politics, there is feedback aplenty.
You think you have trouble with
pictures? Over here, I'm Inspector
Cluseau, who holds optical mouse, drops mouse on top of hard drive, breaks mouse, uses duct tape to fix mouse only to find keyboard is jammed with cigarette butts and there are now no capitals. Never mind the keyboard, I have forgotten how to crop pictures after my son has shown me a hundred times.
Child labour. "Son, could I send you all this shit in an email and you fix it for me? Genetics seems to skip a generation. I confuse calculus with cabbage heads and my son ends up with all the brains. No fair. When the kids come around I take up my position as an ornamental hermit, because I am lazy, illiterate and incompetent.

"Mama look at Boo'Boo, they shout
"That is your daddy, shut up your mouth."
"I go and tell them, 'oh no' my daddy can't be ugly so."
(Mama look at Boo-Boo day..)
Stockwell Day?
There are days when I think even John Ralston Saul has more clues...Smartest guy at Central Tech. "I ain't no hammer. Read my stuff. I'm a Preppie." Uh-Uh, JRS, I read Will Durant's Story of Philosophy before you were born, and Will did it a hell of a lot better.
This site is about creative writing. All those poor writers who haven't yet found that if you quote old Durant at any length, yout have a bestseller on your hands. I mean, look at Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Repeat old chesnut philosophy in your novel and you're off to a National Book Award because education is so bad these days the kids haven' got a clue and they think all that shit is your own. Voltaire's bastards indeed. No mention at all of Bildebergers. He is one?
Which brings me to Allen Ginsberg.
Naked came the Beatnik?
Yes, Billy. We are silly.

islandgrovepress said...

Hi Tanya.
Still love those huge cartoon eyes.
You show that logo, blown up, to a baby and it'll recognize Momma and go right for it. But then I used to have a cat with eyes like that. I was living rough at the time and I swear the cat, a female, thought I was her no-goodnik kitten.
Looked after me real good. Even brought me a mouse to show affection and even an offer of food.
Makes me think of the time a Significan Other and I used to rub noses, come up real close and see in the others face, eyes like that.
Yeah, Allen Ginberg could really flay the establishment when he got the wind up.
So many have gone before.
In any event, those days were fun.
The coffee houses, the guitars,the bongos. Everybody was just starting out. You could rap with
Bruce Cockburn, learn chords from
Yet writers like you are certainly helping me enjoy good work and be quite content in the present.
Keep those ideas flowing.

Chuckercanuck said...


I am on a steady diet of no-US politics talk. This is a problem I have. I am an unrepentent worshipper of Bush-Hitler. That doesn't mean he hasn't screwed up a thing or two, but it isn't my job to crap on him. Since I gain no advantage on my own blog by shilling for him, I shy away from it.

If you ask me its simple: America is a shining light. Its tungsten filament is in Texas. The world could use a little more America, not less.

As you know, I'm fiddling with a novel myself: its all about what the world looks like without America.

RJ appears to be a centrist with brains. I would not want to offend him with offering gushing praise of W because good people do hate the man.

I never managed to get through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance. I did read Lila however.

I offer you this on Pirsig: I have never heard someone argue that America is the synthesis of Victorian culture and Native American culture. A neat idea, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Chucker, meet someone else who never got through Pirsig's book. Tried when it first came out, and a couple of years ago took the now yellowed book on holidays to Greece. Me way back then, and me a few years ago couldn't get on with it. I think something in me kept running against arguments and logic that I didn't accept. Also bought Rushdie's book as an act of defiance, and Hawking's history of time because I wanted to understand it. Both books were beyond me. Don't mind admitting it. So it goes. So many ideas, so little time. Borges is next.


ivan said...

You are wise in looking before you leap to conclusions on state of U.S. affairs.
You have also twigged something in me when you cite somebody's take on America as product of Amerind-Victorian culture. Hokum, of course.
Yet how did I, as a callow 20-year-old, end up on the Mason Dixon line, travel a little farther south and was suddenly surrounded by English accents. Hey, this is America, not the Midlands.
Wasp influence very strong, but weakening.
My dentist: Wasps think they have power. Ha!

ivan said...

Doubting Thomas,
You have certainly touched on something when you talk of Zen and the Art of Motorcylce Maintenance.
Pirsig doesn't know motorcycles from the I-Ching, of course. Where can you find a BMW these days?
But he does touch on our intellectual tradition, all of it.


At Ryerson Pyromaniacal Institute, I had to take philosophy, or more accurately, Western Thought.
Unfortunately, the prof was about as good as Persig on getting core ideas through. He finally gave up and gave us all sorts of geneologies of thought, starting with Thales--all is water (all is hydrogen, ne'est ce pas? Fucking lucky guess for about 600 B.C.)
After that, the lines of though seemed to resemble a tree upside down, never mind Hegel.
The prof couldn't get it across.
Most of us ended up not knowing a syllogism from gism.
Of course, Ryerson was not Old Vic, where the really brainy kids went.
"What do you call an intellectual?
a Metallurgy student wanted to know.
"A guy who whacks off," came the answer from the journalist.
Dear me.
Still we cannot be philistines.
Otherwise, we are in the condition of the poor ancient Egyptian on a leash outside the pyramid, going round and round trying to discover pi.
And yet we still don't know what pi really is, escept that it works.
My copy is tattered by now, but if you can still find that l920's bestseller, The Story of Philosophy
(Will Durant--acccept no others), some of the murkiness of Persig may yet yield to actual intelligence.
Borges: Yep. Borges is Durant condensed maybe in five or six short stories. Amazing. But there is a touch of cabalism here. The devil is so good at condensing, certainly ameliorating, as the new age nuts do.
But Borges is not New Age. More properly a distillagion of all thought, all literary fiction. The Aleph, in effect, one book with all the shit in it. Tough job, and Borges no snob.
Certainly an inspiration in my writing efforts:
"On the night Beatrice Viterbo died, they were advertising one or another brand of of cigarettes..."
Sure appeals to me as a two pack a day man and a much overrated necrophile. Hah.
No, you read all of Borges (actually a very short read) and you seem to have a key to the workings of our intellectual tradition and the workings of fiction.
If you don't dig Borges, go to your local technical school and register as a "Hammer."
We like to think we are Preppies, not Hammers around here.
Maybe I've got this complex, having graduated from a technical
university. I don't know.

Bernita said...

I've always thought of John Purina Saul as Canada's leading pseudo-intellectual.

Chuckercanuck said...

Does Bernita not captere his former excellency's essence perfectly? I think so.

Doubting Thomas,

I must report that, like you, I haven't managed my way through a number of books.

As the readership of this fine blog is quite a literate bunch, I will toss in some more heresy for you all to bemoan -

I tried to read David Copperfield. Couldn't get past page one. I don't care how many variations on the name Pip there is.

Is that the impatience of youth? Likely. I'll try again at the high nooon of my life.

Meanwhile, Michener's Texas has become an addiction.

Bernita said...

Thought that Pip was in Great Expectorations, Chucker, but what would I know? I don't like much of Dickens, and the "great" novelists I have NOT read are legion.

Chuckercanuck said...


you may be right! what do I know? 1 page of either one, that's it. It was dreary stuff.

I was also forced to read Death of Ivan Ilych. I quite liked it - I must admit. But then it struck me:

Everybody is an Ivan XXX-ich in that book. I can't tell who is who. Which one is dying? Who put up the curtains? I don't know. They all did and none did at once.

So here's more blasphemy: translate names as well as text. Ivan Ilych becomes John Taylor in english and Jean Drapeau in french. Inter-lingual literary criticism be damned!

ivan said...

Tradest thou a first-class brain with an artistic flair for dreary fiction?
Ray Charles:
Sometimes I sit here in this chair
And I wonder
Raylettes: I Wonder
Charles: Wonda,Wonda
I wonder.

Yeah, right on the money "correcting" Chucker. D.C.
Is Charles Dickens spelled backwards.
Pip is a poor soul in Great Expectations who first deconstructed the qualities of a bitch, because her witchy mother was one. Life's a bitch. Deconstruct the mother and you might get something going with the daughter, but you have to gross
out the daughter first; fight fire with fire--at least that's what I get out of vintage Saturday Night Live when they get serious about literature.
Dickes is a tough read, yeah, because we're not back in l837 any more. But Bernita has a scholar's taste for arcana and that's a good thing.
John Ralston Saul. Yeah.
Well, he sure knows how to get his
tracts (cribs?) to CBC's Ideas.
Two thousand dollars a minute!
I was once contracted, but put horny make on script girl, who called me an acoholic and and chauvinist, and so I blew another four thousand dollars for my two cents worth of ideas.
$2,000 a minute?
Doubting Thomas: You are really getting the wind up. Get you out of the Conservative party and into the literary salon yet, though I ain't all that literate. Just some good training care of Rae Corelli, Toronto Star.
Also beware of bad teachers. A journalism prof at Ryerson stopped me cold when he said I wrote like a stenographer; then he taught me how to write like a stenographer.
Had I not gone to the Star and met the great Corelli (no violin) I would be still writing stuff like:
"An objective consideration on social phenomena would lead one to assume that success or failure in any given activity is dependent on random elements and not necessarily the skill of the athlete."
Corelli: Gone is the starter's pistol. They are now using cannon...
That'll whet their appetite.
Anyway, thanks y'all for all the comments.
Keeps the old brain active.

Note to Chucker,
Russian middle names are father-derivative (I forget the real term). I am Ivan, son of Dmytro, which would make me Ivan Dmytrovich.
Dmytro is James.
So I would be Ivan James.
Better that way?
I am a cultural hermaphrodite.
Or, as they used to say in old Newmarket, f*cking morphodite...
You like that, Chucker. LOL.

ivan said...

Mad coffee-induced post script:
I just realized, looking at Ginzberg in the raw, that I am hung about the same as Ginsberg.

Control yourself, Chucker.

Well, at least I have something in common with the Hep-cat poet. Sure as f*ck not the talent.
But then Ginsberg is modestly hung.
Oh well, as I have insisted to all my dutchesses, I ain't deep, but I'm fancy.