Another Day, Another Dolor

Tuesday, January 09, 2007



A trickle of new books by and about the late Allen Ginsberg has become a stream, even a river. I did a long interview with Allen in the early seventies, wrote an essay on him, duly wrapt them together as a book, and sent the manuscript to Coach House Press; they promptly and enthusiastically accepted it for publication. Then they forgot it existed. This is an except from the only published portion of our interview.

I made the mistake of bringing up phenomenology.

GINSBERG: The word is interesting. Under yoga or L.S.D. or just paying attention to surroundings, I wind up saying, “I’m studying the actual phenomenology of mind consciousness.” But as a body of philosophical texts, I haven’t read any of them. Why does this interest you?

ANDRE: I’ve become curious about the relation of philosophy to your work. In an old copy of Triquarterly I happened upon last week, a Rumanian named Cioran was criticizing Westerners interested in Eastern philosophy as necessarily inconsistent. Do you feel you are inconsistent? Are there aspects of Eastern thought, such as reincarnation, in which you don’t believe?

GINSBERG: My interest in yoga isn’t an interest in philosophy so much as a physiological practice, that‘s one thing. I don’t particularly believe in reincarnation--I’m not interested in it anyway--I’m interested in other matters. But I wouldn’t put reincarnation out; it’s just not my concern. I don’t know why Cioran makes a statement that there is something inconsistent with Oriental philosophy or Oriental methods, particularly in the twentieth century. What philosophies would be more consistent to a strange American esoteric? Aryan philosophy? Or Rumanian? Or Russian? It sunds like a generalization of a vague order. If there were some specific arguments--…it’s just a big statement, and I just answer, “No, I disagree.” Period. Okay?

ANDRE: Cioran claims in the course of this essay that the chief Western urge was towards being and suffering and being-in-suffering--

GINSBERG: What? Utter bullshit. I mean, to begin with the phrase “the chief Western urge” and then end the sentence with “being-in-suffering” makes you sound like some horrible German talking asshole. I mean, something out of Burroughs. Or Hitler.


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