Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Allen Ginsberg on Revision and First Thought, Best Thought

The Allen Ginsberg Project publishes many of Ginsberg’s teaching transcripts. Ginsberg taught for years from 1974 until his death in 1997 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and later at Brooklyn College from 1986-1996 or 97. The following excerpt is part of a longer transcript on revision

I think the learning how to write is actually the realization that the ordinary mind is sufficient already, and all you have to do is be true to that, be true to your mind of the moment. What I'm saying is it's an attitude toward art, rather than rules, a minute-by-minute practice. As I said, I revise, but by this time the attitude is , "This is it, right now - If I can't do it now, I can't really (do it later any) better". So, if you start on that basis, you cultivate an attitude of presence all the time (and also cultivate an attitude of trust to your own mind, and playfulness with your own mind, and…(acceptance) of thoughts which are embarrassing, or shameful, or which seem wicked, which you might reject if you were thinking that you could choose what you are). So you have to accept what you are to work on that basis. And to accept what you are, having made a decision to accept what you are, you find (that) what it is (that) you are is more accessible than if you "postpone the acceptation" (that's (Walt) Whitman's line (from "Song of Myself" - "Shall I postpone the acceptation (and realization) and scream at my own eyes?") - [Editoral note - this was one of the lines he considered using as an epigraph to "Howl"]

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