A collection of Allen Ginsberg’s essays, organized by subject. The essays of a poet are always tinged with that same word dexterity, the same glimmering suggestion of something beyond the words that their poems offer.
Ginsberg, writing about LSD, sex, meditation, or the transgressions of an insecure government, is systematic in his mission: to liberate.
“What’s lacking in the great institutions of learning? The specific wisdom discipline that the young propose: search into inner space…Those elders concerned with this practical problem might consider that there is an easy practical solution: the establishment within centers of learning of facilities for wisdom search which the ancients proposed as the true function of education in the first place: academies of self-awareness, classes in spiritual teaching, darshan with holymen of disciplined mind-consciousness.”
Combatting the sexual straitjacket of the times, Ginsberg bellows:
“America’s political need is orgies in the parks, on Boston Common and in the Public Gardens, with naked bacchantes in our national forests.”
Switching gears to a section on literary technique:
“The experience led me to know art as a time-machine to carry the secret revelation and transmit it unbroken from mind to mind…However, the mind is more than the tongue, as many writers have noticed recently. We are aware of event sin other parts of the psyche besides that part which thinks in words (i.e the entire right brain). At certain times all diverse simultaneous impressions and events focus together to make a new, almost a mutant, consciousness.”
This, to my mind, is one of the great gifts of the Beat Generation. An openness and exploration towards that which didn’t, and still doesn’t, fit the cultural drip-networks of the time. A combatting of the amputation of consciousness into just that which finds safe and supported cultural spaces.
Where Ginsberg’s poetry was his work of transmitting whatever revelation he tracked, his essays are an accessible portal into his view of the world, of culture, of the individual, and how they all mesh together.