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Allen Ginsberg

right and left, taking it upon themselves to be dictators and leading everybody astray. On the left, they’re painting “Die Yuppie Scum!” all over the Lower East Side, but nobody knows who is a yuppie – do they mean me? Everybody thinks it means somebody else.

RMN: We have witnessed the failure of communism and the inadequacies of capitalism. Do you think there is a political system which, if diligently applied by good people, could work?

Allen: Well, I don’t think we’ve seen any real communism or capitalism.

RMN: Do you think there are just too many people with too many special interests to be successfully governed?

Allen: Well, no, it’s not that. One – it’s technological. ‘The hyper-technology fuels the non-human within me.’ Burroughs said that.

DJB: Are you sure that it’s science and technology that’s the problem, or is it the way that the technology is applied?

Allen: I think it’s science and technology. Once you’ve got an absolute weapon, then you have to have absolute control.

DJB: Technology doesn’t have to be used for weapons.

Allen: What has most of it been used for so far?

RMN: To blow people to smithereens. But still, the availability of technology on a local, private level has vastly increased people’s access to information and has encouraged a decentralization of control. People are making their own TV programs, creating their own entertainment.

Allen: Okay, so everyone can be a communicator, electronically hooked up with one another. Still, the central intelligence agency type human eye is the very nature of the machine. I wouldn’t want to absolute about it, but there is definitely two sides to the story that the solution for the world’s problems lies in the advancement of technology.

RMN: What do you think are some of the biggest practical and perceptual errors that the government has made in it’s policy towards drugs?

Allen: Well, obviously lumping all of the drugs together in one category but regarding the use of nicotine and alcohol as something apart. My proposition for drugs is: have marijuana as a cash crop for the otherwise ailing family farm. For junkies, well it would probably be better to get off the methadone – apparently it’s more addictive than heroin. Then once you’ve separated grass and psychedelics from “the drug problem” public consciousness, as Oscar Janiger is trying to do in his work with the Albert Hofmann Foundation, then you have to deal with cocaine and crack. So the consequences of the present drug policies have been further criminalization, further prohibition, more and more police and more and more surveillance. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the war on drugs has created a niche for military-minded demigods to prosper in.

RMN: As history shows that prohibition does nothing to decrease demand, and as most of the money in the drug-war is being used to fight off the criminal element, why is it that so few politicians are willing to voice their support for legalization?

Allen: We have this vanguard of fundamentalism that don’t want abortions, that don’t want drugs – and they’re very powerful. There’s a hard nut, a residue of energetic, active, organized, networked, technologically sophisticated censors – the neo-conservatives and the born-agains. It’s a composite of religious fanaticism and economic interest. The pharmaceutical companies are among the people opposing decriminaliztion because they make a lot of money in the drug business. The Coors beer people support the right-wing Heritage Foundation and then you have Jesse Helms representing tobacco. So there’s that combination of economic interest. Then the national and state drug bureaucracies have one of the most protective lobbies in the nation, with a 12 billion dollar budget monopoly, hundreds of thousands of telephones, FAX machines, PR people, resources and files. So how do we get out of that? I don’t know, it’s always been a source of confusion.

DJB: I’m curious about how your experiences with psychedelics affected your writing and your life in general.

Allen: Well, I wrote a couple of good poems on them – with mescaline, acid, nitrous oxide, marijuana and amphetamines. So those are direct influences on my writing. But aside from 60 or so pages, the spiritual effect of drugs was not extensive in creation of texts.

DJB: What kind of relationship do you see between madness and creativity?

Allen: I don’t really know, it’s an old stereotype. When we talk about certain states of madness, what are we talking about exactly? Somebody on a roll, who’s very active and talking to himself, dominating his space and people working around him,

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