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Allen Ginsberg

emptiness, I would go along with whatever made the process more comfortable.” As for what happens after death, I’ve always been a little skeptical about anything persevering. I think the process of dying takes over, whatever you think, and goes on automatic. What you think may be harmonious with what happens, but what happens is going to happen in any case. Sometimes I think that you enter open space and become open space. In the last moment you don’t want to be pissed off, even if there’s no re-birth. So it’s a good idea to get into the frequency of some kind of meditative practice, in case there’s no after-life. In case there is, it’s also a good idea. It prepare you for whatever situation. “Do not go gently into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light.” You know that poem? It seems the worst advice possible.

RMN: Do you see death as an adventure, or are you afraid?

Allen: I’m a little scared, yeah, but I’m not afraid to admit it.

DJB: What do you think it is about death that you’re afraid of?

Allen: How about entering a realm where there’s twenty-nine devils sticking red hot pokers up my behind and into my feet. (laughter) Maybe I’ll turn into a big prick with this little tiny asshole.

DJB: Do you think that the fear of death could be the fear of non-existence?

Allen: Well, no, that wouldn’t be so bad. It would be the fear of existing again, in another life. Popping up again, like pop goes the weasel, and being stuck with whatever hard-on you started out with. You could have an obsession and think, oh, I should have cut that out long ago! I should have stopped lusting after pretty boys long ago! (laughter) You’re born into a universe with nothing but pretty boys and you get stuck there for another 100 years until you realize, uh oh, you’re going to die. Something like that. I’m not quite up to the adventure yet (laughter) but on the other hand…….

DJB: Do you have a personal understanding of God?

Allen: Yes. There is no God.

DJB: There’s no question about it?

Allen: No. It’s a big mistake. It means “6,000 years of sleep” as Blake said. It means a Judeo-Christian-Islamic control system. It means war and centralization.

DJB: What about the concept of God as a state of consciousness?

Allen: Too easy. Why do you need a concept of God when you’ve already got a concept of a state of consciousness? Why do you have to add God onto it? It’s sneaking in a centralized state of consciousness, it’s sneaking in a metaphysical CIA. In an open universe, nothing is closed in, no judgment of beliefs, just infinite possibilities of roles to role-play. If God made everything the way it is, then it’s already done and it’s pre-ordained all the way, so there’s no movement. God means stasis, as Burroughs points out. When you consider the whole notion of God, that’s what it comes to, unless you redefine God so that it doesn’t mean God anymore.

DJB: Well, what if you define God as being the notion of a greater organism of which we’re all tiny cells or parts?

Allen: You still have this one greater organism that started everything and knows where it’s all going.

DJB: Not necessarily. It could be evolving itself, just as we are.

Allen: Then it ain’t God, the omniscient, omnipotent etc…

RMN: If you don’t believe in God, do you believe in love?

Allen: Perhaps it’s a uselessly out-worn four letter word that substitutes for awareness to cover all cruel facts. But you have to first agree with people how you want to use the word. You know, a word doesn’t mean anything by itself, there’s no built-in intrinsic meaning, it’s just how you want to use it. It’s an abstraction like, “What is the truth?” It’s a semantic blind-alley. It doesn’t have a meaning except that which you assign to it, and if people don’t agree on the meaning then you’re going to have endless feuds over nothing, which is what happens all the time. A student and I spent time with Burroughs in 1944. We got into an argument about what is art? If we carved a walking-stick and put in on the moon, where nobody saw it, is that art? Or does art have to be social? So we took the argument to Burroughs and he said, “Art is a three-letter word. If you guys will agree on what you mean and how you want to use it, then you can use it. But to say that it has an absolute inherent meaning one way or an absolute inherent meaning the other way, that’s a semantic problem and ‘tis too too starved an argument for my sword.” You ask a large question using a large word which can mean anything, and then expect somebody to

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