Summer Of Love
The best part of the whole arrangement is the Wonka-inspired Golden Ticket scheme, and the news is now out that this guy got the Golden Ticket. He's allowed to take a guest with him, of course, and we can only hope he's bringing his Grandpa.
LitKicks applauds Hunter S. Thompson for what may be the best literary final scene since Yukio Mishima committed hari-kari in 1970. We believe writers should always find a way to make their closing chapters (or afterwords, in HST's case) interesting. What's your favorite literary death/funeral moment?
Here's what Flying Dog's website said:
A golden ticket has been placed, 'willie-wonka style', inside one of containers. The ticket is an invitation for two to Hunter Thompson's memorial at Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado on Aug 20. You and a friend could be joining Hunter's inner circle, including Willie Wonka himself, aka Johnny Depp, to witness Dr. Gonzo's final departure from the business end of a cannon! The prize includes round trip airfares from anywhere in the continental US, two nights accommodation and transportation to and from the memorial.
I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky.
I like to think
. . . . . . . .(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.
I like to think
. . . . . . . (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.
Take another look at the poem, above. No, nobody around here wrote it, and somehow I doubt most people today would describe their computer as a "machine of loving grace." It was a part of The Digger Papers, published in August of 1968 in the San Francisco publication, The Realist.
The Diggers, an "anarchist guerilla street theater group", put this together in an effort to describe what was going on in San Francisco at this time. It contains a lot of philosophy and poetry and nearly incomprehensible hippie prose. However, what does come through clearly is an overwhelming sense of what this culture was all about: No, everything?s not okay, and yes, there is something we can do about it. Their ways were a little un-orthodox, but still interesting.
They took their name from the English Diggers, utopian communist farmers who gave the Commonwealth landowners a run for their money in 1649-1650. While different in their methods, the San Francisco Diggers believed that they could change the status quo with similar ideas. Basically, that "money is an unnecessary evil." In the Quintissential Digger Manifesto, "all responsible citizens are asked to turn in their money. No questions will be asked." Everybody is simply assured that if they turn in their money to their local Digger, it will be re-distributed to all and its energy will be released and everything will be lovely.
It sounds pretty suspicious, right? Here's the thing though -- they actually did it. Their most famous activities revolved around distributing Free Food every day in Golden Gate Park, and distributing "surplus energy" at a series of Free Stores (where everything was free for the taking.) They organized "Be-ins (whatever that might entail), and started saying things like "Do your own thing" and "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Aside from coining some cliche and having an overly optimistic view of computers, though, they did change art and literature. For them, the theater was not a world apart from the everyday masses with memorized lines and faked emotions. They called themselves "life actors" and made a point of performing at the drop of a hat. Theater became a much more accessible and imaginative medium when they decided it was "a space for existing outside padded walls." Theater of the Absurd had already decided that a protagonist did not have to be logical, or indeed even present (as in Beckett?s Waiting for Godot, where Godot never actually shows up), but the Diggers decided that a protagonist might not even be necessary.
Their visions of a utopian society, where money has become obsolete might seem naive and childish to us, but it all shows a willingness to care and faith in humanity that doesn?t seem to be "cool" today. Strangely enough, all of this really seemed to upset the old people.
(As the Diggers also didn?t believe in copyrights, the complete Digger Papers, along with a lot of other material, can be found on-line at the Diggers archive.)
Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" (1997) is steeped in the same subjective brand of voyeurism as his 1959 novella, "Goodbye Columbus". Both works unfold from the perspectives of highly conspicuous and biased narrators. Neil Klugman and Nathan Zuckerman focus on the lives of other characters, whom they admire as well as envy. Their feelings towards these antagonists assume different manifestations; one is overtly superficial, while the other is more penetrating, multi-layered and Jamesian. Ultimately, each narrator is guilty of "ressentiment," the quality defined by the existentialist critic Max Scheler as "a smoldering, suppressed wrath permeated with self-deception".
In "Goodbye Columbus", Neil's ressentiment of Brenda Patimkin is readily apparent. A lower-middle class Jew from Newark, New Jersey, he is angered by his girlfriend's careless display of affluence. He berates her for When she casually talks about having plastic surgery on her nose, his response is, in her view, nasty. Neil's nastiness persists throughout the story, directing itself not only at Brenda, but also at her "disastrously polite" mother, her bratty little sister, and other members of the Jewish nouveau-riche. However, after Brenda asks Neil why he is "so nasty all the time" he denies that it is his intent to be so. In this way, he supresses his anger, giving in to a form of self-deception that prevents him from acknowledging his true feelings for Brenda. Neil fails to recognize that she embodies a sort of wanton materialism which he professes to despise but secretly covets.
On hand to give her firsthand account of the bust that led to that conviction was Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia. Other readers and performers included Kesey's longtime friend and co-conspirator Ken Babbs, along with his wife Eileen and their daughter Lizzie; Spit in the Ocean editor Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man, Famous People I Have Known, and other famous books; Jail Journal editor David Stanford, formerly of Viking Press, known for his work on Jack Kerouac's Collected Letters and Some of the Dharma; Kesey's son, Zane, proprietor of Key-Z Productions; inveterate clown and do-gooder Wavy Gravy; tour documentor Freddy "AreWeReally" Hahne; graphic artist John Lackey; computer whiz Pat "Chef Juke" Mackey; and longtime Prankster, Neal Cassady's backup driver, George Walker.
The event took place in the roomy Sebastopol Community Center. The psychedelic bus, Further II, was parked just outside, open for tours and inspections. With most of this crew on board, Walker had driven the bus down from Oregon for a series of California performances. The evening was built around a series of six skits, or sketches -- in Through the Looking Glass-fashion they had by now become "skitches" -- that Ken Babbs wrote for the book tour. In each skitch Walker played the part of a reporter asking questions of Kesey. The other performers -- Babbs, Mackey, Stanford, Hahne, and Zane Kesey -- fronted by a variety of Kesey masks, would then answer the questions. A number of musical instruments were also played, sometimes on key. Songs were sung, jokes and stories told, and portions of each book read. It was all rather fast-paced and informal, educational and fun -- a literary entertainment, a gathering of old friends and making of new ones. After the final skitch and a sing-along of "Goodnight Irene" there was ample time for conversation and book purchases and signings.
Kesey's flesh envelope is now interred on his Oregon farm, but his friends and colleagues provide evidence that his spirit is still vibrant. As Wavy Gravy put it in his "Haiku for Kesey":
They say Kesey's dead-
but never trust a prankster
even under ground
For the complete SpitFurther Tour diary and lots of photos check intrepidtrips.com or skypilotclub.com.
Whitman wrote and published Leaves of Grass around a time of war as well. In 1855, the country was already on the verge of a great catastrophe. Whitman composed "Song of Myself" during the first hints that there was a Civil War looming which could tear America apart. The Beats wrote after the dropping of a bomb that all too clearly could tear the entire world apart. And so, in the midst of these questions about prosperity and warfare, it becomes almost necessary to ask those questions which have been pored over by great thinkers for ages: What is important? What is truth? What is real? In answering these questions for themselves, Whitman and the Beats came to nearly identical answers. Searching for truth in societies that seemed to teeter on the edge of a total lack of it, both found meaning in the world around them and in themselves.
Perhaps most importantly, both Whitman and the Beat writers focused on spirituality, which in their times of economic prosperity seemed unnecessary. After all, for the most part people only pray to God when they want something. However, Whitman was displeased with this dependence on the tangible. He expressed this in "Song of Myself":
I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals...they are so placid and self-contained,Here Whitman is writing about the obsession with prosperity and materialism and the religious ignorance that alarmed him in America. The "mania of owning things" he refers to as a form of dementia, as if it is a sickness. This is interesting in that it means he did not consider it innate to mankind, but something which had overtaken them and from which they could be cured. This follows Whitman's overall sense of hope for the people and overall feeling that the human being was to be celebrated, not condemned. Notice also that he looked down upon mankind "[weeping] for their sins." Although in these lines Whitman is referring to animals as those whom he admires for not falling prey to this trap, he could have as accurately been admiring the Beat generation. They too can be described by the same aversion to "[weeping] for their sins," and they were not at all demented by the "mania of owning things." In fact, very few of the Beat writers found substantial success, either financially or personally, during their lifetimes, much like Whitman himself. Whitman's sentiment about those who are guilty for their actions and "lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins," is shared by those who lived during the Beat generation, as can be seen from this excerpt from the article that first coined the term "Beat Generation."
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied....not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
That clean young face has been making the newspapers steadily since the war. Standing before a judge in a Bronx courthouse, being arraigned for stealing a car, it looked up into the camera with curious laughter and no guilt.With the established truths of morality and prosperity denied, where did Whitman and the Beats find truth? The answer lies in mysticism. Both found God, but they found God in less conventional terms. When Whitman spoke of God, he expressed his thoughts as such, "I hear and behold God in every object, yet I understand God not in the least." ("Song of Myself"; line 1274) To some this would seem absurd. However, to the Beats it was pure gospel. To let oneself find holiness in every moment of life was true religion. Whitman's line can be compared to the writing of Kerouac about another Beat, Neal Cassady:
("This is the Beat Generation" by John Clellon Holmes, The New York Times Magazine, November 16, 1952)
And he stood swaying in the middle of the room, eating his cake and looking at everyone with awe. He turned and looked around behind him. Everything amazed him, everything he saw....he wanted to see from all possible levels and angles...He was finally an Angel, as I always knew he would become...Kerouac's use of the word "Angel" is the real key to this passage. He uses this motif of attaining spirituality and nirvana, of becoming an "Angel," throughout the book. This displays his belief in attaining the sublime through the ordinary, through the everyday occurrence. In everything, there can be the potential for enlightenment. This was the foundation of this particular method of personal mysticism that Whitman began and the Beats continued. More on this can be found in Kerouac's poetry:
(On the Road; p. 263)
And when you showed me Brooklyn BridgeWhitman set this sort of precedent with his exhortations on the question of "what is grass?" in "Song of Myself". While some would have overlooked the young boy's question as simply youthful curiosity, Whitman realized divine potential which it contained. He wrote, "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars." ("Song of Myself"; line 662) All this in grass, which can be found everywhere! In fact, he even went so far along these lines as to say, "And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake." ("Song of Myself"; line 669) He worships everything, in his own way. Whitman's writings on this subject culminated in total mystic ecstasy over the overlooked towards the end of "Song of Myself":
in the morning,
And the people slipping on the ice in the street,
...That's when you taught me tears, Ah
God, in the morning.
("HYMN"; ll. 1-5, ll. 15-16)
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?The emphasis on intense joy and pain in every experience, making the whole world seem overwhelmingly spiritual, is inherent in nearly all the writing of Whitman and the Beats. Whitman worships a blade of grass and a tea-kettle. Kerouac calls out to God over what most would call the minutiae of everyday life. Both feel that, "All truths wait in all things." ("Song of Myself"; l. 646) This was the sort of faith both Whitman and Kerouac felt was missing in the American culture of the time. This fascination, adoration, and devotion to the parts of life, the spiritual moments, that are most overlooked is what sets both Whitman and the Beats apart.
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name,
("Song of Myself"; ll. 1276-1279)
Whitman has often been called the democratic poet, in that he speaks for all people, not just the intellectual elite. Whitman is the writer of the downtrodden, the democratic, the "beat." This too is comparative to the writers of the Beat generation. Even though highly intellectual themselves, they did not limit their society to the university-bred of the time. Similar to Whitman, they accepted what was taboo to accept. Whitman sought out all humanity:
This is the meal pleasantly set....this is the meat and drink for natural hunger,And the Beats were friends with junkies and deviants:
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous....I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The keptwoman and sponger and thief are hereby invited....the heavy-lipped slave is invited....the venerealee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
("Song of Myself"; ll. 372-376)
"...he fell in with a crowd of wild souls there, including fellow students Lucien Carr and Jack Kerouac and non-student friends William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassady. These delinquent young philosophers were equally obsessed with drugs, crime, sex and literature....He began consorting with Times Square junkies and thieves (mostly friends of Burroughs), experimenting with Benzedrine and marijuana, and cruising gay bars in Greenwich Village, all the time believing himself and his friends to be working towards some kind of uncertain great poetic vision, which he and Kerouac called the New Vision."This brings to light another point. Obviously Kerouac was not the only major figure in the Beat literary movement. Allen Ginsberg, now a celebrated poet, had his beginnings in this circle as well. And if Whitman the mystic was reinvented in Kerouac, Whitman the homosexual was reinvented in Ginsberg. Both expressed themselves through not only their poetry, but through their bodies as well. They freed themselves of the restraints of society by expressing their sexuality. In his poetry, Whitman proclaims, "I am for those who believe in loose delights, I share the midnight orgies of young men," (Children of Adam; from "Native Moments," l. 5) and at points describes his experiences with other men as, "We two boys together clinging,/ One the other never leaving." (Calamus, from "We Two Boys Together Clinging," ll. 1-2). This was put somewhat more explicitly by Ginsberg, "Neal Cassady was my animal; he brought me to my knees/ and taught me the love of his cock and the secrets of his mind." (Many Loves; ll. 1-2) However, one cannot define their sexuality merely as "homosexuality." Both Whitman and Ginsberg celebrated the body in all respects. Just as spirituality could be found in everyday moments, so could it be found in human flesh:
(from "Allen Ginsberg" by Levi Asher)
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!This love of the body was first expressed in Whitman, however:
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is eternity! Everyman's an angel!
(Footnote to "Howl"; ll. 1-3)
Divine I am inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;Both Whitman's and Ginsberg's poetry considered the human body and human physicality to be something divine. Interestingly enough, both Whitman's and Ginsberg's poetry was considered obscene at the time it was written. One can even find more parallels between the two in their writing styles, both of which take on epic proportions through long, powerful, free verse that attains a rhythmic and chant-like quality. Although Ginsberg is more similar to Whitman on the subject of the body, other Beat writers found great interest in it as well. Kerouac writes of how Neal Cassady "...took the wheel and flew the rest of the way across the state of Texas...not stopping except once when he took all his clothes off...and ran yipping and leaping naked in the sage." (On the Road; p. 161) This can be compared to Whitman's excitement to "...go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,/ I am mad for it to be in contact with me." ("Song of Myself"; ll. 11-12) The fascination and celebration of the naked body as seen here is another idea that is found in both Whitman's poetry and the writings of the Beats.
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer,
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.
("Song of Myself"; ll. 526-528)
All the reconfigurations about the meaning of spirituality and physicality can be best summed up by Whitman, who simply explained, "I am the poet of the body,/ And I am the poet of the soul." (Song of Myself; ll. 422-423) Taken all together, the final assertion is that both Walt Whitman and the Beat writers were writing from the same state of mind, from the same point of view. Both had felt it was necessary to reassess what was important in a country inundated by commercialism, threatened by war, and at a loss for truth. Kerouac wrote On the Road but first Whitman wrote "afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road." ("Song of the Open Road"; l. 1) In truth, Whitman could be called the first Beat, and the Beat writers may indeed be called the second-coming of American Transcendentalism, the second great American literary movement.
"I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.Be that as it may, there are several rather nasty personalities who appear during the course of the story, and they are worthy of consideration. There is only one Nazi who appears throughout the novel, which is curious considering that a significant portion of the plot unfolds during the Second World War. Probably the Nazis could not be depicted as anything less than villainous. The rank-and-file German soldiers are always presented as farmers and laborers, ordinary people who have been conscripted like Billy Pilgrim.
Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortly before my father died, he said to me, 'You know--you never wrote a story with a villain in it.'
I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war."
That one Nazi is Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American defector. Campbell avoids true villainy by virtue of the fact that he is not a true Nazi either. Vonnegut reveals in Mother Night that he is in reality an American spy, though perhaps he contributes more to the Nazi cause in his attempt to put on a convincing show. He does not subscribe to their ideologies of Fascism and anti-Semitism. He does share their anti-Communism, as do most of his countrymen. Campbell agrees only to fight on the Russian front. That Hitler and Stalin were both villains few will deny. The decision to side with one against the other was a necessity of war. Campbell sees what his government would not yet admit, that the Communists will be the next great enemy of the United States. "Might as well fight them now," he says.
Roland Weary is an eighteen-year-old tank gunner with delusions of grandeur and a propensity for violence. He finds himself at odds with Billy Pilgrim's lack of will to live and violently goads Billy to go on. Because of this, he convinces himself that he has saved Billy's life, and perhaps he has. This feeds a delusion in which he fancies himself one of the Three Musketeers and often waxes nostalgic about the war while it is still going on. He resents Billy Pilgrim for getting in his way. When he comes to die, he blames Billy for the events leading up to his death.
Paul Lazarro promises to avenge Weary. He is one who, according to Tralfamadorian philosophy, is not to be trifled with. He is extraordinarily well connected, able to have anyone killed who so much as looks at him cock-eyed. But his threats and violence seem to spring from a deep-seated insecurity. Perhaps he bullies because he has been bullied. What can be said of Paul Lazarro is that he keeps his word. He threatens to have Billy Pilgrim killed to avenge the death of his friend Roland Weary and, some thirty-one years later, he carries out that threat. Billy Pilgrim knows of this in advance, not only because he was warned but because he is "unstuck in time." Some have called him literature's least likely Christ figure because of his serene acceptance of this unjust sentence. He knows that Paul Lazarro has no free will, that the moment is structured to occur exactly as it does.
Bertram Copeland Rumfoord is an unsympathetic old codger but hardly a villain. He views the massacre that took place at Dresden on February 13, 1945 with the cold objectivity of a military historian and lacks interest in the human, personal, individual side of that story. He is very rude to Billy Pilgrim, dismissing anything he says because he believes Billy is a lunatic. He claims that the destruction of Dresden was necessary even though it had no war industry or significant troop concentrations.
Edgar Derby is no villain. On the contrary, he is one of the few people in Germany who is kind to Billy Pilgrim. Derby is, at worst, a petty thief. He steals a tea kettle from someone who will certainly not miss it. It has always been quite common for soldiers to steal souvenirs and supplies from corpses. Billy Pilgrim does it. But Edgar Derby is executed for this while Billy and countless others get away with it. The horrible irony is that Derby is executed by agents of the same military that killed the owner of the tea kettle. The US military is, in essence, saying that murder is morally acceptable but theft is not. According to US law, neither is acceptable. Still, few would argue that theft, particularly under the circumstances in which Derby committed the crime, warrants the death penalty.
World War II is typically presented in terms of good and evil, Allies and Axis, white and black. In Slaughterhouse-Five, he reminds the reader of what many would like to ignore and forget: that the Allies were not as good as they presented themselves, that they killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in cities like Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Implicit in this is a criticism of the use of incendiary devices on non-military targets in Vietnam, which was happening when Slaughterhouse-Five was first published. Vonnegut's antiwar stance is the logical result of his disbelief in the concept of a clear good and evil, his belief that there are only differing perspectives.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
James Douglas Morrison's poetry was born out of a period of tumultuous social and political change in American and world history. Besides Morrison's social and political perspective, his verse also speaks with an understanding of the world of literature, especially of the traditions that shaped the poetry of his age. His poetry also expresses his own experiences, thoughts, development, and maturation as a poet--from his musings on film at UCLA in The Lords and The New Creatures, to his final poems in Wilderness and The American Night. It is my intention in this essay to show Morrison as a serious American poet, whose work is worthy of serious consideration in relation to its place in the American literary tradition. By discussing the poetry in terms of Morrison's influences and own ideas, I will be able to show what distinguishes him as a significant American poet. In order to reveal him as having a clearly-defined ability as a poet, my focus will be on Morrison's own words and poetry. I will concentrate on his earlier work to show the influence of Nietzsche and French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud and Antonin Artaud and the effect they had on Morrison's poetry and style.
This is the kind of quote which typifies Edward Abbey. It will make some people laugh out loud, and others shake their heads. The greatest thing about Abbey was that he really wouldn't have given a damn whether you liked it or not.
Edward Abbey was born on January 29, 1927 in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Growing up during the Great Depression in the nearby village of Home in an impoverished but liberal family, he never excelled at school, and astonishingly failed journalism at high school twice. He enlisted in the US Army after his graduation, serving in Italy just as World War 2 drew to a close. After his discharge, he went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of New Mexico, and also spent a year at Edinburgh University in Scotland, concentrating his studies in the field of philosophy and developing an interest in anarchism, which would later influence much of his writing.
Although he had several fictional novels published beforehand (Jonothan Troy, The Brave Cowboy, Fire on the Mountain), Abbey�s breakthrough work came in 1968 with the publication Desert Solitaire. A vivid account of his time spent as a seasonal ranger in the Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park) in Utah, it is full of Abbey's trademark dry humour, philosophy and environmental awareness and stands as both a tribute and an obituary to the American desert that he loved so much. As he laments in the introduction, "Most of what I wrote about in this book is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy."
Seven years later Abbey unleashed The Monkey Wrench Gang. It followed the comical antics of a group of freewheeling environmental saboteurs, or "monkey wrenchers", trying to halt the insidious the march of development into the desert through non-violent direct action. Echoing Abbey's environmental concerns, including the building of the Glen Canyon Dam, and with characters based on real life figures, the book inspired countless environmentalists to take up a "wrench" in defense of the wilderness.
Abbey died at age 69, on March 14, 1989 following complications from surgery on a recurrent vascular problem. He was brought home to die by friends, and was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in the Cabeza Prieta desert in Arizona. Amongst his instructions for burial was the line "I want my body to help fertilize the growth of a cactus or cliff rose or sagebrush or tree." A fitting end for a great man of the American wilderness.