A different View of Ginsberg

September 19, 2010

Before my roommate and I went to dinner the other night, I sat down to read Kaddish. While she waited for me to finish, she read a fiction novel. When I was finally done, I pointed out a few passages for her to read while I got ready. To my surprise, while I was getting ready, I heard her laughing, hysterically. I came out and she was reading Kaddish, and laughing. I hadn’t really taken it that way, humorous that is. Instead I’d read it as sad, angered, internally pained and confused. But as she pointed out the bits and phrases, the words tossed around carelessly, erratically, frantically; I realized it could almost be considered humorous. Very dry humor, but to some humor none the less. What if Ginsberg was being humorous in a way. I mean sure, he was describing his inner pain and the torment and love that was his mother, but it was almost as if he was trying to mock his own pain, see the ironies and inconsistencies and make light of a situation that was fairly dim. His mocking tone is his mother’s key in a way. Maybe, in his own wry, ironic, dry, sarcastic humor, he is grieving.

Maybe, when he says “Blessed be He in homosexuality! Blessed be He in Paranoia!”, he’s mocking the idea of anyone being blessed. Maybe only God himself is blessed in those things and we are not. Maybe Ginsberg thinks all of it sucks, and all of it is ironic and terrible and twisted. He says:

“with your eyes of abortion/ with your eyes of ovaries removed/ with your eyes of shock/ with your eyes of lobotomy/ with your eyes of divorce/ with your eyes of stroke”

And how could that many terrible things happen all at once? And isn’t it a little funny that repeatedly bad things happen, that it just gets worse and worse, and perhaps it’s just a little bit easier to take when you look at it humorously.

I started laughing after a minute, and my roommate said “Dude, I could write this. You just have to be a little crazy. You just have to stay up without sleeping, it’s like rambling every thought he has. If I knew this was poetry I’d be a poetic genius.”

At first I thought the comment kind of pompous, kind of arrogant, then she pointed out these lines:

“caw caw all years my birth a dream caw caw New York the bus the broken shoe the vast highschool caw caw all Visions of the Lord/ Lord Lord Lord caw caw caw Lord Lord Lord caw caw caw Lord”

I mean she’s right. What sense does that make? They aren’t even full sentences. It’s just a train of thought, one that holds a feeling that connects to the rest of his poem that he’s trying to relate to others or trying to rid of. Let’s say someone stays up all night. They’ve got papers, they’re partying, but they decide to forgo sleep because they have too many things to do the next day that they can’t possibly oversleep for. So they stay up the rest of the next day, but the same thing happens again. And finally around the forty-eight hour mark of no sleep they decide to write a poem. They are delirious, they are a little crazy, and they are honest and real about something in whichever way they want to be.

So, is it true? Can anyone recite their pattern of thoughts and make it interesting enough to read and call poetry? Is it tangible that any one person can write a fluid stream of consciousness that is literally a mentally vomiting of every thought and emotion into a quick stream on a page? I’m not saying it’s perfect without editing, every poem needs time, but the idea that’s originally written, and the feeling that’s originally written is ultimately the same.

What if for Ginsberg dashes didn’t mean anything about the reading or the structure? What if for Ginsberg dashes represented the end of one thought and the start of another that are all in such quick succession and all linked so invariably to one another that he needs to pause, but his thought isn’t stopping so nothing else suffices. It can’t possibly be with the sentence before, it’s a new thought. Though stemmed from the old he has to make a break, therefore the dash. The dash just belongs. It’s not thought about because it represents thought.

Can anyone do what Ginsberg does if they’re crazy enough? If they have enough crazy things to think about, can they blather it all onto a page, edit it and have a poem? Did Ginsberg really put any more thought into it besides what he was thinking, besides what he was feeling, or was it really ultimately, originally a regurgitating mechanism from living through so much pain, and repressing it all?

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