Skip to comments.Ginsberg Offers Rare Peek With Beatnik Family Album
Posted on 06/16/2013 5:02:16 PM PDT by nickcarraway
It can be easy to be jaded about the Beat writers in San Francisco, but even the most indifferent literary snob would be hard-pressed to walk away from "Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg" at the Contemporary Jewish Museum without feeling fuzzy inside.
Organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and running through September, "Beat Memories" is a collection of about 80 photos taken by Ginsberg and his friends in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s.
Nearly every image is notated with the wobbly handwriting of Ginsberg, who added paragraph-length captions to the images in the 1980s at the prompting of his archivist Bill Morgan and photographers Robert Frank and Berenice Abbott.
The photos are taken in bedrooms, on rooftops, in exotic countries, in photo booths and in Parisian attics. All of the usual suspects are there: Ginsberg's lover Peter Orlovsky, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Gary Snyder, Herbert E. Huncke, Lucien Carr and a fantastically rumpled, dogged Bob Dylan.
Although he rocketed to fame with the publication of his poem "Howl" in 1956 and bounced around the globe, Ginsberg kept his friends close. The photos are often casual and domestic, a testament to the impassioned camaraderie and intimacy the Beats shared.
Under a shot of Burroughs supine on a bed, naked but for his white underwear, Ginsberg wrote: "Bill Burroughs in back bedroom waiting for company ..."
Ginsberg's scrawled notes are charmingly detailed and frank. On an image of Burroughs pontificating to a pensive Kerouac Burroughs' palm is face up at the end of a languid wrist Ginsberg quotes Burroughs: "Now, Jack, as I warned you far back as 1945, if you keep going home to live with your 'Mémère' you'll find yourself wound tighter and tighter in her apron strings till you're an old man and can't escape ..."
The static snapshot transforms into prophetic cinema: Kerouac's relationship with his mother was fraught, co-dependent and lasted a lifetime.
One famous image of Kerouac is in the show Jack howling at the camera, with New York a blur behind him circa 1953. Ginsberg also caught Kerouac ravaged 11 years later, slumped in a chair, a "red-faced corpulent W.C. Fields shuddering with mortal horror and grimacing on O.M.T. I'd brought back from visiting Timothy Leary."
Reading Ginsberg's priceless captions is an homage to memory and a puzzling, mysterious mix of things human brains remember: raindrops on laundry, rent prices, addresses, routines, friends and passing philosophies.
In "Beat Memories," the images and his recollections are a glimpse into Ginsberg's tenderness, and into a world of collective minds that fueled each other.
Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg Where: ContemporaryJewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays-Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, closed Wednesdays; show closes Sept. 8
Admission: $5 to $12
Contact: (415) 655-7800, www.thecjm.org
I think he appeared on “Politically Incorrect”.
Like Kerouac, highly over rated and utterly unreadable...
Give me Elizabeth Bishop or Robert Hayden or Robert Lowell, anyone not connected to the free verse crap associated with the spoiled brats that came out of the 50’s and 60’s....
I respectfully beg to differ. As a person, who is both a lover of poetry and a published poet myself, I consider Ginsberg to be one of the truly great poets that America has produced, and I am absolutely not ashamed to admit it.
I have always preferred to focus most of my regard for Ginsberg on his work rather than on the lifestyle that he chose to live. Conservative or liberal, many writers and artists make poor choices in their personal lives, and indeed some can be or have been quite repulsive in their own ways.
Al Capp and Ernest Hemingway immediately come to mind for examples of more conservative writers, who were nevertheless not exactly all sunshine and roses in their personal lives.
“malodorous clown”....best put down of the year so far...
~ Allen Ginsberg, poet.
” Like Kerouac, highly over rated ..”
I beg to differ . BTW - how many of his books have you read ???
they made it to FR.
“we’re the Beatniks now”
my tagline since the NOV ‘12 defeat
I’ve written some research work on Ginsberg, and while I find Howl to be a really incredible poem, much of Ginsbergs other work is not impressive. I tend to agree with Kerouak that “Beat” wasn’t what Ginsberg tried to craft it to be, but was really a New Romantism.
Howl is one hell of a poem though!
So the fact you don’t like him automatically means he is over-rated ??? He was a great influence on many musicians and other writers , too , but you probably wouldn’t like them either .
Alan Ginsberg was a fake poet and a fake guru. A mess of cliche archetypes pushed his pencil around in circles. The only Beat poet of any real consequence was Robert Kaufman. That boy had the Muse Calliope sitting on his shoulder piping ocarina melodies straight to the helmsman.
On the Road was one of the first books I fell in love with when I started reading seriously as a teenager in the 70’s. Kerouac became one of my favourite writers and he helped to give me a love of literature ( BTW I’ve read everything he wrote ). I can’t think of any other writer who has inspired me with such a feeling of optimism and the desire to go and live life to the full. He is the only writer I can think of who does this. It’s depressing that I can’t think of any other good writer who is able to inspire this feeling.
Ginsberg is one of the reasons the gays have taken over our culture.
Ha! I’ll second that ...
Not all of Ginsberg’s chemically corrupted associates were happy to have been sexually used by Mr. Ginsberg.
Read wider. That is the cure...
I’ve read and written a lot of poetry. I lived around columbia U and went to school there and read poetry at the west end.
My friends from the period who knew nothing of poetry thought ginsberg was great. I though ginsberg was a babbling idiot. In prose I thought mailer was a babbling idiot too.
But that’s just me.
None of the “fans” have picked up on my allusion to Capote’s put down of Kerouac in an earlier post...makes me think that the fans are the ones who are not so well read..
And your point with this ad hominem is?
Once again, my previous comment about judging the quality of his work, rather than his regrettable lifestyle choices and personal opinions. I’m fully aware of his NAMBLA statements, and I have never agreed with them in any way, shape or form.
Nevertheless, once again, if we’re going to play the game of allowing the personal lives of artists to invalidate their art, there’s not going to be a whole lot of material left, I’m afraid.
Ive written some research work on Ginsberg, and while I find Howl to be a really incredible poem
I just tried to read(and failed to finish) Howl. Without success. Way too much buggery. A normal person just doesn’t want that sh-t going through his head.
That was the finisher.
Howl starts out with a pretty crip open but then it becomes wordy. Ginsburg chants but the words don’t mean anything. its just noise and ginsburg enjoying the sound of his own voice. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Man have you left yourself open for a broadside with this statement..let it go friend...
Yeah, it does sound like a bunch of crappy spoken word but without getting too technical the whole poem is religious:
The first section mimics the Lotus Sutra
The second mimics the Old Testament
The third the Koran.
It’s a very deep poem - believe it or not - and I thought it was pretty shallow until I put a lot of research into it. It’s almost like a 50’s “Wasteland.” It’s also very reminiscent of Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium”
If you want the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, try Gary Snyder, lol.
Well I didn’t mean to soil your love of the man’s career, I just thought that since some of it consisted of promoting homosexual rape of little boys and describing his love of little boys for sex and being a member and supporter and national speaker for NAMBLA should be mentioned, somewhere.
Was it brought up too early?
“...allowing the personal lives of artists to invalidate their art...”
So be it.
For example, Frank Sinatra was a world class jerk. It taints his music, bottom line.
I’m not a fan of Snyder either.
The second mimics the Old Testament.
There is no chance that Ginsberg had even the slightest understanding of the OT. Nor does his work (or his life for that matter)reflect any understanding at all of the OT.
That said I recognize the pole star (the guiding light) in your discussion would naturally come out of most undergraduate literary programs at American universities.
>>There is no chance that Ginsberg had even the slightest understanding of the OT. Nor does his work (or his life for that matter)reflect any understanding at all of the OT.
>>That said I recognize the pole star (the guiding light) in your discussion would naturally come out of most undergraduate literary programs at American universities.
Are you kidding? He’s Jewish! His father was literary as well, which simply makes your argument seem naive. Yeah, he may have been a pot smoking hippie through most of the 60s and a guy that really pissed off Kerouac, but “Howl” is still pretty damn good.
Furthermore, the research and paper I did on him was at a master’s level program at a BAPTIST university.
Hes Jewish! His father was literary as well, which simply makes your argument seem naive.
yeah I know he’s jewish.
There’s an old lenny bruce joke. (he was a jewish comic from the 1960’s.) anywhere outside of new york in the USA whether you’re christian or jewish—your christian. However, in new york—no matter whether you’re christian or jewish—its just the reverse-— you’re jewish. (lenny died with his head in the toilet and a syringe on his arm)
I lived in Manhattan/morningside heights for almost 20 years. so I know jewish. and yeah ginsberg was ethnically—ie lox and bagel—but probably only bagels— jewish— but that’s really really it..
Since I left Manhattan/morningside heights 20 years ago I’ve spent some time in study of the Old Testament.
Ginsberg’s writing shows that he didn’t get anything more than a superficial understanding of the old testatment from his father. Certainly columbia college didn’t give him anything more than a superficial understanding of the old testatment.
This is the way that DH Lawrence talks of Walt Whitman. I think the same applies to Ginsberg.
Walt was really too superhuman. The danger of the superman is that he is mechanical.
They talk of his ‘splendid animality’. Well, he’d got it on the brain, if that’s the place for animality.
I am he that aches with amorous love:
Does the earth gravitate, does not all matter, aching, attract all matter ?
So the body of me to all I meet or know.
What can be more mechanical ? The difference between life and matter is that life, living things, living creatures, have the instinct of turning right away from some matter, and of bliss- fully ignoring the bulk of most matter, and of turning towards only some certain bits of specially selected matter. As for living creatures all helplessly hurtling together into one great snowball, why, most very living creatures spend the greater part of their time getting out of the sight, smell or sound of the rest of living creatures. Even bees only cluster on their own queen. And that is sickening enough. Fancy all white humanity clustering on one another like a lump of bees.
No, Walt, you give yourself away. Matter does gravitate helplessly. But men are tricky-tricksy, and they shy all sorts of ways.
Matter gravitates because it is helpless and mechanical.
And if you gravitate the same, if the body of you gravitates to all you meet or know, why, something must have gone . seriously wrong with you. You must have broken your main- spring.
You must have fallen also into mechanization.
More DH Lawrence on Whitman—that I think is apropos of Ginsberg
You must have fallen also into mechanization.
Your Moby Dick must be really dead. That lonely phallic monster of the individual you. Dead mentalized.
I only know that my body doesn’t by any means gravitate to all I meet or know, I find I can shake hands with a few people. But most I wouldn’t touch with a long prop.
Your mainspring is broken, Walt Whitman. The mainspring of your own individuality. And so you run down with a great whirr, merging with everything.
You have killed your isolate Moby Dick. You have mentalized your deep sensual body, and that’s the death of it.
I am everything and everything is me and so we’re all One in One Identity, like the Mundane Egg, which has been addled quite a while.
>>Ginsbergs writing shows that he didnt get anything more than a superficial understanding of the old testatment from his father. Certainly columbia college didnt give him anything more than a superficial understanding of the old testatment.
He knew enough to know what Moloch was, Moloch’s relation to the Jews, and Moloch’s meaning as a worshiped idol. It wasn’t like he stumbled upon it.
Yeah, I have a lot of students ask me if Whitman was gay. I tell them he was omnisexual, and that modern gays wouldn’t understand what that means.
Fine, roger that, Chief.
Regrettable personal life choices absolutely taint and invalidates an artist’s art, so obviously it follows that unless I utterly reject the validity of someone’s art, then that must mean that I agree with every single thing they do and say in their personal life.
So, in my own case, because I’ve been called a useless, whiny Gen X loser, absolutely nothing I have ever written has any value whatsoever.
Yeah, I have a lot of students ask me if Whitman was gay. I tell them he was omnisexual, and that modern gays wouldnt understand what that means.
hell I don’t even know what omnisexual is.
He knew enough to know what Moloch was, Molochs relation to the Jews, and Molochs meaning as a worshiped idol. It wasnt like he stumbled upon it.
True, but he submitted to Moloch.
The twin abominations of the caananites that drew God’s wrath were human (child) sacrifice and homosexuality. Even still the Jews from time to time stepped over the line and took up the abominations of the caananites. when they did — they drew God’s wrath.
Heck even the Romans were grossed out by the caananite colony of carthage.
>> hell I dont even know what omnisexual is.
The guy describes blades of grass sensually.
>>He knew enough to know what Moloch was, Molochs relation to the Jews, and Molochs meaning as a worshiped idol. It wasnt like he stumbled upon it.
Well the vast majority of lit. crit. says that Moloch is a symbol for the anti-otherness in 50’s American society. I wrote that Moloch was more like the refining fire seen in Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium” and present in many other poems by minority poets, etc. It’s almost a Jungian symbol for poets.
>> hell I dont even know what omnisexual is.
The guy describes blades of grass sensually.
doesn’t sound like you’re disagreeing with DH Lawrence’s analysis.
I meant the Moloch in “Howl”.
lit. crit. says that Moloch is a symbol for the anti-otherness in 50s American society.
Presumably today our rulers are anti-otherness people.
Certainly I’ve seen the culture of the Columbia and the upper west side of Manhattan and the village—of the 70’s and 80’s become mainstream in the USA in the 2010’s
When I was in my last year in Manhattan back in 1990, I read a book —just translated from the original spanish. The book was written by Hernando Cortez’s lieutenant. a guy by the name of Bernal Diaz. He was known as Cortez’s oldest lieutenant. His book was “The Conquest of New Spain”. He recounted the stories of Cortez’s conquest. They were fairly familiar stories. But there was one twist. Something you don’t read about at all anywhere else but with Diaz. He relates that the Aztec priests were homosexuals. That they would “act up” right in front of Cortez. This would offend Cortez greatly. (If you want to read the book, there is a free copy here. http://ebookbrowse.com/bernal-diaz-the-conquest-of-new-spain-pdf-d293703560
I suddenly realized that Cortez’s reaction and that of his men was much the same as that of Moses and Joshua when confronted with similar behavior by the Canaanites.
Further that the culture that supports homosexuality also supports abortion. The two are morally related in that they are both immense vanities. Further that since these two peoples the Aztecs and the Caanites had no knowledge of each other—that people left to their own devices—are naturally bad to bone. Or as Romans 3:23 puts it “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
A man who's career partly consisted of promoting and legalizing and encouraging homosexual seduction and rape of little boys and to promote NAMBLA?
Some career there chief, a "regrettable personal life choice" so to speak about your beloved artist.
In this case, this isn't some horrible deeply buried secret discovered after his death, this was a large part of his life's work, his career, his art, as his customers and fans empowered him, he used that wealth and power and his place in the public eye to promote crimes against boys and humanity.
So now you feel the need to attack me personally.
I do hope that makes you feel better.
How is calling him your "beloved artist", a personal attack?
I thought your whole point is that he was your beloved artist, and that his political and social activism and writing and speaking for and promoting of the little boy rape thing shouldn't influence our appreciation of his great art?
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