And again, I doff my cap to Buck Mulligan for getting it right.
I am not a pragmatist, but I respect what James is trying to do here.
Also, I gotta And again, I doff my cap to Buck Mulligan for getting it right.
I am not a pragmatist, but I respect what James is trying to do here.
Also, I gotta say that in terms of writing philosophy, he (James) is definitely head and shoulders above many a profound, pithy, erudite thinker.
I do think there's some essential value to well-written prose, especially when its not taking the form of fiction or poetry or what-have-you and the writer can be easily excused for obscurities, necessary obfuscations, arcane terminology and clunky grammar.
It ain't easy writing philosophy, so I do grade on a curve in this corner of the literary world, but when someone can actually put their ideas down in a comprehensible, accessible form I will be the first to applaud, even if I'm not totally jibing with where they want to take me.
Also, I'll never forget reading this at a tender age on a porch at night, by a beach, listening to the waves rumble, looking at the ice in my drink cast sparkling shadows on the wicker table as I'm reading about reality and appearance....more
I read this when I was pretty young. I remember having one of those gold-embossed Classics for Kids hardcovers and being sick or something and just g I read this when I was pretty young. I remember having one of those gold-embossed Classics for Kids hardcovers and being sick or something and just going through it hour after hour. I remember slowly turning the cover forward and back, watching the ripple of light from my window pass over the indentations of Tom's face and actually scaring myself with how drastically different it looked without the fully embossed gold shining...he looked positively demonic when the light hit him the right way...
Also remember going to Disney World and seeing Injun' Joe's Cave and shooting fake shotguns through a window in a tree house. I remember them having a shack to sell pb&j sandwiches for something like 6 dollars a pop.
I prefer Huck Finn, but I can't quite speak to this since I haven't read it in years. I was surprised I hadn't added it to my list yet.
I can't quite remember if it was this one or Huck Finn that caused Nietzsche (that's right, ol' thunderpants himself) to write a bunch of letters energetically recommending the book to various friends of his.
I really love that image- poor bastard slumped over a table, reading with what strength he's got left in his burning eyes, nauseated, smelly, smoky stove heating a bare room, laughing to himself at Tawin's adventures. Speaks well of both FWN and MT, equally, I reckon....more
Picked this up after a friend of mine (a reader, but not a book junkie- you know what I mean, fellow GR people, represent!) lit up with consternation
Picked this up after a friend of mine (a reader, but not a book junkie- you know what I mean, fellow GR people, represent!) lit up with consternation upon hearing that I hadn't read this before. He's got a green thumb, ifyaknowwhatImean, and he was shocked that I hadn't yet gotten on the bus with Ken Kesey and the gang....
And what a bus it is! We've got the almost-unseen narrator (Tom Wolfe, naturally, though he really does keep his opinions and preferences more or less out of the picture and lets the story of the Pranksters pretty much tell itself- more on this later), the aforementioned Kesey, Neal Cassady, Mountain Girl, the same bunch of Hell's Angels that Hunter Thompson had tangled with a couple years back, and on and on and on and on with the Day-Glo and the dank, crash-pad-cum-movie-set that was the Further bus (45 hours of documentary footage!?) floors strewn with hippie debris and the pot busts and the manic, gleeful energy of whatever was fueling these rowdy, charming, fazed and frenetic pure products of America just a-goin' nutso...
Here are a few things one can look forward to, if one has an interest or some love for the dramatis personae (Melina Martin, looking in your direction....)
* I'm not the biggest fan of Tom Wolfe's social philosophy or aesthetic tastes or political affiliation or whatever but the guy can write, he can sustain a narrative that pretty much seems to go off the rails at any moment, and he can be a wonderful all-seeing-eye to the colorful chaos going down all around him.
I think that the real charm of the book is that it takes a Tom Wolfe- not a doper, not a hippie, not a radical, not quite a square- to really give the perspective some depth and counterpoint. He's bemused, he clearly likes the kids, and he's sympathetic to Kesey to the point of admiring the lad but he's also more than a little skeptical about the merit and potential for this whole 'Further' thing, which actually sets just the right tone.
I heard somewhere that he was covering a motorbike race or something for Esquire and he got so befuddled with his notes and impressions and recollections and such that in the end he told his editor that he just couldn't have the piece on time, sorry. According to legend, the frantic and desperate editor told him to just send him his notes and they could maybe work something out.
Wolfe did, he wrote "Dear Rick" or something on the first page and just let it blurt. "Rick" ended up loving it and publishing it as is, omitting only the first two words on page one...
This book reads a little like that.
* His portrait of Kesey is decidedly approving, multifaceted, vivid and surprising. I haven't read anything Kesey has written but I didn't need to. Wolfe puts his leading man in the midst of the caterwaul and lets him have a mind of his own, does't pigeonhole him or condescend, and actually Kesey comes off a little bit better off than some of his compadres. Kesey seems to believe in the essential value and rightness of his whole trip, but it's not hard at all to see the bullshit detector and skeptical intelligence that would make him a good novelist also limit his desire to follow this trip all the way down the line and to profoundly balk at being a spokesman for anybody, let alone a kind of perpetual psychic outlaw...
*....as somebody like Neal Cassady would, and did, continue to be. It's great to check up on the hero of On The Road and much of Kerouac's fiction (not to say the poetry of Allen Ginsberg) a few years after the Beat Generation turned fluorescent. There he is, everywhere and nowhere, shirtless, sweating, flipping a sledgehammer (!?) metronomically, only letting it fall when he senses a sudden disturbance in the force.
If you know a bit of his story you wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find him behind the wheel ;)
* A fun little slice of immersible sociology examining what happens when some freewheeling nogoodniks clash with the forces of Johny Law. Kesey's excursion to Mexico and inevitable high-tailing it outta there is one of the best sections of the whole book and you can feel Wolfe digging in and enjoying himself...
The old canard about the 60's goes like this: if you could remember the party, then you probably weren't there.
Wolfe seems to remember everything about the Further people pretty damn well....
So he wasn't really there...
So maybe there wasn't much of a 'there' there, at all, in the first place...
Very glad and grateful that my oldest friend (a pretty dynamite poet in his own right, as it happens) has worked and hung out with Peter Gizzi for a Very glad and grateful that my oldest friend (a pretty dynamite poet in his own right, as it happens) has worked and hung out with Peter Gizzi for a long time now, who happens to be one of the editors of this collection.
Spicer's a guy who, it seems, is just starting to really get his due. In his own lifetime, the poor guy was often reduced to penury and obscurity, aside from the recognition and respect of a few other mostly Berkeley-based poets and small-press publishers.
Throw in some alcoholism, deep depressions, failed love affairs, unsteady work and productivity and some never-to-be-mine love interests and you'd be hard-pressed not to find a poet in the mix.
It's a shame, really, somebody who can write this well really ought to be rescued from near-oblivion.
And he has. Here's what I think are pretty much his collected works, salvaged and groomed and laid out for all to see. It's s pretty consistently quality bunch of stuff, with some interesting experiments thrown in along with some ephemera just because it's awesome. For example, Spicer's poetry workshop student questionnaire, 'just a little something to get to know each other better' for the "poetry as magic" seminar he was teaching, is included and it's interesting, challenging, insightful and occasionally hilarious:
What is your favorite book of the Bible?
What is your favorite political song?
Please give the approximate dates of the following: printing, Plato, Nero, Chaucer, Dante, The Battle of Waterloo, The Unification of Italy...
Write a paragraph about how the fall of Rome affected modern poetry
Please rank a variety of thinkers and writers in terms of how close they come to your religious beliefs, including: Plato, Li Po, Kierkegaard, Confucius, Aquinas, St Augustine, Lao Tse, Marquis De Sade (!?), Marcus Aurelius, White Goddess, Cicero, Gandhi, Luther, C.S. Lewis, The Mad Bomber (??)....
What is your favorite book of the Bible?
What animal do you most resemble?....What insect?....Star?
Please describe a dream in which you appear as a poet
And then a fill-in-the-blank of a poem with some words already provided.
Head spinning yet?
Of course, one could always pull the ripcord and argue that this is forbiddingly pretentious or pedantic and I'd be sympathetic, as far as it goes, but I tried my damnedest to fill it out completely and it definitely stirred up some sediment in the noggin...
And then there's the imaginary dialogues with Lorca, which are great if you're not a Lorca fan and fantastic if you are...
And there's his own poetry:
"We Find The Body Difficult To Speak..."
We find the body difficult to speak,, The face too hard to hear through, We find the eyes in kissing stammer, And that heaving groins Babble like idiots. Sex is the ache of mouth. The Squeak our bodies make When they rub mouths against each other Trying to talk. Like silent little children we embrace Aching together And love is emptiness of ear. As current We put a face against our ear And listen to it as we would a shell. Soothed by its roar. We find the body difficult, and speak across its wall like strangers.
I am copying this from a fairly blurry picture I took on my phone of these pages in the copy of my friend's book. If that's not a sign of good poetry, I don't know what is.
Here's the man himself, reading aloud so you don't have to:
I'd forgotten about this one- my parents had made it an Xmas Xtra and I'd foolishly let it languish on the top shelf of my closet for the longest tim
I'd forgotten about this one- my parents had made it an Xmas Xtra and I'd foolishly let it languish on the top shelf of my closet for the longest time. I picked it up the other day and fell back in love with The Onion. You just can't go wrong- they are the Twain, Bierce, Mencken and Dorothy Parkers of the 21st Century.... ...more