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And something is vacant when I think it's all beginning : The Late Allen Ginsberg and Beck in Conversation
February 5, 2008 11:38 PM   Subscribe

Not exactly breaking news, but still:
The Late Allen Ginsberg and Beck in Conversation
Related YouTuber: Beck on the late Allen Ginsberg
To complete the circle: Jackass by the South Austin Jug Band.
posted by y2karl (26 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
* Beck did a guest voice in Futurama
* Matt Groening's sister is married to the creator of Hey Arnold
* An episode of that show made reference to Howl

I'm glad they finally met to tighten up this path.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:19 AM on February 6, 2008


And he's a Scieno.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:14 AM on February 6, 2008


And he's a Scieno.

Not a problem for Ginsberg, obviously. His old pal Bill Burroughs spent several years as a devoted acolyte of L. Ron Hubbard before he finally worked out it was a mind control scam.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:44 AM on February 6, 2008




--thank you vronsky! Seeing that photo makes me (a) clear about mt thoughts about s-tology.
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:05 AM on February 6, 2008


Burroughs was by no means 'devoted' to Dianetics, he was investigating it and interested in the auditing process via use of the E-meter. He abandoned the philosophy when it became apparent it was very silly (you understand that the entire belief system is not revealed all at once to the initiate, but piece by piece, thus making it difficult to make a clear inventory of the system before you are probably brainwashed) but retained an interest in the technology of the auditing process (which is, in fact, not that dissimilar from some aspects of psychotherapy or group therapy, 12-step, etc). I think the only things Burroughs was truly devoted to were heroin, guns, young men and cats.

Ginsberg also had ties or interest in the Golden Dawn and OTO, IIRC. Also, NAMBLA (he claimed for reasons of free speech, but let's not go there).
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:13 AM on February 6, 2008


You're right about Burroughs' passing interest in dianetics, Mabuse. But citations on Ginsberg having more than an intellectual interest in the Golden Dawn and OTO would be most welcome (I knew Ginsberg well for 20 years and was his teaching assistant at Naropa, and never heard him mention these groups or Crowley's name). And it's totally ingenuous to invoke the standard right-wing hype on Ginsberg and NAMBLA and then say "don't go there," akin to declaring the Barack Obama was educated at a madrassa and then adding "but let's not go there." Ginsberg was quite clear about his very specific and very limited defense of NAMBLA in an essay published in a book published after his death called Deliberate Prose, which begins, "I became a member of NAMBLA a decade ago as a matter of civil liberties. In the early 1980's, the FBI had conducted a campaign of entrapment & 'dirty tricks' against NAMBLA members just as they had against Black & anti-war leaders in previous decades... These considerations shouldn't be distorted to apologize for rape and mental or physical violation of children."

I met Beck at a party in NYC a couple of years before he was famous, and we spent a long evening talking about the Beats -- mostly Jack Kerouac -- and early hiphop, in particular Niggaz With Attutude. Beck was very very bright, hip, and funny, and I wasn't totally surprised when his face turned up on the cover of a music magazine later. I love his music, though I prefer Sea Change and earlier to the later work. I also interview Beck myself for Wired a couple of years ago, and though only a paragraph or two appeared in the magazine, here's the whole thing. As much as I'm wary of Scientology, he wasn't a zombie for the interview or anything -- he was still cool and nice.
posted by digaman at 5:37 AM on February 6, 2008


sorry, *disingenuous.
posted by digaman at 5:40 AM on February 6, 2008


Well, if a music journalist says it true, then it must be!
posted by humannaire at 5:40 AM on February 6, 2008


I'm not a "music journalist," humannaire. Anyway...
posted by digaman at 5:46 AM on February 6, 2008


Here's a link to Burroughs' own statement about Scientology, for the record. [PDF link].
posted by digaman at 5:53 AM on February 6, 2008


On the contrary, I believe Ginsberg's claims viz NAMBLA, but wish to avoid the discussion on it here, as I suspect it will devolve into madness. I did not in any way intend to imply some form of stealth smear, and conflating me with Right Wing thought is a deep insult! I often say things that are clumsily worded and facetious. This is a flaw of mine, one of many.

Nobody is perfect, and my memory of Ginsberg's interest in The Golden Dawn may be at fault. If he never mentioned Crowley I would be very surprised, but I'm not suggesting he was an initiate. I am also having heavy deja vu about this very comment, so maybe I've made this error before, or will again.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:57 AM on February 6, 2008


conflating me with Right Wing thought is a deep insult

Then I apologize, Mabuse.

If he never mentioned Crowley I would be very surprised

Eh, occult whatnot was not Ginsberg's thing, though there are some aspects of Tibetan Buddhism that might seem occult from the outside.
posted by digaman at 6:07 AM on February 6, 2008


I would have thought he would have addressed Crowley's poetry and erotic writings, at least.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:10 AM on February 6, 2008


But back to the topic!

I think Ginsberg was drawn to Beck for several reasons.

1) Beck's astonishing wordplay and irreverence in the Odelay-to-Midnight Vultures period probably reminded Ginsberg of the young Dylan and his own youth.

2) Beck was/is cute, and was precisely Ginsberg's "type."

3) Beck's family had ties to the art world and the old-school avant-garde, which he talks about a bit in his interview with me.

4) At the time Ginsberg met Beck, he was going out with the daughter of a good friend of his.

5) As an amateur musician himself, Ginsberg was often in awe of rock stars, from the Beatles to Dylan to the Clash, who he performed and recorded with.
posted by digaman at 6:13 AM on February 6, 2008


I would have thought he would have addressed Crowley's poetry and erotic writings, at least.

Why, are they any good? [smile] Burroughs' collaborator Brion Gysin, on the other hand, had more than a passing interest in Crowley.
posted by digaman at 6:18 AM on February 6, 2008


Ah, I left out a very important thing:

6) Both Ginsberg and Beck were very drawn to old Delta blues. The last recording that Ginsberg listened to before he died was of Ma Rainey singing "See See Rider Blues."
posted by digaman at 6:37 AM on February 6, 2008


Here's a link to Burroughs' own statement about Scientology, for the record.

In which, as late as 1970, he makes it clear that while he has problems with L. Ron and the organization, that he still believes there is value in the tech, and that the E-meter is somehow still a useful tool.

"In an earlier article in Mayfair, I said that ten hours of Scientology processing can do more than ten years of psychoanalysis. For what it is worth, I still think this is so."

People can decide for themselves whether this counts as 'devoted' or not. To his credit, he managed to avoid being suckered to the same extent that many later celebrities were, but I don't think there can be any argument that they used him for several years as a willing tool to sell their cult to his young and impressionable readers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:56 AM on February 6, 2008


Also, thanks for that link to Naked Scientology digaman. It's one of a very tiny number of his early small press things from that period that I don't own and -- have never even seen a copy of.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:59 AM on February 6, 2008


You're welcome. Yeah, it's a cool thing.

I'm not surprised the Burroughs was fascinated by the e-meter; after all, he and Gysin loved cooking up technological means of altering consciousness, from the cut-up tapes to the dream machine. What's more disappointing is thet Burroughs was credulous enough to believe that LRH's organization had ended the practice of "security checks" when he wrote the essay.
posted by digaman at 7:14 AM on February 6, 2008


Man, these two deserved each other.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:16 AM on February 6, 2008


Regarding Beck's family--

Al Hansen - An Illustrated Bibliography

al hansen : life is fluxus

Al Hansen's Red Dots Venus is from The Fluxus Blog.

Beck and Al Hansen: Playing With Matches also has two samples of Al Hansen's artwork.

Fluxus Anthology, 30th Anniversary has recordings of a number of Al Hansen performances.

See also Bibbe Hansen & Boy George Explain It All For You

And here can be found excerpts from Bibbe Hansen's girlhood journals.

And here is 3rd Rail Revisited—An Evening of Al Hansen Performance.

Suffice it to say that Beck comes a long line of total hipsters. It is interesting as well to note that his grandfather was both a collagist and a performance artist.
posted by y2karl at 8:15 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had no idea he was related to Al Hansen.

Crazy.

Good links, karl.
posted by vertigo25 at 8:56 AM on February 6, 2008


I love Beck's music and I think "the beats" made a siginificant contribution to popular culture. I'm always drawn to these kinds of "behind the scenes" interviews, discussions etc. with the actors, musicians and other artists that I admire. And inevitably whenever I read/hear a conversation between artists, it proves once again, that I should almost always AVOID these conversations like the plague. *ick.* When will I learn?
posted by uncompressed at 9:33 AM on February 6, 2008


Um, what are you expecting?
posted by digaman at 10:00 AM on February 6, 2008


On the contrary, I believe Ginsberg's claims viz NAMBLA, but wish to avoid the discussion on it here...

Heh.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2008


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