Ginsberg Theology

Needless to say, a gay Jewish man on acid comes to the conclusion that there is God in everything.  If you haven’t ever read the Paris Review 8 “Art of Poetry” interview….

Anyway my first thought was this was what I was born for, and second thought, never forget—never forget, never renege, never deny. Never deny the voice no, never forget it, don’t get lost mentally wandering in other spirit worlds or American or job worlds or advertising worlds or war worlds or earth worlds. But the spirit of the universe was what I was born to realize. What I was speaking about visually was, immediately, that the cornices in the old tenement building in Harlem across the backyard court had been carved very finely in 1890 or 1910. And were like the solidification of a great deal of intelligence and care and love also. So that I began noticing in every corner where I looked evidence of a living hand, even in the bricks, in the arrangement of each brick. Some hand placed them there—that some hand had placed the whole universe in front of me. That some hand had placed the sky. No, that’s exaggerating—not that some hand had placed the sky but that the sky was the living blue hand itself. Or that God was in front of my eyes—existence itself was God. Well, the formulations are like that—I didn’t formulate it in exactly those terms, what I was seeing was a visionary thing, it was a lightness in my body … my body suddenly felt light, and a sense of cosmic consciousness, vibrations, understanding, awe, and wonder and surprise. And it was a sudden awakening into a totally deeper real universe than I’d been existing in. So, I’m trying to avoid generalizations about that sudden deeper real universe and keep it strictly to observations of phenomenal data, or a voice with a certain sound, the appearance of cornices, the appearance of the sky say, of the great blue hand, the living hand—to keep to images.

So then, the other poem that brought this on in the same day was The Little Girl Lost, where there was a repeated refrain,

Do father, mother, weep,
Where can Lyca sleep?

How can Lyca sleep
If her mother weep?

“If her heart does ache
 Then let Lyca wake;
If my mother sleep,
Lyca shall not weep.”

It’s that hypnotic thing—and I suddenly realized that Lyca was me, or Lyca was the self; father, mother seeking Lyca, was God seeking, Father, the Creator; and “If her heart does ache / Then let Lyca wake”—wake to what? Wake meaning wake to the same awakeness I was just talking about—of existence in the entire universe. The total consciousness then, of the complete universe. Which is what Blake was talking about. In other words a breakthrough from ordinary habitual quotidian consciousness into consciousness that was really seeing all of heaven in a flower. Or what was it, eternity in a flower … heaven in a grain of sand. As I was seeing heaven in the cornice of the building. By heaven here I mean this imprint or concretization or living form, of an intelligent hand—the work of an intelligent hand, which still had the intelligence molded into it. The gargoyles on the Harlem cornices. What was interesting about the cornice was that there’s cornices like that on every building, but I never noticed them before. And I never realized that they meant spiritual labor, to anyone—that somebody had labored to make a curve in a piece of tin—to make a cornucopia out of a piece of industrial tin. Not only that man, the workman, the artisan, but the architect had thought of it, the builder had paid for it, the smelter had smelt it, the miner had dug it up out of the earth, the earth had gone through eons preparing it. So the little molecules had slumbered for … for kalpas. So out of all of these kalpas it all got together in a great succession of impulses, to be frozen finally in that one form of a cornucopia cornice on the building front. And God knows how many people made the moon. Or what spirits labored … to set fire to the sun. As Blake says, “When I look in the sun I don’t see the rising sun I see a band of angels singing holy, holy, holy.” Well, his perception of the field of the sun is different from that of a man who just sees the sun sun, without any emotional relationship to it.



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