I hopped the BART train for the short ride under the bay from Fremont to San Francisco. It was 1995 and the newest incarnation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had recently opened. I had heard that the masterwork of my former painting teacher was now on “permanent” display there. It was Jay DeFeo’s The Rose. Continue Reading…
Archives For June 2017
Released just a few days ago, The Complete Songs Of Innocence And Experience by Allen Ginsberg is a multi-CD (or download, if you prefer) album featuring eight previously unissued songs.
‘Demiurgos scowled, and with that Plato awoke.
Or did he?’
The drug experience has often been perceived as a public and social issue. Yet, drug use and experience are unquestionably a matter of personal choice, as indeed are the consequences. Nevertheless, there is a persistent tension between the public and the private surrounding drug use. The criminalisation and condemnation of drug use in the mid-twentieth century developed entirely within the public sphere. The drug user essentially had no voice and their dependence subjected them to a criminality and demonization. Indeed, the reality of drug use was, and remains, often distorted and misrepresented to the public by politicians and policy makers. A particular case in point being the wide-spread, and persistent view that one drug, like marijuana, if it does not in itself destroy the user’s life, will eventually lead to harder drugs like heroin addiction and criminal activity. But while the public had its spokespersons and rhetoric, like Henry Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to denounce them, drug users and addicts were subjected to an imbalanced power dynamic with no one to speak for them. What we find in The Yage Letters of William Burroughs and Alexander Trocchi’s Cain’s Book are efforts to publicly privatise the drug experience. Or to put the matter another way: these works attempt to make the public aware of the user’s private experience. The aesthetic form of these books reflects the public performance of private life. Moreover, what these authors accomplish has unique parallels with Plato’s allegory of the cave in which an anonymous hero reveals ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ to his community. Continue Reading…
“From a certain point onward there is no turning back. This is the point that must be reached.”
The Six Gallery Reading
They came from the streets: from Fillmore and Broadway, from Columbus and East 7th, from Amsterdam and Morningside Drive. From Lower Burnside. Cross-country. Cross-town. There was talk of a renaissance.
On this first Friday of October, 1955, a waning gibbous moon was rising in the east. It had been hot that day, eighty-two and windless. The sun means nothing in San Francisco. It’s all about the wind. It would not be a cold night, the fog, mercifully, offshore, but it would be cool. It would be very cool. Continue Reading…