A new story, “Good Night, Moon,” that I wrote with Bruce Sterling is now online for free at Tor.com. And if you want, you can listen to it in podcast form, read by me. You can click on the icon below to access the podcast via my Feedburner podcast station.
(Note that Feedburner only shows my most recent podcasts. For older audio files, see my Podcasts page, which runs back to 2005.)
Recently I’ve been reading a book of journals by Alan Ginsberg, edited by Gordon Ball, Journals: Early Fifties Early Sixties, Grove Press 1977. My idea is to have Alan Turing meet up with Ginsberg in Berkeley in the spring of 1955, at the time when Ginsberg was writing Howl.
I’ve copied out some passages that seem useful in terms of getting Allen G’s character or in terms of fitting him into my novel. The photos today are from the Yellowstone portion of our recent road trip through the Wild West.
[Varicolored algae in a hot-spring stream.]
New York City, March-June, 1952
Alan gets marijuana (“T”) and peyote from a friend, Bill Keck, who says the sense of God is, “When the universal order seems organized—when everything I see seems to belong to one organism, when everything about me swings, together. … With T you are observing everything in unison order harmony swinging organized organism—with peyote you are part of it.”
He eats some peyote at his parents house and sits in the backyard writing notes while his relatives visit with the family inside. “…eyes closed toward light leaves in eye a golden glow hue—which darkens when you pass hand over lidded eye. It made me feel like a very transparent sort of organism.”
“When the wind rushed through the grass you can see the green grass vibrating on the brown ground.”
Still on that trip… “The houses around here seem so primitive, with their poor television antennae tacked on to the patched up chimney—” “And I hear relatives’ honking mechanical voices in the house.”
“…there’s so much to say from the bottom of the heart—but not say in open—people really can’t stand much reality—or me, hate to think of anyone talking back to me.”
“What can you do with such a f*cking universe?”
A dream. “…I am in bed with a [lover] who covers me over with cloth on which are obscene hieroglyphs, one for each part of my body—they are supposed to act on my skin—while he watches I have sex with hieroglyphs.”
[Car mirror reflection of a U-Hal van with Mt. Rushmore painted on the side, seen in the parking lot for Old Faithful.]
In the Yucatan, Mexico, 1954
He dreams a movie of William Burroughs and reconstructs the dream, which is rather apposite for my novel.
“Bill in Europe—but can’t remember the dream O flat horrible reality closing in at morn after night of spectacles…Bill is shadowed by a spy from the future—spy from another dimension in hideous 3rd class train ride—set in background of Europe in the rain and decay…involving cross-passages of time. Fragments of a great ‘routine.’ Bill looks frightened—realizes he’s been followed all along … Then—great change—a look of weariness & boredom, ennui, powerlessness and resentment. Deenergized. Then rage, a look of great annoyance—He lapses into a kind of insanity … Fate or the future was after him with its rational inanity—his insanity defeats their plans—Bill still conscious playing the routine. Like the routine which felled him laughing on kitchen floor…in N.Y.”
[The steaming vents like portals to the underworld.]
In Uxmal alone. “Chichén—the main kick was the wild acoustic—somewhere in the middle of all these buildings is a place where you can clap your hands and be heard in heaven.”
“…only intensest writing is interesting, in which whole life direction is poured for profusion of image & care of surface and stipple & and sensual muscle of soul river thought.”
Worrying about my fate again—that a small breeze of nostalgia fluttered in my heart, thinking a moment past I had someone in the room I loved with me—no ghosts—a man of flesh to talk to and hug.”
“Sudden clearing where the sunlite bursts down as a great white shower.”
[People waiting for Old Faithful to spout.]
Visiting on the finca (ranch) of a woman he’s befriended, Karena Shields. “All the Jungle: all these rocky ruins: And suddenly in the ease and lethargy of monthlong guesthood on the ranch the singleminded conception of a vast Unfathomable god—and writing, the gift of writing thought seems like a candle in the wood.”
He thinks about the reporters at U.P. (United Press) “…thinking how feeble & scrawny those reporters are in their nests, thinking they are men of action, all they do is sit up at their typewriters full of sharpness or wiseacre of cynical knowledge of limited situations priding themselves on scrawny specialties of knowledge like Bullfighting or Railroads etc. & drinking at nite, like fat short man of U.P. I spoke to, full of defensive own paltry pride, small lives up in the News building, their whole actual horizon.”
[The awesomely gnarly staircase in the Old Faithful Lodge.]
Mar 23, 1953, beautiful written Sketch of Salto de Agua, using many unusual or coined words. “tinred & tile rust roofs” “sparsely dotted thatchroofs on little hill on other side” “vasty armadas of white fragmentary clouds in bright sky” “recurring crow of cocks from this side and that challenging and responding in various cockly hoarse tones as if the existed in a world of pure intuitive sound communicating to anonymous hidden familiar chickensouls from hill to hill.”
That evening he sits on the bridge there, “watching moon move over the hill you can see it rising and follow its destination thru the clear dimension of the sky in a slow circle from hill on one horizon to mountain on other, having the whole sky spread out unbroken but by stars in all 360 directions.” [I saw something like this one night camping alone on a hill top in Big Sur.]
[My old painting, “Big Sur”, oil, 30” by 24”, August, 2000. Finding the North Star via the Big Dipper, I noticed how Earth’s turning around the axis through this Pole was bringing up the moon and bringing down the sun. The flies bit me.]
Still in Salto de Agua. “The Kiosk proprietor a civilized looking citizen in a disgusting sort of way—acne and fatso glasses.”
Back on the Shields finca, April 16, 1954, Good Friday. “& palmtrees appearing again in the balmy wind presaging a rain—shifting their fronds in the wind with a dry soft rattle sound, so much like animal hairy windmills—insectlike in fact, like monstrous insects long white bodies encased in scales and at the top conglomerated in the head nerve center all these rattly animal feelers that move lethargically in in the direction of the wind, settling & unsettling as in water.”
[The tourists in the steam like shades in the afterworld.]
“The word Time—Like a great silver wall blocking the sky… One might sit in this Chiapas recording the appearance of time, like painting—the palmtree so much suggesting an animal force spraying up in slow time.”
Dream of walking around New York City with Jack Kerouac. “Impression of the unknown miles of movies & bridges & houses & alien life in Brooklyn, how one could go walking alone (or with others) not to explore but to enjoy & be awed by the vast human scenery just as one goes walking thru mountains in awe. For kicks, not to map the streets.”
Back in California, 1954.
“Of an eternity we have a number of score of years … I have had several months near joy, and of that perhaps one day doing what I inmost want and of that a minute of perfection.”
On June 17, 2954, he’s staying stay with Neal Cassady and his family in Monte Sereno, near San Jose, California. He’s in love with Neal, mooning over him. “I feel like a strange idiot, standing there among wife & children all to whom he gives needs of affection and attention, aching for some special side extra sacrifice of attention to me—as if like some nowhere evil beast intruding I were competing for his care with his own children & wife and job which seems to occupy energize bore & tire him.”
He drafts a poem called “Serenade” with this phrase, “The bomb appeared intolerable, light and radiance, and afterwards the grey world appeared as a ghost.”
In Berkeley, Fall, 1955.
Allen writes some fourteen-syllable haikus.
emerges from the movies:
the street at lunchtime.”
“The moon over the roof,
worms in the garden.
I rent this house.”