Thursday, March 5, 2015

Théâtre de Poche - (AG on Stage Nudity)

Roger Domani founded the politically engaged Théâtre de Poche in Brussels (Belgium) in 1951. Allen was on hand in 1976 for the  25-year celebrationThe Théâtre de Poche had famously produced a stage adaptation of his Kaddish in 1967 

                                          [Stage Nudity - The Living Theatre - Paradise Now, 1967]

Allen is seen (and heard) here chanting - "AH" - and making the following declaration: 

What seems strange and shocking perhaps in 1945 or (19)55 seems usable, workable now as, for instance, a few years ago, twenty years ago, we all had the dream of people naked on stage, or perhaps orgasm on stage. We haven’t seen orgasm here but we have seen people naked on stage acting love, and that was something that was unthinkable, perhaps, for the general public, or even for an artistic public, twenty years ago, so there’s’s perhaps taken several generations to do that but that’s one idea that finally comes out and emerges in public and becomes accepted and delightful to the public

                                                       [Daniel Ratcliffe in Equus, 2007] 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Meditation and Poetics - 57 (Some Mahayana Ground)

AG: Okay, the Bodhisattva Vows and the PrajnaparamitaSutra or statement are the basis for Zen Buddhism, which is Mahayana, and Tibetan Buddhism, which is Mahayana. (The Prajnaparamita Sutra) probably should be understood both as a piece of poetic literature, which it is, and also a general philosophy, and also a basis to understand this area of poetic mind. It’s the Prajnaparamita or Highest Perfect Wisdom, no less – highest perfect wisdom. Does anybody else have the chutzpah? Yeah, it’s actually an insight akin to much poetic insight that you’ll run into in the Romantic and modern poets.
It runs approximately as follows. It’s generally chanted monosyllabically in Zen temples in the morning (or before meditation) in a style something like [Allen begins to chant the sutra] – Kan-Ji Zai Bo Satsu Gyo Jin Han Nya Ha Ra Mit Ta Ji Sho Ken Go Un Kai Ku Do Isai Ku Yaku Sha Ri Shi Shiki Fu I Shiki Shiki Soku Ze Ku Ku Soku Ze Shiki Ju So Gyo Shiki Yaku..” – I forgot. Something like that. But you get that monosyllabic chanting, (in) both Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and, originally, somewhat like that (in) Sanskrit, or Pali. 

The English translation by Suzuki Roshi of the San Francisco Soto Zen Center is sort of telegraph-ese monosyllabic and is pretty coherent, and there is an excellent translation done by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa (Rinpoche), which is chanted in the Dorje Dzong upstairs meditation room every day. Suzuki Roshi’s version is something like – “Avalokitesvara bodhisattva” (“bodhisattva”, (as) you know, is someone who has taken the vows of the bodhisattva, the four vows, “Avalokitesvara  is that aspect of wakened mind which is down-glancing compassion, the aspect of empathetic compassion, glancing downward from some watchful height. “Down-glancing space-warrior, down-glancing space-enterer” or “Avalokitesvara bodhisattva” practiced highest perfect wisdom meditation..” (which is what we were for ten minutes, just paying attention to breath or empty mind) “..practiced highest perfect wisdom meditation when he perceived the five heaps of appearances all empty”..”(it) relieved every suffering, (the) five skandhas, five heaps of appearance
(It’s another matter we’ll go into if you ever want – just say, “the heaps of appearance all empty”). When he perceived the heaps of appearances empty, it relieved every suffering. Sariputra ((a) student, who was enquiring),  (realized) Form is no different than emptiness, Emptiness is no different than form. Form is the emptiness. Emptiness is the form. “Sensation, feeling, form, feeling…” – let’s see now, “form, feelings, reactions” – well, see, there are several different translations, so I’m trying to make an approximation now. So, “Form, feeling reaction, solidification of feeling reaction, habit reaction, and continuation of consciousness are all like this – empty, Sariputra, this is the original nature of everything – not born, not annihilated, not tainted, not pure, does not increase, does not decrease. Therefore, in emptiness, no form, no feeling, no sensation habit, no fixation (of) thought, no continuity of consciousness. Sariputra, this is the original character of everything – no form, no feeling, no sensation, no consciousness. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of touch. no eye, no world of eyes until we come along these categories of no world of consciousness. No ignorance also, no combat against ignorance. No suffering, no cause of suffering. No nirvana. No path, no wisdom. Also attainment, because no attainment. Every Buddha depends upon highest perfect wisdom, because mind is no obstacle. Because of no obstacle, fear doesn’t exist. Therefore attain complete perfect enlightenment”. 

In other words, by total disillusionment from grasping to attainment, and solidification and fixation, therefore attain enlightenment. Therefore, he, down-glancing, compassionate enterer into space, proclaims highest  perfect wisdom mantra and proclaimed mantra says – “Gone gone”, or “gone”, or “gone out” – “all gone out wake space so AH!” – or “Gate gate” – (“Gah-tay, gah-um" – same Indo-European language root – “gone”) – “Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!” – “bodhi s0-ha” – gone, gone, para-gone – parapsychology (over-gone, or gone) – “parasamgate”- summa para, summa gate, gone over the top, or top gone, or something,  “bodhi” (wakened space – actually, wakened mind, or mind wakened into wakened space) – “so-ha” (or “so Ah!”, “svaha” – (salutation) – which is very similar to..what we’re (going to) get into (next) – which is (Walt) Whitman.  Enough theory. But I just wanted to establish some Mahayana ground to get into.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in] 

[Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders deliver the Prajnaparamita Sutra at the funeral service for Carl Solomon]

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Meditation and Poetics - 56 - (Clear Seeing)

AG: (But) to begin with, you’ve got to begin somewhere, so that’s why you begin with the breath - or (William Carlos) Williams might begin with the Red Wheelbarrow, or, in his old age (a very interesting thing, he’s got his old age poem ["The World Contracted to a Recognizable Image"] about how he’s lying in bed and his mind’s fastened to a picture on the wall, like a fly clinging to a wall. As his consciousness was fading, he kept focusing just on this one picture on the hospital wall, from his hospital bed).

I would say Williams’ clear seeing would lead to the realization of  the emptiness of the things he was seeing, to the extent that they are empty of projection, the realization of a certain emptiness in things. And that would lead to the realization that things are actually both empty and full - which is the Prajnaparamita theory -  form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is no different from emptiness, emptiness is no different from form. But you’d have to examine in detail the functioning of sight, sound, smell taste, touch and mind (the functioning of the senses) to begin to break them down to see the gaps in-between the pictures – the gaps in-between thoughts, the gaps in-between passions, the gaps in-between sight. You’d have to look so carefully that pretty soon you realize you’re looking through your eyeball, and so carefully you might see thirteen-flashes-a-second along the alpha-rhythms of the eyeball (in other words, we don’t see continuously, we see thirteen impulses a second traveling from the retina to the back of the brain). But you’d have to sit there looking very carefully through your eyeball to begin realizing that sight is discontinuous, (just as you already realized, perhaps, that thought-forms are discontinuous, that it isn't a solid universe - or, as (Robert) Creeley was saying last night (he’s got a favorite line, quoting (Werner Heisenberg) -  “A point in space is a place for an argument”?  [to Bobbie Louise Hawkins, in attendance] – Do you know how that goes, Bobbie?...Do you know how that goes? He’s been quoting it for years. “A point in space is..”?

AG: “A point in space is a place for an argument”..[to Students] – Do you all know Bobbie Louise Hawkins?

Bobbie Louise Hawkins: It’s not Heisenberg, it’s (Ludwig) Wittgenstein.

[Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)]

AG: Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein – [to Students] – Do you know Bobbie Louise Hawkins here, who’ll be teaching after Robert Duncan. Did you start today?

Bobbie Louise Hawkins: I start Wednesday

AG: Wednesday – Hmm – Robert Creeley’s ex-wife (among other attributes and qualities) which is why it was funny that I…

Bobbie-Louise Hawkins:  that I'll be taking over Robert Duncan’s class!

AG: ..which was funny, because we had.. some funny pun.. that I hadn't seen Robert last night and brought this little text... took over the class that Robert Duncan started.
“A point in space is a place for an argument”. In other words, if you begin to solidify, or think it’s solidified, think the space point is solidified, then, pretty soon, you’re fighting over the territory.

I don’t know if I’ve answered you satisfactorily. It’s just that the clear seeing, traditionally.. Clear seeing into detail and precision begins the insight into the dissolution of the solidity of the thing that you are looking at.  Just like… if you..

Student: Can you repeat that?

AG: Yes. Clear seeing into a dharma, into a thing, into a microphone, or a word, or a picture, seems to be the beginning of the dissolution of the solidity of that object (i.e. you begin to see that it’s made up of atoms, or that it’s discontinuous, that it’s water, that it flows like water – like Heraclitus said, “All things are water”. [Editorial note - Allen may be confusing Heraclitus and Thales here] -  Clear seeing seems to lead on to that penetration into the empty nature of phenomena.

Is everybody here familiar with the Prajnaparamita Sutra – (the) Highest Perfect Wisdom Sutra? (or, those who are, can you raise your hand? – and those who are not, can you raise your hand? – [Allen surveys the class] – Well, that’s interesting.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately thirty-seven minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meditation and Poetics - 55 - (Sunyata)

[A 19th century Tibetan mandala, in the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art, New York] 

[Japanese Zen Enso Symbol]

[The Messier 80 global cluster in the constellation Scorpius, located about 35 light years from the Sun - via NASA Hubble telescope]

AG: The other aspect of the Mahayana, Mahayana style, as Reggie (Ray), I guess, may have mentioned, is the notion of  sunyata – did he get into that?.. In modern Existentialist terms that’d be “the void”, the big bad..  the big black wolf of the void, or, depending how it’s seen  In modern, twentieth-century Existential terms, it was seen somewhat as a threat – like, if you don’t have God no more, (then) all you’ve got is a void, and what’s the use of doing anything, why not commit suicide? etc, etc, etc, etc. 

So, vulgar notions (I mean vulgar in the sense that), as I was saying, there was (John) Keats’ notion of  “Negative Capability” - (the) capability to entertain many diverse opposite conceptions of the universe at one time, without freaking out, without saying, “Oh, I’ve got to commit suicide because there’s no God and it’s all a big void". "That means I’ve got to commit suicide” 
- like (the) acid head who gets high and says, “Everybody’s got to be naked. Let’s all take off our clothes and rush in front of the automobiles." "Let’s stop the traffic and tell everybody to be naked, and get run over, and who cares?” 
– Well, that’s pushing it. It’s not understanding the emptiness of that notion too.

Be that as it may, there is a notion of emptiness, or sunyata ((the) proper pronunciation is shoun-yah-tah – accent on the “a”, long “a” –“Shoun-yah...”) meaning, not so much the emptiness of the phenomena, as their existence without our plastering conceptions on them – things existent in themselves, without a projection.

Student: What would be (the) difference (between the)  aspect of (William Carlos) Williams and sunyata

AG: What would be the difference between clear-seeing, (the) Hinayana aspect of (William Carlos) Williams and sunyata ?  I think I would be somewhat the difference between Williams and (Walt) Whitman. That is to say, in later Williams, you will find that clear-seeing eye in empathy out, extenso, in space. Here, he’s still at the turn of the century, just practicing, trying to see and focus objects simplified down to single objects – like “so much depends/ upon/ a red wheel/barrow/ glazed with rain/ water/ beside the white/ chickens” – he’s trying to narrow down the focus just to see clearly . As I was saying, reading that history book, Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband Alfred Stieglitz, in beginning these experiments, discovering their own direct perceptions, thought first, as strategy, well, at least, narrow it down, focus (on) one little thing that you can see, and that others can see. When you have enough practice in that, then the Maha-vipassana, the big vipassana comes, which is panoramic insight, in detail, in three-hundred-and-sixty degrees, in all ten directions of space and through all six senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, mind - that you begin to see, say, a mandala of detail, a mandala of detail, or (a) three-hundred-and-sixty-degree sphere of details.

[Audio for the above may be heard here, starting at approximately thirty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding approximately thirty-seven minutes in]