Category Archives: Literature

Fools Reproach

William Blake’s infernal wisdom: that evil is the energy of the body and acts upon desire. Good bounds this energy, and wants to restrain desire. That if your desire can be restrained, then it was a weak desire. That desire, … Continue reading

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Art and Life: Notes on some Conversations with Allen Ginsberg

It begins with the personal. “Life is full of strange experiences,” he says. Allen Ginsberg finds the extraordinary in the everyday. “Each one has his inner nature that he has to satisfy,” says Louis Ginsberg, attempting to account for the … Continue reading

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Notes on Gregory Corso’s “Variations on a Generation”

The Beat Generation was never supposed to become so big, says Gregory Corso, and that’s why it has such a stupid name. If they’d known they might have spent more time thinking about it. Perhaps not. It doesn’t make sense … Continue reading

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The Imperfection of Henry Miller

Henry Miller has made a vow not to alter a line of what he writes because perfection is no longer his object. He wants to get to know his own mind, with all its faults and weaknesses, and share with … Continue reading

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A Life for Wandering Through

Paris in the 1930s was a place where you could simply be an artist. It didn’t matter if you produced any significant work or not. For example, Henry Miller tells us that an acquaintance of his, called Sylvester, will never … Continue reading

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The Editor and the Escritoire

A less extraordinary mind would have been incapable of worrying so much about an old desk and would never have made the discovery. Victor Eremita, fictitious editor of Søren Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, tells the story of how he came across the … Continue reading

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Notes on Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin

The sun is shining and Berlin belongs to Hitler, is the almost final thought of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin. Christopher catches his reflection in a shop window and is horrified to see that he is smiling: sunshine is still … Continue reading

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Notes on David S. Wills: Burroughs on Civilisation, Hallucination, and Telepathy

For William Burroughs, the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a dividing point in history, marking the moment that Western civilisation finally ended. Could you really call a people capable of such an atrocity “civilised”? And so without civilisation, … Continue reading

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Beats and Hippos

And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is an early work of the Beat Generation, written in the winter of 1944-45 by William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac together, or separately in that they take it in turns throughout the … Continue reading

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Zipporah

Life into art: taking what you find, a smokestack or a button, and finding what is abstract in it, and thereby transmuting it into art. Miller, of course, the great example. Even in a button you can find the stuff … Continue reading

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