Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick in conversation with Studs Terkel

BROADCAST: Apr. 11, 1975 | DURATION: 00:53:26

Digital audio not yet public.

Transcript

Studs Terkel Two of the most creative and vital spirits in the American literary scene today are Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. They represent to some people a certain epoch in our society, a certain era, and they represent a good deal that is now, too. They're in Chicago at the moment, both together, and Friday night they're doing a reading of their works. The prose poems and poetry of William Burroughs and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. Mr. Ginsberg you know won the National Book Award last year for The Fall of America, and is known for his two powerful works Howl and Kaddish among his many other works.

Allen Ginsberg So we'll be reading at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 8 p.m.

Studs Terkel That's at 8 p.m. Better get that straight. That's Fri-Friday night. William Burroughs, known best for his very powerful and innovative novel the Naked Lunch, also known for The Soft Machine and Nova Express, and we think of him both as a novelist and poet,

Allen Ginsberg The most recent work, Exterminator!

Studs Terkel Exterminator! And after this message

William Burroughs And The Wild Boys.

Studs Terkel

William Burroughs Two of the most creative and vital spirits in the American literary scene today are Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. They represent to some people a certain epoch in our society, a certain era, and they represent a good deal that is now, too. They're in Chicago at the moment, both together, and Friday night they're doing a reading of their works. The prose poems and poetry of William Burroughs and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. Mr. Ginsberg you know won the National Book Award last year for The Fall of America, and is known for his two powerful works Howl and Kaddish among his many other works. So we'll be reading at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 8 p.m. That's at 8 p.m. Better get that straight. That's Fri-Friday night. William Burroughs, known best for his very powerful and innovative novel the Naked Lunch, also known for The Soft Machine and Nova Express, and we think of him both as a novelist and poet, so The most recent work, Exterminator! Exterminator! And after this message -- And The Wild Boys. And Yes. Peter

Studs Terkel And after this message we'll hear from our two guests, and there'll be a rather interesting introduction in a moment. Un momento. [pause in recording] The occasion in which I last ran into Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs is an interesting one. It was Chicago 1968 August immediately a memory and experiences evoked on the part of the listeners. It was the Democratic convention and it was a very beautiful August evening, and it was in Lincoln Park, and many young people gathered to speak, and young clergy were sponsoring it, and there were also, without my knowing it at the moment, Bill Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Suppose we recreate the scene through the words and memories the day after the event is what you'll hear. James Cameron, British journalist and myself are scattered now. The tear gas came about 11 o'clock at night. The tear gas came, the police

Allen Ginsberg Covering the cross of Christ, which was raised in the park.

Studs Terkel That's, that's right. The, the young clergy and the kids who came there to protest Vietnam and other things had

Allen Ginsberg -- A basic cross.

Studs Terkel Had carried a rude wooden cross and put it up, and the uniformed figures from the distance came, that is, the trucks came, and the canisters of tear gas. Everybody stumbled, and we found ourselves and James Cameron and myself pick it up. [pause in recording] We found ourselves in the lobby of the Midland Hotel to escape the noxious gas that was by the way now by this time all over the street. And there were a great many -- here came this motley band in the lobby [laughing] of a hotel, Near North, that in which live oh, Near North Siders, some members of the half world, petty gamblers, a wide variety of things. Guys who live as best they can.

James Cameron Quite a few celebrities, too.

Studs Terkel In the lobby of course were also Allen Ginsberg, who had lost his voice singing mantras, and there's one young guy says, "Tell him. That you'll be with him. Since he let -- he lost his voice just to say 'Om' and not 'Ung,' to save his voice," and there was Terry Southern and William Burroughs of The Naked Lunch and Jean Genet was there. And this was some lobby. All were there, and

James Cameron If the, if the police had only realized it, they could have come in and eliminated three quarters of the new intelligensia, [laughing] in one fell sweep if they'd wanted to.

Studs Terkel Interesting was Jean Genet, watching, not knowing English, with his interpreter, who was just watching it with the eyes of a child, almost. Noticed him there. I was furious because I had just started to smoke my cigar when the -- I had this nice 15-cent cigar and I started to smoke, I thought the cigar could be my psychological weapon, just hold a cigar. But when the noxious fumes came nothing, and I lost that cigar. I'm furious. It was a good one. I just had a couple of good puffs at it, but there we were in the lobby. Now, why don't you pick up the lobby scene?

James Cameron Well, it was as you say a completely mixed-up sort of crowd, including these half-dozen really quite celebrated young writers of the, of the left, and what I noticed particularly was across the lobby in the middle of all this extraordinary scene of confusion, with people retching and coughing and blowing their noses, a large tourists' sign saying "Six Good Reasons for Visiting Chicago," [laughing] and it seemed to

Studs Terkel And so, with that lead-in, here Allen Ginsberg some years later now, some seven years later, and William Burroughs, thoughts that come to your mind, Allen, as that scene's recreated.

Allen Ginsberg Well, a poem I wrote the very next day, which was August 28th after getting tear-gassed again in Grant Park, 'cause what had happened was David Dellinger had led that, that pacifist march, which was stopped by the police and then tear gas came down after, after the march broke up. So I, I was sitting in Grant Park after the melee. "Green air. Children sat under trees with the old bodies bare, eyes open to eyes under the Hilton Hotel wall, the ring of brown-clothed bodies armed, but silent, at ease, leaned on their rifles. Harsh sound of microphones, helicopter roar, a current in the belly, adrenaline, future marches and detectives naked in bed? Where? On the planet! Not Chicago? In late sunlight. Miserable picnic. Police state? Or Garden of Eden? In the building walled against the sky, magicians exchange images, money, vote and handshakes. The tear gas drifted up to the vice president naked in the bathroom, naked on the toilet taking a shit, weeping! Who wants to be president of the Garden of Eden?" [laughing] I wrote that in Grant Park, still coughing.

Studs Terkel [Laughing] Marvelous! Surrealistic image by Allen Ginsberg. William Burroughs. Your thoughts.

William Burroughs Well, I, I was there to cover the convention for Esquire, and I wrote something about that very scene. Lincoln Park Tuesday night. "The Yippies have assembled at the epicenter of Lincoln Park, bonfires across from the demonstrators singing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.' Wet a handkerchief and put it in front of your face. Don't rub your eyes. Keep your cool and stay seated. Sit or split. At this point, I looked up to see what looks like a battalion of World War I tanks converging on the youthful demonstrators. And I say, "What's with you, Martin? You wig already?" He just looks at me and says, "Fill your hand, stranger," and hauled out an old rusty police force from 1910. And I take off across Lincoln Park, tear gas canisters raining all around me. From a safe distance I turn around to observe the scene and see it as a 1917 gas attack from the archives. I make the lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, where the medics are treating gas victims, the Life-Time photographer's laid out on a bench, medics washing his eyes out. Soon he recovers and begins taking pictures of everything in sight. Outside the cops prowl, prowl about like aroused tomcats. They didn't come into the lobby." That was, that's, those were my impressions of the same

Studs Terkel Yeah. It's funny, I'm thinking of the two separate and yet very similar impressions written in different ways by Allen Ginsberg and Bill Burroughs of that one event.

Allen Ginsberg A few other things I remember, what I was doing, we were all sitting on a little knoll overlooking that cross, thinking, "Well, there's a certain strength and how marvelous there's all these rabbis and priests up there raising up a cross against the violence," and all of a sudden, an unbelievable like Burroughs' image of like a 1917 World War I movie with the tear gas moving across the field, slowly covering up the cross! And so I remember Bill and I and Jean Genet held hands and slowly walked out of the park, and I think I was chanting, and what I was chanting at the time was Om, which since probably very few people at the time ever get, got to hear it, and since Judge Hoffman wouldn't let me reproduce it properly in the courtroom trial

Studs Terkel -- We should point out that you were, you were a defense witness for the Seven

Allen Ginsberg Yes, Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial.

Studs Terkel Quote unquote "Conspiracy Trial," and Judge Hoffman wouldn't let you -- you might describe

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, I had, well, the situation was that I was a witness for the defense to say that we were trying to do some nice, peaceful things too, like organized community chanting rather than fighting back. So Leonard Weinglass and, and William Kunstler, the defense lawyers, put me on the stand and asked me to chant "Hare Krishna" and to chant "Om" to Judge Hoffman and the jury to demonstrate exactly what the vibe was that we were trying to send out, so Hoffman wouldn't let me play my little harmonium, which is a little pump organ. You can put-- sit on your lap with a pump and a, and a keyboard, [organ chord] because he said that "Well, you can only -- in American courtrooms you can only testify in, in English," [laughing] forgetting that he was using Latin also. So what it was that I was trying to

Studs Terkel Nothing, nothing violent about that at all, is there?

Allen Ginsberg Well, it's, it sets up a very definite vibe of sort of calming the scene, particularly if you can get a mob to be chanting. So I -- my great mistake at that, that convention, which I corrected at the 1972 Miami tear gas convention, was shifting the mantra from "Om," which was relatively alien and foreign as it sounds, to something more American, a single word mantra, "Ah," that you can do [chants] "Ahhh."

Studs Terkel But what was the mistake?

Allen Ginsberg Well, "Om" was too alien, too foreign.

Studs Terkel Oh, I see, "Ah" is better.

Allen Ginsberg "Ah" is sort of purification of speech, an appreciation of the space. "Om" is too enclosed, these sort of closed eye and sort of too mystical, "Ah" is open and sort of like open-eyed, and everybody can say "Ah."

Studs Terkel Since Allen has brought up the subject of mantras and the harmonium, there's an early British and later American instrument, the idea of many cultures are involved. The impact of the East upon Western technology has also had an impact on your writings, hasn't it, Bill? And, and Allen, too.

William Burroughs Well I, certainly I think more impact on Allen's writing than on mine.

Allen Ginsberg But in yours, you lived a long time in North Africa.

Studs Terkel That's right.

William Burroughs Oh, yes, yes

Allen Ginsberg In Tangiers.

William Burroughs I did indeed. Yes, I did, and I've been very much influenced by my experience there, by Moroccan music and the, the whole Arab, the whole Arab culture.

Studs Terkel Could I ask this question of Bill Burroughs. What is it that led you, this is a tough one. Bill Burroughs of St. Louis, of, of rather wealthy background, IBM, yourself, led you not simply to writing but to that area, to that North African quote unquote "exotic area," away from what could be a much more conventional life?

William Burroughs Well, the conventional life was actually not all that available to me. I graduated from Harvard during the Depression, and when a Harvard degree meant very little, and well, my grandfather was the inventor of the adding machine, my family got almost nothing out of it, so we were, could never have been described as wealthy. And, by the time I went to North Africa I'd already written this book Junkie and had the experiences that are described in there, and I was more or less, shall we say, committed to writing. And I had read Paul Bowles' books about Tangiers, and it sounded like a very fascinating place. And I must say it fully lived up to expectations when I got there.

Studs Terkel I think Bill Burroughs' book Naked Lunch

William Burroughs I lived there for five years.

Allen Ginsberg Bill lived in Mexico?

William Burroughs Yes.

Allen Ginsberg Also before for

William Burroughs Yes, I lived in Mexico for about three years.

Studs Terkel Naked Lunch was one of the earliest, one of the most vivid, was it not, descriptions of the nature of, of, of dope on a guy, wasn't it?

Allen Ginsberg Well it, it was more and more the nature of addiction

Studs Terkel Of addiction.

Allen Ginsberg And, but not merely dope addiction, but power addiction.

Studs Terkel Pow -- how -- go ahead.

Allen Ginsberg Money addiction, petrochemical addiction, control addiction as, as Bill develops it in his later, later works after The Wild Boys.

William Burroughs I was stuck by some pictures of Nixon during the Watergate, and he looked just like a sick addict, this power falling away from him.

Allen Ginsberg Withdrawal symptoms.

William Burroughs Yes, and I've had Life-Time photographers describe to me the terrible withdrawal symptoms when their expense account was withdrawn.

Studs Terkel Wow, aren't we talking now about the connection, remember the play of Jack Delray -- we're talking about everybody has a connection, nobody has an addiction with religion, you say power, power, of course, is the, perhaps the most powerful of all addictions,

William Burroughs Well, remember the, the effect of, of opiates is to sort of -- encase you, to cover you, to protect you. And exactly the same power and money do exactly the same thing. And if that cover is withdrawn, then you're -- you have the withdrawal symptoms. The extreme sensitivity.

Allen Ginsberg So, so I think more -- listening to Bill read at Northwestern University last night, I get more and more struck with a central metaphor of his work, which is, as he himself underwent the withdrawal symptoms from opium addiction and went through the psychological transformation to get clean, de-addicting himself, he also got a tremendous amount of insight into the very basic mechanisms of addiction in American society. And that's the central metaphor of most of his work through Exterminator and Wild Boy. Do you have any of these passages that you could read that, that during the program sometime or other that could exemplify that at all?

Studs Terkel As we go

William Burroughs I was just trying to think. You mean, identi -- exemplify the, the nature of addiction.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, as it applies in American society outside of dope. I remember, in Naked Lunch there is the, the great phrase that, "Selling is as much of a habit as using."

William Burroughs "Selling is more of a habit than using."

Allen Ginsberg In, in then there's a further metaphor that the police, like the Drug Enforcement Agency, such as the people that are now attacking Hugh Hefner, are precisely addicted like junkies to power, and to, to their power over other people, and their power to, to, to create paranoia in other people and to dominate other people. It's like

William Burroughs -- No. And also, it's true with power, that the more you exercise power addiction is that the deeper you get into it, the more difficult it becomes to get out of it, because you would be exposed to all the bad karma that you build up.

Studs Terkel In our very city, in our city at this moment, Richard J. Daley, perhaps as a, if there were a flesh-and-blood metaphor, is stroke, 72, but by God, he's gonna show 'em and of course he did, you see.

William Burroughs He's going to hang on to that

Studs Terkel But, yeah, but, see, no matter what, you see, the city could be destroyed, doesn't matter. It's this addiction toward power. Perhaps the most -- you said, "Will it sell?" Of course, selling, too. In other words, we think of a TV commercial of course, I guess the most pervasive single phenomenon visually of our life.

Allen Ginsberg Well, conspicuous consumption itself is precisely that addiction to the over-accumulation and consumption of material junk around

Studs Terkel Well, just as Bill Burroughs is haunted and is so eloquent and creative in describing addiction and power

Allen Ginsberg -- I think it's in a passage there.

Studs Terkel Before this. You yourself, and on your case, similar role. And yet from Patterson to different parts of the world and listening to the harmonium and Om, I suppose I'm, am I assuming your attempt to overlay it with a certain peaceful, that is -- to make it non-aggressive, to make life non-aggressive.

Allen Ginsberg Well this is very interesting lession. You know, Bill and I have known each other 30 years or more. Bill was my first guru so to speak, or one of my first teachers, both literarily and psychologically. We met in 1944 at Christmas in New York, and my intellectual development was really supervised by him when I was in school. And then he was in so to speak exile for many years in Europe, and I was holding forth here in Chicago, but bearing a good deal of his basic ideas in mind because he influenced my development. And one of the first things he taught me was to de-addict myself from language, that language itself was an addiction, and that, that we were all addicted to a ticker-tape repetition of conditioned concepts and words running through our heads, determining our thoughts, feelings and apparent sensory impressions even so that I branched out into the study of Buddhism and mantra as sort of applications of examination of my own consciousness and clarification and cleaning up of my unconsciousness. So I practice silence or I practice mantra as a way of blanking out like Om sort of or Ah purifies the speech, because it's like a white sound that turns off all the other chattering and leaves an empty space to appreciate.

William Burroughs Well, it's to be remembered that sound, or words are actual painkillers. That they can, a dentist can operate, and even minor surgery can be performed just with music through headphones.

Allen Ginsberg Or hypnotic, or hypnotic suggestion.

William Burroughs So that certainly one of the, one of the basic mechanisms of compulsive verbalization is as a pain - that it's a painkiller. It is literally junk.

Studs Terkel That's junk, too. That's interesting. Language as junk.

Allen Ginsberg Right.

Studs Terkel Yeah, language as dope.

Allen Ginsberg Right. And so who controls the supply?

William Burroughs When

Studs Terkel Now we come, there's a phrase long ago that

William Burroughs Who's the pusher.

Studs Terkel Yeah, who controls. The way

Allen Ginsberg Remember "The Selling of the President," the selling of the concepts and images, say, of Nixon or the role of the mass media in selling images and words to the public, but that's building, it's there.

Studs Terkel So that says, this is interesting, who, who sells the language? Who conditions you to think or use a certain phrase? And so this is interesting, language as junk. And so, in a way, Bill Burroughs played a role in de-addicting you from the use of what might be considered banal language or the accepted traditional language which is junk.

Allen Ginsberg Conditioned language.

Studs Terkel Conditioned!

Allen Ginsberg Habitual language, habit language, right, we got a language

William Burroughs Habit and I think above all, compulsive

Allen Ginsberg Right, right.

Studs Terkel I was thinking, since you two speak of, you speak of early meeting, when Allen Ginsberg was here for the Big Table, Paul Carroll's Big Table under attack by the, by the Comstocks of our day

Allen Ginsberg For the language. For the

Studs Terkel For the language, for the use of language

Allen Ginsberg Right, and precisely

Studs Terkel Several benefits.

Allen Ginsberg They were trying to control

Studs Terkel And this was 1959.

Allen Ginsberg Right.

Studs Terkel And you were in the studio, another studio we had, you came with Gregory Corso and, and Orlovsky,

Allen Ginsberg Peter Orlovsky.

Studs Terkel And now suppose we hear a part of that.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, but I should say just before we go into it

Studs Terkel -- No, why don't you say, yeah.

Allen Ginsberg That the reason we came was that Chicago Review was going to publish the first large section of Burroughs' Naked Lunch ever to be published in America!

Studs Terkel Oh, that

Allen Ginsberg And that was being banned!

William Burroughs Or anywhere else.

Allen Ginsberg Or anywhere

Studs Terkel Oh, so that was the

Allen Ginsberg That was the reason we came

William Burroughs -- The first publication was at the University of Chicago.

Studs Terkel It was!

Allen Ginsberg Yes.

William Burroughs And that led, that led directly to the publication of the, of the novel in, by Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press in Paris in 1959. That is, he heard about this case, and that aroused

Studs Terkel Oh, so Chicago then really played a role

William Burroughs A vital role!

Studs Terkel In

William Burroughs A vital role.

Studs Terkel Which would become a landmark book.

Allen Ginsberg And the reason that Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso and myself came here was to give a big reading to raise money to publish the work under the title Big Table magazine when Chicago Review wouldn't publish

Studs Terkel So this conversation we're having in this March morning of 1975 is really part of a continuity, isn't it?

Allen Ginsberg Completely part of an old continuity that goes back from '59 and goes up to '68 to, to a tear-gas-filled lobby in Lincoln Park, when they, when we were still chanting "Om" and trying to get our language across.

Studs Terkel And now, '59, this was -- the phr--the phrase, and we'll ask about Bill Burroughs' contribution to this movement, "Beat Generation" it was just new at the time, but had come into being, and we hear Allen describing it in contrast to the previous so-called "Lost Generation." We hear, this is '59.

Allen Ginsberg Let's hear what I said. [pause in recording] Saying well, if the other generation was a lost generation, what would people be naming this generation? But it was just, you know, like a goofy conversation. It wasn't a big, serious, formal let us now give a formal name to a generation, as if there is such a thing as a generation.

Studs Terkel You won't be cubby-holed, in other words. I mean, this is just a label.

Allen Ginsberg Well, it's a label that's been picked up, but it is, it's, it's actually quite a beautiful label in a way. It's poetically interesting. The remark is interesting. Kerouac said, "Well, this then would be a Beat Generation, let's say everybody's beat, everybody's sort of worn down to a point where they'll be able to receive God."

Studs Terkel Well, let's feel free in this, let's make this a round table with Paul and Gregory and Allen. What about

Gregory Corso Peter.

Studs Terkel Peter, I beg your pardon.

Gregory Corso

Studs Terkel Two of the most creative and vital spirits in the American literary scene today are Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. They represent to some people a certain epoch in our society, a certain era, and they represent a good deal that is now, too. They're in Chicago at the moment, both together, and Friday night they're doing a reading of their works. The prose poems and poetry of William Burroughs and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. Mr. Ginsberg you know won the National Book Award last year for The Fall of America, and is known for his two powerful works Howl and Kaddish among his many other works. So we'll be reading at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 8 p.m. That's at 8 p.m. Better get that straight. That's Fri-Friday night. William Burroughs, known best for his very powerful and innovative novel the Naked Lunch, also known for The Soft Machine and Nova Express, and we think of him both as a novelist and poet, so The most recent work, Exterminator! Exterminator! And after this message -- And The Wild Boys. And Yes. And after this message we'll hear from our two guests, and there'll be a rather interesting introduction in a moment. Un momento. [pause in recording] The occasion in which I last ran into Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs is an interesting one. It was Chicago 1968 August immediately a memory and experiences evoked on the part of the listeners. It was the Democratic convention and it was a very beautiful August evening, and it was in Lincoln Park, and many young people gathered to speak, and young clergy were sponsoring it, and there were also, without my knowing it at the moment, Bill Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Suppose we recreate the scene through the words and memories the day after the event is what you'll hear. James Cameron, British journalist and myself are scattered now. The tear gas came about 11 o'clock at night. The tear gas came, the police -- Covering the cross of Christ, which was raised in the park. That's, that's right. The, the young clergy and the kids who came there to protest Vietnam and other things had -- A basic cross. Had carried a rude wooden cross and put it up, and the uniformed figures from the distance came, that is, the trucks came, and the canisters of tear gas. Everybody stumbled, and we found ourselves and James Cameron and myself pick it up. [pause in recording] We found ourselves in the lobby of the Midland Hotel to escape the noxious gas that was by the way now by this time all over the street. And there were a great many -- here came this motley band in the lobby [laughing] of a hotel, Near North, that in which live oh, Near North Siders, some members of the half world, petty gamblers, a wide variety of things. Guys who live as best they can. Quite a few celebrities, too. In the lobby of course were also Allen Ginsberg, who had lost his voice singing mantras, and there's one young guy says, "Tell him. That you'll be with him. Since he let -- he lost his voice just to say 'Om' and not 'Ung,' to save his voice," and there was Terry Southern and William Burroughs of The Naked Lunch and Jean Genet was there. And this was some lobby. All were there, and -- If the, if the police had only realized it, they could have come in and eliminated three quarters of the new intelligensia, [laughing] in one fell sweep if they'd wanted to. Interesting was Jean Genet, watching, not knowing English, with his interpreter, who was just watching it with the eyes of a child, almost. Noticed him there. I was furious because I had just started to smoke my cigar when the -- I had this nice 15-cent cigar and I started to smoke, I thought the cigar could be my psychological weapon, just hold a cigar. But when the noxious fumes came nothing, and I lost that cigar. I'm furious. It was a good one. I just had a couple of good puffs at it, but there we were in the lobby. Now, why don't you pick up the lobby scene? Well, it was as you say a completely mixed-up sort of crowd, including these half-dozen really quite celebrated young writers of the, of the left, and what I noticed particularly was across the lobby in the middle of all this extraordinary scene of confusion, with people retching and coughing and blowing their noses, a large tourists' sign saying "Six Good Reasons for Visiting Chicago," [laughing] and it seemed to me And so, with that lead-in, here Allen Ginsberg some years later now, some seven years later, and William Burroughs, thoughts that come to your mind, Allen, as that scene's recreated. Well, a poem I wrote the very next day, which was August 28th after getting tear-gassed again in Grant Park, 'cause what had happened was David Dellinger had led that, that pacifist march, which was stopped by the police and then tear gas came down after, after the march broke up. So I, I was sitting in Grant Park after the melee. "Green air. Children sat under trees with the old bodies bare, eyes open to eyes under the Hilton Hotel wall, the ring of brown-clothed bodies armed, but silent, at ease, leaned on their rifles. Harsh sound of microphones, helicopter roar, a current in the belly, adrenaline, future marches and detectives naked in bed? Where? On the planet! Not Chicago? In late sunlight. Miserable picnic. Police state? Or Garden of Eden? In the building walled against the sky, magicians exchange images, money, vote and handshakes. The tear gas drifted up to the vice president naked in the bathroom, naked on the toilet taking a shit, weeping! Who wants to be president of the Garden of Eden?" [laughing] I wrote that in Grant Park, still coughing. [Laughing] Marvelous! Surrealistic image by Allen Ginsberg. William Burroughs. Your thoughts. Well, I, I was there to cover the convention for Esquire, and I wrote something about that very scene. Lincoln Park Tuesday night. "The Yippies have assembled at the epicenter of Lincoln Park, bonfires across from the demonstrators singing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.' Wet a handkerchief and put it in front of your face. Don't rub your eyes. Keep your cool and stay seated. Sit or split. At this point, I looked up to see what looks like a battalion of World War I tanks converging on the youthful demonstrators. And I say, "What's with you, Martin? You wig already?" He just looks at me and says, "Fill your hand, stranger," and hauled out an old rusty police force from 1910. And I take off across Lincoln Park, tear gas canisters raining all around me. From a safe distance I turn around to observe the scene and see it as a 1917 gas attack from the archives. I make the lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, where the medics are treating gas victims, the Life-Time photographer's laid out on a bench, medics washing his eyes out. Soon he recovers and begins taking pictures of everything in sight. Outside the cops prowl, prowl about like aroused tomcats. They didn't come into the lobby." That was, that's, those were my impressions of the same Yeah. It's funny, I'm thinking of the two separate and yet very similar impressions written in different ways by Allen Ginsberg and Bill Burroughs of that one event. A few other things I remember, what I was doing, we were all sitting on a little knoll overlooking that cross, thinking, "Well, there's a certain strength and how marvelous there's all these rabbis and priests up there raising up a cross against the violence," and all of a sudden, an unbelievable like Burroughs' image of like a 1917 World War I movie with the tear gas moving across the field, slowly covering up the cross! And so I remember Bill and I and Jean Genet held hands and slowly walked out of the park, and I think I was chanting, and what I was chanting at the time was Om, which since probably very few people at the time ever get, got to hear it, and since Judge Hoffman wouldn't let me reproduce it properly in the courtroom trial -- We should point out that you were, you were a defense witness for the Seven -- Yes, Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial. Quote unquote "Conspiracy Trial," and Judge Hoffman wouldn't let you -- you might describe the Yeah, I had, well, the situation was that I was a witness for the defense to say that we were trying to do some nice, peaceful things too, like organized community chanting rather than fighting back. So Leonard Weinglass and, and William Kunstler, the defense lawyers, put me on the stand and asked me to chant "Hare Krishna" and to chant "Om" to Judge Hoffman and the jury to demonstrate exactly what the vibe was that we were trying to send out, so Hoffman wouldn't let me play my little harmonium, which is a little pump organ. You can put-- sit on your lap with a pump and a, and a keyboard, [organ chord] because he said that "Well, you can only -- in American courtrooms you can only testify in, in English," [laughing] forgetting that he was using Latin also. So what it was that I was trying to say Nothing, nothing violent about that at all, is there? Well, it's, it sets up a very definite vibe of sort of calming the scene, particularly if you can get a mob to be chanting. So I -- my great mistake at that, that convention, which I corrected at the 1972 Miami tear gas convention, was shifting the mantra from "Om," which was relatively alien and foreign as it sounds, to something more American, a single word mantra, "Ah," that you can do [chants] "Ahhh." But what was the mistake? Well, "Om" was too alien, too foreign. Oh, I see, "Ah" is better. "Ah" is sort of purification of speech, an appreciation of the space. "Om" is too enclosed, these sort of closed eye and sort of too mystical, "Ah" is open and sort of like open-eyed, and everybody can say "Ah." Since Allen has brought up the subject of mantras and the harmonium, there's an early British and later American instrument, the idea of many cultures are involved. The impact of the East upon Western technology has also had an impact on your writings, hasn't it, Bill? And, and Allen, too. Well I, certainly I think more impact on Allen's writing than on mine. But in yours, you lived a long time in North Africa. That's right. Oh, yes, yes -- In Tangiers. I did indeed. Yes, I did, and I've been very much influenced by my experience there, by Moroccan music and the, the whole Arab, the whole Arab culture. Could I ask this question of Bill Burroughs. What is it that led you, this is a tough one. Bill Burroughs of St. Louis, of, of rather wealthy background, IBM, yourself, led you not simply to writing but to that area, to that North African quote unquote "exotic area," away from what could be a much more conventional life? Well, the conventional life was actually not all that available to me. I graduated from Harvard during the Depression, and when a Harvard degree meant very little, and well, my grandfather was the inventor of the adding machine, my family got almost nothing out of it, so we were, could never have been described as wealthy. And, by the time I went to North Africa I'd already written this book Junkie and had the experiences that are described in there, and I was more or less, shall we say, committed to writing. And I had read Paul Bowles' books about Tangiers, and it sounded like a very fascinating place. And I must say it fully lived up to expectations when I got there. I think Bill Burroughs' book Naked Lunch -- I lived there for five years. Bill lived in Mexico? Yes. Also before for a Yes, I lived in Mexico for about three years. Naked Lunch was one of the earliest, one of the most vivid, was it not, descriptions of the nature of, of, of dope on a guy, wasn't it? Well it, it was more and more the nature of addiction -- Of addiction. And, but not merely dope addiction, but power addiction. Pow -- how -- go ahead. Money addiction, petrochemical addiction, control addiction as, as Bill develops it in his later, later works after The Wild Boys. I was stuck by some pictures of Nixon during the Watergate, and he looked just like a sick addict, this power falling away from him. Withdrawal symptoms. Yes, and I've had Life-Time photographers describe to me the terrible withdrawal symptoms when their expense account was withdrawn. Wow, aren't we talking now about the connection, remember the play of Jack Delray -- we're talking about everybody has a connection, nobody has an addiction with religion, you say power, power, of course, is the, perhaps the most powerful of all addictions, you Well, remember the, the effect of, of opiates is to sort of -- encase you, to cover you, to protect you. And exactly the same power and money do exactly the same thing. And if that cover is withdrawn, then you're -- you have the withdrawal symptoms. The extreme sensitivity. So, so I think more -- listening to Bill read at Northwestern University last night, I get more and more struck with a central metaphor of his work, which is, as he himself underwent the withdrawal symptoms from opium addiction and went through the psychological transformation to get clean, de-addicting himself, he also got a tremendous amount of insight into the very basic mechanisms of addiction in American society. And that's the central metaphor of most of his work through Exterminator and Wild Boy. Do you have any of these passages that you could read that, that during the program sometime or other that could exemplify that at all? As we go along. I was just trying to think. You mean, identi -- exemplify the, the nature of addiction. Yeah, as it applies in American society outside of dope. I remember, in Naked Lunch there is the, the great phrase that, "Selling is as much of a habit as using." "Selling is more of a habit than using." In, in then there's a further metaphor that the police, like the Drug Enforcement Agency, such as the people that are now attacking Hugh Hefner, are precisely addicted like junkies to power, and to, to their power over other people, and their power to, to, to create paranoia in other people and to dominate other people. It's like -- No. And also, it's true with power, that the more you exercise power addiction is that the deeper you get into it, the more difficult it becomes to get out of it, because you would be exposed to all the bad karma that you build up. In our very city, in our city at this moment, Richard J. Daley, perhaps as a, if there were a flesh-and-blood metaphor, is stroke, 72, but by God, he's gonna show 'em and of course he did, you see. He's going to hang on to that hat. But, yeah, but, see, no matter what, you see, the city could be destroyed, doesn't matter. It's this addiction toward power. Perhaps the most -- you said, "Will it sell?" Of course, selling, too. In other words, we think of a TV commercial of course, I guess the most pervasive single phenomenon visually of our life. Well, conspicuous consumption itself is precisely that addiction to the over-accumulation and consumption of material junk around us. Well, just as Bill Burroughs is haunted and is so eloquent and creative in describing addiction and power -- I think it's in a passage there. Before this. You yourself, and on your case, similar role. And yet from Patterson to different parts of the world and listening to the harmonium and Om, I suppose I'm, am I assuming your attempt to overlay it with a certain peaceful, that is -- to make it non-aggressive, to make life non-aggressive. Well this is very interesting lession. You know, Bill and I have known each other 30 years or more. Bill was my first guru so to speak, or one of my first teachers, both literarily and psychologically. We met in 1944 at Christmas in New York, and my intellectual development was really supervised by him when I was in school. And then he was in so to speak exile for many years in Europe, and I was holding forth here in Chicago, but bearing a good deal of his basic ideas in mind because he influenced my development. And one of the first things he taught me was to de-addict myself from language, that language itself was an addiction, and that, that we were all addicted to a ticker-tape repetition of conditioned concepts and words running through our heads, determining our thoughts, feelings and apparent sensory impressions even so that I branched out into the study of Buddhism and mantra as sort of applications of examination of my own consciousness and clarification and cleaning up of my unconsciousness. So I practice silence or I practice mantra as a way of blanking out like Om sort of or Ah purifies the speech, because it's like a white sound that turns off all the other chattering and leaves an empty space to appreciate. Well, it's to be remembered that sound, or words are actual painkillers. That they can, a dentist can operate, and even minor surgery can be performed just with music through headphones. Or hypnotic, or hypnotic suggestion. So that certainly one of the, one of the basic mechanisms of compulsive verbalization is as a pain - that it's a painkiller. It is literally junk. That's junk, too. That's interesting. Language as junk. Right. Yeah, language as dope. Right. And so who controls the supply? When Now we come, there's a phrase long ago that -- Who's the pusher. Yeah, who controls. The way Remember "The Selling of the President," the selling of the concepts and images, say, of Nixon or the role of the mass media in selling images and words to the public, but that's building, it's there. So that says, this is interesting, who, who sells the language? Who conditions you to think or use a certain phrase? And so this is interesting, language as junk. And so, in a way, Bill Burroughs played a role in de-addicting you from the use of what might be considered banal language or the accepted traditional language which is junk. Conditioned language. Conditioned! Habitual language, habit language, right, we got a language habit. Habit and I think above all, compulsive language. Right, right. I was thinking, since you two speak of, you speak of early meeting, when Allen Ginsberg was here for the Big Table, Paul Carroll's Big Table under attack by the, by the Comstocks of our day -- For the language. For the breakthrough For the language, for the use of language -- Right, and precisely -- Several benefits. They were trying to control the And this was 1959. Right. And you were in the studio, another studio we had, you came with Gregory Corso and, and Orlovsky, Peter Peter Orlovsky. And now suppose we hear a part of that. Yeah, but I should say just before we go into it -- No, why don't you say, yeah. That the reason we came was that Chicago Review was going to publish the first large section of Burroughs' Naked Lunch ever to be published in America! Oh, that was And that was being banned! Or anywhere else. Or anywhere else. Oh, so that was the first That was the reason we came -- The first publication was at the University of Chicago. It was! Yes. And that led, that led directly to the publication of the, of the novel in, by Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press in Paris in 1959. That is, he heard about this case, and that aroused his Oh, so Chicago then really played a role -- A vital role! In A vital role. Which would become a landmark book. And the reason that Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso and myself came here was to give a big reading to raise money to publish the work under the title Big Table magazine when Chicago Review wouldn't publish it. So this conversation we're having in this March morning of 1975 is really part of a continuity, isn't it? Completely part of an old continuity that goes back from '59 and goes up to '68 to, to a tear-gas-filled lobby in Lincoln Park, when they, when we were still chanting "Om" and trying to get our language across. And now, '59, this was -- the phr--the phrase, and we'll ask about Bill Burroughs' contribution to this movement, "Beat Generation" it was just new at the time, but had come into being, and we hear Allen describing it in contrast to the previous so-called "Lost Generation." We hear, this is '59. Let's hear what I said. [pause in recording] Saying well, if the other generation was a lost generation, what would people be naming this generation? But it was just, you know, like a goofy conversation. It wasn't a big, serious, formal let us now give a formal name to a generation, as if there is such a thing as a generation. You won't be cubby-holed, in other words. I mean, this is just a label. Well, it's a label that's been picked up, but it is, it's, it's actually quite a beautiful label in a way. It's poetically interesting. The remark is interesting. Kerouac said, "Well, this then would be a Beat Generation, let's say everybody's beat, everybody's sort of worn down to a point where they'll be able to receive God." Well, let's feel free in this, let's make this a round table with Paul and Gregory and Allen. What about -- Peter. Peter, I beg your pardon. Peter, Peter

Gregory Corso Peter Orlovsky. It's a Russian name,

Studs Terkel The Russian angel in America.

Gregory Corso Yes, and he's come to Chicago to save Chicago.

Studs Terkel You're coming to save Chicago.

Gregory Corso There is a saving, it's going to be saved here. There's the great tensity here, we feel it.

Studs Terkel And you want to save Chicago.

Peter Orlovsly No, no, I don't want to

Studs Terkel No,

Peter Orlovsly I, I want to see Al Capone's old heritage. I really dig him, you know, I pay homage to him,

Studs Terkel You pay homage to Al Capone. Once upon a time there was an evangelist here named Gypsy Smith, who sought to save Chicago by parading down Chicago's red light district years

Peter Orlovsly Oh, but nothing like

Allen Ginsberg that. Naked?

Peter Orlovsly Nothing ostentatious like that.

Allen Ginsberg Naked?

Studs Terkel No, would parade down naked, no. But on the subject of nakedness, that, we'll, we'll come to that as we go along, let's dig further. Allen started, but let Gregory and

Peter Orlovsly Well, ask me

Studs Terkel Peter.

Peter Orlovsly See how I

Studs Terkel All right, the question

Peter Orlovsly Don't make me embarrassed.

Studs Terkel No. [fades out] And then it became a rather wild and very, very funny conversation, and the poetry came in, and Allen ended by saying, we asked about definitions of various things, and you were saying, "Death is a letter that was never sent."

Allen Ginsberg Yes.

Studs Terkel Or something

Allen Ginsberg Actually, I was quoting a line from a poem that I'd written. "Death is a letter that was never sent." And I think Gregory said "fried shoes" as a

Studs Terkel Fried shoes!

Allen Ginsberg Definition of poetry. You know, a very odd thing, that was, this conversation and other conversations of that time was picked up by the, by Time magazine and sprayed around America. It was a somewhat ugly version of the conversation, which was actually quite charming

Studs Terkel -- It

Allen Ginsberg As you hear it now, but, but unconsciously, it penetrated to a lot of young people. And year -- 10 years later, in conversation with Bob Dylan, he told me that reports of these conversations that he'd read turned him on

Studs Terkel Isn't

Allen Ginsberg When in, where he was in his little hometown.

Studs Terkel From Eveleth, Minnesota.

Allen Ginsberg That there were other people out there in America just like him. And so that was like a, a little inspiration for him to turn on to.

Studs Terkel Come again, don't we, to something here, Bill, as -- I gave, I said, I used the word continuity earlier. There's a flow, then there is a flow, whether some trying to stem it or not, it continues. It goes on.

William Burroughs Yes, even by trying to stem it they often, particularly of course the media is very double-edged, that is, Time was allegedly very opposed to us, bt certainly they did a lot to, to spread these concepts.

Studs Terkel As, as the word -- or rather the word not used today, Beat Generation, used then in '59, I suppose the meaning has a, it's a jazz word. A beat, jazz word. It's also a word that has a feeling of tiredness, as being, what else? You

Allen Ginsberg Well I, I said in that conversation, a beat down in a sense of dark night of the soul, but then also opening the soul to receive God, which was my sort of crude terminology of those days. I would probably say now leaving the soul open to the, the great spacious emptiness that we share.

Studs Terkel How did you

Allen Ginsberg Or the silence

Studs Terkel There again we come to Bill Burroughs and yourself, Allen, you said he was one of your -- he was your earliest guru, and

Allen Ginsberg I was camping a bit when I said

Studs Terkel I know, but he once, he, he was an influence on you, an influence on you. How did you become involved in what was called the "Beat Generation"? You one of the seminal figures there?

William Burroughs Well, through my association with Allen, with Gregory

Allen Ginsberg And Kerouac.

William Burroughs And Kerouac. But I myself was in Europe from let me see -- about

Allen Ginsberg Fifty-four?

William Burroughs No, no, even

Allen Ginsberg Tangier, you were in Tangier, weren't

William Burroughs Yeah. From, almost from 1950.

Allen Ginsberg There was a time that you were in New York with me in '53, we put together The Yage Letters book that we wrote.

William Burroughs Yes, that I was here for about -- or rather, in New York for several months at that time, and then I was out of the country while all this was going on while the reading started in the Village in New York. I'm

Studs Terkel I'm thinking

William Burroughs also At

Allen Ginsberg There was a great climactic reading was the one here in Chicago that got national attention, and that was all over your work.

Studs Terkel That was, that was again 1959. By the way, the the influence of Allen Ginsberg and Bill Burroughs is not simply American. It's -- of course, there you were in different countries and there were tremendous events in which you took part in other countries.

Allen Ginsberg Occasionally, yeah. The -- I was involved with, in Prague in 1965 on May Day with a, during a time of thaw before the Russian tanks rolled in, simultaneous with the tear gas in Chicago in '68, there was a thaw in Chicago -- in, in Chicago. In Prague.

Studs Terkel That's interesting. I remember Chicago was called Prague at the time. Prague '68.

Allen Ginsberg Well, it was the same things happening, like the student rebellions and the tanks rolling in. But I was part of like a student demonstration on May Day 1965 in Prague where I was elected the May King. They hadn't had those May King central European elections, which is an old traditional thing, since the Nazi times, and then since the Communist times, and there was the thaw, and I was in Prague and so got elected and got involved in a sort of a rock and roll spiritual empire and then expelled from Prague by the Communists as I'd just been expelled from Cuba several months earlier and then wound up in London seeing Bill at, at big parties with Bill and, and, and Mick Jagger and the Beatles in the, in the mid-sixties in London.

Studs Terkel Now, I was thinking before we hear more readings from Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs from their work

Allen Ginsberg -- Well, Bill found your, he found a text there that we could use

Studs Terkel -- Well, before that

Allen Ginsberg -- About the controls.

Studs Terkel Let's take a slight pause you know, here for what is known as the message, and then we'll return with readings. And also perhaps asking Allen, or Bill, particularly Allen, about art, his work and life itself, and indeed, politics, too. So we'll return in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] Resuming the conversation with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, who are participating this Friday night at the Museum of Contemporary Art in a reading. They've been here for several days, and I'm sure it's a very

Allen Ginsberg You know the amazing thing is, you see, we've never read together before.

Studs Terkel It's the

Allen Ginsberg So this trip to Chicago, where we've been reading around, is first time for us.

Studs Terkel And it's Friday night at the Poetry Center of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is at 237 East Ontario Street, and it begins at, at eight o'clock or so.

Allen Ginsberg Right.

Studs Terkel Eight o'clock. And then I suppose there'll be questions from the audience, too, if need be.

Allen Ginsberg I don't know what we'll do.

Studs Terkel But it'll be open.

William Burroughs Yes.

Studs Terkel It'll be -- I know what an exhilarating evening it has to be, that it will be. You were saying about readings, Bill, is there something -- Allen was saying something earlier that there was something in Naked Lunch or another of your writings that are appropriate for [lunchtime?], really.

William Burroughs Well, yes, I could read that Bradley the Buyer.

Allen Ginsberg Yes, that'd be interesting. Do you have that here?

William Burroughs I think I do.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, why don't you check it out. That, that

Studs Terkel He also has The Exterminator, Exterminator here,

Allen Ginsberg That's the most recent book.

Studs Terkel Exterminator published in America yet?

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, that's

Studs Terkel This is Cauldron Boyle, it was Viking

Allen Ginsberg Well, well Viking published Exterminator in the United

Studs Terkel And here's

William Burroughs Yeah, I was an actual exterminator in Chicago in 1942.

Studs Terkel You were, you say.

William Burroughs Yes.

Studs Terkel You worked exterminator.

William Burroughs I worked as an exterminator. In Chicago.

Allen Ginsberg That was his, that was his great glory when I first met him, it was mythology.

William Burroughs If you a little

Studs Terkel Oh, sure.

William Burroughs Quote here from the article that I wrote for Esquire. "Saturday, August 24th, 1968, arrival at O'Hare Airport. First visit in 26 years. Last in Chicago during the war where I exercised the trade of exterminator. "Exterminator! Got any bugs, lady?" The tools of your trade, said the customs officer, touching my cassette recorder."

Allen Ginsberg That was when you came back in from

William Burroughs That was my

Studs Terkel That's very funny, I always think, I always think of Black Flag. I was thinking of Black Flag,

Allen Ginsberg But when I first met Bill in New York, he'd just come from Chicago, where I'd never met a literary person who had actually been working, you know, like anonymously in some far city suffering the pangs of an unrecognized ego working in, like at a trade like extermination, and it was sort of an almost a Shakespearean notion. We were all reading Jean Genet, or Celine. We've heard now Celine, Journey to

Studs Terkel Long Day. Not Long Day, Journey Through the End of the Night.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, and that was, it fitted into that sort of literary tradition. Henry Miller. Go on.

William Burroughs Well, yes, I consider myself very much in the picaresque tradition. The picaresque tradition, just a, a rather series of incidents, rather horrific and that the

Studs Terkel And funny too, both.

William Burroughs That the protagonist goes through in the tradition of The Unfortunate Traveller, which is one of the very early novels. And certainly Celine is in that tradition.

Studs Terkel I remember as a kid I was not that young reading that book Journey Through the End of the Night, I'm still haunted by the guy named Robin, there was two, there was

Allen Ginsberg Robinson.

Studs Terkel Yeah, there were two figures, I mean, there was this guy and his alter ego, remember that, and this

Allen Ginsberg -- Kerouac loved that,

Studs Terkel And so the demon was pursuing this guy. So we're talking about demons, aren't we? And, and a way exorcising demons in the writing, aren't we? Before

Allen Ginsberg The demons of habit, the demons of conditioning, the demons of addiction.

Studs Terkel Again we come to

Allen Ginsberg The demons of power controls.

Studs Terkel Suppose, suppose we alternate. Before Bill goes into reading a excerpt from Naked Lunch, you have something I noticed called Going to Chicago.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, that's flying August 24th, 1968, flying here to have a consultation with the Earl Bush, former Mayor Daley's public relations man who I think was, went to jail

Studs Terkel -- Who has since then, yes,

Allen Ginsberg Yes he did. Well, Bush was trying to call off this, our anti-war protests, saying, "Listen, I'm telling you, we're gonna settle the war. Just -- Mayor Daley told me, trust

Studs Terkel Oh, Daley's going to settle

Allen Ginsberg "Trust us! We're going to settle the war." I said, "Don't, don't protest." So I was flying to Chicago to, you know, sort of meet Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis and look over the things and talk with City Hall and see if we could get a permit to go to Lincoln Park. "Going to Chicago. 22,000 feet over hazed square vegetable planet floor, approaching Chicago to die? Or flying over Earth another 40 years to die? Indifferent and afraid that the bone-shattering bullet be the same as the vast evaporation of phenomena, cancer come true in an old man's bed or historic fire heaven descending 22,000 years and the atomic aeon. The lake's blue again, sky's the same baby, though papers and noses rumor tar spread through the natural universe'll make angels' feet sticky. I heard the Angel King's voice. A bodyless tuneful teenager, eternal in my own heart, saying press the purest joy. Democratic anger is an illusion. Democratic joy is God. Our father is baby blue. The original face you see sees you. How, through conventional police and revolutionary fury? Remember the helpless order the police armed to protect? The helpless freedom the revolutionary conspired to honor? I am the Angel King sang the Angel King as mobs in amphitheaters, streets, coliseums, parks and offices scream in despair over meat and metal microphones."

Studs Terkel [Laughing] Of course you have, just as you have the, the possibility of horror, there's always the antic aspect, there's always a comic aspect too, isn't there? This is also one of the attributes of Allen Ginsberg's writing, isn't it, Bill?

William Burroughs Yes, it is, it is

Allen Ginsberg What you got there,

William Burroughs Well, I could read this Bradley the Buyer.

Allen Ginsberg Yeah, that was, to get back to the point we were making about control [match striking] as an addiction. Or the relation between the addict and the police. The symbiotic relation, I guess

Studs Terkel You want to set the scene for this, Bill? Or just -- you want to preface this by describing the scene or, or is this self-descriptive?

William Burroughs I think it's more or less self-descriptive.

Studs Terkel Naked Lunch.

William Burroughs Yeah. This is a reading from Naked Lunch: "'Selling is more of a habit than using,' Lupita says. 'Non-using pushers have a contact habit, and that's one you can't kick. Agents get it, too. Take Bradley the buyer, best narcotics agent in the industry. Anyone would make him for junk. I mean, he can walk up to a pusher and score direct. He is so anonymous, gray and spectral the pusher don't, the pushers don't remember him afterwards, so he twists one after the other. Well, the buyer comes to look more and more like a junkie. He can't drink. He can't get it up, his teeth fall out. He's all the time sucking on a candy bar. 'Hey, Bruce, he digs special. It really disgusts you to see the buyer sucking on them candy bars so nasty,' a cop says. The buyer takes on an ominous gray-green color. Fact is, his body is making its own junk or equivalent. The buyer has a steady connection. A man within, you might say, or so he thinks. 'I'll just set in my room,' he says, squares on both sides. 'I am the only complete man in the industry.' But a yen comes on him like a great black wind through the bones so the buyer hunts, hunts up a young junkie and gives him a paper to make it. 'All right,' the boy says. 'What you want to make?' 'I just want to rub up against you and get fixed.' 'Well, all right, but why can't you just get physical like a human?' Later the boy's sitting in a Waldorf with two colleagues dunking pound cake. 'Most distasteful thing I ever stand still for,' he says. Some way he make himself all soft like a blob of jelly and surround me so nasty. Then he gets wet all over, like with green slime, so I guess he come to some kind of awful climax. I come there wiggin' with that green stuff all over me, you stink like an old rotten cantaloupe. Well, that's still an easy score. Yes, I guess you could get used to anything. I've got to meet with him again tomorrow. At this point, Bradley receives a summons from the district Supervisor. 'Bradley, your conduct has given rise to rumors. And I hope for your sake, they are no more than that. So unspeakably distasteful that, I mean, Caesar's wife, that is, the department must be above suspicion. Certainly above such suspicions as, as you have seemingly aroused. You are lowering the entire tone of the industry. We are prepared to accept your immediate resignation. The buyer throws himself on the ground, crawls over to the DS. 'No, boss man, no! The department is my very life line.' He kisses the DS's hand, thrusting the fingers into his mouth. The DS must feel his toothless gums, complaining he's lost his teeth in a "thervith". 'Really, this is most distasteful. Have you no pride? [laughing] I must tell you, I feel a distinct revulsion. I mean, there's something well rotten about you, you smell like a compost heap.' He puts a scented handkerchief in front of his face. 'I must ask you to leave this office at once.' 'I'll do anything, boss. Anything.' His ravaged green face splits in a horrible smile. 'I'm still young, boss. I'm pretty strong when I get my blood up.' The DS retches into his handkerchief and points to the door with a limp hand. The buyer stands up looking at the DS dreamily, his body begins to dip like a dowser's wand, he flows forward. 'No, no!' screams the DS, slup slup, slup. An hour later they find the buyer on the nod in the DS's chair. The DS has disappeared without a trace. The judge: 'Everything indicates that you have in some unspeakable manner simulated the district supervisor. Unfortunately, there is no proof. I would recommend that you be confined or more accurately contained in some institution. But I know no place suitable for a man of your caliber. I must reluctantly order your release.' 'That one should stand in an aquarium,' says the arresting officer. The buyer spreads terror throughout the industry. Junkies and agents disappear. And once he has scored, he holes up for several days like a gorged boa constrictor. Finally he's caught in the act of digesting the narcotics commissioner and destroyed with a flamethrower, the court of inquiry ruling that such means were justified in that the buyer had lost his human citizenship and was, in consequence, a creature without species and a menace to the narcotics industry on all levels."

Studs Terkel Of course, there are about four or five different dimensions to this, aren't they?

Allen Ginsberg Yeah well the [sit?] was what I was thinking was Senator's -- Jackson's recent investigation of the Drug Enforcement Agency in which he said that the Drug Enforcement Agency itself was so involved in corruption that they had blocked an investigation into Robert Vesco's heroin operations, as were alleged.

Studs Terkel And what's so funny, though, when did you write -- when, when was Naked Lunch first written?

William Burroughs It was written, really from -- over a period of years from 1954 and there were

Studs Terkel So

William Burroughs About 1000 pages of

Studs Terkel So about, about 20 years ago. In short, Bill Burroughs called the shot.

Allen Ginsberg Exactly.

Studs Terkel See, about 20 years ago, first of all, the earliest, most vivid and horrendous descriptions of addiction, dope protection, but then comes the irony

Allen Ginsberg Of the analysis of the actual

Studs Terkel And of industry itself.

Allen Ginsberg Yes.

Studs Terkel And of course I suppose

Allen Ginsberg -- That phrase, a threat to the industry on all levels.

Studs Terkel On all levels.

Allen Ginsberg Which means, see the point is that the drug enforcement administration now has swollen its addiction to power and money to 110 million dollar budget a year. It's this vast bureaucracy now dependent on junk.

Studs Terkel Well, what's so funny, of course the great humor, drug addiction, you watch the TV commercials and you're watching all those patent medicines and you're watching all those drugs that are illegal, you know. Composed, you know, that just -- to take care of colds and headaches and, and

Allen Ginsberg Well, not nearly drugs, petrochemicals.

William Burroughs Most of them completely worthless.

Studs Terkel But drugs nonetheless.

William Burroughs Yes, oh

Allen Ginsberg Well, drugs, but then also alcohol, then also cigarettes, but then also automobiles and also oil and also energy consumption, the whole addiction to the material growth economy. In fact, you could even finally see capitalists' growth economy notions as a sign of a oil burner habit.

Studs Terkel Leading up to gross, gross national product.

Allen Ginsberg I have a

Studs Terkel I suppose gross would be the most descriptive adjective.

Allen Ginsberg I have a poem oddly written about flying to Chicago, talking about this point, looking down from an airplane on Chicago. "Chicago, Chicago, Chicago! Trials, screams, Mace, coal gas, Mafia highways, old massacres in suburb garages, autos turned to water. City Hall's melt in eon flood. Police and revolutionaries pass as gas cloud by Eagle Wing. What's your name? Asks badge man as machines eat all name and form, history is faster than thought. Poetry obsolete and tiny decades, though maybe slow tunes dance eternal. Chicago suburb block stretched new bared Earth skin under sun eye. Auto speed myriad through gray air to the jetport. Slaves of plastic leather shoe chino pants, prisoners. Haircut, junkies Dacron sniffers. Striped tie addicts. Shorthair monkeys on their backs. Whiskey freaks bombed out on 530 billion cigarettes a year. Twenty billion dollar advertising dealers. Lipstick skin poppers and syndicate garbage Telex heads, star stripes, scoundrelesque flag dopers, car smog, hookers. Fiendish on superhighways. Growth rate trippers hallucinating. Everglade real estate. Steak swallowers zonked on television. Old ladies on stock market habits, old Wall Street paper money pushers, Central Intelligence aging agency cutting neo opium fields, China lobby copping poppies in Burma. How long this addict government support our oil burner matter habit. Shooting gasoline, electric speed before the blue light blast and eternal police roar mankind's utter bust."

Studs Terkel [Laughing] He's got addiction all over again.

Allen Ginsberg Well, actually I was making use of Bill's metaphor.

Studs Terkel Yeah, I was coming way back to the beginning of this conversation, about an hour ago almost, the, the matter of Bill's metaphor for the addiction, every aspect of our lives. Power addiction. Oh, even though, even as as you were thinking, I was thinking of one more you could add there, sports watching addiction, primarily by the males of the American population. That has to

Allen Ginsberg -- The passivity of it, the passivity of watching

Studs Terkel The passivity yeah-- oh, by the -- isn't there, isn't there also an addiction -- passivity, supineness, the watching, the spectator. Also an addiction in itself, isn't it?

Allen Ginsberg Well, I think

William Burroughs Well, that you say it was partly television addiction.

Allen Ginsberg Well, what's the, what's a, what's a cure? Yeah, I have a cure at the end here. Okay, dusk goes, I remember, I'm coming down there on the airplane. "Dusk over Chicago. Light glitter along boulevards. Insect-eyed autos moving slow under blue street lamps. Plane motor buzz in ear drum. City cloud roof filling with gray gas on up into clear heaven. Planet horizon auroral twilight street. Blue space above human truck [moil?]. Empty sky empty mind overhanging Chicago. The universe suspended entire overhanging Chicago." I think another the, the the addiction is the

William Burroughs Empty.

Allen Ginsberg Willingness to observe the vastness, the spaciousness and the emptiness of the place where we all are together, uh, with our habits which fill up this emptiness with microphones, radios, complaints, voices screaming, voices demanding, voices wanting, voices

Studs Terkel Rejecting.

Allen Ginsberg Rejecting. Voices babbling and insisting, aggression, aggression materialized into automobiles. Aggression materialized into billions of dollars, 100 billion dollars worth of Pentagon hardware heavy metal. So it's the willingness to like empty out the mind and to exist without a madder habit, so to speak, just a short, putting it in short form.

Studs Terkel This is not to remove then from you yourself then, connecting, fusing the writings you do, the poetry.

Allen Ginsberg With Buddhist meditation.

Studs Terkel With meditation, with also participation. Was there are you, Allen Ginsberg taking part, there you were, not accidentally with Bill Burroughs, even though you weren't assigned by Esquire, you would've been there anyway in Lincoln Park '68 or, or in, in Prague that day.

Allen Ginsberg Chanting Om in Prague and chanting Om in Chicago, chanting on Michigan, but what, what is your, Bill? What's your de-addiction medicine or practice or yoga or suggestion for whoever is listening?

William Burroughs Well, I think it's very much the same as yours, Allen, is the emptying, emptying of the mind, the ability to look at the whole situation without saying anything about it compulsively, either, either in protest or in agreement. And this as we know is very difficult to do, and Buddhism meditation is one way of achieving this.

Allen Ginsberg Do you have an American

Studs Terkel That's, yeah.

Allen Ginsberg An American practice that you think

William Burroughs well, no, but it does seems to me that it

Allen Ginsberg I think we need to develop an American practice.

William Burroughs That it is useful to use scientific discoveries since we have them. There's biofeedback, which enables you to know when you are, when there are alpha waves, the waves of relaxation, and alert receptiveness are in your mind. And then, then when you learn this, you can achieve it at will. That's one, I think, very useful adjunct to achieving that.

Allen Ginsberg There was a practice that you were talking about in London a couple of years ago, when I visited, which was imagining alternative opposite states of emotion, using words. Can you describe that a little?

William Burroughs Well, I think that that exercise is very much a yogic exercise, it's known as the opposites. That is, you imagine, say you imagine failure. Let yourself, let yourself experience failure. And then you imagine success, so that in a sense, failure then will tune in success, or fear will tune in courage. If you really let the fear come in and let it flow through you and out the other side, that is the beginning of courage, it's not trying to suppress fear that you have.

Studs Terkel You know, you know it's interesting. Allen asked you a moment ago, is there an American equivalent, an indigenous United States equivalent, to what, to Buddhism, other, and you just did it. You see? He says, we are addicted to the other addiction, success number one. And somehow, if you're not number one, you're through. You're incompetent. You're impotent. You're not number

Allen Ginsberg The whole theory of our foreign policy, America being number one.

Studs Terkel So now, what, what, if I follow Bill, using the opposite is, hey, wait a minute. Maybe if you fail in something, it does not mean you're dead. It merely means you're human. You may find, perhaps this may be what

Allen Ginsberg But what Bill was proposing was, that we not be afraid to experience the sensation of being a failure, a total failure. Being beat. And then, and then also experience the sensation of total victory and go through a whole series of emotional oppositions, experiencing them both as objective experiences rather than being afraid

Studs Terkel And as we're talking, the hour goes. But we know we do believe in continuity and flow, and so Friday night there will be more than a continuation of what happened, it'll be an offering.

Allen Ginsberg But Studs, I'm wondering, does this sound like a continuation of our conversation way back in '59?

Studs Terkel Absolutely, absolutely, it was '59. And perhaps a continuation of your first meeting with Bill Burroughs.

Allen Ginsberg Oh, sure.

Studs Terkel Back then.

Allen Ginsberg I hope it continues for the next couple of decades.

Studs Terkel Oh, I hope so. And perhaps it will, thanks to certain of

Allen Ginsberg -- I hope somebody learns something out of

Studs Terkel You know, after I tell the audience about again reminding them of the Poetry Center Museum of Contemporary Art where Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs will be reading an offering and indeed performing and participating, that's this Friday, eight o'clock, and it's quite an experience, by the way, it'll be a very salubrious one for everybody, 237 East Ontario Street. You know, music is always good and to, to end our conversation with, you said instead of "Om," something like "Ah." [harmonium playing] So in, Bill Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, thank you very much.

Allen Ginsberg So in appreciation of the space we're sharing, sound, and purification of speech,

Studs Terkel