donderdag 22 november 2012

The journal for the protection of all beings

"The journal for the protection of all beings" was published as the fall 1978 issue of Stewart Brand's CoEvolution Quaterly. The Journal was edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McLure, Gary Snyder (all present at the Six Gallery poetry reading that launched the Beats to the world) and David Meltzer. This publication therefore connects 50 years of West Coast experimentation from beat and anarchist Buddhism to the merry pranksters and early internet happenings. "The journal for the protection of all beings" takes a US Buddhist long view of death and destruction, from the Atom bomb and plutonium fear to the mass extinctions of biological species and human cultures. It brings together a fascinating range of material, a liberal sprinkling of poetry (it all reads great and actually works in the context), positional essays and a few very nice bits about the subjectivity of (linguistic, anthropological) field work. It shows the Beats not as a bunch of Benzedrine fuelled hobo hitch-hikers but as a serious,engaged and inclusive group of people working towards a sustained and coherent non-ideological critique of civilization. The journal is a fascinating document that is well structured and builds up nicely with each new contribution, but, despite myself, I can't really love it. It suffers from an overdose of Buddhist zeal, those poets are self-converted choir boys for a alien faith. Maybe I am missing something that would add a little concreteness to the meta-meaning this journal is hoping to generate bottom-up. Still: it's a thing to cherish and the Gary Snyder essay on Chinese poetry is a brilliant piece that I had not read before and which alone was well worth the 8 dollar the thing cost me on Ebay.

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