dinsdag 5 februari 2013

Notes From a Pioneer on a Speck in Space

Lew Welch is one of many lesser known beat poets who were present at the some of the key events that constitute the 'beat legend'. He wrote beautifully and knew a lot of sadness. Welch disappeared in 1971, he left a suicide note but his body has never been found. Shortly after his already selected collected poetry appeared and in 2012 this was reissued by City Lights with a bunch of B-sides: poems not in the original (for good reason) and a "statement of poetics" Welch's observation on language and poetic language (very original, brilliant). I am not a great reader of poetry (I like bits of Kerouac, Ginsberg I find nearly unpalatable, Snyder only of mild interest, McClure hopelessly pretentious, Waldman a fake) but here I have found a voice to cherish. Google books has a preview. Only a zombie can ignore the silent beauty of this:

Notes From a Pioneer on a Speck in Space

Few things that grow here poison us.
Most of the animals are small.
Those big enough to kill us do it in a way
Easy to understand, easy to defend against.
The air, here, is just what the blood needs.
We don’t use helmets or special suits.

The Star, here, doesn’t burn you if you
Stay outside as much as you should.
The worst of our winters is bearable.
Water, both salt and sweet, is everywhere.
The things that live in it are easily gathered.
Mostly, you eat them raw with safety and pleasure.

Yesterday my wife and I brought back
Shells, driftwood, stones, and other curiosities
Found on the beach of the immense
Fresh-water Sea we live by.
She was all excited by a slender white stone which:
“Exactly fits the hand!”

I couldn’t share her wonder;
Here, almost everything does.
And this poem about a plant also deserves to be quoted in the context of this blog (how can you come up with the idea to write about a plant like this!!):
Skunk Cabbage

Slowly in the swamps unfold
great yellow petals of a
savage thing, a
tropic thing-

While no stilt-legged birds watch,
no monkey screams,
those great yellow petals

Rank plant.

zondag 3 februari 2013

Choose unfamous forests ye hobo

Here follows a supreme 1967 digger-hobo manifesto for permanent transience in/through forests. It's by Lew Welch, one of the lesser known San Francisco beats.


Whatever tribe I am the reincarnated member of, apparently won, or lost, or survived, as Ishi’s TRIBE, simply by fading away, dispersing, a whisp of fog no one can strike: “a moving target is hard to hit.” This can be the reverse of cowardice, it takes great courage, at times, to back off from what is rightly your place to stand.

Therefore, this is not advice for all. Some of you are people who stand there and take it, as the poles did, the ones who did, attack the hordes of tanks on horseback, with futile swords. Beautiful, that is your shot. It is not mine.

When 200,000 folks from places like lima ohio and cleveland and lompoc and visalia and amsterdam and london and moscow and lodz suddenly descend, as they will, on the haight-ashbury, the scene will be burnt down. Some will stay and fight. Some will prefer to leave. My brief remarks are for the latter. I will stay. At some distance. Available. But my advice for those who have a way or ways similar to mine: disperse.

Gather into TRIBES of 15 or less. Communal “families” of 5 adults (however divided into sexes) and the natural number of children thereby made, is ideal for nomadic tribal dispersal action.

More than 3/4 of the state of California is national forest, national park, or state forest or park. Take your truck or car and make your camp in the part of the state you like most. 

Most parks require that you move in two weeks. Some places require moving every two days. This is only fair. The idea is, no one has the right to hog one campsite for the summer.

Choose unfamous forests. Avoid yosemite. Work, honestly, with the forest ranger. Write the state of california for their booklet. I think the feds have a similar campsite guide.

Also, volunteer for summer fire fighting work. It’s good work, well paid, and necessary. When the fire starts they come to your camp and take you to the scene of disaster.

Another thing, as I was once quoted: “sometimes you only have to step 3 feet to the left and the whole insane machine goes roaring by.” Or something like that.

The point is, for those who have this kind of way, not out of cowardice, but as WAY, that sitting in the haight-ashbury in all that heat and the terrible crowd you cannot help anyway (maybe), is simple insanity.

Disperse. Gather into smaller tribes. Use the beautiful public land your state and national governments have already set up for you, free. If you want to.

Most Indians are nomads. The haight-ashbury is not where it’s at — it’s in your head and hands. Take it anywhere.

…Lew Welch
Church of One
March 29, 1967 San Francisco
Planet Earth

Gestetnered by The Communication Company (UPS) 3/27/67

zaterdag 2 februari 2013

A visit to the ethnographic museum in Leiden

Haida Costumes

 "Now, one of the peculiar characteristics of the savage in his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry. An ancient Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great a trophy of human perseverance as a Latin lexicon. For, with but a bit of broken sea-shell or a shark's tooth, that miraculous intricacy of wooden net-work has been achieved; and it has cost steady years of steady application." - Herman Melville (Moby Dick)

Chinese print with the carved boards it was made with.

Chinese terracotta figures

Chinese garment [bureaucracy style]

From block to figurine,click to enlarge
200+ year old Japanese bronze


Eskimo Masks

Amazonian headdress, much larger than I thought they would be.

Another 200+ year old Japanese bronze

Hopi painting