2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
100 Films | 100 Behind the scenes photos (1931 - 2012)
Love your fellow earthlings x
Allen Ginsberg’s “Celestial Homework”: A Reading List for His Class “Literary History of the Beats”
“Argh, you’re all amateurs in a professional universe!” roared Allen Ginsberg to a young class of aspiring poets in 1977 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Their offense? Most of the students had failed to register for meditation instruction. The story comes to us from Steve Silberman, who was then a 19-year-old student in that classroom and a recipient of Ginsberg’s genius that summer.
Only three years earlier, in 1974, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman launched the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa Institute (now Naropa University), in Boulder, Colorado. The Institute—founded by Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—was modeled on ancient Buddhist learning centers in India and described by Waldman and poet Andrew Schelling as “part monastery, part college, part convention hall or alchemist’s lab.”
Ginsberg taught at Naropa until his death in 1997. The class in which he had his outburst was called “Literary History of the Beats,” at the start of which he handed his students a list called “Celestial Homework” (first page above, second and third pages here and here). Silberman describes the list thus (quoting from Ginsberg’s description):
This “celestial homework” is the reading list that Ginsberg handed out on the first day of his course as “suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of antient scriveners whose works were reflected in Beat literary style as well as specific beat pages to dig into.”
It’s a particularly Ginsberg-ian list, with a healthy mix of genres and periods, most of it poetry—by Ginsberg’s fellow beats, to be sure, but also by Melville, Dickinson, Yeats, Milton, Shelley, and several more. Sadly, it’s too late to sit at Ginsberg’s feet, but one can still find guidance from his “Celestial Homework,” and you can even listen to audio recordings from the class online too.
Silberman has done us all the great service of compiling as many free online versions of Ginsberg’s recommended texts as he could. You’ll find them all here, with author bios linked to each photo. Unfortunately, some of the links have gone dead, but with a little bit of searching, you can work your way through most of Ginsberg’s list. Silberman reports another Ginsberg epigram from his 1977 class: “Poetry is the realization of the magnificence of the actual.” The works on the “Celestial Homework,” Silberman comments, “are gates to that magnificence.”
Via Open Culture
They said another brother’s dead…
Publicist: Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
Manzarek founded The Doors after meeting then-poet Jim Morrison in California. The band went on to become one of the most successful rock ‘n’ roll acts to emerge from the 1960s and continues to resonate with fans decades after Morrison’s death brought an effective end to the band.
The Chicago native continued to remain active in music after Morrison’s 1971 death. He briefly tried to hold the band together by serving as vocalist, but eventually the group fell apart. He played in other bands over the years, produced other acts, became an author and worked on films.
The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Manzarek is among the most notable keyboard players in rock history. His lead-instrument work with the band at a time when the guitar often dominated added a distinct end-times flavor that matched Morrison’s often out there imagery and persona.
The group is best known for hits like “L.A.Woman,” ‘’Break On Through to the Other Side,” ‘’The End” and “Light My Fire” and came to symbolize the decadence of Los Angeles as the counterculture grew in the U.S.