Gary Snyder – Myths & Texts (1960)

“Published in 1960 by Totem Press, Gary Snyder’s Myths & Texts (completed in 1956) gives the first indication that his career would be devoted to the long poem as well as the short poem. Anthologized as the author of lyrics like ‘Nooksack Valley,’ ‘The Bath,’ and ‘True Night,’ Snyder also worked away for forty years on the 152-page long Mountains and Rivers Without End (Counterpoint, 1996). Myths & Texts initiates Snyder’s struggle with the great modernists, many of whom attempted poems of length as well, and each of whom also discovered, like Snyder, that beyond a hundred or so lines, anything calling itself a ‘poem’ would usually prove to be a work of interconnected sections. The form of such a poem gestures less toward a completed unity than the possibility of endlessness (a friend once commented that Mountains and Rivers really was ‘endless’), of infinite, spiraling speculation and freeplay. Dividing the poem into three parts — ‘Logging,’ ‘Hunting,’ ‘Burning’ — Snyder then subdivides those parts into numbered sections averaging a page in length. By beginning with the activity of logging, he means to emphasize the human will to harvest the riches of the vegetable world, a process as common to ancient China as to the forests of his native Northwest. It is not a process from which he stands apart: Snyder’s typical stance is one of complicity, not judgment and distance, and he too cuts down trees in order to make a living. Everything goes, leaves, disappears — is in some way used.  Besides, the kids may ‘grow up an go to college’ and not ‘come back,’ but the ‘little fir-trees do.’ Similarly, in ‘Hunting,’ Snyder begins by saying ‘a man’s got to eat.’ In order to justify or simply to live with the killing involved, cultures have invented stories asserting a continuity between the human and the animal world, between ‘man and beast.’ And so we get the myth of the girl taken home by the bear who will give birth to slick dark children with sharp teeth. In retelling this story, Snyder glosses the meaning of the poem’s title. The sheer human need to eat is the ‘text,’ the unassailable fact. The ‘myth’ is the story we make up in order to rationalize the need. …”
W – Gary Snyder

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Journey to Ixtlan – Carlos Castaneda (1972)

Journey to Ixtlan is the third book by Carlos Castaneda, published as a work of non-fiction by Simon & Schuster in 1972. It is about an apprenticeship to the Yaqui ‘shaman,’ Don Juan. The title of this book is taken from an allegory that is recounted to Castaneda by his ‘benefactor’ who is known to Carlos as Don Genaro ( Genaro Flores ), a close friend of his teacher don Juan Matus. ‘Ixtlan’ turns out to be a metaphorical hometown ( or Place / Position of Being ) to which the ‘sorcerer’ or warrior or man of knowledge is drawn to return, trying to get home. After the work of ‘stopping’, his changed perspective leaves him little in common with ordinary people, who now seem no more substantial to him than ‘phantoms.’ The point of the story is that a man of knowledge, or sorcerer, is a changed being, or a Human closer to his true state of Being, and for that reason he can never truly go ‘home’ to his old lifestyle again. In Journey to Ixtlan Castaneda essentially reevaluates the teachings up to that point. He discusses information that was apparently missing from the first two books regarding stopping the world which previously he had only regarded as a metaphor. He also finds that psychotropic plants, knowledge of which was a significant part of his apprenticeship to Yaqui shaman don Juan Matus, are not as important in the world view as he had previously thought. In the introduction he writes: My basic assumption in both books has been that the articulation points in learning to be a sorcerer were the states of nonordinary reality produced by the ingestion of psychotropic plants … My perception of the world through the effects of those psychotropics had been so bizarre and impressive that I was forced to assume that such states were the only avenue to communicating and learning what Don Juan was attempting to teach me. That assumption was erroneous. In the book don Juan takes Carlos on these various degrees of apprenticeship, in response to what he believes are signals from the phenomenological world, ‘The decision as to who can be a warrior and who can only be a hunter is not up to us. That decision is in the realm of the powers that guide men.’ … Throughout the book Castaneda portrays himself as skeptical and reserved in his explanations of the phenomena at hand, but by the end of the book Castaneda’s rationalist worldview is seen to be breaking down in the face of an onslaught of experiences that he is unable to explain logically. …”
The Teachings of Don Carlos
[PDF] Journey to Ixtlan
YouTube: Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda. Audiobook 10:58:30

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Blues greats re-emerge from the pages of history

“In early 1963, an east coast guitar player and fan of the blues called Tom Hoskins found himself poring over an old road atlas, looking for a place called Avalon somewhere in Mississippi. Hoskins was on the trail of a figure called Mississippi John Hurt, known to him through two tracks on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music and a bootleg tape that another avid blues collector, Dick Spottswood, had in turn acquired from an Australian collector. On that recording, Hurt could be heard singing: ‘Avalon’s my hometown, always on my mind/ Pretty mamas in Avalon, want me there all the time.’ It was enough of a clue: even though the recordings (originally issued on the Okeh label) dated from 1928, Hoskins had a hunch that Hurt might still be alive, and headed to Mississippi. Finally he heard that a blues singer fitting his description was living down the end of a nearby gravel track. Sure enough, a frail, 72-year-old who answered the door of the shack proved to be their man. He had quit playing music years earlier, but once furnished with a guitar, he got over his fear that this was the FBI come for him and showed them how little he’d forgotten. ‘I know how Howard Carter felt when he opened Tutankhamun’s tomb and looked in,’ Hoskins later recalled. ‘He was alive and he still had it.’ Nor was Hurt the only figure to re-emerge from the thick haze of history – from a time and a place that postwar collectors of the country blues, such as James McKune and Harry Smith, had assumed was lost to them. Nick Perls, another fan, found the great Son House living in Rochester, New York, completely oblivious to a newfound interest in his earliest recordings. Sleepy John Estes turned up in Brownsville, Tennessee, and Bukka White turned out to be living in Memphis. Even Skip James was alive and he, too, was rediscovered – in Bentonia, Mississippi. James, the author of songs such as Devil Got My Woman, was the son of a former bootlegger turned preacher from Mississippi who had recorded a series of tracks for Paramount in 1931. In the decades since, he’d quit music and led an itinerant life, but by the summer of 1964 was working as a tractor driver in Mississippi. …”
Rolling Stone: New Documentary Blends Civil Rights Murders With Hunt for Blues Icons (Video)
W – Skip James
W – Son House

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Haight-Ashbury Switchboard

“During the ‘hippie‘ period 1967–1968 in San Francisco, an individual named Al Rinker started an organization located at 1830 Fell St in the city’s Haight Ashbury district called the Switchboard. Its purpose was to act as a social switchboard for people living there.  In early 1967 the Diggers were promoting a new type of philosophy and life concept in the Haight Ashbury. With media coverage of the district increasing, a local resident Al Rinker visualized the need for a service providing news and information about the Hippie movement. He rented an apartment at 1830 Fell Street in early 1967, adjacent to the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park, to act as both his home and headquarters of his conceptual ‘Switchboard’. Al found willing assistants in George Darling and Danny to assist with his concept of a human switchboard. While he and the volunteers were doing this, the ‘Human Be In‘ took place and the Fillmore Auditorium was gaining national prominence. News coverage of the Haight Ashbury skyrocketed bringing in more people with more work required to keep the Switchboard going. The rapid influx of people flooding the area created an immediate need for some services that Al had not originally considered. One of these was in finding safe lodging (Crash Pads) for the wandering jobless hippies that arrived without any means of support. This program proved so popular that Al’s office (living room) was changed to the ‘We will help you find a place to stay’ room. Al moved his office to a tiny room next to the kitchen. The Switchboard attracted additional volunteers Ron Small and Ken Englander to assist with the many tasks the Switchboard wanted to accomplish. Social networking took a back seat to the more critical services required by the population explosion. In summary, the Switchboard was created, then made useful by events not originally considered and grew to fill those needs as well as those in its original plan. …”
Remembering The ‘Haight Ashbury Switchboard’

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The Fantasy World of US Empire

American helicopters hover above armed U.S. soldiers, preparing to lift them from combat back to their base in Tay Ninh.

“In US social memory, the Vietnam War is typically imagined to have been a civil war between two sides: South Vietnam and North Vietnam. Each side had its own military, flag, currency, capital city, and national anthem. The South called itself the Republic of Vietnam (RV) while the North called itself the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). The United States consistently claimed when sending troops to South Vietnam that it was doing nothing more than protecting that ‘spunky little Asian country’ (as the Saturday Evening Post described it) from North Vietnamese aggression. Many historians in the US have not thought twice about categorizing the Vietnam War as a civil war. It has seemed an incontrovertible fact, as obvious as the borders and names of the two countries on the maps of that time. This long-standing civil war paradigm has been reinforced by widely watched PBS documentaries: the thirteen-hour Vietnam: A Television History (1983) and the Ken Burns­–Lynn Novick eighteen-hour The Vietnam War (2017). The films present the US as a well-meaning ally of South Vietnam, motivated solely by the desire to protect it from communism. As the author of the companion volume to the first documentary put it, there was a ‘civil war between anti-communist and communist factions’ and the US, because of ignorance and ‘misinformation,’ supported the faction that just so happened to have been ‘unpopular’ and ‘incompetent.’ A retired Air Force general says in the Burns-Novick film: ‘We were fighting on the wrong side.’ In both films, the hours and hours of footage relentlessly unspool without ever pausing for an examination of the initial premise: that the war was, at its roots, a civil war. US writers, obsessed with drawing lessons from such an unexpected defeat, typically find fault with the US government’s series of decisions to involve itself deeper and deeper in a civil war. The critiques of US policy are by now all-too predictable to anyone familiar with even a small part of the voluminous literature. The US did not understand the weaknesses of its chosen side and kept increasing the levels of its support even when that side was going down to defeat. The US became stuck in a ‘quagmire.’ It did not have ‘an exit strategy.’ …”
Jacobin – John Roosa: Southeast Asian history, University of British Columbia

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Carl Oglesby

Carl Preston Oglesby (July 30, 1935 – September 13, 2011) was an American writer, academic, and political activist. He was the President of the leftist student organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) from 1965 to 1966. His father was from South Carolina, and his mother was from Alabama. They met in Akron, Ohio, where the elder Oglesby worked in the rubber mills. He graduated from Revere High School in suburban Akron, winning a prize in his final year for a speech in favor of America’s Cold War stance. Oglesby enrolled at Kent State University for three years before dropping out to attempt to make his way as an actor and playwright in Greenwich Village, a traditionally Bohemian neighborhood in New York City. While at Kent State, he married Beth Rimanoczy, a graduate student in the English department; they ultimately had three children (Aron, Caleb and Shay). After a year in New York, he returned to Akron, where he became a copywriter for Goodyear and continued working on his creative endeavors, including three plays influenced by Britain’s ‘angry young men‘ literary movement (exemplified by ‘a well-received work on the Hatfield-McCoy feud‘) and an unfinished novel. In 1958, Oglesby and his family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he took a technical writing position with the Bendix Corporation, a defense contractor. He ascended to the directorship of the company’s technical writing division before completing his undergraduate degree as a part-time student at the University of Michigan (where he cultivated a circle of friends that included Donald Hall and Frithjof Bergmann) in 1962.  Oglesby first came into contact with members of SDS in Ann Arbor in 1964. He wrote a critical article on American foreign policy in the Far East in the University of Michigan’s campus magazine. SDSers read it, and went to meet Carl at his family home to see if he might become a supporter of the SDS. … He became so impressed by the spirit and intellectual strength of the SDS that he became deeply involved in the organization. Despite the notable age gap between Oglesby and the traditionally-aged undergraduates who comprised most of the organization’s membership, he became its president within a year. His first project was to be a ‘grass-roots theatre’, but that project was soon superseded by the opposition to escalating American activity in Vietnam; he helped organize a teach-in in Michigan, and to build for the large SDS peace march in Washington on April 17, 1965. …”
NY Times: Carl Oglesby, Antiwar Leader in 1960s, Dies at 76
amazon: The New Left Reader, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Anti-War Movement

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Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock (1960)

Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and written by Joseph Stefano. It stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles, and Martin Balsam, and was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who ends up at a secluded motel after stealing money from her employer, and the motel’s owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and its aftermath. Psycho was seen as a departure from Hitchcock’s previous film North by Northwest, having been filmed on a low budget, in black-and-white, and by a television crew. The film initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box-office returns prompted critical reevaluation. Psycho was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films and praised as a major work of cinematic art by international film critics and scholars. Often ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films, and is widely considered to be the earliest example of the slasher film genre. … The screenplay is relatively faithful to the novel, with a few notable adaptations by Hitchcock and Stefano. Stefano found the character of Norman Bates—who, in the book, is middle-aged, overweight, and more overtly unstable—unsympathetic, but became more intrigued when Hitchcock suggested casting Anthony Perkins. Stefano eliminated Bates’ drinking, which evidently necessitated removing Bates’ ‘becoming’  the Mother personality when in a drunken stupor. Also gone is Bates’ interest in spiritualism, the occult and pornography. … The murder of Leigh’s character in the shower is the film’s pivotal scene and one of the best-known in all of cinema. As such, it spawned numerous myths and legends. It was shot from December 17–23, 1959, after Leigh had twice postponed the filming, firstly for a cold and then her period. Seventy-seven different camera angles were used. The finished scene runs three minutes and includes 50 cuts. Most of the shots are extreme close-ups, except for medium shots in the shower directly before and directly after the murder. …”
New Yorker: The Greatness of “Psycho” by Richard Brody
Roger Ebert
YouTube: Psycho Trailer, Psycho 1960 Trailer, Understanding Psycho: The Uncanny 14:17

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