The Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception

Article excerpt

The Spring 1958 issue of Chicago Review devoted most of its pages to writers "From San Francisco," as the section title announced, including work by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners, Michael McClure, Kirby Doyle, Philip Lamantia, and Philip Whalen. It led off with a brief statement by Jack Kerouac, "The Origins of Joy in Poetry," in which Kerouac affirmed Ferlinghetti's critique of contemporary academic verse, describing the writing of the San Francisco Renaissance as "a kind of new-old Zen Lunacy poetry, writing whatever comes into your head as it comes, poetry returned to its origin, in the bardic child, truly ORAL as Ferling said, instead of gray faced Academic quibbling....SF is the poetry of a new Holy Lunacy like that of ancient times (Li Po, Hanshan, Tom O Bedlam, Kit Smart, Blake) yet it also has that mental discipline typified by the haiku (Basho, Buson), that is, the discipline of pointing out things directly, purely, concretely, no abstractions or explanations, wham wham the true blue song of man." HYUNG WOONG PAK, who served on the editorial staff during the period, recently explained one consequence of Kerouac's insistence on "writing whatever comes into your head": "Mr. Kerouac was very concerned that Chicago Review editors might mess up his writing in some way. …