Sunday, June 20, 2010


This was an interview I recently did for Scanlan's Monthly, reprinted here.

1. What would you call yourself, a poet or a singer, or do you think that you write poems and then you put music to it?

Of course everything is erotic to me; if it isn't erotic, it isn't interesting.

2. Do you know any Swedes?

How should I know? In any case, one must not be serious. Not only is it absurd, but a serious person cannot have sex.

3. Does the large amount of money you get now mean much to you?

Certainly not! I think that any artistic product must stand or fall on what's there. A chimpanzee can do an abstract painting, if it's good, that's great.

4. How are your friends?

Very religious. Very. But now she is crazy. She lay on top of me when I was tied to the bed. She writes me all the time begging me to return. Why must we speak of my mother?

5. You've said you think message songs are vulgar. Why?

Make love to the police. We need highly trained squads of lovemakers to go everywhere and make love.

6. Do you think Lincoln wore his hair long to keep his head warm?

Many dirty hands have fondled beauty, made it their banner; I'd like to chop off those hands, because I do believe in that banner . . . the difference is that art is beauty, which the Beatniks naturally lack, hm?

7. do you find that people who call you a genius have any influence on your writing?
No, I don't, but that's not my wish. That's Merce's wish because he's involved with a large company of dancers and a school, so if his name were in the phone book, it would be awful. Anyway, people find out what your number is whether it's in the book or not.

8. If a young man considering a career in the arts wanted to meet a lot of women, would he be better off learning to paint or to play guitar?

That's the trouble, of course, for any individual. There is the rest of society and the rest of history. I think we have to take that circumstance as the means upon which we work to help us discover the nature of the next step, rather than taking it as something to lament. That's what my father would have done.

9. Can't dreams also mean hopes about the future?

Now, it's those two things: the cockroaches on the one hand, and the mosquitoes on the other that brought about, didn't they? The DDT?

10. Who's that playing with you here?

He was a student of Bonnie Bird. Yes. And he was absolutely remarkable. In fact when Martha Graham saw him, she took him immediately in her company. He was a creature of the air. And no one knew it at the time that he would come down to earth as he has in recent years. (laughs) He's been forced down to the earth, but he refuses to stop dancing. I'm sure he'll dance the day he dies.

11. What's your take on politics?

Well, I think this is why Buddhism is so important to so many people now, is that the -- One of the principles of Buddhist philosophy is that everything causes everything else, and that there is nothing that is not caused by everything else, and that each thing is at the center of the universe, and these centers are in interpenetration and non-obstruction

12. Like a locomotive, a pair of boots, a kiss or the rain?

People ask what the avant-garde is and whether it's finished. It isn't. There will always be one. The avantgarde is flexibility of mind. And it follows like day, the night from not falling prey to government and education. Without the avant-garde nothing would get invented. If your head is in the clouds, keep your feet on the ground. If your feet are on the ground, keep your head in the clouds.