Tag Archives: mental illness

Allen Ginsberg:Transcendentalist?

I have chosen this work to be the best of my critical entries on this subject. I took a real interest in Ginsberg before he and his cohorts were discussed in class. I took an in-depth look at “Howl” and tried for myself to decipher some of the parts, and to give extra commentary on them. Alan Ginsberg is someone whom I would like to study further.

Warning: The videos, and some of the text may be considered obscene:

Image result for allen ginsbergAllen Ginsberg was a poet who bared his mind in the 1950’s. His poem Howl, made him famous, or infamous for it’s somewhat candid and sometimes obscene language and content.

Image result for howl definition

In Part II of Howl, Ginsberg equates capitalist society with the God Moloch, who was a God that the early Hebrews and others sacrificed their children.

“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Ginsberg is saying here that cities, society has taken away any chance of those who inhabit them, of having imagination, of being able to think for themselves,

“Moloch, Moloch, Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasures! blind capitals! demonic industries!spectral nations! invincible madhouses!granite cocks! Monstorous bombs!” Everything is the same with houses, there is no imagination in design. These spaces are there not to be beautiful, but to have a purpose; to fit as many bodies in as little as space as possible. The treasures we build for ourselves and for our companies in this world of corporate greed, do not come without a cost, Many lives are lost, wasted with empty heads, empty brains unable to think for themselves. Invincible madhouses, are invincible because once someone is labelled as mad, that label follows them around, and nothing they say is taken serious from then on, People are defeated. Granite Cocks are the monolithic phallic symbols. Skyscrapers really are a phallic symbol, corporations saying, look how big and powerful am I. And Monstorous bombs refers to actual bombs, nuclear or otherwise that have the capability of destroying millions of lives in one push of a red button.

Why did Ginsberg call his poem Howl? A howl is defined as a mournful cry of perhaps a dog or other animal. Ginsberg may have thought himself a dog, but the emphasis should be placed on the sound, not what makes it. Howl is a mournful cry. Sometimes the cry is made in anger, sometimes in pain, but mostly in a sadness that eats you right to the bones. Ginsberg was expressing the sadness he feels when he think of the world that has lost it’s way. Of a world that has forgotten nature.

Ginsberg reflects on friends left behind, in particular, Carl Solomon, whom he met in a mental asylum and whom remained there as Ginsberg was released. He mentions over and again Rockland, which is a mental asylum but not the one in which Ginsberg met Solomon.

in Footnote, Ginsberg reflects on people and places and things which have influenced his life and his writing. He calls these “Holy”. To him, the people that Ginsberg met and received understanding from, and had an influence in his life, were sacred. People to be revered or idolised.

This is one work that deals with the emotions in such a diverse way. It is a spiritual moment. Once heard, one can never unhear the words in the poem. Once heard, this poem will surely affect your view on socialism, capitalism and what is important to you, and the world.

I have called Ginsberg a modern day transcendentalist. I think that is accurate. Here is a man who walks his own path, one less traveled. Here is a man who has rejected society and become the utter non-conformist. Here is a man who is self reliant, poor he may be but self reliant in terms of not accepting another’s thoughts or ideas without first discovering and telling his own.

Genius or madman? Don’t let me or anyone else sway your judgement. Make up your own mind. Its what a true transcendentalist would do.

 

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Relating to Francis Webb

I can relate to the poetry and the life of Francis Webb. He was a poet who was plagued with mental illness, just as I am. He wrote through his depression to produce some amazing work. I too write, and paint, and take photos when I can break through the darkness enough, and get motivated.

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this bird felt as miserable as I did the day I took this.

This is a story I wrote when I was having some anxious moments on the bus. I am not so bad now, thanks to google maps. I can track my trip the whole way.

THOUGHTS OF A PARANOID PERSON

© Dave McGettigan 19 October 2012

I tried to get a seat facing the front, but there were none available. So now I have to face the back of the bus and I can’t see where we are of if my stop is coming up. It’s ok. Don’t panic. You are getting off at the last stop. The bus won’t go any further than the shopping centre. I relax a little.

Why is that woman looking at me?

She can’t know… can she?

No. Dr Stewart told me that nobody would know if I didn’t tell them.

Then why is she looking at me?

She is reaching for her phone. Is she calling the police? Perhaps she is calling Dr Stewart to tell him I am catching the bus by myself. No escort for me this morning.

She is talking in hushed tones on the phone.

Oh god, now she is laughing! What is she laughing at? I combed my hair. I made sure I washed my face after breakfast. I look down and make sure I had buttoned my shirt correctly and that my tie is straight. My fly is up, so it isn’t that. I don’t know why she is laughing.

She has finished her phone call, put her phone away and now she is looking at me again.

She smiled.

Perhaps she likes me. I sit straighter in the seat at the thought. Perhaps she wants to go out with me. No! She wouldn’t have been laughing at me if she likes me.

Maybe she knew me before…before I got sick; before I did those things to that man. I didn’t mean to do it! She must know… I have to tell her. I didn’t mean to do it lady. I was sick. But I’m better now. I can’t tell her that. She won’t understand. Nobody does. They all think I would do something like that again. But I won’t. I couldn’t do something like that if I take my pills. I am good when I take them. But one day of missing them and BAM! I could change so quickly. I touch my shirt pocket to assure myself that the pack is still in my pocket. I breathe a bit easier.

I have changed a lot physically since then anyway. It’s been ten years after all. I have gotten taller, grown whiskers on my face and filled out; so Nurse Stevens tells me. I don’t think she knows me. Besides, that all happened in Adelaide. This is Sydney.

Perhaps I remind her of someone. I hope that is a good thing. Perhaps the person I remind her of brings back some bad memories. But I think the opposite is true. I think I bring back happy memories. That’s why she laughed on the phone. That’s why she smiled at me.

My god, why won’t she stop looking at me! She looks at her watch, which in turn causes me to look at mine. Are we running late? Nope… right on time. But she looked worried.

Maybe she is worried that the police won’t arrive quick enough to grab me when the bus arrives at the shopping centre. No! You have been through all that. She did not call the police or Dr Stewart. She doesn’t know me, nor do I remind her of somebody. She is looking at me because I am facing the back.

Damn. I wish I could have gotten a seat facing the front. Then at least if people were looking at me I wouldn’t even know about it.

She is standing up. She is walking towards me! What is she going to say? Am I going to be ridiculed in front of all these people? I clench my fists in anticipation of the confrontation.

“I like your tie,” she says “My husband has one just like it.”

“Oh…he he,” I give a nervous laugh “Thanks.” I say as she walks past me to exit the bus.

I realise that we have reached the shopping centre and now I can lose myself in the crowd. I alight from the bus and walk the short distance to the entrance of the centre.

Why is that man looking at me…?



I too have been in a mental facility, following a suicide attempt and not able to leave by my own terms. My term was short, but I think that perhaps if I were unwell at the time of Francis Webb, I may have never known freedom again.

Image result for straight jacket

 

Francis Webb had a spiritual connection and held onto his faith during the time of his suffering.  Many of his poems are prayers; crying out for others to be aware of the suffering, and to provide comfort and relief. Jussi Bjorling provided comfort and relief for Francis Webb with his singing of Nessun Dorma.

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Filed under critical posts, literature, Reading Australia

Marginalised people

I recently had a like by the owner of this blog, which I encourage you to read and perhaps follow and support.

http://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/

I wrote the following comment as a response to his introduction page.

Dennis, my relationship with street people started when i was just 13 years old. I was a runaway and was shown kindness by a homeless man. I guess after that I had a spot in my heart for this marginalised group.

At age 24 I began to work full time with the street kids of the red light district here in Sydney. I was a night shift worker, but was often called upon to hold a hand during a court date, or at a doctors surgery, when kids learnt their new HIV status.

On my nights off, I could be found with a different street team, handing out sandwiches or coffee to the unloved, and lending an ear or shoulder. I liked to be the one to listen to the stories that were inside, bursting to be told. I have been spewed upon with methalated spirits vomit. I have held a man while he died on the streets.167

At that age, I was unaware that one had to also care for self, lest a breakdown occurs, and you would then be no good to anyone. I spent 3 years recovering, unable to hold a job or socialise on even a basic level.

I again came into contact with street people inside. They would commit a small crime, so that a kindhearted magistrate would lock them up for the winter. This was a chance to dry out, to get three meals a day, and a warm bed at night for the coldest months of the year.

I am now amongst the marginalised myself. Not as a worker, but as one with a mental illness, identifying as gay, and as an ex prisoner. I am very resourceful, and am using all the services available to their full extent.

I attend art and creative writing classes with street people including others with a mental illness, or recovering addicts…others simply old and forgotten by society. One of whom is considered by our government as a living national treasure (not her words, she is too humble), able to be researched on the net. She has written seven books, studied in the best schools of her field, and taught the best of the best. Yet here she is in need of services such as a blanket, or a warm meal.

My mental illness prevents me from sleeping on the streets…amongst other things,  I am borberline agoraphobic… hence I am not homeless. A psychologist recently encouraged me to take an i.q test. I tested at 157. From there I was given the opportunity to study at a university. So now, I am doing a liberal arts certificate, which will be credited towards an arts degree, majoring in visual art. I will go on to complete post grad work in creative and professional writing.

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We are blessed in this country to have NGO’s who have innovative thinkers amongst them, who take it upon themselves to develop programs that enhance the lives of marginalised people.

We are also blessed by an organisation who produce a publication called THE BIG ISSUE, which brings the plight and stories of marginalised before the eyes of those who can assist, the general public.

I thank you for your blog which does the same thing. I look forward to reading the stories of marginalised who have consented to share them so publicly.

I think this will be the start of a long friendship.
Dave

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