By David Schneider
Philip Whalen was once an American poet, Zen Buddhist, and key determine within the literary and inventive scene that spread out in San Francisco within the Fifties and ’60s. while the Beat writers got here West, Whalen turned a respected, much-loved member of the crowd. Erudite, shy, and profoundly non secular, his presence not just moved his speedy circle of Beat cohorts, yet his robust, startling, cutting edge paintings might come to affect American poetry to the current day.
Drawing on Whalen’s journals and private correspondence—particularly with Ginsberg, Kerouac, Snyder, Kyger, Welch, and McClure —David Schneider indicates how deeply bonded those intimates have been, aiding each other of their paintings and their non secular paths. Schneider, himself an ordained priest, offers an insider’s view of Whalen’s struggles and breakthroughs in his thirty years as a Zen monk. while Whalen died in 2002 because the retired Abbot of the Hartford road Zen middle, his personal instructor noted him as a patriarch of the Western lineage of Buddhism. Crowded by means of attractiveness chronicles the process Whalen’s existence, targeting his targeted, eccentric, funny, and literary-religious perform.
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Extra resources for Crowded by Beauty: The Life and Zen of Poet Philip Whalen
The letters they wrote in their own hands, and letters they later dictated or parceled out to assistants—Whalen because of blindness, Ginsberg because of overcommitment—express their straightforward, tender wishes to visit or chat. ” As the letters tail off altogether, little archival notes continue to appear in Allen’s files: “Call PW,” “Spoke on . . ” Until a few months before his death, Ginsberg remained unstoppably on the road and did what he could to keep the friendship alive. There is no formal record of Allen’s calling or coming by during his last San Francisco visit in late 1996, though more than one resident of Hartford Street remembers him being there.
Despite his softer shape, Whalen was a strong man with remarkable endurance, and the athlete in Kerouac noticed this. ” Here, comrades collect wood for their stay. Real-life models Victor Wong, Lew Welch, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Philip Whalen took turns cutting logs. Whalen (“Ben Fagan”) was so at ease with the work that he kept his pipe in his mouth while he calmly chopped, very unlike the flashily energetic but inefficient character based on Neal Cassady. ”1 When, in that same book, Ben Fagan raises the question of emptiness with the Kerouac/Duluoz character, he reverts to the physical, almost for security.
In response, Allen prodded his old friend goodnaturedly, “ ‘Spiritual poetics’ was just my romantic title for whatever anyone does. ” Thus Whalen missed the inaugural summer session at Naropa, but by 1975 he’d seen his way clear to visiting, performing, and teaching there, and he continued to do so for the next twelve years. These one- to two-week Boulder visits opened a new period in Whalen and Ginsberg’s friendship. For one thing, it meant that they saw each other every year and had at least a little time to spend together at ease.
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