dimecres, 11 de novembre de 2009

No Flowers

I write this just two days before visiting the United States of America, on a freebie but not a junket: I have to sing for my ticket in the form of a lecture, a round table and a live reading, together with Najat El Hachmi, Patrícia Gabancho, Sam Abrams and Simona Skrabec, that is to say, a scattering of us Catalan language writers who, having been born on foreign soil, can be wheeled out on occasion to surprise audiences abroad; but what makes this particular cat (please forgive the involuntary beatnik-speak) feel he's got the cream is that we are being to sent to San Francisco; San Francisco, where the City Lights bookshop – whose founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti published the banned poem 'Howl' that author Allen Ginsberg yelled out for the first time in the city's Six Gallery in 1955 - still flourishes; and just east of San Francisco is Oakland, where the Black Panthers were founded in 1966: the only armed liberation movement in the Western World that got widespread support from the population it was claiming to help; and just south of Oakland is Stanford University, Palo Alto, home to psychologist Philip Zimbardo's 1971 prison experiment in which he demonstrated, by randomly dressing up some students as guards as some as prisoners, just how dangerous people become when put in a uniform: any people, in any uniform; and just south of Palo Alto is Big Sur, home to the museum dedicated to Henry Miller, my favourite writer, invisible mentor and only hero, who lived on that coastal bluff – now a State Park - for 17 years and who wrote exactly as he pleased, having booted all and any mental censors out of his brain; as had Allen Ginsberg, and as had most of Ginsberg's fellow Beat Generation writers who gadded about in 1950s California, including Jack Kerouac who was leery of full stops and wrote without rewriting following Ginsberg's maxim of 'First is best' which is how, just for once, time being scarce, this article has been written or has written itself.

Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, novembre 2009

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