[lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 14:43:33 -0700



Berryman loved everything about it except its effects, and he couldn't
remember most of them.  His wives and friends could and they told him what
he did.  He tried to quit to please them, but drinking was too much fun and
he would start in again -- when they weren't around, unfortunately they all
heard about it and got on him again.


Why did Berryman keep on drinking?  Why did Hemingway keep on drinking?
They had similar problems except Hemingway could hold it better than
Berryman.  In Hemingway's case he had a big long list of organs that were
failing and he didn't much like the electric shock treatments they (the
psychiatrists) liked to give him.  Perhaps they both committed suicide
because they knew their drinking days were too rapidly coming to an end.


As to your little paragraph about the unconscious, you have that precisely
backwards.  Freud pronounced that there was an unconscious using specious
reasoning (that Wittgenstein exposed), and you believed him.   


As to Robert Paul's description of Hart Crane (which didn't make it to my
inbox), that seems consistent with a Manic Depressive who also drinks.
Robert Lowell did some things like that as well.  Perhaps Berryman and
Hemingway did as well but it wasn't quite as pronounced.  I'm not convinced
they were Manic Depressive.  Their erratic behaviour could be totally
accounted for by drinking too much -- it seems to me ("me" being someone who
did that a time or two in his youth).





-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Andy Amago
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 2:13 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72


Alcohol releases inhibitions, prompting, as they say, the act but ruining

the performance.  If alcohol improved anything cognitive, or anything at

all, then drunk driving would not be against the law.  I'm sure Hart Crane

thought he was brilliant when drunk.


As to Lawrence's contention that Berryman was happy but drank himself to

death anyway, followed by actually jumping off a bridge to his death, if

Berryman was happy drunk, then why did he stop drinking, given that he

killed himself anyway?  Why didn't he just happily drink himself to death?


As far as someone pronouncing there is no unconscious, well that certainly

settles it.  There was no Stalin-Hitler pact because the Soviets said there

wasn't, there was no Holocaust because some say there isn't, there is no

unconscious because someone proclaimed there isn't.  An appropriate

mentality for these here New Middle Ages, no doubt about that. 




> [Original Message]

> From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>

> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

> Date: 10/11/2006 4:36:51 PM

> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72


> Lawrence wrote:


> > it was commonly believed among poets, painters, and novelists that


> > enhanced one's talent.  One could more readily reach one's muse under


> > influence.


> Hart Crane comes immediately to mind. There's a good discussion of

> Crane and his place in American letters, including some vignettes of his

> encounters with his drunken muse, in a discussion of his work on the


> of his being given a volume of the Library of America.


> http://www.newyorker.com/critics/content/articles/061009crbo_books1 


> 'Crane was almost unique in preferring to write while he was actually


> Malcolm Cowley, in ?Exile?s Return,? his memoir of New York and Paris in

> the nineteen-twenties, recalled the way Crane would slip away from a

> bacchanalian party to write verse:


> 'Gradually he would fall silent, and a little later he disappeared. In


> that began to interrupt the laughter, now Hart was gone, we would hear a


> hubbub through the walls of his room--the phonograph playing a Cuban

rumba, the

> typewriter clacking simultaneously; then the phonograph would run down

and the

> typewriter stop while Hart changed the record, perhaps to a torch song,


> to Ravel's ?Bolero.?. . . An hour later . . . he would appear in the


> or on the croquet court, his face brick-red, his eyes burning, his already

> iron-gray hair bristling straight up from his skull. . . . In his hands


> be two or three sheets of typewritten manuscript, with words crossed out


> new lines scrawled in. ?R-read that,? he would say. ?Isn't that the

> grreatest poem ever written?? '


> Robert Paul

> The Reed Institute





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