Huncke Blog

Allen Ginsberg to Herbert Huncke—Dec 5, 1965

In the process of transcribing this letter.  Transcription (so far) below the scans.  Need help deciphering Allen's handwriting—if you can make out any of the missing text please leave in the comments or email us at:  . . .  Thanks in advance.   —Ed. (Transcribed by JP.)

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Dec 5, 1965

c/o City Lights

261 Columbus Ave.


Dear Herbie—

Everything here building toward more harmony, hints and scattered glimpses of the last 2 decades now becoming more manifest and natural making a continuity of high awareness & a public community emerging each person contributing his own privately experienced unthought-of discovery of light/unity/self nature to the common outer world by action or talk or song or print & the Theme of all we envision begins a show up in bookstores and airwaves and even on the hats of kids in Gas Stations.  I begin to feel the societal meanness and pain—like the China war—as just fear & suffering which grows acute because changes are coming on so fast one after another—things unthinkable 10 years ago our Word spread ­­­­________, like I’m bald _____, or astronauts with long hair soon, or the Eve of Destruction broadcast to teenage  _____ ears, or Dylan’s mysterious spirit speak, or Russia turning young again, or sexual blackout for teenagers _________ with highschool kid flashlights on Cancer lunch under the covers or on the bedstead, Hell’s angels high on LSD listening to Kosmos-is-Maya songs chanted to them/as if it were all pre-arranged by universe-Cinemascope in Deja-Vu, movies of World’s end Apocalypse or ____ Buck Rogers space universe coming true scene by _____ . Anyway seeing your Blue First Edition Journal Cover unexpectedly in City Lights was like seeing a __________ or climbing a snowy mountain & reaching clear rock peaks & sitting down to look at the blue earth-gas in panorama low land valley floors & wondering how it could be so that this big heavy mountain was finally climbed to its crag top since when we began way down below looking up at a real earth-god big mountain such as there were ______ library pictures of in Junior High School.




Your own book is the most interesting new truthful word text I’ve read in recent year-era. You can’t imagine how awesome it is, how helpful, how magically ____________ on our same life as I know it, that what seemed real drops ___________ and is here now for good.  Once you completely manifest your self in these detailed fragments,- and the world has you out front like a big ________-rock you can actually see & point out & look at up close.


What’s Truthful in the book is that it is a writing that’s by itself, for god knows who, which makes it raw (not like most art objects) nature, a part of life itself like an uncle fireside story told so the family could know really who felt what in Newark some recent years.  It feels Truthful, the truth being an accurate record of you, a close version of whatever you know you are, close enough to be identical with your self-thought and inside noticing of all the ____________, written the only way it comes out without trying to “improve” your real nature’s image by calculated rearrangement of your story – So it is like nature of things.


I keep getting glimpses of that, like recognitions of the actual scene as we know it so familiar but rare




in conscious reflection and rarer in permanent writ-memory.


What I mean is your original self as I’ve always ______________ it to be, is the same as the way the book is; and the closeness between your nature and your written version of what you’re minded of, as a rare thing in art (somehow not many people can come up with that simple such -______ prose or poetry) and is absolutely precious vital social serum against the effects of mass-bulk false (like mis-comprehending ______ -interpreting _____-reporting mis-taking) word products wholesale broadcast ________ an hour in everybody’s consciousness.


I’m meaning to say, one straight record like Cuba or In the Park or Youth to take the most obvious, (or old Elsie)—one straight account like that is so recognizably true to what life is, and true to what everybody’s natural sympathy feels like – true events what one time or other at least, everybody has experience in his own scene—true to everybody’s inside knowledge—that it has the effect of waking or reaffirming that sleeping or timid self-recognition—and (offhand or incomplete, or dubiously or hastily jotted as  you may have felt them to be during or after writing, unsatisfactory) because it does so clearly show




some real, native, undisguised Self to any reader’s obscure inward self, that it can cut thru all the illusions of prejudice identity opinion – cut thru millions of copies of official Time_______digest righteous viewpoint language – and touch the actual huge nature underneath even the worst Heat in the long run – and bring lost people back to them selves, back home to the original feeling for life.


Now all this I guess is really obvious to you, I’m only scribbling to you at such length the same repeated thought because (maybe out of some lack of confidence in your efforts) you always do say when low down that maybe your writings have no real value or function or purpose to yourself or anyone else for that matter, & why bother to publish them.  I’m trying to explain clearly what is the value function purpose to the whole central population organized nation community.  Which is now as you know so lost in the head it is like to be the end of the whole show. Or the mind can be clarified in us & we transmit that clarity as you do in the book and it will certainly have an effect on others; that will return to you in the long run too.




So the point is, you have good reason to do something now about the larger mss.  How many pages now 600?—and make an active effort to be sure all the scattered fragments are collected & arranged in some indicative order,

and maybe whatever lesser material there is (less lively) cut out,-- or better blue penciled in bulk returning only _______________ phrases & sentences that are lively & pure, linked with “. . . “ to show you ________ the background for the gems.  That’s easiest most natural way, Williams recommended it – (if a poem has only 2 good lines, get rid of the poem & publish the 2 lines, there’s no reason a poem should be look finished or complete if too completion is shitty or unreal or just to make it look apparently complete.)  (he said & that s how I prepared mss. of empty _________, from masses of journal jottings I locked it down to those essential lines & fragments of writing that were interesting)—



The present Journals volume looks to me all high order writings.  Do the next of 600 p. mss the same as good?

I thought of the title Confessions years ago but don’t know now if it’s appropriate (I meant like St. Augustine’s or Rousseau’s  Confessions.)

Is the mss. ready to submit to a publisher? I won’t be back in N.Y. till Feb or March but no reason you or Eila or Clive or someone—Sanders perhaps—could not start circulating it. Perhaps try Grove first.  Ferlinghetti wants to see the mss. too.  You cold give him an hundred page book; and then arrange to have that & DiPrima’s volume __________ with the rest of the bulk by a hardcover N.Y. publisher in a year or 2 or just go directly to Fred Jordan at Grove Press; or Jason Epstein at Random House etc. etc.  I can send you more names & places but why not start there now?  Probably 3 or 4 will reject it before one finally can see in this book what it is.  If you do go to  Grove or Random, tell them I advised you to & show them this letter too if they need any convincing.

Please send me a card (before the week is out because I’m heaving here Dec 15) let me know what the status of the mss is.

(If you feel that there’s more editing to do, Irving Rosenthal is really handy at that if he’s willing. If publisher want to edit, better have it checked with Irving anyhow.)




Everything socially here is very dramatic and charming.  I see a lot of McClure, a lot of new young poetry & LSD and longhair anarchist boys, I’ve been active in the Berkeley Vietnam anti- War manifestations, mainly showing up, talking tranquilly to cool the Revolutionary Radical Righteous Hysteria freaks & singing peaceful Mantras (I’ve learned some new Zen ones from Snyder) on the parades to marchers & police both—Got in the middle of a ____________ Happening, the Hell’s Angels (genuinely anticommunist motives but all sensitive dumb paranoid) versus the marchers—now made friends both the Angels & cooled them out—sang mantras to them too—while Neal and friend novelist Ken Kesey turned them on to LSD—we had a big party 2 nites before the threatened riot scene & that (plus threat of state troops) cooled everything for peaceful communion march thru spade section of Oakland.

I see Neal all the time, he and Anne his love slave dearie stay over here in Julius’ bed several nites a week.  Neal has entered new space-age d__________ -- all his old energy still full steam but after 13 years railroad 2 ½ years jail and now divorced and years of _________ pot and then all the reincarnation spiritualist cult m______________ and several years of obsession with the racetrack where he lost about $10,000 -- and now several




years omnivorous absorption of amphets by mouth (“Jumpers” he says) and company with huge crowds of young Zonk-minded admirers, lovers of his legend, like, devotees of his energy & speed – he’s become a sort of fantastic _________________ talking (on 7 or 8 levels of s_______________ association) Teacher plus the fact that for 2 or 3 years he’s gone into the LSD mind too, also omnivorously more than ever Barbara Rubin & friends led—super expert master of Acid  & D or T etc—in company with a huge clownish utopian gang at house—commune in peninsula backroads woods of a novelist, friend Ken Kesey who is taken over appreciating h____ in his later phases as Jack once did—I think I told you or you heard about their big bus?  -- all painted psychedelic ultraviolet orange green blue covered now with swastikas and hammer sickles and U.S. Eagles & every conceivable identity emblem painted neatly along sides of bus – and they go on trips to Idaho or L.A. everybody on acid including Neal the super-driver (it’s on the road in a mad 60’s dimension) hallucinating the gas pedals turned to spaghetti, but able to find his way thru side phantom cockroaches & deliver everybody safely—him sweating & talking furiously with tape microphone hanging over his head in driver’s cab




and more cameras g________ and radio hooked to loudspeaker atop the bus (where 6 or 7 youths & maids dressed in red white blue striped sweatshirts & pants & grass)—and on this trip, said Neal the bus had no clutch, brake or reverse—he got all the way to Idaho and back, and thru a Calif. forest fire burning on both sides of the road.

Bob Dylan here a week & I see him everyday & talk about poesy & fame & Eden desolation—we may do something together, he produce a record of my mantras or a TV show or I act in a movie or who knows.

I wrote a lot poems, letters—and a huge first manifesto to end the bringdown on the subject of pot. Maybe we’ll break thru soon, I do think—on many levels—work hard—





Steven’s made a huge hundred foot scroll ilust. of Book of Dead—but he doth take too much speed & he is not in best (or worst) of health.



It is only out of desperation and at this point dire necessity – I find it possible to sell this letter.  Still since sell it I must—I can’t think of anyone I’d rather sell to.  Huncke

(Back of page 9 in small handwriting:)  Bought from Herbert Huncke April 5, 1966



photo by Anne Charters

photo by Anne Charters