Monday, September 07, 2009

Kooks and Poets

"Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?" (Allen Ginsberg, "America")

Reading Allen Verbatim the other day (I'm getting increasingly obsessed by the War on Drugs), a likeness between Ginsberg and Pound struck me. It's probably pretty straighforward imitation of the master but, like Pound, Allen had the "low down" on the U.S. government. Pound believed that America had effectively passed into the hands of the "usury racket" in 1913, when the Federal Reserve was established. Ginsberg believed that the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 (AV, p. 40ff.) was the beginning of a federal drug racket.

There are lots of parallels and the argument has been made to connect the two rackets, tying both to the military-industrial complex or, more broadly, the media-intelligence-military-industrial complex. One person who has made this connection is Peter Dale Scott (AV, p. 71), a poet. He has argued that the CIA and other agencies have an enormous stake in the global drug economy. One figure I've heard, independently, is that something like 260 billion dollars of drug money are laundered through Wall Street every year. If drugs were legal this infusion of cash would dry up, which would cause a financial catastrophe.

Scott studies something he calls "deep politics". It is what goes on under the surface of official history and causes things like the JFK assassination and, yes, 9/11. It is interesting to me that some poets feel compelled to dismiss "the official narrative" so radically. Ginsberg's rhetorical question about Time Magazine and the emotional life of America is very telling.

Consider: how close is the fit between, say, the covers of Time Magazine, week after week, and the consensus of mainstream historians. Could a "history of the twentieth century" not be pretty straightforwardly illustrated by the covers of Time? And isn't that actually a bit too neat and tidy? Wouldn't we expect historians to uncover some "deeper" truths about history that would expose those "illustrations" as just so much propaganda? What would a history of the twentieth century that took its cue, not from Time, but from (just for the sake of argument) the poetry of Pound and Ginsberg, look like? What facts would it attempt to uncover? One thing seems sure: it'd be pretty kooky.

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