Monday, November 24, 2008

Somehow this (including my overlong response, the fourth one) is reminding me of what might be my favorite Q&A ever conducted: John Lofton interviewing Allen Ginsberg for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture in February 1988, published originally in December 1989 and reprinted in full in Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996, a book that will stay with me anywhere I go. David Carter, the book's editor, introduces it with a note that "Lofton wrote in 1999 that he wanted to interview Allen 'to confront him with the Truth of God's Word.'" Here's how it ends:

JL: I asked you to end with a little poem denouncing the Khmer Rouge and you attack John Foster Dulles!

AG: You asked me to denounce the Communists on your terms. But I'd rather denounce them on my terms.

JL: Yeah. By denouncing John Foster Dulles.

AG: I'd rather denounce them on my terms. But I'd rather not just denounce them but try to point out that everybody is complicit in this situation.

JL: Speak for yourself. I didn't have anything to do with Cambodian genocide. Did you? Do you take some blame for that?

AG: I would be willing to take some blame. And I think we should all take blame.

JL: What role did you play in causing this genocide? And have you apologized to any Cambodians?

AG: Yes.

JL: Who? Who did you apologize to?

AG: You're setting up something here which is not . . . it's like, again, you're going back to this black and white, either/or interrogation.

JL: But some things are black and white.

AG: And this comes from your monotheistic insistence.

JL: Is nothing black and white?

AG: Nothing is completely black and white. Nothing.