Talking About Literature

Allen Ginsberg and  Philp Whalen, in Allen’s East 12th St apartment, New York City 1984

 

Allen Ginsberg: I (know) a couple of lines (of German) – ” Du bist wie eine Blume/so..schon und..” (Heinrich Heine)

Philip Whalen: I’d like to take the Rilke out of .. as much German as I’ve absorbed, totally out of the air, and out of the imagination, and what-not, to look at The Duino Elegies and so on, and get some comfort and charm out of the sound of the things as they go by. But, as far (as).. if you asked me to render a single line, I’d be.. I might recognize some lone word, or something like that, but otherwise, I’d be totally flummoxed, I wouldn’t have any idea.

I do the same thing with Lorca. Although I can guess better at Lorca because it’s nearer to a Latin trip, but I enjoy looking at the Lorca texts in Spanish. But we all learn from the same people. From Rilke and Lorca and Thomas Mann and from (Marcel) Proust, and..

Allen Ginsberg: I never could get much out of Lorca. Just a continuous breath..

Philip Whalen: Oh, there’s a thing about weather..

Allen Ginsberg: …The Duino Elegies, but that’s all.

Philip Whalen: Yeah, but in Lorca, there’s a thing about the smell of things and the shape, the colors of things, and about the weather, about how hot it is and how cold it is, which I find really nice.

Allen Ginsberg: I’ve always seen him as a bad influence on people. They get really.. sad and romantic.

Philip Whalen: It’s very thin, it’s really thin stuff the Lorca materials are, I think, but still they’re very pretty. The Rilke thing is very.. it gets smeary

Allen Ginsberg: I’m sorry. I was talking about Rilke.

Philip Whalen: Well, he tends to smear..

Allen Ginsberg: Yeah.

Philip Whalen: ..as far as I can see. And he’s like Richard Strauss, he gets.. exactly, he gets imprecise and floppy around the edges, and it just gets pretty.. and, I think it’s wonderful that..the greatest thing about Rilke is that he died after picking a rose and getting stuck on one of the thorns. What actually happened was that it turned out that the wound from being poked by this rose-thorn didn’t heal up and he actually had leukemia, but they didn’t know it until right that minute, or a couple of months later, when he still had this hole in him. He was actually dying of leukemia. But it was quite wonderful to be pricked by a rose and die. I always thought more kindly of him on that account.

Philip Whalen: And also when I was in the army, a friend gave me a copy, a little single volume of the Letters To A Young Poet, which I treasured. I really thought that was some of the wisest, most marvelous, most inspiring stuff that anybody ever said about the calling of being a poet.. were these letters that he’d written to..very stuffy, actually.. letters to this young kid who was writing to him about, “How do you be a poet?”, and, “I’m discouraged”, and “Please tell me what to do next?”, and so on. And Rilke wrote these very studied and very careful, very beautiful, replies to him, and I don’t know whether the kid ever amounted to anything, but they..

Allen Ginsberg: No, he didn’t.

Philip Whalen: ..but the replies are much more.. and I do like the prose… the thing I was talking about yesterday, about writing prose with the care of poetry, where the Malte Laurids Brigge‘s right on top, every minute, right now. Right on top of each event, each particle is going by, he’s right there with it. And so it works a lot better than a lot of the poems, except.. I don’t know. That’s quite wonderful where that angel comes in and grabs him in the first Duino Elegy..and says, “Shape up” (and, poor sap, that took him twenty years to shape up there!)

Advertisements

The Good Fortune of Frienship

 
 

January 1989: Gianni Versace shows first couture collection in Paris. The Good Fortune of Friendship, a film by Sergio Salerni about Versace’s relationship with the choreographer Maurice Béjart, debuts. The Versus line bows. Dresses for Thought, an exhibit of Gianni’s designs, opens in Milan.

On October 21, 1990, the San Francisco opera season opened with Richard StraussCapriccio, with costumes designed by Versace. The following year the fragrance “Versus” was debuted and “Signature,” Versace’s classic line, was launched. Elton John, an ardent admirer of Versace, began his world tour for which Versace designed the costumes. In New York, for the Italian Trade Commission, Versace inaugurated the charity Gala “Rock’N Rule,” with profits given to the Amfar anti-AIDS Association. A retrospective show at the Fashion Institute of Technology featured Versace’s work.

Around 1989, Elton was deeply affected by the plight of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS. Along with Michael Jackson, John befriended and supported the boy and his family until White’s death in 1990. Confronted by his then-lover, John checked into a Chicago hospital in 1990 to combat his drug abuse, alcoholism, and bulimia. In recovery, he lost weight and underwent hair replacement, and subsequently took up residence in Atlanta, Georgia.The One was John’s first album project since his rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addictions and bulimia in 1990.

In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, intending to direct 90 percent of the funds it raised to direct care, 10 percent to AIDS prevention education. He also announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles (beginning with The One) in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research. That year, he released the Number Eight album The One, his highest-charting release since 1976’s Blue Moves. Also in 1992, Gianni designed costumes and album cover for Elton John’s world tour.

 
 

The One (1992), the 23rd studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John. It was dedicated to Vance Buck, and its cover artwork was designed by Gianni Versace. Photography by Patrick Demarchelier

 
 

Julian Schnabel’s Plate painting portraying Elton John. Front cover of The Big Picture

 
 

The Big Picture is the 26th studio album by Elton John, released in 1997. It was dedicated to John’s friend, popular fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was murdered a few months before the album’s release. This was the last album to date to be produced by Chris Thomas, who had worked with John almost nonstop since 1981’s The Fox. This is the only album in which neither Davey Johnstone nor bassist Bob Birch provide backing vocals. Drummer Charlie Morgan was let go from the band shortly after the album’s release and soon replaced by Curt Bisquera and John’s old drummer Nigel Olsson, who remains in the lineup to this day.

 
 

 
 

The video for the song (which is dedicated to the memory of Gianni and Diana, Princess of Wales, who also died that year) featured actors and actresses from the UK television programme This Life, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl. It’s regarded as one of Elton John’s best videos. John has publicly revealed (through his “warts and all” documentary Tantrums and Tiaras) that he finds videos “fucking loathsome” and after the album The Big Picture refrained from appearing in his own videos unless they were cameo appearances. It was directed by Tim Royes.