something can simultaneously be andnnot be?nGinsberg: Let’s put it this way. Allnconceptions as to existence of the self,nas well as all conceptions as to thennonexistence of the self, as well as allnconceptions as to the existence of thensupreme self, as well as all conceptionsnas to the nonexistence of the supremenself-nLofton: Yeah.nGinsberg: Are equally arbitrary, beingnonly conceptions.nLofton: Says who? You?nGinsberg: Well, you just have to listennto the —nLofton: Can you prove that whatnwe’re doing now is not a dream but isnreal?nGinsberg: I think it is part dream.nThere’s an element of dreamlikenessnin this —nLofton: Please, don’t go metaphoricalnon me. Are we here doing this interview,nor is this a dream?nGinsberg: We are both really dreamingnit and doing it at once.nLofton: You’re being metaphorical.nGinsberg: No.nLofton: No? Okay.nGinsberg: The quality this situationnshares with dreams is the quality ofntransitoriness. Like a dream, this situationnwill have disappeared in a day andnwill be forgotten in a hundred years.nSo, it gives a certain emptiness to thensituation as well as, simultaneously, thensituation is quite real.nLofton: Well, that certainly clears itnup. I appreciate that.nGinsberg: Both. Both. Are you followingnme?nLofton: Yes. Yes. You said that earlier.nI’m very quick. I have a. very quicknmind.nGinsberg: But did you understand it?nOr did you just say you heard it?nLofton: I didn’t say I understood it.nGinsberg: If you’ll slow down a little,nyou might actually find it’s not sonrepulsive or repugnant, what I just said.nLofton: My problem, of course, is thatnI would, first, have to find what younsaid comprehensible in order to judgenit. That’s my first challenge.nGinsberg: Like it says in the Bible: allnflesh is grass. . . . I’m saying that thisninterview shares the quality of a dreamnin the sense of vaporousness, emptiness,ntransitoriness.nLofton: Well, speak for yourself. Butnit’s certainly going to be a nightmarenfor me to have to transcribe. I cannassure you of that.nGinsberg: You know, there’s a goodndeal of parallel between the rhetoricnand the intention of that poemn[“Howl”] and what you like so much innJeremiah — telling the cities to repent.nThe Moloch section of “Howl” —nhave you read that?nLofton: Long ago. But look, you attackedna lot in that poem that shouldnhave been attacked, all this Molochworship.nBut the problem is that younhave no answers. You’re a darknesscursernonly who lights no candles.nGinsberg: But the answer I was givingnto the impersonality of Moloch wasnhuman sympathy. I thought that wasnan appropriate medicine and a positivensuggestion for the culture. … Itnseemed to me that sympathetic attentivenessn[to a sick friend in the hospital,nin the poem “Howl”] was the basicnanswer to the quality of dehumanizahon.nLofton: No. There is nothing morenhypocritical than an unbeliever like younattacking somebody else’s idolatry.nThat is rank hypocrisy.nGinsberg: Well, I think all of us agreenthat our high-tech, materialistic civilizationnhas some deficiencies in human—nLofton: You’re not listening to me. Insay I applaud some of your attacks onnMoloch-worship. But what ought to benworshiped? If not Moloch, who?nGinsberg: The alternative I was suggestingnwas opening up to some kind ofnsoftness and sensitivity and humannLIBERAL ARTSnFOR THE MASSES: FOR USnsympathy.nLofton: No, no, nol This won’t do it.nThis is only sentiment. Every humannbeing will worship something, seekingnpower from either above or below.nGinsberg: And I’m suggesting that wenhave the natural power of compassionnwithin us without having to go muchnfurther.nLofton: But this doesn’t solve thenproblem of sin and why people worshipnMoloch in the first place! Sin is anserious problem.nGinsberg: When people learn to recognizentheir own vulnerability andncompassionate nature, and their ownnsuffering, they will extend that sympathynto others.nLofton: But I want to deal with whatnyou so articulately attacked in “Howl”n— Moloch-worship. I want to shakenyour hand and agree that Molochworshipnis bad. But when you tell anman to get off his face, and stopnworshiping his false god, you have tonput something there in its place.nGinsberg: Human sympathy. Basicnhuman good nature and sympathy.nThat’s what I was saying in the thirdnpart of “Howl.”nLofton: That’s it? And since then,nover thirty years ago, you have no morenideas about what man needs to do tonstop commithng idolatry.nGinsberg: I’ve come a little farther.nBecause in those days I was more of anmonotheist persuasion than I am now,nwhich is more pantheistic. By 1965,nhaving been to India, and experiencingnother religions and meditation practices,nI felt the monotheistic attitude wasnMusic and architecture, and painting as well as poetry andnoratory are to deduce their laws and rules from the generalnsense and taste of mankind, and not from the principles ofnthose arts themselves; or, in other words, the taste is not tonconform to the art, but the art to the taste. Music is notndesigned to please only chromatic ears, but all that arencapable of distinguishing harsh from disagreeable notes . . .n—Joseph Addison, SpectatornnnDECEMBER 1989/51n