Embracing Fracture: The Buddhist Poetics of Allen Ginsberg and Norman Fischer
AuthorRotando, Matthew Louis
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation is an exploration of the strain of Buddhist thought and practice running through American Modernism and American Modernist Poetry. I examine the works, both poetic and critical, of two authors, Allen Ginsberg and Norman Fischer. I explore Allen Ginsberg's relationship with Buddhism, as it changed throughout his life, looking at key poems in his early career, such as "Sakyamuni Coming Out of the Mountain," and "The Change: Kyoto to Tokyo Express." I also examine "Howl" in light of Ginsberg's early experiences with Buddhism and other spiritual forms. I consider some of the poetics and politics of "Howl" as an example of the both the poetic space and the mind Ginsberg prepared for his later spiritual and poetic life. I also theorize the connections between the Buddhist attitude that Ginsberg cultivates and the modernism of Ezra Pound, who eschewed Buddhist ideas and terms in his re-working of Ernest Fenollosa's well-known essay, "The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry." I examine the way Ginsberg considered Pound's Cantos as a model of a mind, in the act of the real work of thinking. I end my treatment of Ginsberg's work with a reading of "Father Death Blues" which Ginsberg considered the "culmination" of his Buddhist training. Looking at Norman Fischer, I focus closely on the Zen aspects of his writing, spending special attention on notions of the koan, as well as things he says (in his Zen lectures and elsewhere) about intersections between Zen mind perception models and models of mind that come via the practices of psychoanalysis. I work to explain how Fischer situates in terms of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets and other avant-garde poetic movements. I explore how Fischer's innovative style(s) work within his poetic practices in "Praise," an extended journal/diary poem from Precisely The Point Being Made and the Cage/MacLow practices of releasing of ego and agency in writing methods. I also look at how such journal/diary poems compare to other poetic "mind models" within American Modernism. My chapters on Fischer culminate in a discussion, with significant close readings, of his book Success.
Degree ProgramGraduate College