Hans Plomp Essay [Excerpt] from Milk Magazine, Sustenance

Hans Plomp Essay [Excerpt] from Milk Magazine, Sustenance

Postby admin » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:14 am

Hans Plomp Essay [Excerpt] from Milk Magazine, Sustenance for the Masses
Volume 1
Larry Sawyer, Editor
© 2000





Now this transmutation is not, as a contemporary observer would perhaps imagine the process to be, a purely spiritual/mental procedure. In the alchemist’s laboratory, some form of black starting substance is in fact burned up, and a chemical, usually liquid substance really is extracted from this material, which the adept captures in a pear-shaped flask at the end of the experiment. The Indians refer to this liquid as rasa, their European colleagues as the 'elixir'. Hence the name for Indian alchemy — Rasayana.

Even though all the interpreters in the discussion of the alchemic 'virgin image' (the subtle feminine) are of the unanimous opinion that this is a matter of the spiritual and psychological source of inspiration for the man, this nevertheless has a physical existence as a magical fluid. The 'white woman', the 'holy Sophia' is both an image of desire of the masculine psyche and the visible elixir in a glass. (In connection with the seed gnosis we shall show that this is also the case in Tantrism.)

This elixir has many names and is called among other things 'moon dew”' or aqua sapientiae (water of wisdom) or 'white virgin milk'. The final (chemical) extraction of the wonder milk is known as ablactatio (milking). Even in such a concrete point there are parallels to Tantrism: In the still to be described 'Vase initiation' of the Kalachakra Tantra, the ritual vessels which are offered up to the vajra master in sacrifice, represent the wisdom consorts (mudras). They are called 'the vase that holds the white [the milk]' (Dhargyey, 1985, p.. Whatever ingredients this 'moon dew' may consist of, in both cultural circles, it is considered to be the elixir of wisdom (prajna) and a liquid form of gynergy. It is as strongly desired by every European adept as by every Tibetan tantric master....


We can thus state that, in Tantrism, the relation between the real woman (karma mudra) and the imaginary spirit woman (inana mudra) is the same as that between the dark mother (prima materia) and the 'chaste moon goddess' (the feminine life-elixir or gynergy) in European alchemy. Therefore, the sacrifice of karma mudra (prima materia), drawn usually from the lower classes, and her transformation into a Buddhist 'goddess' (inana mudra) is an alchemic drama. Another variation upon the identical hermetic play emerges in the victory of the vajra master over the dark horror dakini (prima materia) and her slaughter, after which she (post mortem) enters the tantric stage as a gentle, floating figure — as a nectar-giving 'sky walker' ('the chaste moon goddess'). The witch-like cemetery whore has transformed herself into a sweet granter of wisdom.

-- "The Shadow of the Dalai Lama," by Victor and Victoria Trimondi

Volume One

In the spring of 1982, a group of Dutch poets toured the U.S., as a part of the celebration of 200 years of American independence. The tour included many important cultural centers: St. Mark's, Nuyorican, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Berkeley, Bolinas, etc. There were several performances with congenial American poets like Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima, Ira Cohen, Amiri Baraka, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg. All this made our journey a magnificent experience.
The cover of the City Lights Books anthology "Nine Dutch Poets" states: "Like the Provos' in Amsterdam who came to symbolize protest & peace in the world, these Dutch writers -- two of whom are internationally famous as painters -- here carry their own very special poetic messages far beyond the boundaries of their own tiny Netherlands, to spread that 'peace virus' known as HOLLANDITIS."

The trip became a revealing adventure: as a CIA agent tried to persuade the Dutch poets to forbid the publication of the City Lights anthology because of it's high "hollanditis" content, a literary battle raged between the 'performers' and the more 'traditional' poets in the group.
Ten crazy poets in one house are like ten spiders in one web.

Hans Plomp was one of the writers on this tour. He kept a diary and published his account in a book in 1987. The following pages have been translated from the Dutch by the author.


Bewildered, we rub our eyes. Allen Ginsberg's voice resounds through the house, accompanied by full blast punk rock. We lay scattered over the floors of Allen's and Peter Orlovsky's Boulder house. The wake up song is a recording of Allen with the GLUONS, mocking and castigating the stupidity of the "World Managers." The old bard sounds great and easily holds his ground against the heavy metal. His poetry bombs are aimed at the nuclear arms factory in the Rocky Mountains, some forty miles from here, at the multi-nationals, the bankers, the armed manufacturers, the fanatics. "Birdbrain in Iraq, kills birdbrain in Iran..."

When we come downstairs Allen and Peter have already prepared food for all of us and a new guest has arrived: the Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki.

Outside on the streets some cars are waiting to take us to the Rocky Mountains, where we can finally experience America's gorgeous nature after a fortnight of theaters, bars and hotel rooms. I get into a car next to Nanao. He's not only a poet and a philosopher, but also an environmental activist and under-ground gentleman.

As a boringly neat gardenscape slides by outside the car window, Nanao starts to sing softly. I bring out my Jew's harp to accompany him. The atmosphere inside our vehicle becomes enchanted. In the distance we make out majestic mountains, but unfortunately we'll never get there. At the last bar before Nature begins, we stop and wait for the other cars to arrive. By the time they're all there, some of the poets are already drunk. They object to a stroll on a presumably tortuous mountain path. In order not to put at risk the flower of contemporary Dutch poetry, we all decide to stay there and drink some more before the next party, planned for the afternoon.

It's a reception where our company of poets from the Netherlands will be introduced to the controversial spiritual leader of the Naropa Institute, Allen's guru Chogyam Trungpa. He is the author of the much admired treatise "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism," but also the subject of "The Great Naropa War," in which book he is accused of sexual harassment. Trungpa himself claims he's a "mindless vehicle," an instrument of crazy wisdom, whose spirit dwells beyond good and evil.

The garden fete is held in the mansion of one of Trungpa's followers. When we enter, we notice the devout vibes among the other guests. They remind me of a bunch of churchgoers, waiting to shake hands with the preacher after the service. In a far corner of the garden, a small group of dissidents is making music, gently mocking the somewhat tense and pious ambiance.

With a sense of relief, I join this group of gibers with my tiny but penetrating mouth harp. Suddenly there is a hush. The rinpoche is carried in by a couple of robust bodyguards. Years ago he got paralyzed after a car accident, so he walks with great difficulty. His body is misshapen, but on top of that is a genuine smiling Buddha head. They put him in a high seat and his guards remain standing behind him. Ginsberg introduces us to Trungpa one by one. Two of the Dutch writers refuse to shake hands with the Tibetan, as they consider the guru a dangerous fraud.

When my turn comes, we exchange a few superficial remarks about India, where I've spent the past winters. He has a high, almost whistling voice and I must bend my knee to come close enough to his face to hear him. I think he whistles into my ear "we will not sink," which I happily agree with. But it's quite possible he said, "we will not think," or even "stink."

In the background I hear the Dutch writer Remco Campert cry out: "It's a shame Plomp, you are kneeling for the mafia!"

"The bomb will not explode," the alien head whistles reassuringly. After the audience is over, Allen, Karel Appel, Simon Vinkenoog and Trungpa make a collective painting on a large sheet. It will be the decoration for the Jack Kerouac conference planned for next summer, on the occasion of 25 years "On The Road."

Ginsberg plays a key role in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which Lawrence Ferlinghetti scornfully refers to as "an institute for Buddhist Roman Catholics." "They are doing nothing for poetry," he says, "...'cause poetry can't be taught." This may be true, but I think the school is doing a lot for the Embodied Poets, creating teaching jobs for them and various other poetic activities, such as our grand reception.

As the masters are daubing, sounds of dissent come from a group of guests who acclaim Campert's attack on the "spiritual mafia." Ed Dorn and Michael Brownstein, both teachers at the School of Disembodied Poets, disagree with the Buddhist influence and jeer at the devotees: "Come on people, try to be spontaneous!" "I think those bodyguards are carrying guns under their armpits!" Campert shouts. He can be malicious when he's drunk and now he takes an impish pleasure in shocking the hosts. It actually rouses up the party, which looks more and more like an odd meeting of angelic noodles and prankish demons. Oddest of all is rinpoche Chogyam Trungpa, seated in his chair looking innocent as an inflatable Buddha doll, even though he's a heavy boozer and loves to pinch the ladies' asses.

On the way home Allen says the bodyguards don't carry guns, but they are trained in tai-chi and art of flower arrangement. "They are experts," he says, "but their jobs are very complicated. Trungpa is gravely, maybe fatally ill, he's an alcoholic megalomaniac and he can't keep his hands off the girls. Some time ago we invited a Tibetan lama to check out Trungpa and give us his opinion about the state he is in. The lama concluded that wisdom might still reside in him, but that his body is sick and polluted. Indeed, we sometimes see a glimpse of his enlightened being, but mostly he's a pain in the ass. His guards are very tense, because he's so unpredictable and does weird things. A few months ago, he suddenly threw himself backward down the stairs, to test if the guards were alert. They were not and Trungpa had a heavy concussion. We try to restrict his obsessions as much as possible, but it's a heavy task. After all, what do you do when the king has gone mad? You shield him off from the outside world, praying for a rapid and worthy demise."

It's good to hear Allen talk so openly about this. He says he doesn't feel insulted by Campert's remarks about the mafia. "There are more poets at Naropa who feel that way and I think it's all right. Crazy wisdom wants no followers."

After the poetry reading that night there's a party at Allen's. Bacchantic intoxication takes possession of the revelers, enhanced by a bag of prime quality pot from the stock of the Grateful Dead. Our cynical Rotterdam speed-poet Jules Deelder has put himself in charge of the record player, guarding it like a hellhound. All he wants to hear is Charlie Parker, leaving us no choice but to enjoy his taste. So everybody gives in to a kind of succulent sensuality. Orlovsky introduces me to a young woman, who according to him has been violently raped and has never trusted a man since. "You are gentle enough to make her trust you," Peter assures me. "It would be such a waste to let a man like you sleep alone in this house. I love that line in your poetry 'even monsters cannot hate, when they're hugging with a mate'. If you want you can tuck in between me and Allen."

I prefer the traumatized lady.

"Come, there's no more to be said, the third world war is fought in bed," I tell her. Soon we curl up in each other's arms and fall into a deep sleep. When I wake up she is gone, but the party is still in full swing.

An hour later Simon and I are in the studio of a local radio station, reading our poems in the jaded tones of true bohemian carousers. Peter Orlovsky is reciting his Clean Asshole verse in the background...

"Booze, booze, booze,
dope, dope, dope,
sacraments of the toping tope."

To which I add:

"It's mystery
is called Poetry."

Simon says:

"The voice of the people. Poetry.
The poet takes you a long way."



"There can be little doubt that, when he said this, Oppy had entered into a supradimensional state of consciousness, and he was referring specifically to my essay, written thirty-three years after his death. So, if you please, insert this deep quotation at the top of my thing when you publish it in the next milk:

In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity,
no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish,
the physicists have known sin; and this is a
knowledge which they cannot lose."

--J. Robert Oppenheimer

A Sense of No Place*

Expatriate novelists are often pestered with questions about their hometowns. Everyone seems to doubt that it's possible, in exile, to retain that "sense of place" which is supposed to be so essential to writing "anchored" fiction, whatever that is. It sounds like fish stories to me.

I can never respond to this sort question without sounding off-puttingly morbid, because my particular Bethlehem and its accompanying "sense of place" are bound up with my own premature death, and with the destruction of the human race at large.

I was born downwind in Utah in the heat of the above-ground hydrogen bomb test era. There's a projected mass die-off of Utahns my exact age, of thyroid cancer, due to commence any day now. It's not just the poor Uighurs in East Turkestan who get whining rights.

I remember in kindergarten peering out the lunch-room window and seeing the sky blacker than midnight. It was a flat and unwholesome shade of black that I've never seen since. Nobody talked about it, including the other kids, which seems pretty odd in retrospect. Large portions of Nevada real estate were passing overhead, and it didn't even make the local news.

Edward Teller, the famed father of that blackness, showed up several years later with a suspicious lack of fanfare. He gave a couple perfunctory speeches in obscure high school auditoriums -- discreetly checking the subject population for mongoloids and harelips, no doubt. He wasn't disappointed.

Answering a question about arms limitation, he said, with a straight face (or at least as straight as that face could ever get), "We had arms limitation from the beginning. It commenced already with the second detonation."

Apparently the first detonation was so huge that it blew a hole right through the stratosphere, and the destructive payload was dissipated in space, quite uneconomically. Teller is famous for betting that "device" would ignite the atmosphere and turn the planet to cinders.

It's not just a simple question of resenting Eddy and Oppy and the boys at the Los Alamos labs, and feeling the victim's comfy sense of moral superiority. I'm not about to hijack the term "Holocaust" for the six millionth time. Those scientists were pursuing a vocation qualitatively identical to the novelist's. And a vocation is something that, once you've received it, you pursue or die. If you're not the suicidal type, you don't even have that choice -- which makes it as much a part of your metabolic activity as eating or excreting or growing thyroid tumors.

Any serious creative work will reach a certain critical mass, after which it takes off on its own, and you're just hanging on, serving as the proverbial amanuensis, your conscious will playing virtually no part at all. It's the most delightful experience imaginable. The word "delight" hardly begins to encompass it. You need to shift upward to the metaphysical lexicon. Anyone who has felt it, or has read an adequate description of the experience, knows that nothing else matters at that particular moment. The world can go up in flames all around your desk, and probably will, if you do the work right, and you don't give a damn.

I'm sure that's what those Poindexters were feeling in the desert outside my hometown forty-five years ago. Only in their case the big conflagration wasn't metaphorical. "I am become Shiva, destroyer of worlds," said Oppy on TV (pretending to try, with a more or less recondite reference, to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the liberal intelligentsia, when he knew very well that his perfect face had already done the job for him the moment he went on camera).

It's not just Department of Defense flunkies like him who have access to universally lethal knowledge. In the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, Jesus takes his doubting disciple aside and whispers three esoteric words. When the other apostles crowd around and demand to know what the Master said, Thomas replies, "If I were to reveal even one of those words, you would take up stones to kill me, and those stones would turn to fire and burn you up."

Every writer has just such moments. He looks up from his manuscript, his head reels, and, like Melville, he gasps, "I have written a wicked work." With Coleridge, he says of himself--

. . . Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of paradise.

In other words, "Publish this book, big fella, and the world comes to an end." And there's not even a momentary quibble. To Hell with the world, and with me!

So, indignation is not one of my reactions to those thermonuclear poems of the fifties. Smug victimology isn't part of my "sense of place." But, then again, my thyroid is still intact. Maybe I should hold off publishing this essay for a few months, till I've grown twin goiters that can be used as flashlights when the power's out.

Meanwhile, take another look at those gorgeous films of the H-bomb tests in my back yard. See how the whole sky peels back like a popped blister, and this column rises up into the dilated firmament like a refulgent hard on. If I could be the first guy to cause that to happen, I doubt I'd be Christly enough to demur. Anybody who's seen or been an adolescent boy with a bag of Wyoming cherry bombs knows the feeling.  

Fortunately, almost nobody is approached in the desert by such a great Satan. So it's difficult to get moralistic about those who are button-holed by the really large temptations, and succumb. It's like feeling holier than Clinton because you never ordered up dry fellatio from an underling in your private office -- when you have neither underlings nor office, nor indeed that very power which is, as Kissinger reminded Mao (as if Mao needed reminding), the "ultimate aphrodisiac."  
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