In March of 1961, 35 year old Allen Ginsberg, the acclaimed poet of the Beat Generation, left the United States on an extended travel agenda that would eventually take him to India by February, 1962. He spent the next fifteen months traveling throughout India and a few close by countries, returning to the United States in May of 1963.
Six months prior to his departure from India, sometime after midnight December 11, 1962, Ginsberg boarded the Doon Express at the Howran Station in Calcutta headed toward Benares. Standing on the platform and waiting to the last second to get on the train before it pulled away, Ginsberg squeezed out every moment of time he could bidding adieu to a young woman ten years his junior he had been crossing paths with on-and-off over the years since his early days as a struggling poet in New York. After the train station goodbyes neither Ginsberg nor any of his ragged band of Beat Generation followers would ever see her again, she apparently disappearing into the hinterlands and milieu of the sub-continent and lands beyond.
The young woman on the platform was Hope Savage, a magnetically charismatic and fabulously beautiful American said by those around Ginsberg to be the onetime girlfriend and love of his life of Gregory Corso, a major member of the Ginsberg coterie.
Savage had shown up to become a member of that same inner circle sometime around mid 1955 after having listened to the suggestion of David Madden, a man who had absolutely no connection with Ginsberg and/or the Beat Generation, but who would eventually become the author of at least eleven books. Madden and Savage met early in the year 1954 when he was 21 stationed in the Army at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. She was age 17 from Camden, located some 35 miles from the base.
Madden was the person who was literally responsible for plugging in the spotlight and flipping the switch that illuminated Savage in the center stage of the Beat Generation. Before meeting Savage, in the few short years that transpired after graduating from high school, Madden had attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, been in the Merchant Marine, and in 1953, rather than waiting to be drafted, volunteered for induction. Savage had dropped out of high school and pursing her education in her own fashion, studying in libraries and on college campuses which, each in their own way, put the two of them together at the same time at the same place.
Madden's above so mentioned educational background and experience set him head and shoulders above the typical run of the mill GI that for a 100 miles in circumference around the army base scrounged for every available and maybe not so available female to stick the bone to. It also put him and an Army buddy, who had gone to Harvard, into the right interest mind-set to attend an avant-garde movie being shown in the auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. They noticed a young girl a few rows in front of them and several seats over, a girl Madden would later describe as having never seen anyone more beautiful. Waiting for the movie to start he and his buddy talked back and forth how neither of them would ever have a chance with a girl that looked like her. While the film was being shown, in the dark, unbeknownst to either of the two GIs, the girl that was so much their center of attention got up and moved to the seat right next to Madden. In the book The Blue Hand: The Beats In India (2008) by Debora Baker, in an interview with Madden, speaking of Savage writes:
"It was not just the beauty of her face that transfixed him. Her skin was the purest, palest and almost unearthly whiteness. At the time most girls kept their hair closely styled. Yet hers was so long and so lovely, it reminded him of the print he'd seen once of Botticelli's naked Venus emerging from a clam."
Then Baker goes on to quote him as saying:
"(It) didn't take long to figure that there was more to her than beauty. She made the move, he decided, because she was lonely and they looked interesting. What she wanted, he saw right away, was to talk to someone who was likely to understand her, someone conversant, it developed, with the Greek plays and the poetry of Swinburne, Shelly, Keats, and Blake."
During the less than a year period that elapsed between the time Madden and Hope Savage first met he suggested, then hard-core encouraged her to go to New York, most particularly Greenwich Village, telling her she would find a richer and more indepth environment more closely suited to her longings than she could ever find in South Carolina. Much to his chagrin she did. As it was, just about the same time, he was reassigned and shipped out, spending his last year in Alaska. In 1956, after receiving an early out, he married a woman he met while pursing completion of his B.A., albeit all along maintaining a continuing friendship with Savage as well as he could, at least via mail.
Before Savage showed up in New York the aforementioned Gregory Corso had left, having moved to Cambridge becoming a quasi poet in residence at Harvard, mostly supported by a group of students that were enamored with his street-wise ways. In a letter from Corso to Ginsberg in San Francisco dated August 23, 1956 and published in An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso (2003) he tells Ginsberg in so many words that in June 1955, after leaving Harvard, he met, referring to Hope Savage, a beautiful female Shelley. Corso, who would have been age 25 at the time of his meeting with Savage, goes on to say:
"(She) dug me and gave me a place to live and has been with me up till a month ago when I decided that I wanted to go to California. She went back home and expects to join me soon. She sends me money and delightful letters and I love her very much. Was she, who taught me. She has fantastic memory, only nineteen, can recite and feel all of Shelley, yes all, Prometheus [Unbound], Alastor, [The] Revolt of Islam, and also fifty stanzas of Swinburne's The Triumph of Time-but more! She is going to kill herself on her twentieth year. She planned her death two years ago. The year that I lived with her was all her ... she'd lock herself in a room and would walk up and down up and down ... spoke to no one but her Gregory ... weep, she'd weep and weep ... I can't really inform you about her, but I tell you she is the greatest person I've ever met, and if ever you meet her, I doubt if you'd disagree. Her name is Hope Savage."
In August 1956 Corso, in the letter he sent Ginsberg, told Ginsberg he met Savage in June 1955 after leaving Harvard. He says she had been with him 'up till a month ago', meaning roughly July 1956. That basically plays out the two of them being together a year. He then headed west to be with Ginsberg ending up in Mexico City. Savage arranged for a plane ticket back to the states, but shortly after that she headed toward Paris, later unable to be located by Corso when he traveled there in search of her.
In the same letter, which is not shown in the above quote, Corso writes both briefly and cryptically that Savage was with Anton when they met. Apparently after he left Harvard he returned to his old haunts in New York because the Anton he speaks of is Anton Rosenberg, the epitome of understated cool, probably the most notorious, coolest, hip dude in all of Greenwich Village and beyond.(see) How it was that Savage was with Rosenberg is not known, but it is known Corso and Rosenberg were friends, so it wouldn't be unusual that the two of them would cross paths.
In April of 1960, some two years before her train station goodbyes with Ginsberg, Savage, on the cusp of age of 24, was in Delhi after nearly five years traveling throughout Europe, Afghanistan Ceylon, Nepal and India following her initial arrival in Paris. She was in Dehli in an effort to implement her next contemplated move. In the ephemeral search of her continuing odyssey she had finally set sights on the kingdom of Bhutan, isolated and tucked away between India and China along the rugged south sloping reaches of the Himalayas. In her attempt to cross into Bhutan she discovered it was practically impossible without prior arrangements, being turned back at the border and told to go to Darjeeling for the proper papers. In Darjeeling she was told she would have to go to Delhi, a one-way trip of 1000 miles, which she did. If she ever received the proper papers or ever went into Bhutan legally or illegally is not known, but if she did, either way she didn't stay because two and a half years later, as stated in the opening paragraphs above, she ended up in Calcutta having caught up with Ginsberg somehow.
In a review of Baker's book in American Scholar titled Enlightenment Lite, Sudip Bose writes of Ginsberg's travels in India:
"(Ginsberg and Orlovsky's) journey became one endless high, as they indulged every day in morphine, opium, ganja, bhang, or the psychedelic pills that Ginsberg carried around in his backpack 'like radiant isotopes.' When they met up with poets Gary Snyder and Joanne Kyger in Delhi, Ginsberg and Orlovsky were 'high as kites,' having 'managed to score some morphine after less than a week' in the city."
How long Savage had been traveling with Ginsberg in India is not totally clear, however, long or short, but mostly short, Ginsberg's continuing over the top self indulgent actions --- and those done similarly by others --- is one of the reasons she had grown so deeply disgruntled with everything.
However, if she herself was a total angel, she wasn't being viewed as such by Indian authorities. On December 10, 1962, the day before Ginsberg left Calcutta and the two of them said their goodbyes, Indian authorities had handed Savage an expulsion notice, accusing her of immorality and giving her just ten days to leave the country. After that most people that follow her agree she disappears from the grid, albeit, a few reports regarding her whereabouts have surfaced on-and-off. Some point to her being seen in Beirut, Lebanon sometime in 1970-71 and traveling with two children, both girls and believed to be hers, the oldest around 2 years of age. Another report jumps to 1975-76 with her being seen in Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, again with 'two toddler daughters.'
Kids or no, Hope Savage does have family, being one of seven children of Henry Savage, Jr (1903-1990). Her younger brother, Samuel P. Savage (born 1940) of Wisconsin is an author of several successful books. In the early years of her travels she contacted him on and off, in later years he is not talking. However, as for other family, her having two daughters, not sure of that one.
Somewhat short of two years after Indian authorities were attempting to expel Hope Savage from their country and she was seeing Allen Ginsberg for the last time, as well as four years after her attempt to get into Bhutan AND before any 1970s reports of Savage, true or not, surfaced, found me in the then wide-open drug infested railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand. After meeting a Buddhist monk in the city from China, the two of us left on foot traveling north high into the mountains through Laos, Burma, and on into the mountainous regions nobody knows who they belong to, basically retracing the steps of the ancient Chamadao, the Tea Horse Road. After days and days of walking, of which all or most of the particulars are fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, we ended up going our separate ways, he turning toward wherever he was going, me being left outside the gates of a remote, ancient, dilapidated Zen monastery --- a dilapidated monastery perched precariously high up on the side of some steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
With no formal access to the monastery apparently forthcoming, one day I followed some monks into the fields. When they returned, I returned, entering the monastery right along with them. After hulking in the corner and eating scraps off the ground tossed to me over a period of days I woke up one morning to find a halfway decent pile of folded clothes sitting in front of me. I cleaned myself up, put on the clothes and was pointed to work in the kitchen food preparation area doing clean up and more or less garbage and latrine detail. Soon, as I got some sense of my surroundings, I began sneaking in and sitting in meditation in the main hall with the rest of the monks. Eventually, falling into and following the strict monastery rules and schedule as mandated by tradition over the centuries. Nobody said anything and nobody questioned why I was there. Not even the master. Months went by and I continued to sit in study-practice.
One day a very old and ancient man came down from the mountains and apparently asked to see the monk who was said to be under the protection of the Lord Buddha. I was quickly brought before his presence. Because of respect paid him by all, plus the serenity he seemed to abide in, it was clear the man was Enlightened. Even so, no sooner had I arrived when a look of disappointment seemed to cross his face. As he turned to walk away, in a flash he swung back around with his staff swinging toward me. As I raised my arm to block the blow just as quickly he lowered the motion of the swing and before I was able to counter the move he had knocked me off my feet. Huge roars of laughter permeated the room. Here was this billion year old man who had easily knocked me to the ground and I know he must have been saying to everybody's enjoyment, "under the protection of Lord Buddha, my ass!" He extended the end of his staff to pull me up, which I took. He then strode out of the monastery and back into the mountains.
There was something about the old man that would not just let go and it continued to nag at me for the longest time. Months went by. Finally, when the weather turned such that I could, I sought the old man out, visiting him at what was not much more than a stone-pile hut along the edge of a stream. This time when I came before his presence there were no swinging staffs, only a sweeping open-palm hand offering me to join him for tea. Several days went by and during that time not one word passed between us.
Going to and from his abode was a very arduous several day trek, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. A good portion of the trail followed along side a series of streams that may or may not have been the same one, that was sometimes rushing and other times placid depending on the steepness or flatness of the terrain.
On the second day out returning from the Zen man's abode I suddenly came upon a person with their back to me kneeling with a wooden stave bucket scooping water from the stream. There was some distance, maybe 30 feet, between the path where it was elevated several feet above the stream and the stream itself. In all the time since I had left the monastery proper I had not seen a living soul except for the Zen man. Coming across someone set me aback, especially someone with a wooden bucket. The last thing a person merely traversing through the area would need to be carrying with them would be a heavy full size wooden bucket, meaning to me possibly someone more permanent in some fashion. When I walked down toward the stream and about half way between the path and the stream announced my presence, the person, startled, let slip the bucket into the downstream flow. At that moment, turning toward me I could see the person was a woman. From my position off the trail and closeness to the stream I was able to quickly stop and retrieve the bucket, but after doing so and turning back, the woman was gone.
Besides the initial setback coming across a person in the first place, what was really nearly incomprehensible besides the fact that the person was a woman was that she was not of indigenous stock, but instead, in the quick glimpse I got of her, appeared Caucasian. I don't know how long it had been since I had seen another Caucasian, especially so a woman, but it was so long I had actually forgot they existed.
Thinking she must have needed the water I scooped the bucket full and set it in the middle of the trail taking a position on the continuing up-rising side above the path and just sat there waiting. Even though I was at a high altitude and it was generally cold because of it, it was still at the warmer time of year, so dressed in right clothes as I was, sitting in the direct rays of the sun, relatively speaking you could get warm. In doing so, as the wait for the woman to return for her bucket began to lengthen, I began to get drowsy, closing my eyes now and then until I was actually napping. As soon as I discovered I had fallen asleep I jumped up, but in that short time the bucket was gone.
With the little bit of light remaining before sunset I knew I wouldn't be able to make it very far down the trail before night set in, and for sure I knew I wasn't about to try and traverse the trail in the dark. So said, I decided to find a place close by the trail sheltered from the wind and hole up for the night, hoping for a fresh start in the morning and possibly a return by the woman.
After scrounging along the edge of the stream for something edible together with some bread I had been carrying with me since leaving the monastery I ate and settled in for the night. As I sat there in the very last of the waning twilight, sheltered from the wind just off the trail, I remembered that on a couple of occasions I had gone into the village some distance down and below the monastery with several of the monks. On one of those occasions a man in the village that had a rudimentary use of English had tried to tell me something I wasn't getting the full grasp of. He signed me to wait while he went to get something, returning with a well worn magazine, possibly German or Dutch, and pointed to pictures of the women in the advertisements. What he was trying to say, showing his hands with his fingers up and counting, that 10 to 15 --- what I determined to be months before --- a western woman had come to the village. When I asked what happened to her he pointed toward the mountains. At the time I didn't quite know what to make of it and for the most part quickly forgot it --- that is until that night sitting there and I began wondering if there wasn't an element of truth to it.
The next morning just as I was waking and trying to shake off the morning chill as well as get the kinks out after a night of sleeping on rocks and hard ground, I looked down toward the trail and saw the woman standing there looking at me. This time rather than disappearing she gestured for me to join her. She had made a small fire and was in the process of making hot tea, a truly welcome delight. She apologized for her behavior the day before saying she was so shocked to see anyone, let alone a white man, she sort of lost it.
She told me her name was Hope Savage and after learning I was an American that she was from South Carolina. She also said she had stayed at a village for a few days months back many miles down the mountain trail but wasn't aware of any monastery. She had seen what looked like ruins of what may have been a monastery at one time but didn't seem habited from the distance she saw it. Wanting to stay away from any religious context or involvement she said she kept her distance. So too, she had not seen the Zen man, although she said she had been left stuff on occasion, but didn't know from who. Her not having made contact with the monastery meant she had not passed through the monastery portals to the outside we were in, so I wasn't sure if the two of us were operating on the same time reference. But for me at the moment it didn't matter because I found it exhilarating to talk with someone who knew English and having come from a similar enough background we could both share the conversation.
We spent that whole day and that night together, parting the next day. Most of what has been alluded to in the main text above, that is Paris, India, Bhutan all ring true. How long she was going to stay and continue doing what she was doing she wouldn't say, although she seemed to think it wouldn't be long before she moved on, primarily because how harsh the conditions were. She did seem like she would not be willing to endure another winter there, at least that high up in the mountains. She seemed thoroughly interested in the fact that I had arrived in the general location by coming up through Thailand, Laos and Burma and indicated that might be a return prospect for her. She wasn't clear on any passports or visas or if any of them were valid. I think, like me, nobody knew she was there. She also expressed interest in seeing why the two of us held such differing views about the monastery. We parted company that morning and I never saw her again.
As to her beauty so alluded to by others, although for the most part she was covered head to toe and had on well worn boot-like footwear, she was exquisite, moving with the grace of a ballerina both in hand gestures and movements across the ground. And, even though there were probably no beauty products for a 1000 miles or more she needed none. As for Corso's comments regarding her memory and ability to recite fifty stanzas of Swinburne's The Triumph of Time, although no poetry was mentioned, it was easy to tell her mind overflowed with imagination, wit, and intellect. When I told Savage I had been doing study-practice at the monastery and had as a young boy, done darshan under the auspices of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi she sort of shrugged it off almost as being unimportant. Unlike most of the others that followed in her footsteps such as Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass, et al, she viewed most of the esteemed holy men she had crossed paths with as being either charlatans, phonies, or looking for a quick marker. It was one of the things that intrigued me about her. Yet there was more, although I was then and still unable to put my finger on it as well as being uncomfortable with the wording of the concept because it comes from a place within me before words are, but once formulated, one of the reasons she was so unreceptive to guru types. To me she seemed Awakened --- without being Enlightened --- most likely since birth or very early on, living with it her whole life and, although realizing there was difference between herself and others, not knowing what it was. I think that was the motivation of her continued search for an answer.
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE
Their Life and Times Together
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ON THE RAZOR'S
During the first few days after leaving Chiang Mai on foot, the monk and I pretty much stuck to the Chamadao. Several days into our trek the monk began carefully watching the position of the sun as compared to the angle of the shadows much more closely as well as seemingly seeking out markings or landmarks only he seemed to be able to discern. Eventually we came across what appeared to be a seldom used nearly unmarked trail leading off the main trail that led much higher into the mountains. After climbing a couple of days up a rather steep, often escarpment-like rocky and zig-zag trail the two of us finally crested the ridgeline.
Then, dropping down a short distance, the trail intersected a more-or-less well defined flat almost road-like-path paralleling the center of a narrow pasture-like high floor valley. At the far end of the valley, after a pretty-much leisurely stroll compared to what we had been doing, we came upon a small village. Continuing on after a short break, a few days later we came to place I was able to see in the distance what appeared to be an ancient monastery perched high up on the side of a steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the mountainous edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. It is there the monk and I parted company --- with him returning back down the trail and leaving me either unknowingly to what he perceived to be my own vices and/or knowing exactly what he was doing.
"Going to and from his abode was a very arduous several day trek, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. A good portion of the trail followed along side a series of streams that may or may not have been the same one, that was sometimes rushing and other times placid depending on the steepness or flatness of the terrain."
As the above quote from the main text testifies, although getting to and from the Zen-man's abode wasn't debilitating to the point of total exhaustion, it was still a difficult trek. After barely being able to do it myself I was amazed that such an ancient man was able to do it in the first place.
Even though he and I were not able to communicate verbally in the standard way because neither of us had command of each other's languages, he as a man of Zen as were my leanings, for all practical purposes the two of us were quite comfortable in how we had established a working relationship of understanding between us. However, not operating at his level, for me there remained many more unanswered questions than answered ones.
In the mountains generally it was out-and-out cold, but in the rarified higher elevation where we were it was even more so. Even so, considering the usual outside nighttime temperature drop, with the tiny almost candle-like fire in his stone hut, it was typically bearable.
The day before I was to leave we spent a good part of the daylight hours scrounging around for burnable material. To me the amount we gathered seemed much more than would otherwise be necessary, but what I found even more odd was that we left nearly half or more of what we collected neatly stacked at the long abandoned stone hut he had shown me a few days before.
After returning to his hut and leaving the rest of the material we gathered, we put a little food, a few utensils and tea in a shoulder bag then went back to the abandoned hut before sundown for reasons to me unclear. After arrival we ate, then in the declining if not all but gone sunlight he searched around and found what at one time appeared to have been a fire pit. Following his lead the two of us built a fairly good sized, considering what his fires were usually like, an almost pyre-like pile of combustibles. With the sunlight gone and total darkness having fully encroached on us by the time we finished the Zen-man lit the fire.
We sat in meditation facing each other across the fire on an east-west axis with me facing east toward what would eventually be the location of the rising sun. At some point into our meditation, and non-Siddhi related, there was somehow a coalescing of our mind processes forming a single mental entity where we both able to understand each other's thoughts.
In the thoughts he was willing to share he revealed he had spent many, many years as a young man on the other side of time in Gyanganj, but one day he passed through the monastery portals to the outside world and when he did, he became an old man. Before the full abilities of the thought exchange phenomenon faded into oblivion I brought up, considering his age, about the arduous trip back and forth through the mountains to and from the monastery for example, and how, even for me in my somewhat comparable youth and the physical condition that accompanies it, how difficult it was. What I garnered as a response was that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The next morning the Zen-man was gone. So too, neither was he to be found when I returned to his hut, although I did find a rolled up piece of cloth tied to the strap of my shoulder bag. Marked on the cloth, most likely done so from the burnt end of a wooden stick, were four Chinese cuneiform characters, one in each corner and, filling most of the center, the outline of some sort of a shape I didn't recognize.
When the four Chinese characters were deciphered they turned out to mean nothing more than colors: red, yellow, green and black. The outlined shape in the center remained a mystery and meant nothing to anybody who saw it. The mystery however, was solved on its own some 15 years later, a period time that found me living in the Caribbean island country of Jamaica, and was solved almost on the first day I arrived for what turned out to be a two year stay. So too was answered, before I left the island, my comment regarding how arduous the trip back and forth through the mountains was and his response that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The first part was answered right after leaving the airport to the train station. Almost immediately I saw a giant map of Jamaica and instantly I recognized the shape of the island as being the exact same shape the Zen-man drew on the cloth. Secondly, on my train ride through the cities and hinterland I saw all over, again and again the dominant colors of red, yellow, green and black in the graffiti adopted from the country of Africa and used by the Rastafarians in the graffiti that was plastered all over on almost every available open space. Those two eye-openers along with my experience high in the mountains with a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah led to the meaning behind how the Zen-man traveled those so many years earlier as found in the following:
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
In the paragraph this footnote is referenced to the following sentence is found:
"Her not having made contact with the monastery meant she had not passed through the monastery portals to the outside we were in, so I wasn't sure if the two of us were operating on the same time reference."
To outside observers such as Hope Savage and initially myself, the monastery was as she saw it 'what looked like ruins of what may have been a monastery at one time.' Every once in awhile a small handful of monks would exit the ruins from what would have been where the main door to the monastery would have been at one time. If I came out of my Nirodha state long enough upon their return to see where they went in the ruins, it was always empty with no signs of monks anywhere.
One day when some monks came out of the ruins I got up and followed them into the fields hoping to pull something, anything, out of the ground to eat. They didn't stop at any fields but continued on, I just didn't have the strength to keep up with them over any distance. However, when they returned a short time later, I returned, entering the monastery in a single file line right along with them. In doing so, as a double set of rough hewn wooden doors, which hadn't been there previously, closed behind me, I suddenly found myself inside of a fully functional Zen monastery. For additional clarification and insight into the phenomenon please see:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
Not very many days, years, or months separated Hope Savage and I chronologically in age, being born only a short time apart. She, however on the east coast, me on the west. How she got to be how she was is not fully known. Her father was a highly distinguished lawyer, mayor of Camden and a recognized author of several books. My dad ran away from home when he was 16, was a 'carny' barker in the sideshow of a major traveling circus (see), worked the gold fields of the Mother Lode in the High Sierras, made tires for Firestone, worked in the shipyards on the construction of Liberty Ships, then went on a years long binge when my mother died, sobering up just enough to marry my Stepmother for a few years. Hope's younger brother Samuel, growing up with her in the same family says, most likely reflecting back on her as well but speaking of himself, that he was "brought up on the dashing glories of the Romantic poets by his mother and on the scientific rationalism of Darwin by his father."(see) When she quit high school I still had a year or so left. Around that same time Gregory Corso describes her as a "female Shelley," able to "recite and feel ALL of Shelley." In those days, that is my high school years, for me, the closest I came to knowing anything about Shelley was that his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein, of which every Frankenstein movie that came out, at least the original Universal Studios released ones, I went to see, up to and including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley shows up along with Shelley early in the plot to Bride of Frankenstein, but, of Shelley himself and his works, I knew nothing.
PERCY SHELLEY, MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY AND LORD
BYRON AS SEEN IN THE 1935 FILM THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
When I moved back to the southern California beach city of my early years to start high school after living with a foster couple in an inland city for a few years where most of the youth were greasers --- with duck-tail haircuts, collar up leather jackets, and fighting after school with chains --- to an area where a good portion of the teenagers leaned toward proto-surfers, was quite a change. For me however, by the time I reached my junior year on into my senior year I had long since morphed outside the fringes of high school haute cultures into more of a Maynard G. Krebs bohemian type.(see) So too, those last two years, almost always found me hauling around an over the shoulder canvas pouch with a continuing series of notebooks a la Leonardo Da Vinci, sketching and writing a montage of all kinds of useless drivel along with several Zen books that, albeit mostly just at the end and post high school, I was able to pull out and quote extensively to anybody who would listen --- of which no one would.(see)
One of my closest high school buddies at the time, also on the fringes, had taken piano lessons most of his life and actually got so good at it that playing the piano became almost a second nature for him. Although he could read music, because of an almost innate ability to sensibly improvise playing the piano he loved modern jazz, especially as played by his jazz heroes of the day the Lou Levy Trio and Dave Pell Octet. Somewhere along the way I picked up a similar interest regarding jazz, and because of it we started hanging together. I attended several gigs with him for both groups. As well, even though we were under age, the two of us went to Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse at the foot of Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach to hear his All Stars and other groups regularly. Matter of fact, I even appear in a photo-shot of the inside of the Lighthouse used on one of Rumsey's early record albums, wearing one of my dad's way oversize for me sports jackets (in those days men were required to wear a jacket and tie to get in. Later I bought a three-piece corduroy suit).(see)
In any case, for one of my high school art classes, which was about the only classes I took in those days, I had to design an album cover, so I chose Howard Rumsey. At the time, the girl I was mostly inseparable from, a fellow artist and, although from a staid family, leaning toward a quasi-bohemian lifestyle as soon as she left her house, selected for her album cover Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. I can still remember to this day how little I knew about anything in those days. Here she was, someone I thought as a contemporary and she knew about Scheherazade and stuff like that and I had never heard of it.
To emphasize what I mean, in ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, speaking of that exact same time period I write:
"Prior to the advent of the soaring '60s, that is, in the unenlightened middle-to-late '50s, I was a teenager growing up in automobile conscious southern California and owned an immaculately spotless early model Ford Woodie Wagon. Like most high school kids whose cars are a big part of their life, I spent enormous amounts of time maintaining and reworking mine in an exacting and meticulous standard never before dreamed of by the manufacturer. I scraped, sanded, smoothed, bleached, stained, and spar varnished the wood beyond the brightest of the brightwork on the most expensive yacht. There was such a depth of reflection to the wood that a person could hold their arm to the darkened inner door panels and see themselves with clarity to their armpit. The most important thing for me however, was the popularity the car provided during my high school years. I could cruise the beach and high school campus with my buddies and girls would literally clamor for a ride."(source)
It is a good thing David Madden had a couple of years of college under his belt when he met 17 year old Hope Savage or he would have never been able to compete, I know I sure couldn't have.(see)
THE WOODIE PARKED OUTSIDE HOWARD RUMSEY'S LIGHTHOUSE
LOU LEVY TRIO
As a teenager in high school, mostly because of the restoration efforts on my Ford Woodie Wagon, I met and became friends with one of the top Ferrari and Maserati sports car racing mechanics around, a man by the name of Joe Landaker who just happened to like the woodie and my work on it. During those years he was the chief mechanic for a couple of the top racing teams in the country, Tony Parravano and John Edgar Enterprises. One day I was hanging out in his shop like I did once in awhile when the movie actor Steve McQueen and a buddy came in looking to possibly buy one of the race cars. With McQueen concentrating on Landaker specifically it sort of left me and his buddy outside the conversation, so the two of us began a bit of small talk. In the process I told him I thought the tan three piece corduroy suit he had on looked pretty sharp. He said he would sell it to me for 10 bucks. I said OK and with that he started taking off his suit right then and there in the shop, shirt, tie, everything clear down to his underwear. Except for the ten bucks all he wanted was the pants and shirt I had on. We exchanged clothes, he left with McQueen and I had a ten dollar corduroy suit.
OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN
Continuing in the same vein, the following quote shows up in Footnote  of Guy Hague. Hague, who had stayed at the ashram of Sri Ramana circa 1938, and my Merchant Marine Friend had been discussing egos, what they were or weren't in relation things spiritual, most specifically Enlightenment. During their discussion I overheard not only 'ego' in such a context for the first time, I also heard mention of Sigmund Freud, someone I heard of for the first time as well. To wit:
"A few days later, without the merchant marine knowing about it, I went down to the public library in Veterans Park and asked one of the librarians where I could find some books on Freud, pronouncing his name as it looked when written, 'Frooed,' rhyming with food. The librarian asked 'Who?' and again I said 'Frooed, Frooed,' showing her the slip of paper. By then several other libraians had gathered around, and one of them laughing, said, 'Oh, the boy means Freud' (rhyming with 'froid') with all of the others soon joining in laughing and pointing at me like I was some kind of a dolt. I ran out of the library as fast as I could, but before I even reached the bottom of the steps one of the librarians caught me and talked me into coming back. She sat me down at one of the tables way in the back by myself and brought me a whole bunch of books and information of Freud. On and off throughout the afternoon and up until the library closed she went over them with me. As much as I read that day and as much as she tried to explain it all to me I still didn't get or figure out just what an ego was. It wasn't until a year later or so when a movie came out called Forbidden Planet that it all started to make sense. In the movie the main villain was a creation of the mind, a monster from the Id. The Id was part of the triad Freud proposed along with the ego and superego --- and suddenly it all made sense, except that is, why the Navy man insisted there was NO ego. That information was destined for later."
For a quick, concise overview on the Ego, Super Ego, etc., from a Buddhist/Zen perspective, please visit Thirty Minutes To Enlightenment and scroll down to Number Six. See also The Ally In Shamanism. See as well:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
EGO, SUPER-EGO, MONSTER FROM THE ID. FORBIDDEN PLANET,
1956. FROM THE 1611 A.D. SHAKESPEARE PLAY "THE TEMPEST."