I want to take a vote. We're going to go all the way around. I want to take a vote. I want each person to vote yes or no, and you have no other option for this first round. Is spontaneous writing possible? That would be your first yes or no, and can the first thought be the best thought? So you've got two questions, yes or no on each. Is spontaneous writing possible and can the first thought sometimes be the best thought? Jason? >> Yes, no. >> Yes, no. Lily? >> I would say no, yes. >> [LAUGH] No! Was that spontaneous? Nevermind. >> No, I've been thinking about this all week. >> I know. Mary? >> Yes, yes. >> Carlos? >> I'm just going to say yes. [LAUGH] >> What are you, some kind of radical? >> Yeah! >> Okay, all right. >> Yes. >> So, Erika. >> Yes. Yes. >> Yes, yes. Really? >> Mmm-hmmm. >> Wow, you're so liberated. Emily? >> No, Yes. >> No, yes. Okay, Max? >> No, yes. Wow, you sound so out the door like you're voting in a mayoral election in Chicago. I say no to spontaneity >> It's a lot earlier for Max and Molly than it is for us. I would give them credit. >> Molly? >> Yes, yes. >> Yes, yes. Lily and Max, elaborate on your answers. Yours was? No, yes? >> No to spontaneous, is spontaneous writing possible, and yes to can sometimes the first thought be the best thought. >> Okay, and Max, yours was the same, wasn't it? >> Yes. >> Okay, so I just want to get to Erica who said yes, yes, that's amazing. Okay, so I'd like Lilly and Erica to offer us some wisdom on this. Spontaneous prose is not possible, right? Explain. >> Well, ok, so if you take that the idea of spontaneous prose is that you can somehow think and write in the same moment just exactly what's coming up and get it all out, I would say it's not possible because you're always doing an interpretive step by putting what you thinking into language, and then that's not spontaneous. >> Okay Erika, now you have a chance to take what I would consider to be, I don't want to characterize your position, but a kind of a utopian position maybe. >> Maybe I jut love Gertrude Stein too much, because the idea of spontaneous writing reminds me of Gertrude Stein's definition of genius. >> Yeah. >> Where, idea of listening and speaking and writing at the same time. And I also think that it's closely connected to what I study, which is writing-based teaching. And the idea that one- >> What? Say that again. >> Writing-based teaching. >> Writing-based teaching. You learn as you write? >> Yeah, the idea that you can actually train your mind to treat the pen as a direct connector. >> That's very cool. Later if you get a chance- >> [INAUDIBLE] >> If you get a chance to make one quick rejoinder to that before we go to the second question. >> Well, I mean, Erica obviously knows a lot more about that aspect than- >> You're deferring? >> I do, >> You're deferring? >> No, no. I'm beginning my comment by saying something. >> [LAUGH] >> But I would say that, it seems to me that there is still some kind of interpretive step, which is not a bad thing. But I think, particularly this week, what we are dealing with is people who want to give the effective spontaneity without necessarily having that and truly part of the process. Wow, and I think, partly, may I ask, and I think this is true, but I'll ask it of you. I think you're partly responding to the presumptuous naivety, is that possible, both those things, of some of the beats, particularly Kerouac and Ginsberg, who came on as if what they were doing was very spontaneous, when in fact, in the case of Ginsberg, it's very wrought and prosodic. >> Yeah, I wouldn't say naivety at all. I think it's just the difference between, in some ways, any time that you're processing your work, for example, William's portrait of a lady, was maybe one of our first poems that made that process really explicit. We know that the internal voice of William's the man, is not the internal speaker voice in the poem. It's an effect, but it's an important one, so it's not naive, it's just a rhetorical effect. So I guess that's how I feel about the spontaneity of the beat writing. It's just, maybe they talk a big talk about spontaneity and how it's important and whatever, but it's also a rhetorical effect, and I don't think that that's naive. >> Okay, cool. Let's go to the second question which is, and then we got somebody on the phone, right? The second questions is, is it possible for the first thought to be the best thought. And I'd like to ask a couple of people who are squarely in academic mode, right? Because squarely, did I use that word square, In the Beat Week? Dan, you're supposed to smile at that, that was funny. It's too early in the morning. >> [INAUDIBLE] like, chill out. >> Your As, you call those aviators As? >> Okay, so I'd like to ask Jason, who is at the end of a career as a, we all hope, because we want you to obviously get the degree and go on, but at the end of a career, but is also a poet, who is also spend a lot of time, I'm guessing, struggling between the poetic mode, in which first thought is more often best thought, and the academic mode, in which case, first thought is usually the worst thought. And then I'd like to ask Emily, just a reaction to that? I don't know what your answer was to that, it was yes, I think, wasn't it? >> No. >> No? Okay, good! >> No, I think that the first thought is always hiding another thought. And poetry for me, and I mean, reading Ginsberg, I can feel this happening even though how wrought the lines are, that sound and the embodiment of the words are leading to words that are not being rationally summoned in argument. They're being summoned through the body and through sound. >> You're taking a really interesting and unusual approach to the notion of first thought, because you actually think, and this is true of you, if I may say so. Your first thought, the first thing you say is generally not what's going to happen later. As you, in the Erica Kaufman sense, as you begin to speak, and I assume this happens in writing sometimes, you begin to discover what it is that you're trying to say. Which is, we are socialized as teachers and students not to do that. And we have this long conversation about your brilliant way of being a ModPo TA and everybody loves what you say always. But it takes awhile to get there because you're actually not sure when you begin. Some speakers, and Lilly actually does the same thing but you're also really adapt at, like, you've got it worked, you've somehow worked it out, and those are two different styles but end up being the same, you inactive as a thinker. Emily you've disappeared from view, there you are. Are you ducking from this academic question, and are you jealous of first thought, best thoughters? >> Well, what I was thinking when I said that your first thought can be your best thought, and I do think that's true even in academic settings, your first thought just needs to be reexamined, and I guess you can return to your first thought, but it's always something you have to work for. And I think believing in intuition and your first spontaneous thought is a good skill to have in any type of intellectual context. >> Great, thank you. We're going to take a phone call but before we do I just want to play a few seconds of Ginsberg performing Powell. And this is the famous ashcan rantings section where we get a highly raw prosodic ,carefully deployed, new kind of jazzy rhythmic thing. But in this case, I'm kind of on Lily's side. I really don't think this is the least bit spontaneous, but it is a style. All styles are conscious, or most of them, with due respect to what's been said be Erica and others, and this is a conscious spontaneous seeming style, it's the style spontaneity but it can't possibly be spontaneous. If it is, then he's on whatever carrowags on in riffing on, trying to think of a rule in Sanskrit. That stuff. Which he could only do when he was out of his mind, I would say. Which is those of us who don't do drugs and don't drink to excess. Kind of our envious, once in a while, of dissolute life of someone like Jack and it is romantic envy not really the best and healthiest thing. But it is okay to have once in a while when you've got someone like Jack who can get really blasted at parties and then start doing things. Frank O’Hara, by the way, was quite similar in the way he would write poems at parties by standing up at a typewriter and you could talk about spontaneity in O'Hara as well. But so, here's Ashcan Rantings. >> That these have walls. Backyard green trees, cemetery duans. Wine drunkenness over the rooftops. Storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusts of Brooklyn. Ashcan rantings and kind, king light of mine. >> I mean, it is just the case why that is just brilliant poetry and the fact that most of American poetic culture, official mainstream culture, not only ignored that but decried it as unpoetic is insane. Because it is so, if you just delineated it in some traditional way, you would get all those internal rhymes, they become external rhymes. Peyote solidities of halls, right? The stringing of nouns, storefront boroughs of tea head joy rod neon blinking traffic light. It's just Ashcan Rantings itself is just Gerard Manley Hopkins, it's Emily Dickinson, it's Marianne Moore, it's amazing, it's poetic. It seems spontaneous, it probably wasn't spontaneous, but who the fuck cares if it's, as long as it spawned an effort at people to let themselves go at the end of the line, and restore the mania and pseudo spontaneity. Walt revised leaves of grass til the end.