Alan Watts – ‘The House Boat Summit’ with Allan Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Allen Cohen

This is an incredible meeting of some real characters from the 60’s, a time when the feeling that ‘anything is possible’ was a driving force behind everyday life and visions of the future were bright, communal and most of all peaceful.

You can hear on this tape, that this was not just some stoned dream, this was real and this group were thinking pragmatically about what could be done.  Its interesting and slightly saddening that the world they are describing is almost identical to the world we live in now.

The 60’s was not this for all folk, my family were working in the mines of North England and had little prospect of getting out of the Industrial model created and introduced so effectively by the powers that be.  But for a few special sorts, who were tuning into something eternally powerful, the times were changing.  The men around this table had a profound effect on the way that Western culture has developed over the subsequent years, especially in the US.  To have them all around one table, trading jokes and concepts is a wonder to hear.   They seemed charged with inspiration and the fact that they are in a sense ‘serious’ academics adds greater credence to their theories and behavior.

I wonder how our children will look back on this generation?  The lessons of the 60’s are all around, we’re recycling, cutting down on food waste, more aware of environmental issues etc, but do we really mean it.  Really MEAN IT like these fellas meant it.  After all its not a lifestyle, but a life choice.  To do something means doing it all the way.  Easier said than done as we all know!

Big business are using the ‘eco’ feel as a marketing tool now and it turns my stomach to see these profit mongering entities (profit at any cost that is) tagging onto what should be a revolutionary/ evolutionary idea, a giant leap back towards nature and further exploration of what it is to be a here now and to be blessed with so many gifts.

Alan was a real maverick spirit, a light for the Western world and his translations of Eastern wisdom will no doubt filter through the ages.  He was also savvy and I am certain had a hunch that this would be of interest in the future and available to a mass market.  He knew what was going on, he’d lived through two world wars and the stifling repression of middle England and now (or then) things were really taking off in and around California, then it went global and things began to fill with love for a while.

Neil Young says on his new album (the song ‘Walk Like Giants’):

“I used to walk like a giant on the land, now I feel like a leaf floating in the stream….

Me an some of my friends, we were going to change the world, we were trying to make it better, we were ready to save the world!……

But then the weather changed and the white got stained and it fell apart and it breaks my heart, to think of how close we came.”  

Here it is actually in all its 16 minutes of glory.

Its this feeling that amazes me about the 60’s, the collective feel, the global sense of love that was kicking off at that time.  There was hope, and more hope, and infinite holes filled with only hope.  It can’t have gone far…..

We now have this magical tool, the internet, and instead of sitting around a table taking notes, we can get together, all over the world and do amazing things at the push of a keyboard button.  We have so much power we don’t know what to do with it!

Would anybody like to talk about this, maybe we can have our own universal houseboat summit, people from every continent sharing problems and coming up with solutions for all this nonsense that is going on.  Meeting like minds, coming together, making friends and laughing alot along the way. Drop me a line if this resonates.

I’ll stop typing now and let the guys take over, on Alan’s houseboat in a place called Sausalito,California sometime in 1967:

December At Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
“Again someday, maybe ten years.”

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange,
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I’ve always known
where you were—
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn’t.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had 
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

Gary Snyder

 

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Steven said,

    The House Boat Summit on The Allen Ginsberg blog http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/ginsberg-and-snyder-and-leary-and-alan.html
    & check out the many other posts – a rich, rich archive

  2. 3

    […] is, but not simpler”, Albert Einstein 6. Riding effortlessly on a large green turtle–Tall Tales of Travel, Spirit, Love, and Poetry 7. RD Revilo–Conscious Thought: Driven by Intelligent Awareness 8. […]

  3. 4

    LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words said,

    I remember the 60’s well….I saw the years through yellow glasses of clarity….wonder where all the flowers have gone….but Neil Young still has a Heart of Gold….he never sold out….
    wonderful post and I will give “The House Boat Summit” a watch
    Thank you for the sharing of good memories that are still around…
    Take Care…
    )0(
    ladyblue

    • 5

      leroywatson4 said,

      Thank you for these words Lady Blue, there is so much to inspire in the modern world, but I have a soft spot for the source of it all in the West. Those open hearted few, sitting around that table and dreaming of brighter days. The 60’s looked like blast (in more ways than one)! Peace and Light, lee


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