A Fairy Ring Happening for Peace Calls on Muses
Editor’s note: we would like to thank Jenna Didier for her suggestion to reprint Alan Ginsberg’s America.
With the Fairy Ring Happening for Peace, Steve Anderson conceptualized an event that would create a doorway into an ethereal realm where invited friends could challenge the fears of our time on a creative level where positive resistance could be stimulated, and a bond could form among participants—equipping them to carry on in pursuits against the
war. (For documentation of the event, visit this link.)
To accomplish this, we crawled into a space of transcendent time—beyond society’s laws and prejudices, where storytelling, instinct, and mythology could inform our perceptions.
Participants in the event were activists and artists accelerated into alternate states of consciousness with the aid of psychoactive mushrooms and a guided energy-cultivation exercise (Qigong) led by Eric Niebuhr. Other elements of the event included an art studio in which to create, a sound installation for people and plants, hillside hiking trails, a buddy system, champagne, various barbequed food items, and two muses; Pax the Roman Goddess of Peace and Alan Ginsberg. All this wove the safe, inspiring, and protective web from which we confronted “the war”—a foe that inspires a sense of fear and dread weighing continually, if imperceptibly at times, on our collective conscience.
Happening participants channeled Pax through the use of a giant puppet built by Jill Newman depicting the Goddess. We paraded her through the neighborhood while singing and chanting. Ovid describes celebrations for Pax in his writing, “Add your incense, priests, to the flames of Peace, let a white victim tumble with drenched brow. That the house which procures peace possess it always, ask gods propitious to pious prayers." [Ovid, Fasti 1.709] Steve planted a nearby hilltop circle of agave plants, and to honor the Goddess, we carried her to the agaves where she danced and radiated peace in the breezes. From the circle, we transmitted the psychic energy that emerged from our activities through the twisting, variegated agave leaves and onto the surrounding metropolis. Thus, we gave a fleeting sense of lightness for Angelinos helping usher in a sea change for the peace movement.
After we returned from the circle of agaves, ate, drank and consumed another dose of psilocybin, our other muse, Alan Ginsberg, revealed himself through my reading of a contemporary adaptation of his 1956 poem “America”. This arrangement channels what I project Ginsberg’s sentiment would be toward current conflicts and hypocrisies in America. I lit my flashlight and began reading the transcendent words while gathered in a circle under the moon. The reading set a befitting tone of solidarity, defiance and respect around the cause of peace for which we gathered.
Months of preparation had gone into a single night of magic. One thing inspiring our mystic congregation was a senior Bush advisor’s statement that, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
In defiance, we stand together bearing witness to the fact that this thinking leads to war, widespread human suffering, death, and the enrichment of a few in their attempts to dominate the world, and must always be resisted through creative and inspired collective action. Such fear tactics as those employed by the Bush Administration create great challenges for a principled movement “waging” peace in traditional ways. The sorcery wielded by neo-conservatives attempting to manipulate the perceivable world threatens America’s cultural identity, and insults those who would insert their creativity into the world
in a positive manner. Therefore, only on an equally creative and magical plane can such psychological tactics be effectively confronted.
Following is America adapted by Tom McKenzie from Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 America, Howl and Other Poems.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America fifteen dollars and sixty-six cents September 9, 2006.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your cluster bomb
I don’t feel good, don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Greens?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your milk to Haiti?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Salopek was just freed from Sudan, I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing— I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months; everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I’m sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading about Chavez.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Powel after he finally couldn’t take it any more.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by CBS News?
I’m obsessed with Katie Couric.
I watch her every week.
She stares at me every time I slink past the corner electronic store.
I watch it in the cafeteria of City Hall.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I’m talking to myself again.
The Muslim crescent is rising against me.
I haven’t got a Taliban’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons or the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five- hundred suns.
We have abolished the relevance of Iraq; Iran is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe.
America free Leonard Peltier.
America save the South Central Farm.
America Tookie Williams must not die.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1935 Scott Nearing was grand old man and a real mensch Mother Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Terrorists.
Them Terrorists them Terrorists and them Koreans. And them Terrorists.
The Terrorist wants to eat us alive. The Terrorist’s is power mad.
She wants to take our Hummers from our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs an Arab CNN.
Her wants our oil fields in the Middle East. Him big bureaucracy running our filling stations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need sweat shops workers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking at the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or get a job at Starbucks, I’m near-sighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
Los Angeles, September 9, 2006
Tom bringing down the spirit of Allen Ginsberg
Pax and the puppeteers spread out peace
Tripped out neighborhood parade.
photos by Al Herman