• Rene Daumal


    La grande beuverie (A Night of Serious Drinking)

    “Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable. “

    “It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content … it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.”

    “Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are cheques drawn on insufficient funds.”

    These are the words of Rene Daumal, spiritualist, poet and inspiration behind Jadorowsky's epic film The Holy Mountain.


    René Daumal  was a French spiritual surrealist writer and poet.  In his late teens his avant-garde poetry was published in France's leading journals, and in his early twenties, although courted by André Breton co-founded, as a counter to Surrealism and Dada, a literary journal, "Le Grand Jeu" with three friends, collectively known as the Simplists, including poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte . He is known best in the U.S. for two novels A Night of Serious Drinking and the allegorical novel Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing both based upon his friendship with Alexander de Salzmann, a pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff.

    Daumal was self-taught in the Sanskrit language and translated some of the Tripitaka Buddhist canon into the French language, as well as translating the literature of the Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki into French.

    Daumal's sudden and premature death of tuberculosis on May 21, 1944 in Paris may have been hastened by youthful experiments with drugs and psychoactive chemicals, including carbon tetrachloride. He died leaving his novel Mount Analogue unfinished, having worked on it until the day of his death.

    The motion picture The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky is based largely on Daumal's Mount Analogue.


    One cannot stay on the summit forever -
    One has to come down again.
    So why bother in the first place? Just this.
    What is above knows what is below -
    But what is below does not know what is above

    One climb, one sees-
    One descends and sees no longer
    But one has seen!

    There is an art of conducting one’s self in
    The lower regions by the memory of
    What one saw higher up.

    When one can no longer see,
    One does at least still know.


    I am dead because I lack desire,
    I lack desire because I think I possess.
    I think I possess because I do not try to give.
    In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
    Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
    Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing:
    Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
    In desiring to become, you begin to live.


  • The Semina Scene

                       I -
        in my own reason
    find reasons to discuss
                 a friend -
    whose tires on his car
                Need air -
         my car and tires
               need air -
                    He -
           as it is his way -
         tires and gets mad
                   so I
              in my way -
          say - what is what
                I can say -
      like fill those mothers
              and lets go -

    - John Altoon

    Untitled poem from Altoon Papers


    image sourced from Wolfgang's Vault

    That poem was published in Semina Culturea book that was published by DAP and Santa Monica Press. NYU held an art show with most of the works published in the book and it truly sucks to be you if you missed it.

    Set during the Beat era and centered around the Los Angeles art scene, Semina was a hand printed free-form poetry zine that was published in 9 issues from 1955 - 1964. Some might say that the end of the Semina scene was the end of West Coast Bohemia.


    The guy who ran this racket was Wallace Berman, (who's one of the people on the Sgt. Peppers Cover) and he ran with a group of artists and poets like: Taylor Mead, Charles Bukowski, Dennis Hopper, Allen Ginsberg, Diane DiPrima, Alexander Trocchi, Dean Stockwell, Jean Cocteau, Antonin Artaud, William S. Burroughs, Toni Basil (of the song "Hey Mickey") and loads more. These people helped form the Beat culture in and around LA and San Francisco.





    Berman died in a car crash in Topanga Canyon in 1976. His son runs Tam Tam Books.

    Images sourced from Beat Museum & Design Boom & Steven Fama

    Categories: Poetry, art