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The Jim Carroll Website Home > Research > Academic Studies of Jim Carroll > A Sickness That Takes Years to Perfect

A Sickness That Takes Years to Perfect:

Jim Carroll's Alchemical Vision

pollution is a result of the inability of man to transform waste. the transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest preoccupation of man. gold, being the chosen alloy, must be resurrected--via shit, at all cost. inherent within us is the dream and task of the alchemist.to create from clay a man. and to recapture from the excretions of man pure and soft then solid gold.
--Patti Smith, "The Salvation of Rock," Babel (140)

Jim Carroll was 12 years old when he realized that he was immersed in a world rife with corruption, where respectability was synonymous with hypocrisy, where proper appearances merely concealed depravity, where authority figures used their power to oppress others, and where it seemed someone was always trying "to steal the light from [his] eyes" ("City Drops"). It was 1962, and a war was raging in Vietnam. On the home front, racism ran rampant, and air raid sirens wailed as Khrushchev warned, "We will bury you" and "Your children will live under Communism" (Morris 19). Carroll, a street punk and star basketball player from the lower east side of Manhattan, sought some way to rise above the desolation and insanity of his circumstances to find out what was inside himself and achieve his full potential. Being a basketball star couldn't save him: he had to find a new way to transcend the emptiness and hypocrisy of his world by virtue of his own integrity, talent, and vision. So, in the midst of chaos, at the age of 12, he began to write.

Carroll's diaries, poems, and rock lyrics over the past 33 years reflect his ongoing struggle to transform the raw materials of his life into a pure reality, and his drug use/addiction, "the sickness [he] took years to perfect,"1 has played a significant role in this process. As a teenager, Carroll needed to find a reality that didn't lie to him--that came to him directly, without mediation or circumvention--and in Winter 1964, just before he entered Trinity High School, he tried heroin for the first time. He writes in The Basketball Diaries:

I was just gonna sniff a bag but Tony said I might as well skin pop it. I said OK. Then Pudgy says, 'Well, if you're gonna put a needle in, you might as well mainline it." I was scared to main, but I gave in, Pudgy hit it in for me. I did half a fiver and, shit, what a rush . . . just one long heat wave all through my body, any ache I had flushed out. You can never top that first rush, it's like ten orgasms. . . . So, as simple as a walk into that cellar, I lost my virgin veins. (30)

While Carroll rationalizes this extreme act as a result of peer pressure, the fact is that he sacrificed his innocence, his "virgin veins," for what he considered the pure, intense reality of heroin. His first shot of heroin was no symbolic gesture: he effectively broke loose from the hypocritical world which always threatened to crush him and leapt headlong into the underground. His descent into the drug culture was somewhat haphazard, embarked upon without much foresight, but this act eclipsed every "super layup" he ever made on the basketball court. Through drugs and his participation in underground culture, Carroll felt he had discovered the honest, direct reality he had been seeking but which "respectable" society denied him.

Ironically, Carroll entered the underground at just the moment when possibilities began to open up for him in "respectable" society. Carroll's basketball coach had helped him earn an athletic/academic scholarship to Trinity, an elite Catholic high school. There, Carroll was a star basketball player (he played in the National High School All Star Basketball Game in Washington, D.C., in 1966 [BD 153-55]), but his equal passions for self-examination, new experiences, drugs, and writing were beginning to overtake his love of athletics. Carroll told Ted Berrigan that:

By the time I got to Trinity the straight Jock trip had begun to wear a little thin . . . I still had as much charge, but I simply began getting off into new directions, like pills, sex, drugs, booze, and the New American Poetry. I had been keeping my basketball diaries since I was 12, and so when I got turned on to poetry at Trinity, writing it just came naturally. I read Howl first, I guess. Then Frank [O'Hara]. (9)

For Carroll, sex, drugs, and poetry were intimately related; hence, at the same time his dabbling in drugs exploded into full-blown heroin addiction, forcing him to hustle gay men to support his habit, Carroll's passion for poetry blossomed. As John Milward notes, ". . .Ginsberg and e.e. cummings taught [Carroll] that poetry was not a hermetic academic pursuit," and, "Initially he saw [heroin], as a means to a literary end" (142). Carroll explained, "Junk made me alert. . . . for me the nods were magic--when the cigarette butt would burn your fingers, you'd jump back in total surprise that you weren't actually on that beach with the sun kissing the horizon. But the nods weren't like dreaming--there was no surrealism. Just an intensified reality" (142, 170).

One effect of Carroll's descent into the underground and his experimentation with drugs was a new way of seeing his world, and he applied this new vision to his diaries and early poems. His vision, he knew, was based on the solidity, the integrity, of his underground existence and of the concrete world around him, and writing gave him absolute freedom to transform that world. He describes this freedom in one of the most powerful passages of The Basketball Diaries:

I think about poetry and how I see it as a raw block of stone ready to be shaped, that way words are never a horrible limit to me, just tools to shape. I just get the images from the upstairs vault (it all comes in images) and fling 'em around like bricks, sometimes clean and smooth and then sloppy and ready to fall on top of you later. Like this house where I got to sometimes tear out a room and make it another size or shape so the rest makes sense . . . or no sense at all. And when I'm done I'm stoned as on whatever you got in your pockets right now, dig? (159)

Through writing he takes possession of his reality and transforms it. If his world is chaotic and ugly, he can forge coherence and beauty in his diaries and poems; if his reality is unalterable, he can create and fulfill infinite possibilities with his pen.

One interesting example of the way Carroll transforms concrete reality and expands its possibilities can be seen in some early poems which draw imagery from the preliminaries to the "Winkie and Blinkie" passage of The Basketball Diaries. In the diary, Carroll is on a bus to Long Beach, Long Island, having just swallowed two bottles of codeine cough syrup: "I was trying to cop a short nod again on the bus ride but this crazy old lady keeps giving me shit about being a commie because I got a red tee-shirt on. . . . she goes on insisting that she has this vision that I'm gonna die within a month because a giant clock was gonna fall on my head" (58). In some of his earliest poems he offers three different perspectives on this experience, first in "2nd Train (for Frank O'Hara)," from Organic Trains:2

Today at the Long Beach Station
everything was amazingly white
and sand was stuck in my tennis sneakers
that seems to be the way things
are going lately I was forewarned
about clocks falling on me
so all I felt was 8 colors as my
wrist watch flew into the sky's cheek.
watches are very symbolic of security
they remind me of Frank O'Hara. Frank
O'Hara reminds me of many wonderful
things, as does the vanilla light
which is dripping from his January eyes.

Then again in another Organic Trains poem, "3rd Train (for THE SUMMERS)":

A woman comes up to me
and questions the aesthetic
value of a red tee shirt
this was the same woman
who yesterday warned
me about clocks
I'm convinced she was a communist. (9)

And finally, an uncollected poem, "Red Rabbit Running Backwards (for A. W.)," offers yet another variation on the same scenario:

. . . The aesthetic value of a red tee shirt
you making me see that could be what I mean
if it were not for the fact that the hurricane has bent the trees
and I can't see anything, in fact can only feel. can only feel
the 8 colors inside which somehow seem to indicate that
all the clocks are falling on and around me from the sky.
The Communists know what I mean. . . .

In each poem, concrete "facts" from his experience metamorphose into something entirely new. In fact, Carroll's poetry is almost self-generating, with one poem or diary taking off from another to create ever more expanding worlds of almost infinite possibility. "Red Rabbit Running Backwards," for example, takes off from the first line of "11th Train" and recycles lines from nearly every poem in Organic Trains.

The ties between drugs and Carroll's expanding artistic vision especially begin to emerge in his diary descriptions of his "nods," or drug-induced experiences, some of the most poetic passages in the Diaries. Describing an L.S.D. trip, he writes:

At dawn light came in shafts and led me to some fields nearby to watch the tall reeds wave and then become fingers calling me over. I rolled in the dew drenched things as though they were lifting me across and through them with the fingers and my body did no work at all, in fact, I forgot all about any body I had and left it behind finally, thinking I was just a spirit flashing incredibly fast all through, wiping up the dew invisibly. (129)

Another tab of L.S.D. leaves him "listening to some sparks fly out of an unknown album of jazz . . . literal sparks, all around as that music ran" (133). Later, he finds in his pants pocket a poem "I wrote on an experience with L.S.D. a while ago":

"Little kids shoot marbles
where the branches break the sun

into graceful shafts of light
I just want to be pure" (140).

Carroll's drug experiences not only inspire his poems and diaries, he also wants his poems and diaries to duplicate and produce the same effects as his nods. In one diary, after drinking codeine cough syrup, he writes: "I was so zonked that I'd let whole cigarettes burn down to the filter and burn my fingers without taking one drag. We had about six hours more of good solid nods and then sat around and rapped slowly about all our little visual dreams that passed in our heads clear as movies" (82-83). Significantly, in 1974, Carroll duplicated this imagery in his poetic statement for Rolling Stone: "I find that my poems have all turned into sheer verbal movie, image over image into kind of dream machines in every form, so that the reader depends a lot on the intensity of the final rush. The more capable one is of just plain nodding off and feeling from each line . . . the better" (Margolis 42).

These passages give some notion of where the title of his third book of poems, Living at the Movies (1973),3 comes from: Carroll attempts to create poems which produce the same "rush" as drugs, which to him is like the fleeting, though concrete, images of a film. For him, writing should be as intense as a heroin rush: the reader and writer alike should experience poetry much as a drug user feels a high--as a physical, mental, and spiritual rush. Perhaps most importantly within the context of the Diaries, this implies that drug use for Carroll is not an escape into oblivion, but (at least initially) an active, disciplined process. Carroll explained to Milward, "I wanted to see what oblivion was like without staying in that pit. I wanted to see everything that was in me, and junk slowed things down so I could take it all in. . . . it was like sliding into a tunnel of my own design" (170). At the same time, Carroll's drug use and poetry allow him to create a reality different from the ugliness and brutality of his everyday life. Carroll told Danny O'Bryan and Mark Reese that "in poetry I wanted to be taken out of my quotidian life. . . . . spirituality comes from trying to get out of myself so I could go into myself from a different direction" (Poem, Interview, Photographs [10]).

The "quotidian life" Carroll transforms in his poetry is often that of The Basketball Diaries, which is itself a transformation of Carroll's reality. Had he never written a word, Carroll might have been just another New York street punk grown up (or dead), a star basketball player gone to waste, a heroin addict, a hustler; he might have been numbered among the excrement of human society, polluted and unable to resurrect the debris of his life. But The Basketball Diaries performs an amazing feat of alchemy, transforming the waste of Carroll's adolescence into a victory. In the tradition of Coleridge, Rimbaud, Genet, and William Burroughs, Carroll is not being decadent for the sake of decadence, nor is he attempting to self-destruct. Carroll uses his "nods," as well as his own corruption, to broaden his vision and see new things, about which he can write afterward. As with his poetry, writing diaries enables Carroll to impose order upon the chaos of his life, transform its ugliness into beauty, and explore infinite possibilities, but it is also a weapon. In the Diaries, Carroll's drug use/abuse and marginal/decadent status are the ammunition he uses to assault the corrupt social order which made his life chaotic and ugly in the first place.

In one sense, like Burroughs, Carroll serves up a "naked lunch," displaying the depravity and hypocrisy inherent in a so-called "respectable" society unwilling to face itself. The "establishment" points an accusing finger at "them commies," "longhairs," "niggers" and "spics," "junkies," and "perverts," refusing to acknowledge its own corruption. But with New York City as "the greatest hero a writer needs," Carroll lays bare "what's really going down out there in the pretty streets with double garages" (BD 160). What's "really going down" is that the Communist threat is "some dream dreamed up to take the rap for you" (127); that the "'fine' Christian Brothers" of the Catholic Church are getting their kicks "running around with their rubber straps beating asses red for the least little goofing" (18), and "deriving some pleasure out of these dutiful tasks thrust upon [them]" (35). While narcotics forces claim to be out saving the nation, dauntlessly battling the drug epidemic, they're "rapping right out loud to each other how much they ought to give in for evidence and what they ought to keep to sell for themselves back onto the street" (128). In disclosing this reality, he attempts to "get even for your dumb hatreds and all them war baby dreams you left in my scarred bed with dreams of bombs falling above that cliff I'm hanging steady onto" (160).

More importantly, though "there is nothing so calculated about Jim Carroll's excursion into the inferno," as Jamie James notes, in a way Carroll follows a program similar to Arthur Rimbaud's, cultivating "the sickness [he] took years to perfect." Carroll becomes all of the evil things society fears. He grows his hair long, becomes a "minority" within minority culture, steals, attends Communist Party meetings and protest marches, gets hooked on heroin, and hustles gay men to support his habit. Rimbaud believed that becoming a visionary requires one "to attain the unknown by disorganizing all the senses," and to become as depraved as possible (100). "[T]he problem is to make the soul into a monster," Rimbaud writes; "Think of a man grafting warts onto his face and growing them there" (102). In The Basketball Diaries, Carroll is making himself into a visionary; he is Rimbaud's "great criminal" (102) against the so-called traditional values of society because he dares to swallow all the poisons his world has to offer, transforming what is useful to him, and spitting the rest out. Rather than passively allowing himself to become polluted, he seeks out corruption, then filters it through actions and words. His vision of his world is entirely his own, and he paints a portrait of this world in his own language--in slang and street rap. Through his actions, clarity of vision, and street lingo, he uncovers the emptiness of his world's values, challenges them, and forges his own, new values through a relentless exploration of himself.

Because he can see clearly, and because he is able to write about his experience, he inverts the established reality of heroes and villains, exposing the hypocrisy inherent in a "respectable" world unwilling to face itself. As he puts it:

Some lady professor . . . asked at one point if we weren't scared of the drug scene, then weren't we at least feeling guilty about using junk. I think now and that pisses me off. Like what is guilty or who is guilty for fuck sake? Big business dudes make billions come out of their ass and they ain't shelling out a reefer's worth of tax. Kids walk through some jungle I don't know how far away and shoot people, and white haired old men in smoking jacket armchairs make laws to keep it all going smoothly. I swim in the river and have to duck huge amounts of shit and grease and "newly discovered miracle fibers" every five feet I move because those smokestack companies don't give a flying fuck . . . Shit my man, it's so all there that no one's seeing it anymore. (199)

Carroll says, "The real junkie should be raised up for saying fuck you to all this shit city jive, for going on with all the risks and hassles and con, willing to face the rap" (189), and he descends into the abyss, into the darkest depths of heroin abuse, prostitution, and theft; into the bowels of a corrupt society. But because he is in possession of his own vision, he transcends the hypocrisy of "respectable" society; he is able to purge himself of this corruption and remain pure. As he told Lynn Hirschberg in 1979,

Purity means that you always have something up your sleeve, that you have something you've earned, that you have something to move toward, that your vision is intact. Purity, to me, exists within states of what would be thought of as impure. You can live within a state of total decay. You can live in that state and still be totally pure if your vision remains intact, if you know that you've got to keep moving ahead because you haven't reached that light yet, the light at the end of the tunnel. (27)

In The Basketball Diaries, within a "state of total decay," Carroll seeks to purify himself through the integrity of his own vision. His awareness of the corruption surrounding him on all sides heightens his urgent sense that there must be a "light at the end of the tunnel," and it is up to him alone to reach it.

Carroll said in an interview with Barbara Graustark, "Susan Sontag once told me that a junkie has a unique chance to rise up and start over" (81), and the ending of The Basketball Diaries offers that possibility. The final entry finds Carroll at the bottom of the pit, in the darkest depths of excess, stoned for four days straight. As he emerges from his drug-induced stupor, he looks around, realizing for perhaps the first time the depths he has reached. While he has physically lost all control and dignity, and while his environment is filthy and disgusting, his writing prevails. He details what he sees so poetically, and with such striking precision, that the scene becomes almost beautiful:

In ten minutes it will make four days that I've been nodding on this ratty mattress up here in Headquarters. Haven't eaten except for three carrots and two Nestle's fruit and nut bars and both my forearms sore as shit with all the little specks of caked blood covering them. My two sets of gimmicks right along side me in the slightly bloody water in the plastic cup on the crusty linoleum, probably used by every case of hepatitis in upper Manhattan by now. Totally zonked, and all the dope scraped or sniffed clean from the tiny cellophane bags. Four days of temporary death gone by, no more bread, with its hundreds of casual theories, soaky nostalgia (I could have got that for free walking along Fifth Avenue at noon), at any rate, a thousand goofs, some still hazy in my noodle. (209)

As his clarity of vision returns, Carroll needs to purge himself of the poison and make a resurrection; he thinks

about my conversation with Brian: "Ever notice how a junkie nodding begins to look like a foetus after a while?" "That's what it's all about, man, back to the womb." . . . A wasted peek into the mirror, I'm all thin as a wafer of concentrated rye. I wish I had some now with a little Cheez-Whiz on it. I can feel the window light hurting my eyes; it's like shooting pickle juice. . . . Nice June day out today, lots of people probably graduating. I can see the Cloisters with its million in medieval art out the bedroom window. I got to go in and puke. I just want to be pure . . . (210)

It's an optimistic conclusion--but, unfortunately, Carroll remained addicted to heroin until well into his twenties, as is documented in Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973 (which actually covers a period more like 1968-74). Eventually, Carroll realized that he had become a cartoon version of the "drugged out poet," and he had made a mockery of his own poetic vision. In Forced Entries, he admits:

I'm sick of writing about dope, about drugs in every form. I'm sick of recording the ups and downs of indulgence, and sick of releasing dispatches of misery via abstinence. I thought I could deal with, perhaps even come to understand, my obsessions through some strained eloquence. I thought I could eventually pierce every veil through chance metaphor, but how many flowers can serve as metaphors for that initial mingling of blood and water encased in the barrel of a syringe? (120- 21)

He knows, "It can't go on. My body is broke. I'm shitting where I eat" (114). In Forced Entries, Carroll records his discovery that his addiction was destroying his only source of purity: his writing. As he puts it, "I can't attempt to write always in the hollow flux of desperation and incipient terror" (114), and, "The fact is that instead of freeing myself through language, the language itself has become a hostage, and the room where we are held becomes smaller every day. . . . Only without boundaries can the words transform into something beyond themselves" (121). Finally, around 1974, he fled to Bolinas, California, and successfully conquered his addiction through a methadone treatment program.

Even after his recovery, though, Carroll has continued to seek a pure reality; specifically, his ongoing project has been the retroactive transformation of his past and of the addicted self he cultivated for so much of his life. In the 1980s, this transformation took form in Carroll's entry into rock music. In light of his recovery from heroin addiction, the first Jim Carroll Band album, Catholic Boy (1980), reinterprets The Basketball Diaries as a journey through hell which led to redemption. "I was a Catholic boy, redeemed through pain, not through joy," Carroll sings in the title song, and "City Drops Into the Night" describes the process of this redemption. In Carroll's experience, it is at moments of absolute decadence, "When the body at the bottom / That body is my own reflection," when salvation is realizable. At that moment, endless possibilities open up: "Before the darkness there's one moment of light," when everything can change. The characters in the song find themselves at turning points, when their situations can change radically, for better or worse:

It's when ambitious little girls start to dream about a change in style
It's when the slick boys got their fingers in the telephone dial
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
It's when the sneak thieves are checkin' the alleys for unlocked doors
And Billy's sister's gettin' frantic 'cause Billy's sister's little brother can't score

For Carroll, one "moment of light" came and went in the final entry of The Basketball Diaries, as he wallowed in the deepest depths of heroin abuse and wrote, "I just want to be pure." During the period of Forced Entries, another opportunity opened up when Carroll hit bottom and decided to leave New York.

The ending of "City Drops Into the Night" also reveals the specific nature of Carroll's salvation. First, he had to realize the prison he had built for himself in the endless cycle of obsession and heroin abuse:

They're always gonna come to your door
They're gonna say it's just a routine inspection
But what do you get when you open your door?
What you get is just another injection
And there's always gonna be one more
With just a little bit less until the next one

The "dealer" (of drugs, fame, whatever) is always willing to oblige a habit and, in doing so, they and the drug become rulers of the addict's fate. But the sense Carroll conveys is that the cravings and corrupting/controlling forces will continue to impinge upon the addict so long as s/he perpetuates the addiction. Eventually, as the addict descends further into the abyss and gives him/herself over to her/his obsessions, the addiction and corrupting forces siphon away any vestige of hope the addict might have. As callous as a mugger hiding in a darkened alley and robbing a passer-by of her life savings, these corrupting forces "wait in shadows and steal the light from your eyes / To them, vision's just some costly infection." And once the addict has been robbed of all hope and of the artistic vision which will offer salvation, the "moment of light" passes, leaving the addict with nothing but darkness, despair, and corruption. But Carroll seized upon the moment of light in time and he was redeemed. Hence, as he concludes the song, he transforms the drug metaphor as he becomes the "dealer" who, rather than doling out corruption, deals revelation and hope:

You should come with me
I'm the fire, I'm the fire's reflection
I'm just a constant warning
To take the other direction
Mister, I am your connection.

Like Rimbaud's poet, Carroll becomes "truly the thief of fire" (103), transforming himself into a modern-day Prometheus, shedding light on the underground experience, the trap of addiction, and the natures of fame and art. He shows that it is possible to make it all new--to enlarge and grasp that moment of light. He becomes "the fire's reflection," the reflection of both the ugliness and the beauty of addiction and underground experience.

Carroll's point is that no matter how deeply an individual descends into the abyss, redemption is still possible through a finely-tuned artistic vision, and he has continued to stand by this belief. Recently he published "8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain" (1994), in which he identifies with the anguish which led Cobain to suicide, alluding to a number of his own autobiographical works.4 In the first fragment, referring to his own experience with the hazards of genius ("Which starts as a kiss / and ends like a curse" ["Nothing Is True"]), the connections between his vision and drugs, and the difficulties he faced in breaking free from addiction, he observes,

Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount
of royalties can cover / And it resents fame
With bitter vengeance

Pills and powders only placate it awhile
Then it puts you in a place where the planet's
poles reverse.
Where the currents of electricity shift

Your body becomes a magnet and pulls to it despair
and rotten teeth,
Cheese whiz and guns.

But he asks Cobain in the seventh fragment:

But Kurt . . .
Didn't the thought that you would never write
another song
Another feverish line or riff
Make you think twice?
That's what I don't understand
Because it's kept me alive, above any wounds.

Perhaps drugs were Carroll's inspiration, their effects his ideal model for poetry--but it was his writing itself, his need to write and create a pure reality, that saved his life and has kept him going for forty-five years. He writes in Forced Entries, "I think of my past as if it were some exquisite antique knife . . . you can use it to defend yourself or slit your own throat, but you can't just keep it mounted on some wall" (2). Carroll has yet to leave his past frozen, "mounted on some wall" for perpetuity. He is in a constant process of "Doing now what is / Needed for what / I am becoming" ("Coda"): not only has he written two autobiographies (Forced Entries was published in 1987), he also reworks his life in other forms, poetry and rock music, within which he continually experiments with new ways to relate his experience. Hence, with each work, he perpetually revises his autobiography so that it is always new, always alive, and never quite finished. While Carroll's sickness took years to perfect, transforming it into something beyond itself is a project to last a lifetime.


Notes

1 Carroll refers to his heroin addiction as "the sickness I took years to perfect" in his poem "Paregoric Babies" (Living at the Movies 99; Fear of Dreaming 101), his second diary Forced Entries (182), and in his song "Dance the Night Away" on I Write Your Name. BACK

2 Organic Trains is Carroll's first book of poetry, a limited edition published in 1967 when he was 16 (Kuennen 84). According to his 1968 Trinity High School yearbook, Carroll was "The first of the class of '68 to be published. . ." (qtd. in Musser 1). BACK

3 Carroll's second collection of poetry is 4 Ups and 1 Down (1970), an eight-page, limited edition pamphlet containing five poems, all of which are reprinted in Living at the Movies. BACK

4 Carroll's references in the poem to his own published works are extensive. See "Coda" in Fear of Dreaming (273) for financial accounting imagery similar to that in the first fragment. See also "Rock 'n' Roll" in Forced Entries (164-65), "Them" on Dry Dreams, and "City Drops Into the Night" on Catholic Boy for Carroll's views on the relationship between genius/vision and fame, to which he alludes in the first and second fragments. For the magnet imagery in the first fragment, see "The Loft Party" in Forced Entries, where Carroll writes, "I should split, but this city is like a lodestone, and I'm a tin motherfucker" (107); and "this place is a lodestone, and its reach is as long as all our doomed desires" (108). Also, "Extractions" deals with the problem of a rotten tooth, which comes to represent the pain of his past (FE 134-37). The final entry of The Basketball Diaries contains the Cheez-Whiz reference (210); in an earlier entry, Carroll discusses the growing importance of writing as his reason "to hang on a bit longer" (151). In addition, Carroll's references to "guitar claws" and rock audiences in the second fragment repeat imagery he uses in one of The Book of Nods's "New York City Variations" and "Poem" (see Fear of Dreaming 191, 225). The concluding lines of the eighth fragment, "Which starts out as a kiss / And follows like a curse," are from his song, "Nothing is True," on Catholic Boy. These are but a few of Carroll's intertextual allusions. BACK


Works Cited

Berrigan, Ted. "Jim Carroll." Culture Hero 1.5 (1969): 9-10.

Carroll, Jim. The Basketball Diaries. 1978. New York: Penguin, 1987. ---. Catholic Boy. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-132, 1980.

---. "City Drops Into the Night." Catholic Boy. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-132, 1980. ---. "Coda." Fear of Dreaming 273.

---. "Dance the Night Away." I Write Your Name. Atlantic, 80123-2, 1983.

---. "Nothing Is True." Catholic Boy. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-132, 1980.

---. Poem, Interview, Photographs. Published in Heaven Chapbook 50. Louisville, KY: White Fields, 1994.

---. "Them." Dry Dreams. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-145, 1982.

---. "8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain." Poem, Interview, Photographs. Published in Heaven Chapbook 50. Louisville, KY: White Fields, 1994. Rpt. New York Times Magazine 1 Jan. 1995: 31.

---. Fear of Dreaming: The Selected Poems of Jim Carroll. New York: Penguin, 1993.

---. Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973. New York: Penguin, 1987.

---. 4 Ups and 1 Down. New York: Angel Hair, 1970.

---. Living at the Movies. 1973. New York: Penguin, 1981.

---. Organic Trains. [New Jersey]: Penny Press, 1967.

---. "Red Rabbit Running Backwards (for A.W.)." Stone Wind 4 (1973?): 113.

Graustark, Barbara. "Mean Streets." Newsweek 8 Sep. 1980: 80-81.

Hirschberg, Lynn. "Jim Carroll: The Vision Explodes." BAM 15 Aug. 1980: 24-27.

James, Jamie. Rev. of The Basketball Diaries. American Book Review 2.3 (1980): 9.

Kuennen, Cassie Carter. "Jim Carroll: An Annotated, Selective, Primary and Secondary Bibliography, 1967-1988." Bulletin of Bibliography 47.2 (1990): 81-112.

Margolis, Susan. "100 American Seducers on Their Craft & Sullen Art." Rolling Stone 16 Aug. 1973: 42-49.

Milward, John. "Catholic Boy." Penthouse Mar. 1981: 140+.

Morris, Charles R. A Time of Passion: America 1960-1980. New York: Harper, 1984.

Musser, James P. Skyline Books, Counterculture, Beat & Modern Literature: Jim Carroll. Catalogue. Forrest Knolls, CA: Skyline Books, 1995.

Rimbaud, Arthur. Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works. Trans. Paul Schmidt. New York: Perrenial-Harper, 1976.

Smith, Patti. Babel. New York: Putnam's, 1978.

   

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