Sunday, 15 January 2012

Charles Bukowski - Genius of the Crowd

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."

Bukowski was a writer. He wrote it all. Poems, short stories, novels, screenplays. He wrote it all just as he saw it. Once a long time ago at about five to eight in the morning on my way to do street shows in Coven Garden, London, I was asked why I liked Bukowski. I said - because he writes it like it is. Then we got to the pitch and all the street performers began pulling numbers out of a hat to decide who plays first. It was a summer day in july. I spotted a fellow performer which I knew also read Bukowski and asked him why he read the words of the dirty old man. He writes it like it is he said. I smiled.

Here are some thoughts on the dark side of the Crowd - of the Average people. For the Illuminated Showman must remember that the Crowd is a Beast. Given the oppertunity it will eat you. It can be tamed but is will always be wild. Like the snake in the Little Prince, it could bite at any time. Such is its nature.

There is a part of the poem missing out of this video excerpt from Born Into This. So here the poem is in full. A warning to budding Showmen, and a reminder to those who have experienced

The Genius of the Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach love do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art


(Hemlock was the poison used to execute Socrates for inciting youth and not following the state's gods. The Genius of the Crowd chose to kill him rather than answering his questions.)

I mentioned the poem was an excerpt so here is the documentary Born Into This in full too. (For some reason it blogger wont link to it on my page...)

Finally here is my favorite poem. The more you have read, the more you have seen, the more you know the dirty old man the weightier this poem gets.

Magritte's Therapist. The birds inside.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pur whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do


  1. Line "Those that preach peace do not have love"
    should read "those that preach love do not have love"
    Source: The Genius of the Crowd, original chapbook 1966.

  2. Thank you for noticing Azure Prophet.

  3. This post relates to me so accurately.
    I love Bukowski for the same reason - his dark honesty. The way he spills it as is; and Bluebird, along with 2 Flies, are my favorite two poems.