Posts Tagged ‘victory over death’

Charles Bukowski sang the life victorious, thanks to his having learned Transcendental Meditation

August 17, 2014

I first posted this wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski in the summer of 2014 and later found out that he had learned Transcendental Meditation towards the end of his life. So I’ve updated it in early 2021 with three different sources behind this story.

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric”

I know what he
meant
I know what he
wanted:

to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.

we can’t cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
us

it will have known a victory just as
perfect as
ours.

“a song with no end” by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), from The Night Torn with Mad Footsteps. © Black Sparrow Press, 2001.

he apparently loved meditation

Towards the end of a Dec 31, 2006 New York Times article, David Lynch’s Shockingly Peaceful Inner Life, Alex Williams writes: The filmmaker sees no contradiction between inner harmony and external edginess. “I heard Charles Bukowski started meditation late in his life,” Mr. Lynch said, referring to the poet laureate of Skid Row, who died in 1994. “He was an angry, angry guy, but he apparently loved meditation.”

meditation allowed him to be creative in his later months

In this 89.3 KPCC interview Bukowski’s wife said that he lost some ground after being diagnosed with leukemia at age 73. He got it back with transcendental meditation. “It allowed him to open up a space within himself to say these words about himself dying,” said Linda Bukowski. “These later poems, death poems, are so acute and so awake and aware and I think that had a lot to do with how meditation allowed him to be creative in his later months and write these poems, that I still cannot read.”

I checked with a friend who has taught TM to many celebrities and she replied: “I instructed Charles (or Hank as he liked to be called) and his wife, Linda, a few years before he passed away. He was a lovely man at that time of his life. I wonder if he was meditating when he wrote this beautiful piece.”

That’s probably how David Lynch would have known since they’re longtime TM friends. She later emailed to say that she had taught Bukowski around 1992. So based on this information and what Linda had said, chances are this poem could have been written during those final years of his life while he was meditating regularly.

a related post

Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker. Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” When Stevens was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.”


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