The episode was recorded in Bixby Canyon. In this Big Sur wilderness Ferlinghetti built a few cabins, no electricity, no running water except for a stream running by, fireplaces for heat and cooking. His poetic impressions of objects and creatures in the canyon, insects, birds, the surrounding hills, even the stars at night bring widely diverse meanings. They become messengers revealing or withholding their secrets. Flocks of birds protest the oncoming mechanization of the world outside; dissidents are ingested by the powers of that world, stars “errant rebels” send a warning. The cosmos signals a promise that “there must be a place where all is light.”
Allan Ginsberg, among the many fellow poets who visited the canyon, has a strong presence as Ferlinghetti expresses in his poem, Allen Still. He regards his friend as a prime instance of resistance to the ever-present forces of ingestion that captivate the American consciousness.
The jungle pathway leads to Bixby Beach where Ferlinghetti sees a “lyric future of America” if only as a persistent source for its consciousness. Late at night, around a campfire, the thoughts of the day are given a final note: above in the darkness, a great bird haunts the wilderness by its flight, its surveillance, its kept secrets.
Directed by: Erik Bauersfeld
Recorded and Mixed by: James McKee
Production Assistant: Maria Gilardin
Creative Consultants: Irene Oppenheim and Nancy Peters