|Beat Generation : Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg.|
They saw runaway capitalism as destructive to the human spirit and opposed to social equality. In addition to their disappointment with consumer culture, they were against the repressive generation of their parents.
By the time, the taboos against frank discussions of sexuality were seen as unhealthy and damaging to the mind.
According to Literature and Art the Beats stood in opposition to the clean and almost antiseptic formalism (as they used to name it) of the early twentieth century modernists.
They fashioned a literature that was more bold, courageous, straightforward and expressive than anything had come before.
Underground music styles like Jazz were especially evocative for Beat writers.
The word “Beat” was primarily used after World War II by Jazz musicians and workers, as a slang term meaning “Down and out” or “Poor and exhausted” . But Jack Kerouac twisted the meaning of the term, explaining that “Beat” means “Beatitude” not beat up, Beat generation writers also used the term in connection with music, Kerouac often said; “You feel this, you feel it in a beat, in jazz real cool jazz”.
Other central elements of Beat culture included, experimentation with drugs, alternative forms of sexuality, an interest in Eastern Religion and the rejection to materialism.
The Beat Generation was a Literature and Cultural movement and the best known writers were; Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, these authors are considered the producers of the best work of the time.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet that opposed Militarism, Materialism and Sexual repression. Ginsberg is best known for his epic poem “Howl” where he severely denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the
. Howl is one of the classic poems of this period and was dedicated to his friend Carl Solomon. As all of the controversial Beat Generation writings, the conservative people saw it as dirty, vulgar and with obscene language. It seemed especially outrageous or shocking in 1950´s America because it represent both heterosexual and homosexual sex, at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every US state. United States
He used phrases such as “fucked in the ass” “cocksucker” and “cunt” as part of the poem’s depiction of different aspects of American culture, he used sex to criticize the emptiness and constant hunger that could exist in the lives of Americans.Ginsberg’s willingness to talk about taboo subjects made him a controversial figure during the conservative 1950´s and a significant figure in the 1960´s.According to his writing technique, he developed and individual style that was identifies as Ginsbergian. His choice to brake away from traditional poetic structure was fiercely criticized as chaotic and unpoetic, but for him it was an open excited expression of thoughts and feeling that were naturally poetic.
William Burroughs (1914 – 1997) was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. Much of his works are semi-autobiographical mainly drawn for his experience as a heroin addict. He write 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collection of essays, but perhaps his best known novel in “Naked Lunch”, a work that along with the poem “Howl”, went to the court for being cases under sodomy laws. He was an analyst and a critic of the moral, politic and economic system of American Society.
His major works can be divided into four different periods:
- Early Work (early 1950´s)
- The cut-up period (mid 1950`s to mid 1960`s)
- Experiment and Subversion (mid 1960`s to mid 1970`s)
- The red night trilogy (mid 1970`s to mid 1980`s)
(The dates refer to the time of writing, not publication).
Drugs, homosexuality and death are the most common themes, along with Ginsberg helped made homosexuality cool and highbrow, providing a gay liberation.
Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) was an American novelist and poet. He is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as, Catholic Spirituality, Jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty and travel. Some critics have labeled his work as “slapdash” “grossly sentimental” and “immoral”.
He became an underground celebrity and with other beats, the progenitor of the Hippie Movement.
In 1969 at age of 47 Kerouac died from internal bleeding caused by cirrhosis, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.
Since his dead, his literary prestige has grown and several unseen work have been published, such as; “On the road” “Doctor SAX” “The Dharma bums” “ Mexico City Blues” “The Subterraneans” “Desolation Angels” and many others.
In the 1960´s elements of the expanding Beat movement were the legacy for Hippie Counterculture, which was a movement that arouse in the
The Hippie culture spread worldwide through a fusion of Rock, Folk, Blues and Psychedelic Rock, it also found expression in Literature, dramatic arts, fashion, and visual arts including films, posters advertising rock concerts and album covers.
Hippies rejected established institutions, criticized middle class values, opposed nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, embrace aspects of Eastern Philosophy and sexual liberation, they promote the used of many drugs, they create international communes or communities and firmly believe in Peace, Love and Personal Freedom.
The peace symbol was developed in the UK as a logo for the “Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament” and was adopedt by US Anti-War protestors during de 1960´s.
Hippies were often pacifist and participated in non-violent political demonstrations such as; Civil Right Movement, The Marches on Washington D.C, and Anti-Vietnam war demonstrations.
The degree of political involvement varied widely among Hippies, the Yippies were the most politically active Hippie sub-group.
In addition to the non.-violent political demonstrations, Hippie opposition to the Vietnam War including organizing political action groups to oppose the war, they refused to serve in the military and conducting “teach-ins” on college campuses, because that covered Vietnamese history and the political context of the war.
The Flower Power is a Slogan used by American counterculture as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It was implanted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War.
The expression was first coined by the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965, as a means to transform the protest into peaceful affirmative representations.
Hippies included the symbol wearing clothes with many flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hairs and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children. The term later became a strong reference to the Hippie Movement.
The political ideals of the Hippies influenced other movements such as; Anarcho-Punk,
Rave Culture, Green Politics, Stoner Culture and The New Age.
Some of the most noticeable musicians and bands of the era were: Janis Joplin, Creedence, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and many others.
Text: Natalia Gatica
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