The Beat Generation: A credible source for our lives today
Isn’t it funny how a few men and women from the late 1940’s, single handedly changed the way that our generation lives now? We should think it is, because the Beat Generation is an American time that barely any credit goes to for what America has today. Through the minds of beatniks like Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and a handful of others, new styles of living were put into motion and new ways of thought were brought about. Some of the difficulties that the beats went through were closely tied together with the political downfalls and world events of the time, like the Watergate scandal and the Cold Wars, which greatly influenced their writings, their lives, and their social theories. The Beat Generation was a time of constant culture clashing and lifestyles varying among all people everywhere, many things came out of this time to aide the future generations. The Beat Generation’s breaking of barriers led to the changing of the way future generations would look at life, the way they would interpret literature, and the moral values that America would hold in the future to come.
The Beat Generation was a time period from the 1940’s to the 1960’s in which poets and artists combined ‘spat in the face of conformity and pop culture’ (Merc). They broke out of the normal routines and forgot all of the social codes to be themselves; they were often ridiculed for that as well. With the new open door to publicity and the awakening of a chaotic era, poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and William Burroughs brought a whole new genre of poetry to the table and forced it down the throats of mid 20th Century public viewers. They threw stones at the idea of being conformed to society, and were thought of as antisocial when asked by someone other than the people in their range of beatniks about social status.
The Beat Generation was partly spawned off of the political outbreaks and wars that were occurring in the world at this time. They went through the cold war in Russia and all of conflicting decisions that American was facing at that time. The ‘Watergate Scandal’ was also another discouraging article you would find in the news. The Watergate Scandal was written about in Kerouac’s On The Road and seen as nothing more than a disgrace to America, by the unfaithful government. Allen Ginsberg also had a quite a few complaints about the political mumbo-jumbo that was occurring. In his book The Downfall Of America, Ginsberg discusses his rage and disappointment with the injustices of American government, the hypocrisy of its war on drugs, the dishonesty of its foreign policies, and the unconstitutionality of its censorship efforts. "I don't think there is any truth. I think there are only points of view." After the cold war had ended and the scandals of the mid 50’s forgotten, the beatniks had yellow-line fever, and would travel just because the scenery would change and the people would be different, and maybe more accepting.”
Some of the better-known Beatniks, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, went to Buddhism for guidance and to lead a life of enlightenment. They looked at the events of the time and were appalled by the inhumane acts that their country was involved in. The yellow-line fever was also spreading, giving news to the hippies and beatniks around, that life was best viewed through a tinted window at 85 miles per hour. The hippies took the fever, digested it and turned it into a full scale road war, where the ones who went the furthest would earn titles and be looked up to by some of the ‘lower hipsters’ that couldn’t travel as far. Which made the likes of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady shake their heads in shame, because to them, traveling was a way to free the soul, like an enlightening for the spirit with the open road at your feet and a tank full of gas. But the government just saw it as a chance to make money…what a surprise.
Through those poets, musicians, and those literary works, the future for poetry, short story writing, novels, and ballads would never be the same again. They allow room for un-sugar coated slams to be put into the air and they brought us into a new ‘free style’ era that we now live in. Without their influence, it would be most likely that the only kids of poetry we would know, would be the happy go lucky blissfully accepted literature that is written about with false metaphors at times. The Beat Generation’s opening doors allowed the future generations to step out of the box and out of the closet and expose the things that no one wanted to hear. They showed us life through a druggie’s eyes and put us in the first person perspective of a heroin addict’s day-to-day routine, things that weren’t naturally accepted by everyone. But nonetheless they brought it into the light and held nothing back.
When the beatniks brought us the punk movements, they showed America how to think basically. They shunned the materialist options to live lives that held a religious meaning, which pushed nonconformity to the utmost peek. The zenith of the movement, to me, was when people put down their holier than thou thoughts and began to realize that you’re never promised tomorrow. Many people’s lifestyles changed because of the reality that they beatniks brought, they were swooned by the sweet sweet music that was pushed out of the sax and the horn as well as feeling the freedom and power of ecstasy in the new drugs. Although the drugs aren’t one of the bets things that happened in the time, it was still an important part of the time.
Like I said before, the beatniks brought new jazz, bebop, and the un-chained punk movement to America without second thoughts. Groups and performers such as Charlie Parker& Dizzy Gillespie helped in bringing out this movement of musical madness. Without those people bringing jazz to a new decibel level, we would have never had the musical talents that we have today. For instance the beat/jazz influence has been noted everywhere from the Beatles to the hard core band Iggy-pop to the rock stars we knew and loved such as Kurt Cobain. It’s most likely that we would have had a more down tempo music and the world of music would be nothing like we have today, if it wasn’t for the large influence of the beatniks like William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg.
Some of the most awesome writing techniques came out of this time period as well. Kerouac alone came up with a new style of writing, which is used worldwide. Ginsberg’s formations, like the one he used in HOWL, are displayed in almost every known language as a base for writing poetry. The poetical formats and the way that they would shed light on the world, you could have said, revolutionized the writing world at the time, and molded a shape of untouchable writings. Even later on in the years to come, the formats and rhyme schemes would most likely stand the test of time. They were that sound and had such meaning that they were considered in a class of their own, when compared to some of the writings of Ernest Hemmingway, E.A. Poe, or Emily Dickinson. So that just goes to show, the power that the writings had at that time. In many cases, the formations are still used and are rarely separated from.
As it’s clearly stated, the Beat Generation deserves a lot of credit for the lives that our future generations do hold and will have. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassady and Bukowski can truly be said to be our forefathers when it comes to literature, because without them, who knows where we’d be now. If the truth were to be known, we could honestly say, that our political history with scandals is just as long as our literary history, seeing as how they both tie into one another when you put all the facts together. Just as our history ties in with our words, our lives today mesh fully with the lives of yesterday. So all in all we must be a proud example for our predecessors as far as our thoughts and moral concepts are concerned…not to mention our next generation jazz spawned music that has all the ‘hipsters grooving to the beat like mad cats at a jamboree…’ ( Kerouac 106) So i'm guessing that in the future generations, society will only be as good and as successful as it's past generations.
|© 2002-2008. Blurty Journal. All rights reserved.|