How the Hippies got hip with the beat of the Beat Movement
Jack Kerouac once said, “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars” (Kerouac 5). Kerouac was the symbol of the Beat Movement. He was the rebellious and adventurous man, who during his time was considered an outcast, but soon later made way for the counterculture of the Hippie Generation. The beats were all about going against social conformity and usual political views (Bennett 340), which mirrored the belief system of the hippies one decade later. This is one of the many reasons why the Beat Movement was the actual beginning of the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic that occurred soon after.
The Beat Movement was the main influence on the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic. The Beat Movement consisted of a group of American writers and artists popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion. William T. Lawlor called the Beat Movement “an artistic movement noted for experimentation and a bohemian lifestyle” (Lawlor 70). These individuals involved in the movement believed in spontaneity and utilized this characteristic to go against the average culture of the 1950s and for personal self-expression through literature and art. Many found their inspiration of spontaneity in the urban environments that surrounded them. Robert Bennett stated that Daniel Belgrad, author of The Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America, “argues that the beats were part of a much larger cultural movement that used spontaneous art to challenge the ideology of corporate liberalism” (Bennett 340). Many of the people associated with the Beat Movement help to create the distinct characteristics of this movement. Jack Kerouac was one of the main individuals involved with the movement and was the one who coined the term “beat.” “Beat” was a slang term to describe the "beaten down" people in America at the time as Kerouac stated in one of his many interviews. Kerouac wrote one of the main works of literature that described the Beat Movement and its people, which was his novel On the Road (Lawlor 72). Another individual involved with the Beat Movement was Jack Kerouac’s good friend Neal Cassady. Cassady made appearances in many of Kerouac’s novels and is known as the symbol of experimentation with drugs and intercourse. Authors Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burrough were also important to the movement. Ginsburg’s novel Howl and Burrough’s novel Naked Lunch are some of the best examples of Beat Literature.
The Hippie Generation came into existence soon after the Beat Movement. Hippies were members of the 1960s counterculture movement who adopted a peaceful and optimistic lifestyle while disagreeing with corporate nationalism and the Vietnam War. The hippies were well known for wanting peace instead of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Hippies also liked to use bright vivid colors and rebel against the society of America at the time by dropping out of school, taking up different religions, and experimenting with drugs. Hippies were usually Buddhists or Hinduisms and “…sought enlightenment through meditation…” (Chepesiuk 352). Hippie was not the original term for these rebellious people during the 1960s. Michael Fallon, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle coined the term “hippie” (Hippies 148). He said that a “hippie” was short for a “hipster”, which is someone popular at that point in time. Hippies, like the beats, turned away from middle-class society and were considered outcasts. Hippies were known as “…peace loving, nonmaterialistic, and nonconformists” (Chepesiuk 351). Many people were involved during the Hippie Generation. Allen Ginsburg, who was also a...
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