“The Definition of “Beatness”
But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls ... woe in fact unto those who those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! ... woe unto those who spit on the Beat Generation, the wind’ll blow it back. -- Jack Kerouac
The Beat Generation or “Beatness”, if you will, has always been looked down upon by society simply because they were a misunderstood generation… much like today’s Generation X. The Beats’ attempt to liberate their minds and spirits through their lack of conformity was seen as criminality and immorality. Their misconstrued passion for change was the basis for the blatant criticism they received; yet the beat went on. A “beat” may refer to pattern found in music or it may refer to a state of being tired or worn out. In a sense, the Beat Generation was just that. Having been exposed to war and unrest, they knew of nothing else but what was supposed to be done to accommodate war. This constant pattern of conformity led to a dominating feeling of weariness. After World War II, America began to tend to a closed society. The use of new technology deprived people of their privacy and freedom and the threat of nuclear weapons created a new source of unrest, convincing people that mankind would be destroyed by the power of science. In an attempt to change the fate of society, the Beat Generation emerged; from jazz to jive talk to pot and peace…the Beats were, without a doubt, moving away from the norm of society, from the alleged American way. The term “Beat” was first introduced by author Jack Kerouac. The adjective beat, which was introduced to Kerouac and the rest of the group by Herbert Huncke, had an underlying meaning of being tired. However, Kerouac put a positive...
Cited: Di Prima, Diane. Memoirs of a Beatnik. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1988.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Penguin, 1976.
Ann Charters, “Variations on a Generation”, Time. Date Unknown.
“Beat Generation” 25 Aug 2006
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