The Beat Generation
Professor Rick Swope
March 22, 2014 The Beat Generation
The Beat Generation is one to be known for it's questioning of the conventions of America in mid20th Century, such as morality, politics, economy and literature. They were a generation that were dedicated to being open and loud about the way America restricted and ostracized them for being different than the stereotypical American. One of the biggest advocates, and a legendary name, is Allen Ginsberg. He produced many works, most notably
, which will be my main focus in showing a glimpse of the way these writers spoke to the world and were vying to be heard. Ginsberg wrote
in 1955 and finished in 1956, it was his first major work to be published and to be performed in public. The poem gained a lot of popularity in San Francisco in the Beatnik scene. The title itself tells you that the poem will be loud, it's meant to be heard. It will not be an ode or a sonnet, but a ferocious howl of all the artistic energy, pent up frustration and selfdestruction that his generation was struggling with. The central theme is one of the struggle of not being conformed to the American culture and society of the 50's and 60's, the suffocating need to find their true identity and not be smothered into obedience. Starting off the poem he says, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked [sic]"
(Ginsberg 1), and how he believed his generation was brilliant, artistic, yet were driven to madness by society and left vulnerable. They were desperate in "poverty and tatters" (Ginsberg 1) and were full "with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls" (1).
These people, this whole generation, who refused to conform, who rebelled with their writing and art and drugs and soulful jazz, but "the noise of wheels and children brought them down