BEAT GENERATION

The Beat generation started off as a literary phenomenon but soon progressed to a life-changing attitude. It embraced originality and individuality in the way people thought and acted, throwing out the rules of literature, music, sex and religion. It was never a large movement in terms of sheer numbers, but its effects are still felt in the world today.

beat generation poetry readings

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The Beats were against the prudery of their parents’ generation. They stood in opposition to the formalism of the Modernists, and produced a literature that was more bold, straightforward, and expressive than anything that had come before. Underground music styles like jazz were especially favored by the Beat writers. To society, their artistic productions crossed the line into pornography and therefore merited censorship. Some dismissed the Beat Generation’s literature as mere provocation, not serious art. Time has proven that the cultural impact of the Beat writers was far from short-lived, as the influence of their work continues to be widespread.

Gary Snyder, Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, Lama Govinda near Kausani, India,Himalayan peaks Trisul, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot 1962

Gary Snyder, Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, Lama Govinda near Kausani, India,Himalayan peaks Trisul, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot 1962.

Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg

Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg.

jack keouac readings recording

beat generation

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Mainstream America was horrified by their supposed sexual deviancy and illicit drug use. Established poets and novelists looked down upon the freewheeling abandon of Beat literature. Politicians such as Joseph McCarthy identified elements of Beat ideology as Communist and a threat to the nation’s security.

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Blitz magazine number two, 1965. Contains the first appearance of three Bukowski poems: ’40 Cigarettes,’ ‘A Dirty Joke,’ and ‘The Rock.’ This volume also contains poems by Douglas Blazek; ‘Ideals Pawing At A Fractured Tomorrow’ and ‘The Sideroad Voyage’, Allen Ginsberg ‘Benares’, and d.a. levy ‘I Tell Myself A Story Because I Am Bored – Part 2.

Neal Cassady reading from The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac 1950

Neal Cassady reading from The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac, 1950.

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The Beat Generation was quickly replaced by the Beatniks. Instead of a movement and an ideology, beaknik was a fashion trend result of society’s consumption of the Beat Generation aesthetic. The Beat writers were consumed and commodified by the very culture they sought to undermine.

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Beatnik was a media stereotype of the 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement. a media-created prahase – a means of trying to trick youth into believing they were edgy without doing anything to disrupt the system.

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Most of the these pulp fiction novels  depicted violent and highly sexual stories, along with a cartoonish depiction of the real-life people.

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