These past few weeks have been rocky. I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of voices and emotion surrounding the non-indictments of officers in the Eric Garner and Mike Brown cases, and simultaneously bogged down in my college application stress–two issues from what seem to be two totally different worlds. Over these few weeks, I’ve actually come to realize that one intersection of academics and social justice is the student. Throughout history, students from all walks of life have frequently stood at the forefronts of movements for change in a multitude of areas. Students initiated the sit-in’s of the 50’s-60’s, and –from Philly to NYC to Denver to Berkeley –continue to be a powerful presence in the ongoing protests today. This is fascinating when you consider the fact that people who might have protested in their youth could end up as the people being protested–and that those people, such as the beats, who in their time were were hailed for progressive visions, could be considered bigoted from a modern perspective. Past and present always seem to reconcile in ways that surpass expectations.
Now that I’m done waxing philosophical:
part of what I’ve been working on/struggling with has been an outline for the paper that I intend to write, after drawing together certain ideas expressed on this blog, and those cultivated outside of it. It’s been tricky to discern what information I will need to include from the information that I’m super excited about including.
The outlining business? It is slow. Like a sloth with a limp. And equally as frustrating.
But hopefully, my own ideas & message will carry me through without much damage. The hard part is nailing them down to create something cohesive.
From the very beginning, the beats were drawn to jazz like moths to a lamp–it defined the 40’s
Allen Ginsberg (source: photobucket)
hipster from which they evolved. While the jazz musician’s lifestyle and jazz itself were directly appropriated and abused in many ways, shapes, and forms; there is also something that was purely artistically inspired by jazz: free-verse. Continue reading →
In 1998, Ellis Amburn published a biographical work on Jack Kerouac–Subterranean Kerouac– which incorporated many of the interviews and exchanges that they had. Shortly after its publication, Morris Dickstein of The New York Times Book Review published a fairly charged review of the text. While I did not read the biography, I did read the subsequent response. Critics’ reactions and reception of texts say as much about the critic as they do about the book. What interested me about Dickstein’s review was his criticism of Amburn’s “over-emphasis” of Kerouac’s biases and prejudices. Not much weight is attributed to the beats’ racism and misogyny; we tend to separate these things from their literary accomplishments (often when we find ourselves unable to separate them from their characters.) Continue reading →
I’ve been in a creative rut of late, so I decided to give one of the beats’ favored methods, “stream of consciousness” –which is actually a legitimate narrative mode–a shot. Initially it felt really weird,but I found the process to be something of a relief. I guess now we know why the beats were so enthusiastic about producing cryptic, semi-intelligible writing: it’s certainly liberating. Continue reading →
Part of my work in these past two weeks has been gaining an understanding of the “modernist” and “postmodernist” literary voices, and how the voice of the beat generation is defined. Modernism and postmodernism are not just stylistic differences; they indicate a certain perspective and ideology held by writers. Like all literary movements, they hold a unique philosophy at heart. I believe that an understanding of this is essential to our reception of any given piece of literature, and awareness of the philosophical agenda behind the writing can more accurately put what is said into context. When you take that a step further and analyze the philosophy of writing in relation to the author’s social and historical context, to some degree, you can excavate the psychology behind the written work.
Over the past few days, I’ve been sharply reminded why I am led to study this specific area. My reasons have further developed, and thus, I feel it would be appropriate and helpful to explain and reiterate:
I’ve chosen my topic in order to explore its racial context because the element of race is something that is frequently omitted or misrepresented in reflections on the beat generation. Continue reading →
The past two weeks have gone by in a whirlwind of text. I’ve delved into Kerouac’s The Subterraneans, and admittedly, I am already suffering from shortness of breath. This is due to Kerouac’s syntax-less free-verse, which runs thick with ego and thin with message; leaving me in a state of mental asphyxiation as I attempt to parse out plot amidst his ceaseless, uninterrupted tides of “suave-sad-boy-saint” soliloquy. Continue reading →
Reading & trying to understand 20 pages of Norman Mailer’s garbled prose presented me with a lot to think about. SO, regarding beatniks and hipsters and romantic racism:
Some Background Context (And Hipsters/Beatniks explained, to some extent)
For post-war white america, the 50’s sired an empowered, unionized, and rapidly expanding middle class, with significant spending power and countless dreams of Norman Rockwell fantasy homes away from the grit of cities. Continue reading →
The title of this post–while somewhat ridiculous–pretty much sums up what I’ll be examining for the next few months. This week, I’ve gone about the business of selecting and acquiring some texts that I’ll be analyzing: Kerouac’sThe Subterraneans, and an article by Norman Mailer, entitled The White Negro. Does that last one sound revolting? Absolutely; its content is even worse than the title–and that article is almost essential when it comes to dissecting the mess of 40’s-60’s (white) subculture in america. In my opinion, Mailer’s article is a beatnik manifesto. Continue reading →