And so the term beatnik was born. Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote this in an April 2, 1958 article, combining the name of Russia's Sputnik with the Beat Generation, and implying they were "far out of the mainstream society" and "possibly communist."
Carl Solomon (also a writer, Report from the Asylum: Afterthoughts of a Shock Patient). Through Solomon, Ginsberg attempted to take on, albeit indirectly, his own mother's schizophrenia and lobotomy.
The Howl obscenity charges were actually brought against the domestic publisher--Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore. Freedom of speech won out when Judge Clayton Horn ruled the poem was of "redeeming social importance." And the publicity helped further the reach of the Beats.
Note for film lovers: Southern Mystery Cities' favorite James Franco plays Allen Ginsberg in the 2010 film Howl, directed by Rob Epstein. Anyone who saw Franco in Milk or the TV movie James Dean knows he can jump into someone else's skin with ease.
But from where did this new generation of bucking the norm come?
Following the world wars, popular society seemed to need order, but a strong intellectual undercurrent revolted and the Beats were part of this revolt. The improvisational elements of jazz were a huge influence (think spontaneous riffs and Kerouac's spontaneous prose), as were the elite-attacking elements and performance art aspects of Dadaism and Surrealism (think action paintings of Jackson Pollock and the montage element of Dadaist Hannah Höch).
"For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in." Hugo Bell, leader of Zurich Dada movementI can't get into all the Beat writers here. Burroughs' Naked Lunch speaks to the BG's nonlinear style, while Kerouac's On the Road shows stream of consciousness and breathing in literature via the connecting dash. Think about journaling, and ad breathtaking imagery and a view into the subconscious.
We end with the words of modernist poet William Carlos Williams, who spoke of Ginsberg's ability and effect:
"...He proves to us, in spite of the most debasing experiences that life can offer a man, the spirit of love survives to ennoble our lives if we have the wit and the courage and the faith--and the art! to persist."Photo info:
First, centered: Ginsberg and Kerouac, from this site, click and see artists' renditions of the BG
Second, right: City Lights Bookstore
Third, left: William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso, 1980, San Francisco Art Institute
Monday: author Elizabeth Spann Craig
Wednesday: The Lost Generation
Friday: author Stephen Tremp
Note: I apologize for the late-morning posting. Struggling with Blogger's autopost system.