Thursday, May 7

Jack Kerouac + The Beat Generation

THE BEAT GENERATION is a group of American writers and artists who came to prominence in the 1950s. They wrote about cultural phenomena, and inspired a label of beatniks. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the crew represent elements of "Beat" culture in their rejection of mainstream American values, experimentation with drugs and alternate forms of sexuality, and an interest in Eastern spirituality.

During the spring of 1951 Kerouac completed, in a three-week burst of writing, a typescript entitled variously “Beat Generation” and “On the Road. These were different names for "a scroll of paper three inches thick made up of one single-spaced, unbroken 120 feet long paragraph” as a friend recalls.

Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" is one of the most controversial American novels of the 20th century. Reading the iconic book, I fell inside his travel journal and was exhilarated. It is the winding phrases and fast paced talking that keep readers interesting in the road trip. I followed Kerouac, Corso, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, di Prima and Burroughs the whole way.

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes Awww!”
~ Jack Kerouac ~

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz."
~ Allen Ginsberg ~

These are two of my favorite quotes from these talented Beat writers. I learned a great deal about the Beat Generation while producing an original video for a Spring 2008 Columbia College Chicago exhibition "... and the beats go on". The exhibition turned one campus gallery into a real Beat Cafe complete with books, pillows, ipods, video, live music, and poetry.

You can view the video piece "The Beats" and more from my YouTube: Aesthetic Circle channel.

“And everything is going to the beat. It's the beat generation, it BE-AT, it's the beat to keep, it's the beat of the heart, it's being beat and down in the world and like old time lowdown and like in ancient civilizations the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat.”
~ Jack Kerouac ~


Visit The Beat Museum online
Read Beat Poetry
Get the History
Beat Generation Videos on YouTube

1 comment:

  1. Try rereading Howl in a bebop rhythm, even if it sounds impossible. The longs sentences, the variation, the repetitions. It may sound weird, and it sure is, but on purpose.


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