Thursday, July 12, 2007

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness

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,
angelheaded 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...

I was thinking about how unimpressed I am by "Howl" above, Alan Ginsberg, and William S . Burroughs with his "Naked Lunch", and Ken KeseyJack Kerouac with his "On the Road", and how I don't find Lenny Bruce very shocking and how much the perception of what is shocking is really just a reaction to what is considered the norm for society and really can only be viewed in the context of their time, and so in some ways they fail the test of greatness, because, IMHO, outside of their zeitgeist they don't shine very bright...


Blogger Shoshana said...

We had to read Naked Lunch in college and I just found it foul, with no point. It was written just for shock value. To me, that's pretty pointless.

July 13, 2007 8:54 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I am not sure if I would call it pointless - to me it is more like "irrelevant".

And it was written just for shock value...

"Ginsberg also made an intense study of haiku and the paintings of Paul Cezanne from which he adapted a concept important to his work, which he called the "Eyeball Kick." He noticed in viewing Cezanne's paintings that when the eye moved from one color to a contrasting color, the eye would spasm, or "kick." Likewise, he discovered that the contrast of two seeming opposites was a common feature in haiku. Ginsberg used this technique in his poetry, putting together two starkly dissimilar images: something weak with something strong, an artifact of high culture with an artifact of low culture, something holy with something unholy" (Wikipedia)

And thanks for stopping by...

And have a good Shabbos!

July 13, 2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

"On the Road" was Jack Kerouac; Ken Keasey wrote "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
I haven't read all of the Beats' writings, but I'm not sure they were just in it for the shock value. Jack Kerouac certainly wasn't, he spawned an entire literary and poetic genre. Plus I don't really think his stuff was all that shocking.
I don't think Alan Ginsburg was all about the shock value either. The fact of the matter is poets, in order to write great poetry, need to write from a place that is frequently painful. You may think he was writing to shock people, but he was actually just writing what he knew. That's what they were all doing, and I kind of think there was more truth in it than you allow for.

July 18, 2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Thanks for noticing the mistake, Miri. I don't know why I typed Kesey while thinking Kerouac.

I guess what I am saying is that whatever spoke to them and to the people that thought they were great, no longer speaks to me. And I wonder if it is because we live in a time where nothing is shocking... Not to say that they wrote just to shock people, but I think that was definitely something they used for effect...

July 18, 2007 12:13 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

To a certain extent, they probably did utilize the shock value thing, firstly to sell, secondly to be subversive. But think of what Ginsburg and Kerouac did for poetry. They introduced entirely new rythmic concepts and essentially fathered prose poetry, not to mention performance/slam poetry. Their writing styles were entirely innovative for their time, which makes them the best kind of artists - the kind that advanced an art to a new and heretofore entirely unexplored stage.

July 18, 2007 1:40 PM  

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