“They got the beat they got the beat the beat. Yeah. They got the-“ Oh no, we’re not talking about that beat today. And we’re not talking about THAT generation! …or k-pop at all, Try something more like….
They call you Beat Generation. Yup. Lots and lots of jazz. Hello there! My name is Victoria Tran, and today, you and I will explore the core values and issues of this revolutionary movement in history known as the Beat Generation. Enjoy! The Beat Generation was a significant literary movement in history where American writers rose to fame in the 1950s as they rebelled against American Culture.
This rebellious generation marked the beginnings of a major cultural turning point in the United States. Headed by writers such as Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, the Beat movement infused literature with a new sense of adventure and spontaneity. Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from over-refinement and essentially bring it “back to the streets.
” Through poetry and other forms of literature, certain issues currently being ignored or condemned were brought into the light. The Beat Generation was a product of the times as the emergence of this movement was closely related to the social environment of the United States in the 1950s.
The end of World War II was the beginning of the Beat movement. Post world war II, America became the wealthiest country in the nation, thus experiencing a long economic boom from 1950-1970. The Middle class was growing at a high rate 60% of people were in a mid-class by the 1950s, and 90% of families owned TVs. For Americans at that time, eating a family dinner and watching TV every night was considered a conservative tradition.
However, this all soon changed during post-WWII. People were tired of their mundane routine. They felt “beaten” down by the traditional lifestyle. They wanted a new way to express themselves as individuals, yet they felt restricted. They felt trapped all because they felt pressured to conform to the perfect ideals of society.
And that’s when Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs debuted and stimulated the Beat Movement. The Beat s advocated personal liberation, purification, and illumination through the heightened sensory awareness that might be under the influence of drugs, sex, jazz, or the disciplines of Zen Buddhism.
This new light in history reached the teenagers who were looking for ways to get out of conforming with society. These teenagers essentially became the fundamental basis to the new generation as they broke away from their parents and defined themselves in new ways. Additionally, the Beat Generation was a time for Black artists to rise in society with their riveting music.
Another important moment in this generation was the idea of intermixing white artists, white audiences, black artists, and black audiences all as one. Following World War II was the Cold War. There appeared to be a political force known as McCarthyism in the U.S. Consequently, McCarthyism caused a great commotion within society, creating a sense of terror.
People were terrified of communists at the time, thus leading to falsely accusing communism of other people without any evidence. They were scared that the old couple living next door for 20 years was, in fact, a communist. Because of this fear, many people conformed to living the safe lifestyle highly encouraged by political figures *Eisenhower*.
Following exact orders by any political figure ensured safety within the American people and thusly became a norm. Thanks to McCarthyism, fear ruled in society. Thusly, conformity ruled in society. The growing constant fear of communism and political constraints began to dominate people’s lives, leading to Americans suffering from collective nervous breakdowns.
The Beat Generation thus rose to break away from conformity. Experimenting with drugs, exploring alternative forms of sexuality, becoming absorbed within the Eastern religious culture, and rejecting materialism were ways to distract Americans from their fears of communism and became a way to express individuality.
The new movement introduced new values and exposed values that were apparent in society, but people were just too scared to even talk about homosexuality, for example. Evidently, homosexuality was highly uncommon and frowned upon during this time; however, as the Beats attempted to revolutionize the traditional society morals, they also explored their sexualities.
Ginsberg questioned his sexuality yet was conflicted with his feelings since the idea of loving another man was completely far away from the traditional norms of society. He was not ready to admit his homosexuality fully, and for many years he would keep hoping that a woman or a psychoanalyst would cure it.
Needless to say, Kerouac helped his friend inflame his homosexuality. Overall, the beat generation promoted the exploration of alternate sexualities in society. The Beats used straightforward and provocative language as a new expressive technique within their culture due to the youth’s social, political, economic, and cultural status. They expressed their emotions and thoughts were very restricted, so The Beat Generation took some extreme ways to highlight their detachment from mainstream society.
People were so scared to touch on certain topics such as sex and homosexuality because they were educated under the old value system in schools and universities. Such topics were rejected by formal education. Thus, the passionate Beat Generation reflected on the many phenomenons within American culture and tried to propose solutions to social problems.
Rejecting mainstream American values, exploring alternate forms of sexuality (homosexuality), and experimenting with drugs and all things off the radar are things that make up the Beat Culture. Consequently, Beats were illustrated into cartoon characters called Beatniks to promote coffee houses and nightclubs, to help sell newspapers and clothing pieces.
However, through false advertising through the media, the Beats were viewed as rebels, delinquents. They were feared by society because people believed that Beats rape all women. They became an image of violence and juvenile delinquency. Pertaining to religion, most Beats were Buddhists thinking that Beats are both artists and foremost spiritual seekers.
Their views paralleled with Transcendentalists’ views to their understanding of the poet as prophet. The Beats were always on the road because they could not find God in the churches and synagogues. They saw human beings embedded in a vast network with other human beings, with animals, and with life itself.
Ultimately, the Beats glorified in eliminating distinctions between matter and spirit, divinity and humanity. At the core of the beat movement were authors Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. These three are the most influential figures during the Beat Generation since they were basically the movement’s founding fathers.
They sought to instill a “New Vision” which involved unrestricted self-expression, psychedelic experiences as a means of perceiving truth, sexual experimentation, and the idea that art goes above and beyond traditional morals. Taking a look at some notable pieces of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac was the author of the best-selling book On the Road. This book describes a group of people traveling both geographically and spiritually in the country.
Kerouac described a life where there was no such thing as social pressures. Kerouac transformed literature forever through his freestyle manner of expressing his thoughts and feelings without plan or revision. William Burroughs reveals the dark world of the drug culture in his novel “Naked Lunch” lastly. Another significant figure of this literary movement was Allen Ginsberg.
With his noteworthy piece Howl, Ginsberg reveals the undeveloped part of America that exposes inappropriate topics of drug addicts, drifters, prostitutes, and swindlers and even uses slang and foul language that shocked the public. Though regarded as a “disgrace” of the 1950s, this poem reflects the instinctive anger and excitement of the youth, establishing itself as the Bible of the Beat Generation and the youth culture.
Beat Generation significantly impacted America in unimaginable ways. Because of the Beat Generation, people began to question the society they lived in and stepped out of it. The Beat Generation also set a precedent for many important things, such as the hippies and anti-war movement. In addition to that, their beliefs influence musicians such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley.
Not only that, they helped bring awareness and battle racism in American. People like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, two American American Musicians, were inspired to play Jazz music without racial barriers. Thanks to the Beat Generation, people can now express themselves without any restrictions and fear.
Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE3C0Q8YB7A