Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Beat Generation and Me

A number of years ago I read On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and when I was done, I thought, “What the hell did I just experience?” It was frantic, disconnected at times, rarely at ease. I felt like I had to read it again, but only after my head stopped spinning. Since that time, I've read it a couple of more times, and love the vision he has of America. The Iowa farmers and their suspicions. The two farm boys and their flatbed truck, hauling hitchhikers across Nebraska at top speed, and the migrant worker camps in California. Beautiful!

I’ve started reading another piece form this genre, Howl by Allen Ginsberg.

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...

That’s how it starts, and each time I read through it, I’m more blown away by how incomprehensible it is. Every time I think that I have a handle on what the text is telling me, I read on and realize that I know jack. Maybe my constant suburban existence
won't allow me to understand it. Maybe I don’t carry the correct baggage for such a poem.

It’s strange; I’m a pretty conservative person. I am everything that the beat generation was not, and yet I find myself strangely drawn to their writing. Maybe someday I’ll know why… and maybe someday I’ll understand Ginsberg.
Who knows, it’s possible.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...