Drugs. Beat. Nonconformist. Ingenuity. Love. Life. New York. California.
^ Allen Ginsberg’s life.
Alive in a time in America where picket fences, poodle skirts, sock hops, drive-ins, and more were part of the everyday society, Allen Ginsberg was an odd man out. In fact, he was one of many individuals that rejected the perfect consumerist society of 1950s America, so-called the Beats.
What began as a small group of friends converging over common interests and ideas turned into a movement known as the “Beat Generation.” The original or “core” group consisted of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs. These individuals met in the area around Columbia University of uptown Manhattan in the mid 1940s. The group slowly expanded, especially as they moved west to San Francisco. These individuals were all united under one common passion: writing. Their passion led to a generation that allocated such “cultural influence” that still affects young individuals today.
Ginsberg was one of the originals, there at the very beginning. Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 3, 1926. Growing up, Ginsberg highly admired Walt Whitman. He was admitted to Columbia University in the fall of 1939. At this time he met and began close friendships with his fellow Beat pioneers. His close friends led him to a “New Vision” that Ginsberg defined in his journal: “Since art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.”
He moved to San Francisco in 1954, and with “The ‘6’ Gallery Reading” which took place on October 7, 1955, the Beat Generation was born. The Beats rejected consumerism and the media-driven society, often making fun of such in their poems and works. The Beats were united under a common theme: “a rejection of the American middle-class values, the purposelessness of modern society.” This generation was seen as a group of outcast misfits by the American middle-class society. However, it sparked the minds of many brilliant individuals and several movements came in its wake including the Hippie generation and the Anti-War movement of the young generation of America. Never have so few individuals inspired so many, since!
“The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked.” - Amiri Baraka
Major Beat writings to check out!