Allen ginsberg essay by daniel johnson electricity and water


The United States in the 1950’s was a place of conservatism and conformity. Fear of communism was sweeping the nation. The growth of the American suburbs had reinforced the idea of the traditional family and the roles men and women were expected to fill in it. electricity lessons for 5th grade Americans in general were uptight and feared any challenge to their traditional ways of life. In this era of conformity a reactionary movement made up of men and women known as the Beat Generation developed. They were a group of authors and poets who rejected conventional society and critiqued American values. One of the members of the Beat Generation with the largest impact on society was Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was poet, who just like other members of the Beat Generation saw serious issues with American society. He became a well known and extremely controversial figure in America due to his writing style and the messages of his works. Allen Ginsberg’s non conformist attitude as well as his controversial writing style and messages gave a voice to the rebellious and inspired American progressive movements in the 1960’s and beyond.

Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926 and grew up just outside of the city while growing up. Early on in his life his future liberal and progressive attitude could have been predicted. “The son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counterculture of the 1920s, Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg’s mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet’s childhood” (“Allen Ginsberg”, []). Ginsberg grew up around progressive and left leaning ideology that would help develop him into the person he was. His family was Jewish and his mother was communist meaning they did not fit into the general society. It is not surprising Ginsberg did not conform to the expectations of how the general public expected people to act. To add to this, Ginsberg was gay and hid it for many years. His homosexuality was another way Ginsberg was isolated from traditional society that at this time was generally not accepting of different sexualities.

Literature was a subject that would capture Ginsberg’s attention in high school. Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe were two of his favorite poets. He would go on to attend Columbia University after high school where he met WIlliam S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. A group of writers who did not conform to the traditional society, these two men, Ginsberg, and other friends would form a group that would become the core the Beat Generation. At university Ginsberg was rebellious and was even arrested for assisting in a robbery. gas oil ratio units He plead insanity and spent several months in a mental institution where he developed further sympathy for the mentally ill that he already possessed as a result of his mother’s mental health issues. Ginsberg decided to write poetry due to the influence of his writer friends and as a result of a drug induced vision he claimed to have of the romantic poet William Blake. Ginsberg would begin to dedicate time to poetry as well as experiment further with drugs.

Ginsberg’s career as a poet took off in 1955 with the publication of his most famous and controversial work Howl and Other Poems. Ginsberg gained national attention as a result of the poem as well as the controversy it caused. He continued to write poetry and became involved in activism including protesting against the Vietnam War. Ginsberg was a symbol and father figure for the counterculture of the 1960’s. He was credited with coining the term “flower power” a phrase used by many throughout the nation who opposed war and violence. Through his writing, activism, and later in his life, teaching, Ginsberg remained influential until his death in New York in 1997.

Allen Ginsberg’s style of poetry was unique and mostly unlike anything anyone had dared to write before. However, Ginsberg was still influenced by writers and poets. While in high school he took likings to poets such as Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. Later in his life and during his career, a less traditional influence but still an important one or Ginsberg was drugs. His poetry career was sparked by drug induced visions of the poet William Blake, and he continued to use drugs in while writing his poetry. William Burroughs and other members of the Beat Generation would be Ginsberg’s most important influence. When he met them, “ Ginsberg quickly abandoned his plans to study law and switched to literature. ‘I think it was when I ran into Kerouac and Burroughs–when I was 17–that I realized I was talking through an empty skull. gas meter in spanish I wasn’t thinking my own thoughts or saying my own thoughts,’ Ginsberg is quoted to have once said” (“Allen Ginsberg”, [Newsmakers]). Ginsberg himself believed that they helped him open up his mind and inspired him to say what he was really thinking. They helped influence him to focus on his true passion, literature, instead of a more secure career like law. Ginsberg along with these men would become the core of the Beat Generation, the movement him and his poetry are associated with.

The Beat Generation was a literary movement that critiqued and even rejected aspects of American society. Allen Ginsberg was a member of this movement and helped to shape it. “ The Beats earned their defiant image in part through the controversial themes in their work, which included a celebration of the erotic, sexual freedom, an exploration of Eastern thought, and the use of psychedelic substa nces” (Moran, Edward, Gannon, Caitlin L). The general theme of the Beat Generation was present in much of Ginsberg’s writing, including his most famous work, “Howl and Other Poems” from which Ginsberg gained his fame. Ginsberg continued to write poetry throughout the remainder of his life but “Howl”remained his most important.

Published in 1955” Howl” and Other Poems was a poem in which Ginsberg explained his grievances with society as well as his own personal problems. gas tracker The poem was immediately met with disgust from many. “ In addition to stunning critics, “Howl” stunned the San Francisco Police Department. Because of the graphic sexual language of the poem, they declared the book obscene and arrested the publisher, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.” (“Allen Ginsberg”, []). The poem was not accepted by the public and the police made an effort to stop it from being read by declaring it obscene. A trial followed the decision and the poem was declared to not be obscene and Ferlinghetti was released. In trying to stop Ginsberg his critics had brought him and his poem to national attention. A second important poem published by Ginsberg was Kaddish and Other Poems in which Ginsberg struggles with the death of his mother. Again, Ginsberg wrote expressing his anger and frustration with something happening to him.

In these lines several common aspects Ginsberg’s poetry can be observed. Ginsberg writes in the first person. What he is attempting to express are his own thoughts and his own feelings. Ginsberg also used long lines similar to the poet he admired, Walt Whitman, and did not rely on periods. It makes the lines seem as if they a stream of thoughts inside Ginsberg’s head. Finally Ginsberg utilized explicit language and descriptions in his writing. This choice was a major reason why “Howl” was deemed obscene by the police and why Ginsberg was such a controversial figure in the conservative 1950’s.

In “Howl” a common theme in Ginsberg’s poetry, anger towards society, can be observed. 5 gases in the atmosphere In the poem Ginsberg criticizes society and what it is able to do to even the “best minds” of his generation. “In the first section of “Howl,” Ginsberg describes the desperation, the suffering, and the persecution of a group of outcasts, including himself, who are seeking transcendent reality. They are “starving” and “looking for an angry fix” in a metaphorical more than a literal sense” (Stephenson). Ginsberg believed that society stifled free thinkers and did not allow many intellectuals to speak their minds freely and feel comfortable doing so. Instead they were often rejected by a rigid society and were driven to dark places while searching for meaning and belonging in the world. Carl Solomon, whom “Howl” was dedicated to, was put into a mental hospital. Many writers turned to drugs in an attempt to find further meaning in life and suicide was not uncommon amongst them. To Ginsberg society was in a bad state and “Howl ” was an expression of anger towards it. Judge Clayton W. origin electricity login Horn, who presided over the case regarding “Howl”said:

‘Howl’ presents a picture of a nightmare world; the second part is an indictment of those elements in modern society destructive of the best qualities of human nature. … The third part presents a picture of an individual who is a specific representation of what the author conceives as a general condition. … ‘Footnote to “Howl”‘ seems to be a declaration that everything in the world is holy, including parts of the body by name. It ends in a plea for holy living. (Galens).

He claims that everything in society is holy. Things that Americans did not like during the time such as hipsters, drugs, and the peace movement were things Ginsberg viewed as holy. Seemingly dull things like pavement and skyscrapers were also holy according to him. Ginsberg wanted others to recognize that idea just as he did, and instead of viewing different ideas or ways of life as wrong he wanted people to appreciate them.

Ginsberg’s “Howl” became one o f the most widely read poems of the second half of the twentieth century. In part this was due to Ginsberg’s role as a 1950s champion of causes later embraced by the 1960s counterculture: freedom from sexual repression and traditional behavior; freedom to engage in recreational drug use; rejection of authority and censorship; rejection of the military-industrial complex. The poem assumed the status of gospel to those who found in it a voice that expressed their youthful angst and disillusionment” (Galens).

Ginsberg expressed ideas that much of society was either too afraid to express themselves or that many disagreed with. Society was not receptive to literature such as “Howl”. Even through discussing his own problems in Kaddish and Other Poem s Ginsberg challenged the idea that 1950’s American society was perfect. Literature like “Howl” was essential in helping reach a point where non-conformity was mainstream and celebrated. Through exposing people to new and controversial ideas Ginsberg helped to introduce the nation to ideas that would later become key aspects of both social and political movements after the 1950’s. The early libertarian ideas of freedom Ginsberg championed in the 50’s became defining aspects of the hippie and counterculture movement that developed not long after. Ginsberg was a father to the hippie movement and a voice to those who did wish to sit passively as society ignored problems. He publicly identified problems that himself and many youth had with society and brought them to people’s attention. Ginsberg was essential and remained essential throughout his life to the development of progressive movements in Americ a. “Howl” commits many poetic sins; but it was time. And it would be very interesting to hear from critics who can name another single long poem published in this country since the War which is as significant of its time and place and generation” (Ferlinghetti).

Allen Ginsberg was one of the most influential writers in American history. gasbuddy app A member of the Beat Generation, Ginsberg rejected traditional societal norms and inspired others to do the same both through his famous works such as “Howl” as well as his public support of progressive causes. His words helped to inspire the counterculture that exploded during the 1960’s. He was one of the first people to write and publish controversial ideas in an even more controversial style. Ginsberg bravely did this during the 1950’s a time where new ideas were frowned upon and America embraced a traditional way of life. Ginsberg through outwardly displaying his non conformist attitude paved the way for the monumental progressive movements that came not long after his publication of “Howl’. Ginsberg played a role in peace movement, freedom from sexual repression, the movement for gay rights, and more causes that define his legacy as an important advocate for the free expression of ideas and acceptance of others.