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The Beat Generation & The Hippie Movement - Research Paper Example

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The Beat Generation & The Hippie Movement

However, the first youth upheavals - clumsy, without any clear program, but rough and wild, began in the 1950s and paved the way for the successors. The Beat Generation as a cultural phenomenon clearly manifested itself in the early and mid 1950s. Kerouac, who coined the term, stated that it derives from the word “beatitude” – beat and attitude – attitude towards life of an anti-conformist generation with a unique world outlook which strives for spiritual communion, infinite love and bliss. There are many interpretations of that Kerouac‘s “beat”. A young beatnik as a media stereotype of the movement is “broken”, “crushed”, “worn out” and “tired” of the western society of that time. Beatniks were ardent fans of jazz also. That’s why the neologism could be originated by jazz rhythm. The word “beatnik” appeared in the American language on April 2, 1958 with a helping hand from a San Francisco Chronicle journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner Herb Caen, who used it in his column. He added to the English word “beat” (taken in any meaning named above) the Russian suffix – “nik”, taken from the popular Russian word “sputnik” (satellite), which became international. This research of American subcultures will be inconsistent without mentioning avant-garde Lettrism, inspired by Dada and Surrealism. It deeply influenced postmodern art and society as called to break with old traditions. It was founded in the early 1950s in France by Isidore Isou, a Romanian-born poet. The ideology was based on the postulate of degeneration of words as spoken symbols in the modern world. Therefore, the followers of Lettrism preferred, for example, to write private letters instead of long telephone conversations; write slogans, not novels. The Lettrists also loved to alter state of consciousness and perform. They roamed around the cities and villages of America in their weird painted clothes strongly ridiculing the postwar consumer society, banality of mass culture and absurdity of political and social system. The Beat Generation kept apace with the Lettrists. Birthplace of the Beat movement is New York. In the 1950s - early 1960s, a group consisting of artists, writers, poets, among which are Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and their fans has drawn a large public interest. But the subculture was logically developed and received cult status in California, in particular, in its southern part, associated with the famous Venice beach art colony. It was vividly described in the famous book by Lawrence Lipton – The Holy Barbarians. In the mid-1950s, the Beatniks staged performances named Jazz and Poetry in beach cafes. Their core motif was the representation of the rebellious, colorful spirit of the slums and the attempt to romanticize life of “white trash” - the one that has a significant influence on modern American culture to this day. The Beat movement was not massive. But their antagonism toward common values ??and fatigue from bourgeois contemporaries (hitchhiking trips and hipster way of life of the Kerouac’s heroes in the novels On the Road, Dharma Bums; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig), talented immersion in literature (Howl by Ginsberg), forced confrontation (like the one at a mental hospital in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the character of the senior nurse Ratched and the hospital itself are the allusion to the state)) and artistic delights, as well as the desire to turn away from social and political problems and experiments with drugs (novel Junkie and Naked Lunch by Burroughs; The Island and The Doors of Perception by Aldous ...Show more


When we talk about youth protest movements in America, the hippies and the 1960s come into our heads at once. But the fact is that the sixties witnessed only the second wave of youth revolts and student revolutions that have irrevocably changed the world…
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The Beat Generation & The Hippie Movement essay example
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