I’m reading a book on the “Beat Generation.” This may not be of interest to you, but I was there so I find it fascinating. It covers the time period of 1944 to 1957 when we old-timers reached the age of maturity. Or, maybe it was the age of naivete. It was represented by the literary presence of Jack Kerouac, Bill Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, etc. It was an age of mostly sublimated insubordination which was repeated by a different and more flagrant generation in the ‘60s by the anti-war demonstrators.
I remember the “Beat” period very well. We sat around and drank whiskey and puffed cigarettes and listened to poetry recordings and then through a haze of alcohol and smoke we discussed the existential value of what we had heard. Because it was nonsensical babble we thought that if we “pretended” that we understood it, we were intellectuals. If the “world” could just “get it” everything would be terrific. The shocker now to me is that we didn’t know at the time that we WERE pretending!
We were called the “Beat” generation because we were idealistic liberals who felt that society had beaten us into submission. And those literary “giants” I mentioned above were our heroes and, especially, Kerouac whose “On the Road” was our bible. It had such a deeper meaning than just the words. Of course, that was all bullshit and most of us grew up and went to work and realized when we got our first real paycheck that it was the government and its politicians who were, and still are, beating us.
But it is interesting because it shows that youth in any generation goes through the same gyrations trying to find its bearings. Now we have reached the point where the “Me, too, generation” is in adulthood and we see all to well the ramifications of that. Currently we have the “Tech generation” where young people have given up on personal interrelations and sit around “texting” each other across the table. I won’t be here, but I suspect that when these kids grow up they will have lost the power of speech and poetry will be whatever is written in the current “user’s guide to iPhone version 24”.