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Becoming A Beatnik: A Comprehensive Guide

By Mantra Das
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Beat, Beat, Beat (1959) by William F. Brown
The Beatnik was a media stereotype. Elements of the beatnik trope included pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and a cartoonish depiction of real-life people along with the spiritual quest of Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.


Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation”, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anticonformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The name came up in conversation with John Clellon Holmes, who published an early Beat Generation novel titled Go (1952), along with the manifesto This Is the Beat Generation in The New York Times Magazine.[1] In 1954, Nolan Miller published his third novel Why I Am So Beat (Putnam), detailing the weekend parties of four students.
“Beat” came from underworld slang—the world of hustlers, drug addicts and petty thieves, where Allen Ginsberg and Kerouac sought inspiration. “Beat” was slang for “beaten down” or downtrodden, but to Kerouac and Ginsberg, it also had a spiritual connotation as in “beatitude“. Other adjectives discussed by Holmes and Kerouac were “found” and “furtive”. Kerouac felt he had identified (and was the embodiment of) a new trend analogous to the influential Lost Generation.

“If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man.”[11]

Beat culture[edit]
In the vernacular of the period, “Beat” referred to Beat culture, attitude and literature; while “beatnik” referred to a stereotype found in cartoon drawings and (in some cases at worst) twisted, sometimes violent media characters. In 1995, film scholar Ray Carney wrote about the authentic beat attitude as differentiated from stereotypical media portrayals of the beatnik:
Much of Beat culture represented a negative stance rather than a positive one. It was animated more by a vague feeling of cultural and emotional displacement, dissatisfaction, and yearning, than by a specific purpose or program … It was many different, conflicting, shifting states of mind.[12]

Since 1958, the terms Beat Generation and Beat have been used to describe the antimaterialistic literary movement that began with Kerouac in the 1940s and continued into the 1960s. The Beat philosophy of antimaterialism and soul searching influenced 1960s musicians such as Bob Dylan, the early Pink Floyd and The Beatles.
However, the soundtrack of the beat movement was the modern jazz pioneered by saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, which the media dubbed bebop. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg spent much of their time in New York jazz clubs such as the Royal RoostMinton’s PlayhouseBirdland and the Open Door, shooting the breeze and digging the music. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis rapidly became what Ginsberg dubbed “secret heroes” to this group of aesthetes. The Beat authors borrowed much from the jazz/hipster slang of the 1940s, peppering their works with words such as “square”, “cats”, “cool” and “dig”.
Men emulated the trademark look of bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie by wearing goateeshorn-rimmed glasses and berets, rolling their own cigarettes, and playing bongos. Fashions for women included black leotards and long, straight, unadorned hair, in a rebellion against the middle-class culture of beauty salons. Marijuana use was associated with the subculture, and during the 1950s, Aldous Huxley‘s The Doors of Perception further influenced views on drugs.

The Beat philosophy was generally countercultural and antimaterialistic, and stressed the importance of bettering one’s inner self over material possessions. Some Beat writers, such as Alan Watts, began to delve into Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism. Politics tended to be liberal, left-wing and anti-war, with support for causes such as desegregation (although many of the figures associated with the original Beat movement, particularly Kerouac, embraced libertarian and conservative ideas). An openness to African American culture and arts was apparent in literature and music, notably jazz.

The Beat movement introduced Asian religions to Western society. These religions provided the Beat generation with new views of the world and corresponded with its desire to rebel against conservative middle-class values of the 1950s, old post-1930s radicalism, mainstream culture, and institutional religions in America..

By 1958, many Beat writers published writings on Buddhism. This was the year Jack Kerouac published his novel The Dharma Bums, whose central character (whom Kerouac based on himself) sought Buddhist contexts for events in his life.
Allen Ginsberg’s spiritual journey to India in 1963 also influenced the Beat movement. After studying religious texts alongside monks, Ginsburg deduced that what linked the function of poetry to Asian religions was their mutual goal of achieving ultimate truth. His discovery of Hindu mantra chants, a form of oral delivery, subsequently influenced Beat poetry. Beat pioneers who followed a Buddhism-influenced spiritual path felt that Asian religions offered a profound understanding of human nature and insights into the being, existence and reality of mankind.[15] Many of the Beat advocates believed that the core concepts of Asian religious philosophies had the means of elevating American society’s consciousness, and these concepts informed their main ideologies.[16]
Notable Beat writers such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder were drawn to Buddhism to the extent that they each, at different periods in their lives, followed a spiritual path in their quests to provide answers to universal questions and concepts. As a result, the Beat philosophy stressed the bettering of the inner self and the rejection of materialism, and postulated that East Asian religions could fill a religious and spiritual void in the lives of many Americans.[15]
Many scholars speculate that Beat writers wrote about Eastern religions to encourage young people to practice spiritual and sociopolitical action. Progressive concepts from these religions, particularly those regarding personal freedom, influenced youth culture to challenge capitalist domination, break their generation’s dogmas, and reject traditional gender and racial rules.[16]
Beatniks art[edit]
Beatniks art is the direction of contemporary art that originated in the United States as part of the beatniks movement in the 1960s.[17] The movement itself, unlike the so-called “lost generation” did not set itself the task of changing society, but tried to distance itself from it, while at the same time trying to create its own counter-culture. The art created by artists was influenced by jazzdrugsoccultism, and other attributes of beatniks movement.[17]
The scope of the activity was concentrated in the cultural circles of New YorkLos AngelesSan Francisco and North Carolina. Prominent representatives of the trend were artists: Wallace BermanJay DeFeoJess CollinsRobert FrankClaes Oldenburg and Larry Rivers.
The culture of the beatniks generation has become a kind of intersection for representatives of the creative intellectual of the United States associated with visual and visual art, which are usually attributed to other areas and trends of artistic expression, such as assemblagehappeningfunk art and neo-dadaism. They made efforts to destroy the wall between art and real life, so that art would become a living experience in cafes or jazz clubs, and not remain the prerogative of galleries and museums. Many works of artists of the direction were created on the verge of various types of art.[18]
Artists wrote poetry and poets painted, something like this can describe the processes taking place within the framework of the movement. Performances were a key element in the art of beats, whether it was the Theatrical Event of 1952 at Black Mountain College or Jack Kerouac typing in 1951 the novel “On the Road” on a typewriter in a single session on a single roll of 31 meter long paper.[17]
Representatives of the movement were united by hostility to traditional culture with its conformism and brightly degenerate commercial component. They also did not like the approach of traditional culture to hushing up the dark side of American life – violence, corruption, social inequality, racism. They tried through art to create a new way of life based on the ideals of rebellion and freedom.[17]
Critics highlight the artist Wallace Berman as the main representative of the direction. In his work concentrated many of the characteristic features of hipsters, especially in his collages made on photocopied photographs, which are a mixture of elements of pop art and mysticism.

Being a Beatnik

Beat, Beat, Beat (1959) by William F. Brown
The Beatnik was a mediastereotype. Elements of the beatnik trope included pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and a cartoonish depiction of real-life people along with the spiritual quest of Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.

Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation”, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anticonformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The name came up in conversation with John Clellon Holmes, who published an early Beat Generation novel titled Go (1952), along with the manifesto This Is the Beat Generation in The New York Times Magazine.[1] In 1954, Nolan Miller published his third novel Why I Am So Beat (Putnam), detailing the weekend parties of four students.
“Beat” came from underworld slang—the world of hustlers, drug addicts and petty thieves, where Allen Ginsberg and Kerouac sought inspiration. “Beat” was slang for “beaten down” or downtrodden, but to Kerouac and Ginsberg, it also had a spiritual connotation as in “beatitude“. Other adjectives discussed by Holmes and Kerouac were “found” and “furtive”. Kerouac felt he had identified (and was the embodiment of) a new trend analogous to the influential Lost Generation.

“If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man.”[11]

Beat culture[edit]
In the vernacular of the period, “Beat” referred to Beat culture, attitude and literature; while “beatnik” referred to a stereotype found in cartoon drawings and (in some cases at worst) twisted, sometimes violent media characters. In 1995, film scholar Ray Carney wrote about the authentic beat attitude as differentiated from stereotypical media portrayals of the beatnik:
Much of Beat culture represented a negative stance rather than a positive one. It was animated more by a vague feeling of cultural and emotional displacement, dissatisfaction, and yearning, than by a specific purpose or program … It was many different, conflicting, shifting states of mind.[12]

Since 1958, the terms Beat Generation and Beat have been used to describe the antimaterialistic literary movement that began with Kerouac in the 1940s and continued into the 1960s. The Beat philosophy of antimaterialism and soul searching influenced 1960s musicians such as Bob Dylan, the early Pink Floyd and The Beatles.
However, the soundtrack of the beat movement was the modern jazz pioneered by saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, which the media dubbed bebop. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg spent much of their time in New York jazz clubs such as the Royal RoostMinton’s PlayhouseBirdland and the Open Door, shooting the breeze and digging the music. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis rapidly became what Ginsberg dubbed “secret heroes” to this group of aesthetes. The Beat authors borrowed much from the jazz/hipster slang of the 1940s, peppering their works with words such as “square”, “cats”, “cool” and “dig”.
Men emulated the trademark look of bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie by wearing goateeshorn-rimmed glasses and berets, rolling their own cigarettes, and playing bongos. Fashions for women included black leotards and long, straight, unadorned hair, in a rebellion against the middle-class culture of beauty salons. Marijuana use was associated with the subculture, and during the 1950s, Aldous Huxley‘s The Doors of Perception further influenced views on drugs.

The Beat philosophy was generally countercultural and antimaterialistic, and stressed the importance of bettering one’s inner self over material possessions. Some Beat writers, such as Alan Watts, began to delve into Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism. Politics tended to be liberal, left-wing and anti-war, with support for causes such as desegregation (although many of the figures associated with the original Beat movement, particularly Kerouac, embraced libertarian and conservative ideas). An openness to African American culture and arts was apparent in literature and music, notably jazz.

The Beat movement introduced Asian religions to Western society. These religions provided the Beat generation with new views of the world and corresponded with its desire to rebel against conservative middle-class values of the 1950s, old post-1930s radicalism, mainstream culture, and institutional religions in America.
.

“If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man.”

The Beat movement introduced Asian religions to Western society. These religions provided the Beat generation with new views of the world and corresponded with its desire to rebel against conservative middle-class values of the 1950s, old post-1930s radicalism, mainstream culture, and institutional religions in America.

Beatnik Culture

The Beat philosophy was generally countercultural and antimaterialistic, and stressed the importance of bettering one’s inner self over material possessions. Some Beat writers, such as Alan Watts, began to delve into Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism. Politics tended to be liberal, left-wing and anti-war, with support for causes such as desegregation (although many of the figures associated with the original Beat movement, particularly Kerouac, embraced libertarian and conservative ideas). An openness to African American culture and arts was apparent in literature and music, notably jazz.

The Beat movement introduced Asian religions to Western society. These religions provided the Beat generation with new views of the world and corresponded with its desire to rebel against conservative middle-class values of the 1950s, old post-1930s radicalism, mainstream culture, and institutional religions in America..