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Thread: Beat Generation

  1. #1
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    Beat Generation

    Hey I'm new here... just wondering if anyone else was into Beat Poetry, and if so what poets or poems. I'm fond of Allen Ginnsberg myself...

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving
    hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for
    an angry fix
    angleheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavently connection to
    the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in
    the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats flating across
    the topes of cities contemplating jazz,...."

    Thats from his most famous poem.. "Howl"

    also love Jack Kerouac....
    Haiku:

    "Came down from my
    ivory tower
    and found no world"

    what do you guys think that means?
    Last edited by Farfalla; 10-15-2004 at 12:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Ever Benevolent and Wise
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    Well, ivory tower has drug connotations, as well as, possibly Kerouac was commenting on academic elitism, where a person is so `specialised' in one field of study it's absurd, way out of reach from the `common' people and doesn't apply to many practical matters of life and the living.

    People who think much of themselves and in so doing alienate people from them, are said to be `in their ivory tower' looking down on people all the time thinking they're better than others. Ivory being at one time much sought after commodity, highly valuable. Now it's a taboo material of course.

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    Ivory Tower

    Strange, I never really saw it as a statement against acedemic elitism. Seems more to me that he's trying to say that an artists is alienated, becasue its an accepted truth that to be a real artist you cant be a part of society... I think he was trying to say that he feels too real for the world around him... not in a condescending way... but almost as if thats something he cant help. He decided to try to rejoin the world...but realized he couldnt.

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    I have always loved the beat poets too. Apparently there still exists a poetry writing program somewhere in Colorado, I think, where Allen Ginsberg taught; others continue the tradition. From a favorite of mine by Ginsberg:

    A Supermarket in California

    What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
    I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
    self-conscious looking at the full moon.
    In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
    into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
    What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
    shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
    avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
    were you doing down by the watermelons?

    ....

  5. #5
    fated loafer
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    At last another Jack Kerouac fan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farfalla
    Haiku:

    "Came down from my
    ivory tower
    and found no world"

    what do you guys think that means?
    I read this yesterday and have been thinking about it since... Shared it with some friends too. Their opinions seem to differ.

    My personal understanding is that if one shuts themselves away too long, s/he might realise that the world, i.e., the things we are alienating him/herself from, might be gone/changed. Which makes the whole 'shutting away procedure' meaningless... Like an ostrich burying her head in the sand just to realise that there was no reason to do so...

    A friend of mine has suggested that if one stops alienating themselves, then they become a part of the world. So it is not something out there anymore and you don't think of it as an outsider either. I like his interpretation too.

    I would like to hear what others think on this heiku
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


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    I think there's an element of humor to it. Sitting in your ivory tower supposedly means isolating yourself from the world. So what if you thought you were isolating yourself from the world - or perhaps rather A world - and one day discovered that that from which you thought you were isolating yourself wasn't real?

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    Re.

    What do you mean by the world wasnt real? Like in his head it wasnt? or like the concept that nothing really exists except our own thinking? or what?

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    Re.

    Does anyone else find this really terrible...?

    I wanted to call my high school lit mag Ivory Tower and everyone immediatly started snickering...apparently the whole haiku is phallic and a sex reference. I hate people. Sorry... just thought id share my frustration
    Last edited by Farfalla; 10-16-2004 at 09:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    OK, you have to tell us how it is phallic and a sex reference...
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


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    Yea.. i actually have no clue... i was hoping someone could tell me. Ugh.

  12. #12
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    Has anyone got any suggestions? I would like to hear how you interpret this
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


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    I agree that it seems to be criticising academia: that being in an academic ivory tower does not address reality. The world has either ceased literally, or more likely the occupant of the ivory tower has completely lost connection with the world and cannot relate to it.

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    i agree with the whole losing touch with the world thing... but i dont think its critical of acedemia... its more embracing of it really. Since its in the 1st person... hes not accusing himself of being a world weary intellectual.. merely of a self imposed exile to understand his own world better and better his learning, or his art.

  15. #15
    Ever Benevolent and Wise
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    The Beat Generation, as a whole, started out as anti-establishment non-conforming bohemian creative types `crashing out' at friends' places or `salons' to discuss stream of consciousness beatnik babble whilst listening to jazz. This is in the late 40's and on, so, I think some background understanding of `the generation' is in order, to understand Kerouac's philosophy and attitude towards `society' at the time.

    Ginsberg, Burroughs et al were rejecting a lot of `norms', striking out and exploring new things and generally being `naughty' as far as what was expected of the middle-class bourgeois. Drugs, petty thievery and getting drunk were often themes of their lives and writing and music but not the whole `scene' and a lot of people later condemned them for living the way that they did and focused on that alone and couldn't get past it to get the message.

    But they contributed a lot to `society' and the arts in general and Kerouac did have some prophetical insight into the future.

    If Kerouac is talking about his ivory tower, indeed, why did he climb up there? You can't avoid the element of distance or, as you say Farfalla, the `exile' that a tower suggests. Sure, self-introspection was a huge element to the beatniks, but they also practiced the new bohemian genre lifestyle of collective living and sharing.

    Or, if he's speaking with disdain about someone else he can't relate to (who high up there in their comfy little tower) either interpretation is profound, because, `found no world' is a sorry comment on the state of things in his or anybody's world.


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