Archive for August 13th, 2011

Beatnik 2.0

by lizard

I was a sophomore in high school when I read The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. Ken Kesey followed, then Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Throw in a little Fear and Loathing, and I felt like I established a nice little literary platform to launch myself from.

The Beats and their hippie progeny cast a long, long shadow over the budding aspirations of this wannabe writer. And they provided the template for rebelling against the norms of my suburban upbringing, which I did in the same cliche ways many young people do; booze, weed, and psychedelics.

At some point I realized I was just recycling the previous generation’s experiences, and as the Clinton years turned to the Bush years, I began to understand how effectively diffused the counter-culture’s impact had become. Baby Boomers were running the country now, and they weren’t doing a very good job of it.

But that’s just the above-ground cultural detritus. Underground veins of poetry still transmit the lifeblood of experience through language, across time.

Tuning in to that undercurrent means finding a space outside of hourly work weeks and yearly election cycles demanding our short-sighted attention. It means expanding thought to include the transmittable elasticity of time that no sentence or song has yet to completely trap. Continue Reading »

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