Category Archives: Beat Generation

Art and Life: Notes on some Conversations with Allen Ginsberg

It begins with the personal. “Life is full of strange experiences,” he says. Allen Ginsberg finds the extraordinary in the everyday. “Each one has his inner nature that he has to satisfy,” says Louis Ginsberg, attempting to account for the … Continue reading

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Notes on Gregory Corso’s “Variations on a Generation”

The Beat Generation was never supposed to become so big, says Gregory Corso, and that’s why it has such a stupid name. If they’d known they might have spent more time thinking about it. Perhaps not. It doesn’t make sense … Continue reading

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Notes on David S. Wills: Burroughs on Civilisation, Hallucination, and Telepathy

For William Burroughs, the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a dividing point in history, marking the moment that Western civilisation finally ended. Could you really call a people capable of such an atrocity “civilised”? And so without civilisation, … Continue reading

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Beats and Hippos

And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is an early work of the Beat Generation, written in the winter of 1944-45 by William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac together, or separately in that they take it in turns throughout the … Continue reading

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Meaningless to Whom, Exactly?

An artist is someone who sees something that others don’t. And then makes that thing visible, in their work, for others to see. What the artist sees is something that did not exist before it was observed by the artist. … Continue reading

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See What I’m Saying

First sentence of William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys: “The camera is the eye of a cruising vulture flying over an area of scrub, rubble and unfinished buildings on the outskirts of Mexico City.” Burroughs thinks in pictures and his books … Continue reading

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Kathy Acker, Peter Greenaway, and Storytelling

Hollywood films and popular novels are made with certain audience expectations in mind. They have a story to tell, and they are structured so that this story is easy to follow and understand. Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 – … Continue reading

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Labyrinths

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape. Kathy Acker writes about the labyrinth, and how it was built to hide away the Minotaur, the illicit offspring of King Minos’s wife. The King didn’t want people to know … Continue reading

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To Own an Inch of Earth

Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac that when writing “one should forget all rules, literary style, and other such pretensions.” And what he wrote next was really beautiful: “… Rather, I think, one should write, as nearly as possible, as … Continue reading

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Love and Understanding (Notes on Jack Kerouac’s The Town and the City)

To children and writers, a landscape presents mysteries to be contemplated rather than solved. Jack Kerouac opens his The Town and the City with a description of the course of the Merrimac River, its “broad and placid” flow “broken at … Continue reading

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