Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Essay

I have a new essay going up shortly at

which attempts to further explain my ideas.
One subject I haven't examined in depth, is that of the Beats. To me they're not a model, only an influence. Or, if anything, a negative model, in that I'm trying to understand where they went off track.

To me, the Beats were typified not by co-opted Ginsberg in the academy, but Kerouac drinking himself to death in disgust in Florida. Or maybe, as M. Grover keeps pointing out, typified by poet Bob Kaufman.

Why did the movement fizzle out so quickly? I don't know. I know that mainstream lit then was more vibrant and vital than it is today. I know that Ginsberg was obviously the wrong figure to appeal to proletarians; to the mass public. Ginsberg, like an Eggers or Gessen, wanted to appeal to intellectuals; Kerouac to the people. I know that Kerouac was thoroughly disillusioned with the bourgeois "counter-culture" direction of the Sixties. Maybe because he wanted what he was doing to BE the culture; to be the mainstream; populist at its core, to appeal to everybody.
There's also the factor of course that his quick fame took him far out of his comfort zone, and he couldn't handle it, so he retreated. A shame, because if he'd kept his head, he was the movement's proper leader.

The ULA faced a little of this when its three intended original "stars" all fled into hiding; in their own ways, as far as possible from any media attention. Unfortunately, however, the mass media exists, and has to be addressed or manipulated if new ideas are to surface in any way. How to do this and retain one's integrity remains the dilemma.
I want to reaffirm here that I've never claimed myself as nothing more than a precursor, at best, to literary change. That's the role characters like Frank Walsh, Tom Hendricks, and myself are playing-- voices in the wilderness trying to show the way, and open the door to literary revolution ever so slightly. The eventual success of the movement will depend on those who follow-- on new voices, with attitude, like Eric Broomfield's. They'll need the attitude we carry-- which we carry maybe because we came of age immediately post-Sixties, during a window of time when there seemed to exist all possibilities-- possibilities which for the younger generation today don't seem to remain, so that so many of them are entrenched in their own pessimism and timidity.

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