Counter-Culture in the 1950's

1913 Words8 Pages
The 1950s saw a period of extensive contentment within postwar America. A majority of the population adapted to the modern suburban lifestyle that emerged within this time period. They bought houses, started families, got steady jobs, and watched the television while complacently submitting to the government. Although fairly monotonous, this sort of lifestyle was safe and secure – many Americans were ready to sacrifice individuality for a sense of comfort. There was a minority, however, that did not quite accept this conservative conformity that had swept across the nation; some of these people took the shape of artists and writers. During the 1950s, what became known as the "Beat Generation" inspired the challenging of and rebelling against conventional America. The Beat Generation was a form of counter-culture inspired by discontent with the current state of life in America. This minority consisted of average people looking for something more in their lives than the common American Dream of suburbia and satisfaction, and was centralized primarily in Greenwich Village, New York. "Beats" or "Beatniks", as they were called, became words that took on a near literal meaning. In Allen Ginsberg's Deliberate Prose, it is stated that "…the original street usage meant exhausted, at the bottom of the world, looking up or out, sleeplessness, wide-eyed, perceptive" (Ginsberg 237), or beat. It was the Beat philosophy to question and criticize life than merely be content with it. Allen Ginsberg once again expresses beautifully what it meant to be part of the 1950s counter-culture by saying "It's weird enough to be in this human form so temporarily, without huge gangs of people, whole societies, trying to pretend that t... ... middle of paper ... ...have been nearly as memorable. Their views on homosexuality, drugs, religion, and politics were considered radical and even revolutionary for the time period. It gave them a longevity that would only be matched by the restless individuals of the 1960s – individuals influenced directly by the Beat philosophy. The Beat Generation single-handedly paved the path to future waves of counter-culture. Works Cited Charters, Ann. Beat Down To Your Soul. New York: Penguin Books, 2001. Ginsberg, Allen. Deliberate Prose. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2000. Halberstam, David. The Fifties. New York: Villard Books, 1993. Miles, Barry. Jack Kerouac. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998. Parkinson, Thomas. A Casebook on the Beat. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1961. Plimpton, George. Beat Writers at Work. New York: Modern Library Paperbacks, 1999.

More about Counter-Culture in the 1950's

Open Document