War, Minorities and Labor Unions
The 1950’s beatniks gather around coffeeshops, writing and grumbling about the unfairness of the government and society’s closed mind. Today, youth gather around their laptops and type away, despairing over the unfairness of the government and society’s closed mind. Allen Ginsberg’s poetry embodies those angry youth. His unique choices in diction, symbolism and imagery artfully conveys his criticism against the wrongdoings of Uncle Sam and his subjects.
A Cry to Society: A Literary Analysis of Howl by Allen Ginsberg
“If people believe it is real, it is real in its consequences.” -W.I. Thomas
Could there be people who are consciously aware about how they live and the way society shapes them? The quote that W.I. Thomas, in other words, means that when people think something is true, there will be consequences from that belief. For example, when I was young, these girls for some reason did not like who I was and began to spread rumors about me. Therefore, people believed them.
Mental illness is defined by Mayo Clinic as “disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior” (Mental Illness). When a person is labeled as mentally ill or when they exhibit unusual behavior (not related to mental illness) they are marked as different in society’s eye; this has been the condition for hundreds of years and it continues in society today. When a person is marked as different, it is thought they need to be “fixed” or made to conform somehow in order to be “normal” and to function within a normal society. Many times “fixing” people who are marked as mentally ill requires that they be institutionalized within controlled environments, such as psychiatric wards and asylums, or trapped within their own minds and controlled by medication.
The banning of books on the grounds of obscenity was not an uncommon practice. Countless works of literature were banned for having mention of sexually explicit language or a sexual act, even though the work as a whole did not intend to serve this purpose. Disagreements arose from this premise and there was a lack of clarity as to what dictated obscenity and who decided what is suitable for the public to read. Other legal matters such as the rights protected under the First Amendment were questioned. When the writing of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl was brought to court, it changed the perception of obscenity in literature.
Many of the Beat writers wrote in a style known as spontaneous prose. Allen Ginsberg often writes in this style. He does so in the poem “Howl” in which he rants and raves about society via his friends – Jack Kerouac, Willaim S. Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlingetti, and Neil Cassidy to name a few, live. He discusses their poverty, civil disobedience, the ways that they fight society, and his personal fight against industrialization; he uses many images in order to allow the reader to understand his lifestyle, the lifestyle of his friends and points of view, specifically their rejection of society.
Ginsberg’s poems were that of a revolutionary and showed his dislikes of American Society and the Injustices throughout America. Ginsberg’s most recognized and an earliest poem was Howl and other poems written in 1956 (Ostriker 4). Howl being one of Ginsberg’s most infamous poems has been translated to the T. In Alicia Ostriker’s criticism of Howl she relates Ginsberg’s “Meloch” in part two of Howl to many of the evils that befall this nation today (5). Ostriker states, “Ginsberg’s mind forged Meloch likewise as oppressiveness of a modern industrial and military state, excluded from reason. Ginsberg’s Meloch is also the modern version of Mammon, the capitalism of unobtainable dollars… running money… electricity and banks. (7).” Howl records in veiled fashion, the humiliation and crippling of a population of immigrants to shores, which promised, hope and produced despair (3). In the poem Howl’s (1956) first lines, “ 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. (Ginsberg, Howl)” Ginsberg is speaking of the destruction that drugs have caused in American Society and America’s addiction to drugs.
American poetry, unlike other nations’ poetry, is still in the nascent stage because of the absence of a history in comparison to other nations’ poetry humming with matured voices. Nevertheless, in the past century, American poetry has received the recognition it deserves from the creative poetic compositions of Walt Whitman, who has been called “the father of American poetry.” His dynamic style and uncommon content is well exhibited in his famous poem “Song of Myself,” giving a direction to the American writers of posterity. In addition, his distinct use of the line and breath has had a huge impression on the compositions of a number of poets, especially on the works of the present-day poet Allen Ginsberg, whose debatable poem “Howl” reverberates with the traits of Whitman’s poetry. Nevertheless, while the form and content of “Howl” may have been impressed by “Song of Myself,” Ginsberg’s poem expresses a change from Whitman’s use of the line, his first-person recital, and his vision of America. As Whitman’s seamless lines are open-ended, speaking the voice of a universal speaker presenting a positive outlook of America, Ginsberg’s poem, on the contrary, uses long lines that end inward to present the uneasiness and madness that feature the vision of America that Ginsberg exhibits through the voice of a prophetic speaker.
Two years ago, I used to work at a photo shop in downtown Philadelphia. Except for me, the only foreigner, there were five Americans working there. Once, we talked about the American life in the beginning of the twentieth century. To support my opinion, I used an example from a short story called “The Gift of the Magi” by a famous American writer O. Henry. It was a very shocking experience for me to find out that nobody knew who O. Henry was or what he had done for the world literature.
Sturken uses Stone’s credibility of his past to determine the legitimacy of the docudramas created by Stone. Stone as a filmmaker is often thought of as the individual that Americans were looking for by having his well-known films Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July that represented history well due to the credibility he had for serving in the war. Sturken uses this as an early example to prove her point on how history is represented from a specific perspective. Although later on in her article she uses Stone’s other films about government conspiracies, which shows that he does not have the authority to create a false history within the American culture through his presidential films. By having films being created under the genre of “docudrama” it can create a misconception of wha...
America is a popular image in literature and films. Dozens of writers sought to expose America’s vices and evaluate the consistency of its values, morality, and ethical norms. The pursuit for material wealth and the American dream were the topics most frequently discussed in American literature during the 1920s. The effects of World War I on individual beliefs and ideals, the ongoing decay of morality, the hollowness of dreams and convictions, and the failure to materialize one’s life goals together created a complicated situation, which often resembled a journey for nothing.