Friday, June 17, 2011

Allen Ginsberg's HOWL Fifty Years Later

In our time of crushing. In our time of crushing middle class lifelessness. In our time of struggle as we look at the madness of our world now with the incessant wars and incessant poverty and incessant intolerance among ourselves, we have Ginsbergs HOWL from 1957. A poem written over fifty years ago and made into a movie that if you have or have not read the poem, you should see. Because Ginsberg was right on and he reminds us that there is nothing new under our megalopolis sun.

And as a writer I am reminded that truth should win out. You write in the confines of the internet mega world now and you think of yourself no longer apart. HOWL is about the man apart from his world and how the world crushes the individual and drives the individual mad.  If you are an artist or a thinking person then you can only marvel at the heinous quality of our everyday life. The slavery of our everyday life.

And Ginsberg reminds us it was always so. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy and Allen Ginsberg were early pioneers who gave birth to our later rock stars who sold out so fast we cant even count Gene Simmons five thousand women because he is a businessman as all rockers are now. But not those guys. They all died for their sins and Ginsberg saw the crushing totality of our society and he zoomed over the rooftops and wrote it as he flew. If you have read any Kerouac or Howl then you know what I am talking about.

Maybe they were the last modernists. Maybe they were the last bridge between the thinking individual and the mega wired mass consciousness of today where nobody thinks anymore. Maybe Ginsberg saw it coming and like the rest of the Beats left his message, his warning that we were at a crossroad and night was on the way and here was our last cry of humanity, our last cry of literature for a people losing all sight of anything literary.

They are all gone but you can read HOWL  and get a glimmer of the world as it was and is now. Ginsberg spoke of a hideous night of the soul that would crush him. And us. What we have now is something worse. Eternal empty daylight without the poetry. A church of conformity without the drugs. Ginsberg would have appreciated that.
Rocket Man will be out July 26th

Books by William Hazelgrove