Jack Kerouac’s definition of The Beat Generation contributed to the lifestyles and self-expression through creativity of those against social conformity in 1950s America. It displayed a new perspective on all things music, literature, and societal rebellion, being the “beat” outlook on life. Kerouac’s writing created a new era in the United States culturally, as well as shaped the views of similar people in the future using these same approaches.
Meet the essential Beat, Jack Kerouac.
Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan (a musician highly influenced by Kerouac) visit Kerouac’s grave.
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a ‘I-hope-you’ or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
‘thinking’s just like not thinking-
So I don’t have to think
This poem displays Kerouac’s practices with Zen Buddhism and meditating.
Ginsberg and Kerouac
Number 2 1954 by Franz Kline
This is an example of abstract expressionism to go along with the art portion of the Beat Generation.
Kerouac often got his ideas down on paper through letters to friends. Above is a note written to Jacques, a friend of his, in which he actually signs it with his birth-given name, Jean.
Bixby Canyon Bridge by Death Cab for Cutie
Even today’s bands are highly influenced by Jack Kerouac’s writing. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie references Kerouac’s novel Big Sur quite a lot in this song. Gibbard traveled to Big Sur, CA to stay where Kerouac had, in which the novel was about. Both men went there in search of the same thing: answers. Gibbard says in the lyrics:
"I descended a dusty gravel ridge,
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died.”
to display how he was taking a walk in Kerouac’s shoes by going to California and finding the depths of Kerouac’s thoughts while there. Both the men were disappointed when they left as described with the lyrics:
"Then it started getting dark
And I trudged back to where the car was parked
No closer to any kind of truth
As I must assume was the case with you.”
Gibbard sees himself in the same situation as Kerouac, and though Kerouac’s trip was decades before Gibbard was even born, this life lesson impacted the both of them. This song is evidence that Kerouac’s writing lives on.
Song by: Death Cab for Cutie, video by: ILikeWafflz
A night in the life of a beat.