In this essay, I use a Marxist lens to examine Allen Ginsberg’s controversial and groundbreaking 1956 poem, Howl. Ginsberg, I argue, was surprisingly sensitive to the politics of class in this poem, setting up a dual class system which divided those who were part of Moloch from the “angelheaded hipsters,” who I argue were analogous to Marx’s proletariat. Ginsberg imagined himself as a revolutionary leader for the class of people oppressed by Moloch, who, like Marx’s proletariat, were working together towards the goal of a political revolution. Ginsberg’s angelheaded hipsters were oppressed by Moloch, Ginsberg’s trope for the machinery of Capitalism, which I explore along two political axes: sexual conformity and psychiatry. Continue Reading…
End of the summer and we hit the road to drive two hundred and fifty miles north: 287, 684, 84, 90, 290, 495 . . . if you know the roads, you know what I’m writing about. If you don’t, it’s all pretty much the same, not much to see, and there’s been a drought so the landscape is dry.
In recent years, William S. Burroughs’ work and life has been examined from various vantage points. In my own 2013 book, I explored his relationship with the Church of Scientology and pored over his work for references to the religion. That same year, Jorge Garcia-Robles looked at Burroughs’ time in Mexico. In 2014, Matthew Levi Stevens looked at Burroughs in terms of magic and the occult, while a plethora of work appeared across the spectrum in celebration of the author’s hundredth birthday. One even focused on his work as a photographer. Then 2015 saw the release of Barry Miles’ superlative biography, which surpassed any of the earlier efforts, including Ted Morgan’s Literary Outlaw. Continue Reading…
Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes,
While I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up
all night, talking, talking, reading the Kaddish aloud
listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phono-
the rhythm the rhythm – and your memory in my head three
years after – And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas
aloud – wept, realizing how we suffer – Continue Reading…
The European Beat Studies Network (EBSN) was established in 2010 as a self-described “light touch organization” whose mission is to facilitate an open, non-hierarchical approach to Beat scholarship and encourage scholarly work in a decidedly informal and open format. One need not have an academic affiliation to become a member and no fees are required to participate. Continue Reading…
Love, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones chronicles a forty year friendship through their correspondence, as well as Jones’ occasional fragments of narrative, from the early sixties until Dorn’s death in 2004. It isn’t just a collection of letters; it includes faxes and e-mails. It covers a wide range of subjects – though mostly focuses on the personal struggles of motherhood, work in the publishing industry, and staying financially afloat. Continue Reading…
”Katz’s analysis is readable and enjoyable while offering a scholarly view of Ginsberg’s most influential poems, including “Howl,” which appropriately gets a full chapter here. Katz is able to explicate the originality with which Ginsberg converted his political views into poetry, making them resonate powerfully to his audiences.
Previous biographies and books about Ginsberg’s life and work have appeared, but The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg is the first that explicitly analyzes Ginsberg’s political poetry and dissects his progressive influence on our culture. Katz’s book is a lively read regarding the poet of poets who shaped the political views of a generation.”
If you’re anywhere near New York next weekend, you should be thinking about going to the Beat & Beyond Festival. From Friday, June 3rd to Wednesday 6th the Howl! Happening Gallery is hosting a “Six-Day Celebration Honoring the Poets, Musicians, Bookstores, and Significant Individuals Whose Voices and Energy Transformed America Forever.” The line-up for this series of events is an impressive who’s who of Beat knowledge, including two Beatdom Books authors – Eliot Katz and John Tytell. Continue Reading…
This website was hit by a major attack on Monday night. All 1,000 posts, 2,000 images, and 9 years of work were wiped out. We have been so far unable to recover the data and will most likely have to build a new site from scratch. This could take weeks. Please be patient, and follow Beatdom on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter to keep up to date with our progress. Thanks for understanding.
*UPDATE: It has proven impossible to recover the lost data. We will attempt to add all major articles from previous issues of Beatdom. This is going to take a long time. We will start with recent posts and work our way back, but a huge amount of material will prove impossible to replace.