Poor Allen Ginsberg | www.splicetoday.com
Allen Ginsberg is often misunderstood by so many people who need labels to define themselves. Without a doubt, he helped propel modern poetry to a wider audience in the 1950s and continued to promote the power and love of poetry throughout his life. No one has done more to celebrate the art of words using free verse than Ginsberg. Modern poetry owes a certain level of gratitude to “Ginsey”, as poet Beat Gregory Corso affectionately called him.
His story-rich and often controversial career took off in 1956 with the publication of “Howl”, a lengthy indictment against American values. The book was banned shortly after its release, deemed obscene due to references to illegal drugs and both straight and homosexual sex. Despite this, he embraced the protest metaphorically, screaming at socio-political injustice, shedding tears, mourning exploitation, repression and subjugation. The poet asks people to question capitalist propaganda, racial inequalities, totalitarian military conquest and world domination. “Howl” alone is a testament to the birth of the counter-culture movement, and Ginsberg embodies that spirit of the time.
The struggle for freedom continues. As a people and as a nation, it is painfully obvious that we are no better off now than at the start of the Beat Generation. Ginsberg said, âPoetry is the only place people can express their original human spirit. This is an opportunity for people to say in public what is known in private. This quote confirms all forms of poetic social commentary and authentic artistic voice. It also touches on social satire, parables, reality versus fiction, tragicomedy and the path of words.
Although poetry is the highest art, it is most often seen as a professional activity. One of the reasons these truths hold true is that people in power don’t want to be exposed like the frauds they are by a poet. They would lose all validity and their hold over the masses which they avidly exploit. There is little no one can do about the problems we face, but speaking out against them is a start. Ginsberg was a master in this regard. He knew how to manipulate popular opinion, the media and the American Dream Machine against itself, revealing the real nightmare of what it is for most people. He gave voice to those who have no power.
Anyone who criticizes government policies of militarism, perpetual poverty and racism is automatically labeled as unpatriotic or worse. We are witnessing it today. Ginsberg and the generations that followed the Beat aesthetic knew it, but it may already be too late.
There is still a long way to go for all the advancements in legalizing marijuana and even psychedelics. We are still in the infancy of understanding human rights, decency and respect for all humanity. People are not good in this department. Ginsberg and others knew, as early as the Cold War, across Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, the lessons of compassion and kindness towards others are lacking. We haven’t learned anything from history. The jumping record is repeated.
With his bravado, charm, and wit, Ginsberg attempted to change the way we think about the world without too much ego. His compassion led him to Buddhism. Of all the major religions, the Buddhist path is the only one which attracts from afar those who also seek the truth and the answers. Some accuse Ginsberg of pedophilia. He was a shameless homosexual and made no secret of it. However, there is no evidence or criminal charges against Ginsberg as a child molester or sex offender. He might be a sexual predator, lusting after young poets half his age, but there is no crime in that. The age of consent is a slippery slope. Lots of wealthy older men pursue teenage girls, and that’s fine in almost all circles, even devout Christians. But a lewd chicken hawk elder preying on young men is unacceptable?