What is the Beat Generation?The Beat Generation is a term used to describe a group of American writers that became popular in the 1950’s. These writers became known by as the “Beatniks”, a name given to them by the media. Their writing inspired a cultural phenomenon and a way of living that they based their lives around. Central elements of the “Beat” culture include experimentation with drugs and other forms of sexuality, an interest in Eastern religion, and a rejection of materialism. Some of the most popular beat writers and main figures of the generation are Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerourac, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burrough’s. The members of the Beat generation quickly became known as bohemian hedonists, who celebrated non-conformity, and spontaneous creativity.
Influences on Western Culture Liberation of the world from censorship. Opposition to the military-industrial complex. Spiritual and sexual liberation. Which led to the liberation of women and black’s. Decriminalization of cannabis. Spread of ecological and environmental awareness. Evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll. Respect for land and indigenous peoples and other culture.s
What happened to the Beats? The Beat Generation paved the way for the sixties counter culture which was accompanied by a change in public terminology from “beatnik” to “hippie”. The beats forced young adults to rethink what they have learned from society and their parents. If it wasn’t for the beat writers the counter culture probably wouldn’t have been as popular or even existed.
Comments by the Beats about the Beats"The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked." - Amiri Baraka"John Clellon Holmes... and I were sitting around trying to think up the meaning of the Lost Generation and the subsequent existentialism and I said 'You know John, this is really a beat generation'; and he leapt up and said, 'That's it, that's right!'" - Jack Kerouac"But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls ... woe in fact unto those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! ... woe unto those who spit on the Beat Generation, the wind’ll blow it back." - Jack Kerouac"Nobody knows whether we were catalysts or invented something, or just the froth riding on a wave of its own. We were all three, I suppose." - Allen Ginsberg