Sunday, September 21, 2014

As I read the first few lines of the Howl, by Allen's Ginsberg, I had trouble understanding what he was saying. I'm still not sure if I know exactly what he is talking about in his poem, but I tried my best to make since of it. He said, "I saw the minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix," and I automatically assumed he was talking about American Americans and how they weren't socially accepted yet. As I read further, I realized that he wasn't talking about this at all, but instead, about the common, poverty stricken, white man. Ginsberg was a unique man. He was a "wallflower." He understood and accepted others for who they were and immediately knew their flaws and their talents, but also noticed that being a CEO of a major cooperation didn't make you smarter than the poor man.

The people that he described seemed to have a passion and were completely content with being who they were. This is the part of the poem that hit home for me, because this is still true today. You can learn so much from the people you least expect and it's hard to not think of why they aren't somewhere else in life; why they aren't the CEO a major cooperation; why they chose the path they did; why they didn't change their path; or maybe if they did change there path, why were they in the position they were. Personally, I have a weak soul and I see the good in every person, and it's seems as if Ginsberg did as well. He took the time to understand that the man living on the street wasn't just a drunk or a drug addict, but a "mindful man." A man that if given the opportunity could empower others; but unfortunately, society doesn't accept such, and his intellect was waisted.

1 comment:

  1. Ami,
    Well put! "Howl" is a difficult poem, and I think the key to understanding it is doing what you have done here- zooming in on smaller images or patterns in the text. (It also helps to have read Whitman and other classic American writers as Ginsberg is often referencing them.) The line you reference here is one of the most famous from "Howl," and when he talks about "the best minds of my generation," he doesn't only mean the poor or only the White man. He means all those people society rejects yet who are saying and doing significant things, for instance the hobos Kerouac describes, the drug users and "screw-ups," the people criticizing America and the government, the hippies, the artists, the musicians, and the poets that were part of the counterculture of the time. And I think Ginsberg would say you are asking the wrong question when you ask, "why they aren't somewhere else in life; why they aren't the CEO a major cooperation"? Take Willy Loman or Neddy Merrill- they did take another path and achieve "success" in life, and look how they ended up... Ginsberg would argue that the definition of what counts as success and the "right path" (really a path of conformity) is itself flawed.