There’s Mountain Dew surging seemingly infinite energy through my veins. Reason seems to have died somewhere between caffeine and more caffeine. My heart is palpitating at perhaps an unprecedented rate, not to mention the possibility that I could slip into a caffeine coma at any random moment. I’m suppose to be doing some astute activity, perhaps writing a paper for one of my classes or studying for one of my upcoming final exams; but instead, I’m playing chess online and losing in ego-crushing fashion. So in light of all this I logged off my chess account and opened up a Microsoft Word document. And so here we are. What have I learned about the Beat Poets? I’ve learned that they were, perhaps more than anything—misunderstood. Allen Ginsberg had to go to a loony bin, Jack Kerouac never received the literary recognition that he deserved, Neal Cassidy was a madman that no one got, and the list continues on and on and on like the high fructose corn syrup and carbonated water pulsating through my bodily system like currents of wild electricity . I think this is how people go brain dead. Ah! So the Beat Poets, they were misunderstood. Okay! I had no idea who these crazy cats were before this class. I signed up for the class, honestly speaking, because I waited to the last minute to sign up for classes, and when the classes I wanted to take were already full, I figured…ugh…why not 1950’s poetry. I never had a class with Professor Corrigan before and I needed three credits. So it seemed like the right thing to do.
I was expecting the class to be held in a traditional classroom setting, where we listen to lectures, or at least pretend to, take notes, or at least pretend to, etc. Then I found out that the class was going to be conducted in the Avant-Garde spirit, where we meet at someone’s house and discuss the readings that we’ve done. All cutting-edge stuff! I was waiting for this opportunity a long time coming. And it was finally here. Every assigned reading soon became eagerly awaited. I was vigorously devouring every text like a homeless man consuming a Big Mac after a few days dieting on nothing but booze and nasty food at some rundown shelter. I learned so much at perhaps an unhealthy rate. I neglected my other class assignments because I couldn’t get enough of these radical poets who traveled across America and abandoned military duties to read in libraries and stripped down naked at poetry readings and lost themselves to prostitutes, alcohol, and drugs. They didn’t give a fudge about what you thought about them. They were journeymen intent upon arriving at that holy, vulgar destination where Jesus and Herbert Huncke held hands and sang melodic songs of blessed crudeness. They were angels and demons swirling through the toilets of their minds. They were the tips of samurai swords.
They were stretching the rubber bands of acceptable society, and sometimes the rubber bands snapped. They wrote stuff that brought them to court. They were despised very much so as degenerates and lowlifes. And this is what I find so beautiful in them. A lot of society was throwing literary tomatoes at them, but they fought for the freedom of expression. They were artists passionate about full-expression, passionate about questioning their own sanity, or lack thereof, in the hopes of arriving at something greater than their every day hum-drum existence had revealed to them. We don’t read about the Beat Poets because they conformed to what society deemed appropriate; but rather, we read about them because they had something important to say regardless of the approval of society or not.
Now I’m beginning to feel tired. My fingers are typing at a progressively decreasing rate and my mind is starting to sense that fuzzy, hazy feeling that leaves you wondering if you were ever adequate enough, if you were ever intelligent enough, if you were ever clear enough to make something of your life. Everything is blurry and my mind is floating like clouds intent upon running away from one another. I like clouds because they drift, unsatisfied with a sedimentary existence in the firmaments high above. I sense the sugar crash but I write despite the weighted eyes, despite the short-circuiting neurons, despite the great seducer—sleep—whispering drowsy beckoning syllables directed somewhere near pillow, mattress, and quilt. Spirit that gave Jack Kerouac the strength to write On The Road in a three-week stunt of literary madness, literary genius, grant me the same strength though I’m deprived of serotonin and nutritional substances.
There’s a lamp shining O so bright though my roommates are trying to sleep. I love all the poetry gatherings that we had. I love all the coffee we drank and the pasta that we ingested. I love all the profound conversations that we had. I love my fellow classmates. I love the Beat Poets. I must confess, I’m in love with myself as reflected through the Beat Poets. It’s a happy, sad reality. I relate with them in almost every way, barring the prostitutes, alcohol, and drugs, so not really, but still, very much so. I’m scared to take another sip of the large iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts that I have laying on my desk in my dorm. The orange straw seems to be gravitating my lips toward its circular brim.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, bless your soul. Thank you for writing such great poetry and for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Thank you Derek for you awesome pictures on your blog. Thank you Professor Corrigan for teaching this amazing class. It’s three o’ clock and my body and mind wants to shut down, but there’s an inner voice that compels my soul to continue to spill streams of consciousness despite the alluring temptation to still the savior fingers typing shit.
Because of this class I want to travel the world and write great poetry. I want to visit Cold Mountain and shave Gary Snyder’s beard and kidnap Lawrence Ferlinghetti, if he would be okay with that. I want to be myself more than ever, because the Beats were themselves, and not some phony byproducts of ‘normality’.
The Beat Poets also sucked. They hurt a lot of people. Some of them had ‘ugly’ souls. Some of them killed people. These people weren’t exactly the people you want your children to model after, but also you do. They were grey. Alright! Fair enough. That’s better than black though, and white is too clean. So in some ways, yes, I would like the future fruit of my loins to model after the Beat Poets. Not in all their actions, but in some like their relentless striving after the brighter, better tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, I’m going to bed. I digress. Snore.