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Allen Ginsberg dives into the wreck of himself and of the world around him to salvage himself and something worth saving of the world. In this process, he composes Howl to create a new way of observation for life through the expression of counterculture. Protesting against technocracy, sex and revealing sexuality, psychedelic drugs, visionary experience, breaking the conventions of arts and literature; all basic characteristics of counterculture are combined and celebrated in Howl, as it becomes a counterculture manifesto for the first time. Howl elaborates the results of technocracy, as it mechanizes the human soul, human creativity. Technocracy takes away the emotion, feeling, random combination of creative thoughts from human mind and makes the human race depended on technology and mechanized society. Howl explicitly discusses sex and Ginsberg's own homosexual orientation.
Mostly there is a sense of despair and desperation about sex. In this poem, there is a visionary experience mainly influenced by Zen, a Buddhist notion emphasizing on meditation and insight, a popular religion among young Americans. Howl reveals the secrets of drugs. There are references of incidents related to drugs and its effects. The attention is on psychedelic state of mind and personal experiences regarding drugs. Howl itself is breaking the literary convention of poetry by its being a genre of inspiration poetry.
And it pays homage to arts in a very different way. Ginsberg sees America and feels the madness going through the veins of the country. Howl was an underground poetry; outlawed poetry but still it conferred a strange power. There are something wonderfully subversive about Howl, something the poet has hidden in the body of the poem because it is too dangerous to say openly, something we have to uncover and decode. Howl is meant to appeal to the secret or hermetic tradition of art. This poem liberates readers from their false self-deprecating image of themselves and to persuade them that they are angels.
Howl is a freedom of language, political honesty, and spontaneous mind. Howl has always been Allen Ginsberg's masterpiece- a horrifying, funny, surreal, and prophetic poem. Howl is a proper manifestation of counterculture. Counterculture is a movement, a protest, and a total rejection of all established assumptions. Counter culture is a culture so radically disaffiliated from the mainstream assumptions of our society that scarcely looks to many as a culture at all, but takes on the alarming appearance of a barbaric intrusion. It is the experience of radical cultural disjuncture, the clash of irreconcilable concepts of life.
It started as a movement against government during 50 s and 60 s, mainly led by the students of Europe, as a campus rebellion, an act of war resistance, a demonstration against racial injustice. It goes against the futility of a politics, which concentrates itself single-mindedly on the overthrowing of governments, or ruling classes, or economic systems. Counterculture is a healthy instinct, which refuses both at the personal and political level to practice such a cold-blooded rape of our human sensibilities. It is the young, arriving with eyes that can see the obvious, who must remark the lethal culture of their elders, and who must remake it in desperate haste. The counterculture is scarcely so disciplined a movement. It is a variegated procession constantly in flux, acquiring and losing members all along the route of march.
It makes the youthful disaffiliation of our time a cultural phenomenon, rather than merely a political movement, with the fact that it strikes beyond ideology to the level of consciousness, seeking to transform our deepest sense of self, the other, the environment. Here a radical rejection of science and technological values should appear so close to the center of our society, rather than on the negligible margins. It is the middle-class young who are conducting this politics of consciousness, and they are doing it boisterously, persistently, and aggressively-to the extent that they are invading the technocracy's citadels of academic learning and bidding fair to take them over. Counterculture protests against technocracy. Technocracy means that social form in which an industrial society reaches the peak of its organizational integration and it also means the ideal men usually have in mind when they speak of modernizing, rationalizing, up dating, planning. Drawing upon such unquestionable imperatives as the demands of efficiency, for social security, for large scale co-ordination of men and resources, for ever higher levels of affluence and ever more impressive manifestations of collective human power, the technocracy works to knit together the anachronistic gaps and fissures of industrial society.
Within such a society, the citizen, confronted by bewildering bigness and complexity, finds it necessary to defer on all matters to those who know better. Indeed, it would be violation of reason to do otherwise, since it is universally agreed that the prime goal of the society is to keep the productive apparatus turning over efficiently. In the absence of expertise, the great mechanism would surely bog down, leaving us in the midst of chaos and poverty. The prime strategy of the technocracy is to level life down to a standard of so called living that technical expertise can cope with- and then, on that false and exclusive basis, to claim an intimidating omnicompetence over us by its monopoly of experts. Technocracy's absorbent power is its capacity to provide satisfaction in a way, which generates submission and weakens the rationality of protest. In Howl, Ginsberg tries to regenerate this rationality of protest in human soul.
Howl is a protest against technocracy: a protest against war, state, authority, technology- an emotional time bomb that will continue exploding military-industrial-nationalistic complex. As a poet of America, Ginsberg has a deep abiding sense of evil. He observes the mechanical city as a modern inferno. He is innately pessimistic and does not believe wholeheartedly in the efficacy of American democracy. He often sings about the fall of Whitman's America, the fall of American democracy, and the degeneration of masses. A sense of doom and disaster informs Howl.
Ginsberg is breaking the barrier and his voice hurls against the harsh walls of America, and its supporting armies and navies and academies and institutions and ownership systems and power support systems. Despite his sense of despair and his ingrained gloominess, he wants to be cheerful, even joyful and to believe that utopia is possible. The task of the poet of democracy is not only or simply to speak well of the society or to simply praise the masses. Ginsberg realizes that it is his democratic duty to show the country that it strays from its democratic path.
He will rescue the nation from the edge of precipice, which will be an act of poetic patriotism. Allen Ginsberg wants to reorganize the working class, vanquish fascism and change the world. It seems that he is influenced by communism but to him all politics whether the left or the right is actually meaningless. If we investigate Howl, we can find his protesting spirit in different levels. In the 1940 s, he rebels against the idea of civilization that Columbia University tries to impose on him. Lionel Trilling, his teacher and critic, tries to establish the concept of civilization, synonymous with upper class British civilization.
In the continuation of this protest, he also traces two provocative phrases-Fuck the Jews and Butler has no balls-which is tantamount to the declaration of his own independence. In Howl the incident is mythologized in the line: who were expelled from the academies for crazy and publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull The Butler who has no balls is Nicholas Murray Butler, the eighty three year old president of Columbia University and a powerful figure of American Public life-a staunch republican and a pillar of New York society. And Fuck the Jews refers to Trilling as he criticizes the Jews and Ginsberg himself is a Jew. There are deep bitterness and anger in Ginsberg that boost up the tone of protest. The mechanized society and urbanity are the sphinx of cement and aluminum based open, which talk in riddles and make life difficult for common people. They inject complex theories in human mind and ate up their brains and imagination.
They create obstacles in the way of free intellectual practice. War is a major concern of most of the authors of his time. Howl criticizes scholars of war the Columbia scientists who help to split atoms for military power in secrecy. Subsequently military-industrial funding increasingly dominates university research, thus two decades later rebellious student strikes have as primary grievance that the trusteeships of the university interlocks with Vietnam War-related corporations. That cold war influence darkens the complexion of scientific studies and humanistic attitudes. Columbia president D.
D. Eisenhower himself warns against such military-industrial complexity in his farewell address as U. S. Chief Executive. In Howl, hydrogen jukebox refers to Hydrogen bombs made by the America during the cold war period. Ginsberg also develops the image of America as a nation of madhouse, when he is protesting against state.
In Howl, America is an armed madhouse. It is a country of mad towns, visible madman doom, and invincible madhouse! Ginsberg entertains the notion of America as a prison and a concentration camp, and though that metaphor expresses his anger and hostility, it does not resonate. The madhouse metaphor obviously does; it enables him to fuse his own persona as a madman with his mothers madness, and it infuses his poetry with a powerful myth. The main protest against technocracy is elaborated in this poem through Moloch, the god of technocracy, which represents all the negative terms, slang, and ideas of the world. Moloch comes from Molech, a Hebrew god worshipped by idolatrous Israelites.
Ginsberg picks this name to signify the god of technocracy. Moloch is reigning over America; he feels and eats the very existence of the nation. Moloch! Solitude! Filth!
Ugliness! Ashcans and upon taxable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! This extract reflects the truth of America.
The technocracy is ugly that turning the Americans hungry for dollars, turning the children homeless, forcing the young boys to join army for war purposes, making the old people lonely. Technocracy mechanizes the mind of human beings, makes them to run after money. It turns the people blind in mind, makes them wander through fog in the quest of finding nothingness. The society of technology and machines injects in human mind the fantasy but in reality it turns humans into sexless men. It brings dream, which makes people crazy. Ginsberg utters Moloch whom I abandon!
Wake up in Moloch means, he is caught in an entrapment. In dreams and in reality, he is trapped in the metal webs. He is trapped physically and intellectually. Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments!
invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses!
granite cocks! monstrous bombs! The images are related with horrifying degeneration of human world or the world of materialistic America... Technocracy takes away the emotion, feeling, random combination of creative thoughts from human mind and makes the human race depended on technology and mechanized society. It turns the passion of lovemaking into a stone like feeling (granite cocks). It fades away our vision, takes away our ecstasies, abolishes the belief of religion, and turns our dreams into nightmares.
And at the end of the poem, Ginsberg says, in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- / journey on the highway across America in tears / to the door of my cottage in the western night, mean only through bonding between each other and through love for each other we can win ourselves, and protect ourselves from technocracy. Ginsberg is intensely influenced by Eliot in referring to Rockland as it is comparable to Eliot's The Waste Land. The Rockland is America and The Waste Land is Europe. Like The Waste Land, Howl is born of a crisis; like The Waste Land, it is a historical product, the fruit of a time and a place. Ginsberg feels that the America is at the end of its doom. We find the reference of his friend Carl Solomon whom he addresses as his companion in Rockland.
They feel very strange in Rockland because of the vast emptiness that prevails in America. They are in the land where t...
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Research essay sample on Ginsberg Howl A Counterculture Manifesto