Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:51 am

From the ending of “About the Beat Generation”...

“Or maybe the Beat Generation, which is the offspring of the Lost Generation, is just another step towards that last, pale generation which will not know the answers either.

In any case, indications are that its effect has taken root in American culture.

Maybe.

Or, what difference does it make?”


What is the legacy of the Beat Generation and their cultural significance? Do you think we have lost our beatness?


We read about the Lost Generation during our discussion of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. To read more about them, click below

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby sweetchia » Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:28 pm

I think "beat" is very much still alive. I think it lives in every person who claims and embraces their individuality and strives to move through their life in a loving, open and tolerant manner. I think it lives in the new spiritual paradigm that is blanketing the planet. I think it lives in the consciousness and focus in saving our world.
But as in Kerouac's time, there are still those who have yet to embrace the "beat". Thus, it will continue to be somewhat of a struggle for us.
Still, I believe we are closer than we ever were. With the new age movement taking on such global strength, our generation has re-defined "beat" for themselves and has moved us closer to where Kerouac hoped we'd be.
Yes, we ARE another step forward and maybe we don't know all the answers, but we know more than we did.
And yes, it has taken root...
And yes, it does make a difference...Kerouac made a difference. In the end, I know he doubted the influecne he had, but sometimes we are just too close to the trees to see the forest. From where he is now, I'm sure he's a grand view of just what an amazing influence he's had...and can be proud.
During a day, if you don’t make someone smile or feel good about himself, you’re not a man! I don’t think you’re fulfilling your part of the bargain as a human being - Johnny

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby gemini » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:47 pm

The beat generation and the Lost generation were both movements that tried to bring more to life. The lost generation was recovering from a war and tying to reclaim the good in life. Sometimes for the young this involved a flare of carelessness trying to try anything and everything new, but the goal was always to get more out of life.
The beat generation was suffering from a depression, and they wanted to make things better. As Jack said, he felt love of life was a big part of it and for him alcohol and Buddhism were part of his looking for answers. I think his friends sought drugs for answers and all tried a free lifestyle. You can almost understand how the hippie movement of peace and love took hold even though Jack didn't think it was quite the same as his movement.
In any case, indications are that its effect has taken root in American culture.
Maybe.
Or, what difference does it make?”

I think he was a little despondent about the shape the movement was taking but knew by then that every generation would have their group searching for something better.

What is the legacy of the Beat Generation and their cultural significance? Do you think we have lost our beatness?

No there will always be free spirits like Johnny.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:01 pm

I don't think there is an easy answer to this question. Things have certainly changed since the beginning of the Beat days. There are obviously things that are better, like racial barriers being broken down and better opportunities for women -- while there is still a long ways to go, we have achieved much that wasn't even dreamed of as a possibility in Kerouac's day. On the other hand, we are plagued with social ills like child abductions, shootings and stabbings in neighborhoods that used to be peaceful, and rampages by mass killers who mow down random victims. And we have become more immune to much of the bad news because we are bombarded with it every day. I suppose some of this is due to lightning fast communication, but something tells me in Kerouac's day there was less of this mayhem. The old ways definitely had their problems, but there seemed to be more order then. I am trying to choose words carefully, because there is a fine line. Sometimes individual freedom can carry a terrible price tag for society as whole and for our children in particular :soapbox: . Time to get off of it now. :blush:

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby Buster » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:16 pm

Each generation has its own "rebels"; names and nuances differ, but the phenomenon continues. Hopefully there will always be dreams and dreamers, people looking for something more, for grace and adventure and meaningfulness, for joy and wonder and connection...
No matter how lost or unsocialized or wayward we may appear, some of us will always be reckless enough to step off that cliff.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby Endora » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:46 pm

I'm with you, Nebraska, in what you say, but I'd add a codicil that the horrors we read of today may well have been more common than it appeared in times gone by. Mass media, and a more open society, means that bad news travels faster and does not so often remain hidden.

Are they still with us? Hell yeah! Every year I see kids aged 18 leave school with their minds full to bursting about seeing life and experiencing the world, saving to buy round the world airline tickets or ready to build schools in African villages or the like. What better legacy could a book hope to have than a stream of young people going off away from their roots to explore the world and try to make some sort of contribution?
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby gemini » Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:33 pm

nebraska wrote:I don't think there is an easy answer to this question. Things have certainly changed since the beginning of the Beat days. There are obviously things that are better, like racial barriers being broken down and better opportunities for women -- while there is still a long ways to go, we have achieved much that wasn't even dreamed of as a possibility in Kerouac's day. On the other hand, we are plagued with social ills like child abductions, shootings and stabbings in neighborhoods that used to be peaceful, and rampages by mass killers who mow down random victims. And we have become more immune to much of the bad news because we are bombarded with it every day. I suppose some of this is due to lightning fast communication, but something tells me in Kerouac's day there was less of this mayhem. The old ways definitely had their problems, but there seemed to be more order then. I am trying to choose words carefully, because there is a fine line. Sometimes individual freedom can carry a terrible price tag for society as whole and for our children in particular :soapbox: . Time to get off of it now. :blush:

Not meaning to write this off as a simple thing but don't you think the fact that there are so many more people in the world contributes to more happenings? This is not to say that bad times don't bring out the worst in people.
I think Endora has a point about mass media and news traveling much faster. Now we hear of worldwide atrocities instead of just local. At least I hope I am right in saying things are not worse just more people to get upset.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby deppaura » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:42 pm

This struggle has always depressed me...the reaching out, the trying, the falling back. Maybe it's someone's stinking joke...have an intellect along with basic animal survival instinct. And struggle like mad to make sense of it all. Almost fighting yourself. HEAVY, oh yes, in the heart of me at times. Think I'll weigh in with Nebraska and Buster. Yes, today's mass communication makes us aware of much more coming from everywhere. But, I also think the content of many subliminal messages of the "controlled" media (movies, t.v., internet, advertising )may prove enticing, exciting and encouraging to some of the deranged minds out there. I'll hang in here and continue reading your comments. Maybe I'll change my mind??!!! Yes, free spirited folks still walk the land, but, in balance, I think we need many more of them.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:49 pm

Deppaura, you made a good point, and perhaps said better than I could what I was going to try to add. The news coverage gives a lot of attention to the perpetrators and that can influence the crazies sitting on the fence. There are SO many variables! Our being able to discuss this world-wide in real time is just one example of how different things are now.

I think the Beat intention was good. I think they began a lot of changes that improved life for all of us. But i am not sure that we are truly better off in the long run. :-/

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby Buster » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:13 pm

Before change can happen, you have to believe it is possible for change to happen. That belief is one of the unifying characteristics of the lost generation, the beats, the hippies, and hopefully of many of the folks who will help change our world.

As Frank Zappa said, "Without deviation, progress is not possible."

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:29 pm

I think not only is there more media coverage but there is less constraint on what is reported. I am not in any way saying that censorship is a good thing, I'm just saying that back in the day many of the stories we see now wouldn't have been given coverage but it doesn't mean the crimes didn't happen. The number of media outlets looking for stories to report is so much larger than it was even 10 years ago. All that competition leads to news outlets fighting for headlines and attention and more sensationalism to get the attention and the ratings.

I do believe the Beats mattered and I do believe they left a legacy that led to the peace movement and the freedoms of the next generation. While it seems that each generation has their radicals and dissidents the Beats seemed to have spawned a more powerful change than most. Movements get hijacked for commercial purposes and often become generalized and assimilated into the culture they were trying to change which appears to make them less relevant but I believe,and Jack may disagree with me, that their legacy lives on in a positive way.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby Liz » Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:17 am

Well, I disagree with Jack and his rant in ’69. I think he & his cronies were the first to encourage a sense of freedom, rebellion, sincerity and peace. But they, like the Lost Generation, were coming off of a world war. I think there were copycats—those that took on the more superficial aspects of beat as opposed to its spiritual or philosophical aspect. I do see a strong similarity to the hippie movement, although Jack didn’t see it.

Have we lost our beatness? I haven’t decided. The closest thing I’ve seen to a “movement” has been the movement to repeal Prop 8. But I wouldn’t say that crosses a generation. But I do see individuality and a spirit of community involvement among certain individuals of the younger generation. I think it may be just more individualistic. And I think there will always be rebels.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby stroch » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:40 pm

Buster wrote:
Each generation has its own "rebels"; names and nuances differ, but the phenomenon continues. Hopefully there will always be dreams and dreamers, people looking for something more, for grace and adventure and meaningfulness, for joy and wonder and connection...
No matter how lost or unsocialized or wayward we may appear, some of us will always be reckless enough to step off that cliff.


Amen to that. People fall true to type throughout history. There are always seekers,visionaries, and mystics. What's sad is that the blows of everyday life and the forces of inertia so often crush them.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:43 pm

Why is that, stroch? Why do the seekers always seem to give up the quest? Or do they? Is each generation a building block for the next? The stream appears to continue from generation to generation, but it remains a stream not a torrent.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #5 ~ Legacy

Unread postby Buster » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:15 pm

Being a risk taker is far from easy - it is hard on me, and hard on the people around me. The reason I do it is because I can't not do it; there really is no "easier path".
Self-doubt, escapism, depression -sometimes they're part of the package, but it's a price I am more than willing to pay for freedom. It is a constant struggle, remaining true to myself, and it easily explodes into recklessness and implodes into self-destructiveness, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.


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