A vigorous opponent of militarism, economic materialism, and sexual repression, Allen Ginsburg became one of the leading figures of The Beat Generation -- a literary movement trademarked for its exploration of sexual liberation, explicitly portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and its interrogation of American and Eastern Religions. Manifesting most prominently in his poem "Howl", where Ginsburg denounced the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity, this literary magnum opus is best remembered for being the subject of an obscenity trial for its explicit dedication of homosexual and heterosexual sex.
Inducted into The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1979, and becoming shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize in 1995, here are five quotes from the champion of counterculture, and one of few writers who stood as a voice of empowerment for the LGBTQ Community in the 1950s:
"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness."
It is in our sanity we feel the most insane, and our insanity that allows us to be sane.
"I don't think there is any truth. There are only points of view. "
Truth is subjective. Like a story -- its images, its metaphors -- its all up for interpretation.
"The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction the weight, the weight we carry is love. "
Love is heavy, lonely, even unhappy. But through the tears shed that make us wonder whether we can go on bearing until the day a smile shall arise between our cheeks like the dawn that awaits us before the darkest valleys, love will never cease. In its love. To love.
"It isn't enough for your heart to break because everybody's heart is broken now."
Although the sum of our pains and sorrows defines who we are, it hardly distinguishes ourselves as human beings from one another. At some point in time, we've shed the same tears born of a similar wound.
"Our heads are round so thought can change direction"
Going forward doesn't always mean thinking in a line, or on one.
Though the world is perhaps a more monotonous place with the departure of Allen Ginsburg's madness, his poetry remains. Adorning shelves of libraries, bookstores, and counters among vials wrapped in paper barren of the happiness they seek to prescribe. To plummet his readers into a trip of sobriety, liberation, and the hysteria of the love that springs from it.
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