The Beat Generation of authors is made different from any other literary movement by the mere fact that the term "Beat Generation" grew to describe an entire period in time but this generation in literature could fit into a couple cars alone. This core group of authors: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs were all close friends who shared a unique way of thinking and an even more unique way of trying to share the way they thought with the world.
The Beats stood in opposition to the clean, almost antiseptic formalism of the early twentieth century Modernists. They fashioned a literature that was more bold, straightforward, and expressive than anything that had come before. The whole thrust behind the idea of the Beat movement was to treat our most authentic, uncensored human thoughts and desires as high art and let those predetermined academics and old-school social mores be challenged.
Pinned to Jack Kerouac's wall to inspire his writing:
"Art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life."
"Rather, I think one should write, as nearly as possible, as if he were the first person on earth and was humbly and sincerly putting on paper that which he saw and experienced and loved and lost; what his passing thoughts were and his sorrows and desires."
- Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac
"Americans should know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls." - Walt Whitman
"If you have a choice of two things and can't decide, take both." - Gregory Corso
"If you believe you're a poet, then you're saved." - Gregory Corso
"I really believe, or want to believe, really I am nuts, otherwise I'll never be sane." - Allen Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac
"The weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction." - Allen Ginsberg
"My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them." - Jack Kerouac to Neal Cassady
"Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death." - Jack Kerouac
"I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was—I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future." - Jack Kerouac
"And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it." - Jack Kerouac