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Ginsberg's Howl: a Counterculture Manifesto

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 12:15 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.4 
  • Words: 4232
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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...

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