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The Beat Generation and the American Traditional Cultural Values

Updated on December 11, 2014

The Beat Experience

Their literary experience which took shape in the mood of uncertainty and disappointment after the Second World War, was a reference point for many young people, who do not recognized themselves in American traditional cultural values. In fact, since the 1950s a wide group of angry and insecure young Americans (judged as inactive and unproductive individuals by the so-called consumer society), chose to live a stent-free existence.

The End of Beat Experience

This model of behavior is contained in the novel “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac , where the fictional characters are full of apprehension about their future, and they are in hot pursuit of rebel bands of friends to resist pressures for cultural conformity. In The light of this individualism and this youth dissatisfaction we may read the provocative attitudes that kids of the Beat Generation took over. The gross language, the ostentatious behavior and dress, the fondness for alcohol and drugs were those that gained them the label of Beat Generation.

It had just its idol, James Dean, and its maximum physical liberation into rock and roll, a dance where everyone must invent his own step. The Beat Generation’s culture gravitated around the Greenwich Village, district in New York, but especially around San Francisco, the most important free city of the USA. In fact, the Beat Generation was characterized, beyond its provocative tones, by an almost deep mystical search of man's existence , which led many of its representatives, including the same Kerouac, to adhere to Eastern religions like Zen, a Japanese variation of Buddhism which was prevalent in the United States.

So the adjective “Beat” assumed the dual meaning of "beaten", but also of "blessed" with the abandonment of values of the American consumer society. In the 1960s, the violent impact with reality, after the Viet Nam War that exposed the USA to lacerating contradictions, made an end of Beat experience, replaced with the search for a new political and public engagement that exceeded liberal individualist conceptions and the pure “Escape from History.”

The End of Beat Experience

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