21402906 How does the Beat movement allow for the projection of a Jewish identity in Allen Ginsbergs Kaddish: Proem, narrative, hymmnn, lament, litany and fugue? Essay

2304 WordsNov 21, 200810 Pages
Allen Ginsberg’s work is clearly ‘one long ‘life-poem’ of public and private experience’ - he was publically sectioned in Rockland State Hospital after wrongly charged with theft, and endured in 1960’s of visions of God and William Blake, whose affiliations with politics, ‘free-spirit’ living and reliance on the imagination were sympathetic to Ginsberg’s own . His fame stemmed from a public reading of Howl (1955), to propel him into the academic sphere as a leading member of the Beat movement. Starting in post-war 1950’s and culminating famously in 1960’s, the Beat movement was a counter-cultural community of people feeling ‘the bored fatigue of a soldier required to perform endless, meaningless tasks’ that society demanded, and reacting by participating in non-conformist activities; peace rallies, promiscuity and heavy drug use. To the Beat’s, ‘experience is pronounced holy’ , and this sacralising of every experience (almost Paterian –like in the Beat’s emphasis on surrendering-to-sensation living) is cemented within Ginsberg’s works. Life should be limited only to sensation, and poetry similarly be open. Since Ginsberg’s sectioned mother was ‘the central and utterly persuasive fact of [his life]’ , we can clearly read Kaddish - a poetic elegy that passionately laments Ginsberg’s tragic loss- within the context of his ‘experimental’ life, since life and art, or ‘action and art’ are inherently linked. His poetry contradicts the declaration that the Jewish community as it now exists, ‘can give no sustenance to the American artist ...who is born a Jew’ . This essay will examine how a sense of Jewishness, an affirmation and tension of identity can be expressed through the tendencies of the Beat movement, as relative to Ginsberg. The Beat movement is associated usually with Buddhism, Zen spirituality, rather than established religious institutions like Judaism. Yet

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