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The Beat Generation and the Sixties - Essay Example

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The Beat Generation and the Sixties The 1950s is often seen as the ‘calm before the storm’, a decade of relative peace and prosperity between the Second World War and the social revolution of the sixties. It was a time of domestic tranquility and social stability where most Americans were focused on raising families in the period of relative prosperity…
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The Beat Generation and the Sixties
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The Beat Generation and the Sixties

Download file to see previous pages... They were a postwar generation, and the war had made them weary and long to escape. They turned to inner examination in the form of literature, to drugs and in some cases to crime. It was this emotion and the desire to escape from the bounds of life and society that paved the way for the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The 1960s were a decade of social and cultural change, commonly known for indulgence and excess, as well as the disregard for many of social norms of the time. Two different impulses drove the youth of the sixties, the spiritual and the desire for revolution. Both of these impulses can be tied back to the Beat Generation. The term Beat was first used by writer Herbert Huncke who picked it up in Chicago. In that context, beat was used to describe the condition of travelers who had been travelling for a long time. However, it was the phrase “I guess you might say we’re a Beat Generation” made by Jack Kerouac and quoted by writer John Holmes that make the term popular . Members of the Beat Generation were far from the stereotypical American, and as such, they challenged the perceptions of those around them. They were considered to be interested in the extremes of life, too independent and intent to be taken seriously by their elders or society around them . Television and magazines depicted the Beats as rebels , and to many extents they were. Although there was no universal politic for the Beat Generation, it could generally be considered a worn down culture, rubbed raw from repeated use and abuse and tired of the rigidly of society around them. Many used drugs as a means of escaping the confines of society and those that broke laws showed little to no guilt about doing so . The Beat Generation had either fought or witnessed the Second World War, and years of fighting, hardship and loss had led to many angry at the cost of victory and tired of the violence of war . These two factors combined in the sixties to produce a generation that saw war as a waste of lives and was tired of the oppressive nature of government. The Vietnam War had been in operation since 1955 however, it was early in the sixties that the war became especially prevalent. In addition, the Bay of Pigs, a failed attempt at overthrowing the Cuban government occurred in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in 1962. All of these events considerably grew the antiwar sentiment among the population resulting in a change from the non active Beat Generation, that did not get politically involved, to the anti-war protests of the hippie era. The same can be seen in regards to the environment. The desire to defend the environment was prominent among many members of the Beat Generation, yet other members of the generation had no interest in it . In addition, some of those interested in environmental conservation did not wish to identify with the Beat Generation label. This desire to protect the environment grew from the Beat Generation, inspiring a save the environment movement within the sixties. Thus, while both the Beat Generation and those from the sixties had many of the same values, these grew from a more theoretical base within the Beats to something that was applied actively through protests and movements. The American Dream, prosperity and security appeared readily available in the 1950s, but not so for the Beat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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