Today, in 1955, the US Government launched the first volley in its latest attempts at censorship by seizing 520 copies of “Howl” based on obscenity charges.
The poet was Allen Ginsberg.
I confess that I never had the pleasure of reading Howl. I must have been living under a rock to have also missed the 2010 movie. Hopefully I can find it on Netflix or something. As for the poem, I was able to find parts 1 and 2 on Poets.org
This is some powerful stuff from a generation that shouted against the conventional norms of the time. To speak so openly about drugs and sex brought the ire of the conservatives in power at the time. To think just 60 years ago. what Ginsberg wrote was considered so horribly obscene that it required a governmental assault to try and keep it away from the public. Now we have things like Miley Cyrus and parents taking their 8 year olds to see R rated films. Have we become so desensitized to shock that we laugh at this instead of the horror expressed just 60 years ago.
I ask you my Gentle Readers, did we lose sight somewhere along the way of the creative art and simply keep escalating the shock value in our work? When did we stop pushing the envelope and start napalming it? I know it might sound hypocritical for me to applaud Ginsberg but condemn Cyrus. However, I am not sure that we can put them in the same category. What is the purpose of Cyrus acting as she did? Maybe it is hypocritical of me. Maybe I should stop this trainwreck while I have some shred of credibility as an artist left.
Keep pushing the envelope my Gentle Readers, but have a purpose. Be opening the eyes of closeminded people, not just seeking attention for shock value. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.