|The North Beach Beats & Jack
Jerry considered himself second generation Beat Generation
through his friendship with Neal Cassidy, who straddled both the
beatniks and the hippies, from the San Francisco Poetry
Renaissance to the Koolaid Acid Tests.
Folk lyrics of the Post-WWII period reflected the irony of the American condition -- the extremes of wealth and poverty in the prosperous, post-World War II age of beloved war hero and president Dwight D. Eisenhower. The so-called "Beat poets" of the '50s, who sprang from the counterculture crowd known as the beatniks, drank coffee as black as their turtlenecks and railed in verse against the one-house-two-kids-and-a-car life that defined the American Dream.
novels of Jack Kerouac and the poetry of Alan Ginsberg were the core of the Beat Generation, but certain essays of Norman Mailer, notably "The White Negro", were central to its esthetic too. The literary ancestors of the Beats were Henry Miller, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, William James and Ralph Waldo
Jack Kerouac and On the Road
The Beats also used sex and drugs to experience
extremes of pleasure and distress. But they did not consider
their experimentation a game. College educated and
compulsively literate, the Beats viewed such conduct as
research and expressed their "findings" in their own poetry
and fiction. Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Michael McClure taunted "straight" Americans, daring them to live as they did. The work of fiction that best defines the Beat
generation is writer-wanderer Jack Kerouac's novel On The
Road, along with Ginsberg's ranting, sexually charged poem "The Howl."
The book traces the physical and spiritual adventures of
fast-talking Dean Moriarty as he travels across America. Dean Moriarty is a marauding loner with a last-chance view of life that threatened the way in which Americans during the 1950s viewed the world. Moriarty savors the essence of experience, of living moment to
moment and daring anything, despite hunger, solitude, and
poverty. All you need, Kerouac says, is the right attitude.
And maybe a car.
The Catholic boy who set out to find the divine spirit of a country along Route 66 in his seminal work, "On the Road," will forever be part myth, part man. A stream
of his work has been published posthumously over the years and
many books and scholarly reviews have been written to try to
explain how a lower-middle-class footballer from Lowell,
Massachusetts, helped change postwar America. Looked down on by some in the New York literary establishment
for his "white trash" leanings, Kerouac never stopped being fascinated with the average Joe, the doughnut maker, the train conductor or the mailman.
For Kerouac, "Beat" was shorthand for "beatitude" and the idea
that the downtrodden are saintly. He said the idea should
be about art and spirituality, not politics.
His affinity with the working class was also tied to the fact
that he never earned much money from his work, Brinkley said. "He was always broke. He lived check-to-check and constantly
struggled in poverty, to be a provider for a lower middle
Kerouac at Amazon.com
Jack Kerouac often said his spontaneous prose was modeled
on Neal Cassady's letter writing style, and it's easy to make
the connection here.
rotten > Library > Biographies > Authors > Beats > Neal Cassady
"Liberated from the restrictive disreputable as
it might be, this mystical libidinal anarchism
was as American as Mom and Apple Pie, as old as the myth of the
West, as the American transcendentalists of the 19th century,
indeed arguably as old as America itself, which,
after all, was colonized by European reprobates and remittance
men, and led into revolution
against the crown by scandalous Deists and Freethinkers like
Paine, Franklin and Jefferson. Early literature in this
tradition cultivated the notion of the
the Noble Redman and in a later more urban mode, the Negro, as
paragons, and finally the hipster himself as the self-made White
Negro, Third World boddhisattvas liberated from uptight white
society, from official culture and official reality,
spontaneously in tune with the music of the spheres and living
the life of the natural man. Whitman sang the song of himself,
Miller proclaimed himself Mr. Sexus, Ginsberg howled, and
Kerouac took it all on the the road. The literary ultima thule
was to make the reading of the poetry or
the prose the existential equivalent of real world satori, the
reproduction of the peak mystical experience to be found in
sexual ecstasy, zen meditation, psychoactive drugs, the
contemplation of certain magic landscapes, the right music, or
ideally all of the
above at once."
SCIENCE FICTION AND THE BEATS:
American Literary Transcendentalism
NORMAN SPINRAD who
suggests science fiction is where the literary tradition of
transcendentalism and beats has moved in recent decades
|Wild on the Peninsula
Kesey at Amazon.com
With The Electric
Kool-Aid Acid Test - in many ways the definitive book on West Coast
psychedelia - Tom Wolfe tried to capture the mojo, the groupmind gestalt,
shared between the Merry Pranksters, and, by extension, the people who
attended the Acid Tests by describing it in terms of sacred geometry. The
phenomena was The Unspoken Thing, which occasionally gave way to kairos --
the supreme moment -- a time when temporal time intersected with universal
time to bring about -- COSMO! -- a lightning flash of illumination. Zen
Two books released by Penguin USA
celebrate Kesey's writing life: the first publication of Kesey's
Jail Journal, which he resuscitated in the years prior to his
2001 death, and Spit in the Spit in the Ocean: All About Kesey, the
completion of a literary journal cycle the author began in 1973.
Kesey had great respect for those who had
gone before, and lamented their neglect by the modern
generation. "High-school kids are not getting Faulkner, they're
not getting Hemingway, they're not getting Melville; they're
getting me," wrote Kesey. "I'm not a classic; I'm not a wart on
a classic's butt yet."
He was also harsh in is assessment of the counterculture he
helped to spawn. "We were just floating ... and we couldn't
steer the boat. When you're lost in superstition and dope,
you're lost. A lot of people were."
Wavy Gravy sums up the collective feeling in "Haiku for Kesey:" They say
Kesey's dead --/but never trust a Prankster/even under ground.
Kesey's Jail Journal
by Ken Kesey and Ed McClanahan
Spit in the Ocan: All About Kesey
by Ed McClanahan and Gus Van Sant
|Haight Ashbury & Psychedelia
|Psychedelia : The Long Strange Trip (The
Life, Times, & Music Series)
by Martin Huxley (1995 Audio cassette+book)
CD-version out of print
Beneath the Diamond Sky : Haight-Ashbury 1965-1970
by Barney Hoskyns (1997)
Somebody to Love? - A Rock-n-Roll Memoir (1998)
by Grace Slick, Andrea Cagan
The hippies living in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury District rejected the middle-class lifestyles of their parents in
search of primitive societies and a communal spirit - the "Gathering of
the Tribes." For spiritual guides and inspiration, they turned to the
the beat writers - Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey and
The hippies took the philosopy of the beat poets - freedom from moral
restraint (free love), the quest for altered states of consciousness
(getting high) and the withdrawal from society (goin' on the road) and
turned it into a movement. Timothy Leary summed up the philosophy with
the phrase... "Tune in, turn on and drop out."
Want to Take You Higher : The Psychedelic Era 1965-1969
by Charles Perry (Contributor), Parke Puterbaugh (Editor), James Henke (Editor), Barry Miles (Contributor) (1997)
|Terence McKenna is among the foremost thinkers of psychedelic and hippie culture, and best-known for his book Food of the Gods. In Food, he claims that human religion, language and culture are the by-product of our distant primate ancestors gorging themselves on hallucinogenic "magic" mushrooms.
"the widespread use of psychedelic drugs in modern society was somehow rooted to the intuition that exploration and reassimilation of so-called magical dimensions was the next valid step in humanity's collective search for liberation.
... Indeed, in the institution of shamanism we felt that the normal and the paranormal were somehow merged."
Big Brother || officialjanis.com || Sony's Janis Joplin site
When old Austin friend, Chet Helms, then in San Francisco, called to offer her a singing audition with an up-and-coming local group, Janis was tempted. She found a vital San Francisco community, turned upside down by the flower children of 1966, and was offered the singing position in a relatively obscure group called "Big Brother and the Holding Company." While recording her album "Pearl," she chanced into using heroin again. On October 4, 1970, just hours before she was to record a scorcher called “Buried Alive In The Blues,” she died alone in her room at L.A.’s Landmark Hotel of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. Her third album was released posthumously to wide acclaim, launching the popular songs "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Mercedes Benz."
“Perhaps her most astonishing quality [is] her utter possession of lyrics, as if nobody really wrote them but that they got forced out of her by immediate, emotional pressure,” wrote a Rolling Stone reviewer of Pearl. Her country-soul reading of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me & Bobby McGee” became a Number One hit after her death. Until then, the only other single to hold that distinction was “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Joplin’s idol, Otis Redding.
3 x 3 x 3: Joplin, Morrison and Hendrix
Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all died within one year of each other.
"And then they were dead, like the summer of love. All twenty seven years old
All within a year of each other"
Love, Janis : A Revealing Biography of Janis Joplin
by Laura Joplin (1999)
Scars of Sweet Paradise : The Life and Times of Janis Joplin
by Alice Echols (1999)
Mysticism, Myth & Psycholgogy
"Every once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
Nevertheless, there was no way to force the mojo. The supreme moment could be coaxed along by band and audience, but there were never any guarantees:
"We can raise the sail, but we can't make the wind come. 'Raising the sail' is preparing to be moved. Spirit is the wind, the sense of musical well-being, of being together. This is a unanimous process." -- Mickey Hart Grateful Dead Family Album, p. 227 Deadisticism: The Magic and Mysticism of the Grateful Dead by Matthew Rick
When asked how he felt about the Jerry is God phenomena, Garcia responded with characteristic humor, "Anybody who thinks I'm God should talk to my kids." Did he mind being the focal point of a religious group? "Well, I'll put up with it until they come for me with the cross and the nails."
From the magazine Magical Blend cited in Deadisticism: The Magic and Mysticism of the Grateful Dead by Matthew Ric
|"[Deadheads] have what I consider to be one of the most positive developments in the history of spirituality: a religion without beliefs." John Barlow, Skeleton Key
Caroline Rago, formerly a core member of the Family of Unlimited Devotion, said that the idea that they believed Jerry was God was a misconception. In the Spinner cosmology, she likened him more to an avatar -- describing a role similar in many respects to the one attributed to Bob Marley by Rastafarians. "He was the cosmic minstrel who provided the channel," she said.
From Light the Song: A Contemplative Retreat for Deadheads, Northfield Mount Herman
Cited in Deadisticism: The Magic and Mysticism of the Grateful Dead by Matthew Rick
The Greening of America
Ground breaking classic republished in 1995, 25 years after its first run in 1970.
"This new consciousness which is essentially the hippie lifestyle is a new extension of man that has grown from a technological and corporate society run amuck and two prior forms of consciousness that failed to properly allow man to run a high-tech world. This first consciousness was what our founding fathers had: a sense of individuality and hard work. With the advent of industrialism this consciousness gave way to the second form. This is the one most of us are familiar with today. It a way of strict conformity to hierarchy a rigid adherence to rules and regulations as well as heavily materialistic and goal-oriented. Reich argues that this way of being was too stilted and crushed individuality and free expression. The result was the third phase of consciousness: the hippie."
The mysteries of the Great Pyramid.
Campbell on Amazon.com
On November 1, 1986 — the day after the Garcia Band played a Halloween concert, with Kingfish, at Kaiser Convention Center — Garcia took part in an extraordinary all-day symposium/performance at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts Theater entitled
"Ritual and Rapture, from Dionysus to the Grateful Dead,"
which had grown out of the Dead's unusual association with the noted mythologist Joseph Campbell. Campbell, whose PBS series with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, made him a national celebrity in 1987, had never seen a rock 'n' roll concert before a friend took him to a Grateful Dead show at Kaiser in February '86. He came away from the experience transformed.
As he noted in a lecture two days after that Dead show:
"This is powerful stuff! And what is it? The first thing I thought of was Dionysian festivals, of course. This energy and these terrific instruments ... This is more than music. It turns on something here [the heart]. And what it turns on is life energy. This is Dionysus talking through these kids. Now I've seen similar manifestations, but nothing as innocent as what I saw with this bunch. This was sheer innocence. And when the great beam of light would go over the crowd, you'd see these marvelous young faces in utter rapture — for five hours! Packed together like sardines! Eight thousand of them! Then there was an opening in the back [of the auditorium] with a series of panel windows, and you look out and there's a whole bunch in another hall, dancing like crazy. This is a wonderful, fervent loss of self in the larger self of homogenous community. This is what it's all about!"
Campbell and the Dead hit it off personally, too, so when the symposium idea was suggested, Garcia and Mickey Hart eagerly agreed to participate. The morning session opened with a lecture by Campbell about the role of the ecstatic experience in rituals, from ancient times to the present. He concluded his talk by discussing his experience at the February Dead show and by noting that Deadheads are doing
"the dance of life" at Dead shows and "this, I would say, is the answer to the atom bomb."
Following a presentation on madness and creativity by Jungian analyst John Perry came the performance part of the program: the premiere of a 90-minute composition by Mickey Hart and Rand Wetherwax called "The African Queen Meets the Holy Ghost."
The final portion of the symposium was a question-and-answer session with Campbell, Garcia, Hart and Perry discussing the issues brought up by the lectures and performance, and whatever else people wanted to know. Not surprisingly there were quite a few questions about Garcia's health and his plans. Garcia was in fine form, unleashing one-liners at every turn, and gladly deferring most of the heavy philosophical questions to Campbell who, despite Garcia's celebrity, was the real star of the event. All in all, though, the day was further proof that Garcia's mental acuity was very much intact.
" I had a marvelous experience two nights ago. I was invited to a rock concert. ( laughter in the audience) I'd never seen one. This was a big hall in Berkeley and the rock group were the Grateful Dead, whose name, by the way, is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. And these are very sophisticated boys. This was news to me.
Rock Music has never seemed that interesting to me. It's very simple and the beat is the same old thing. But when you see a room with 8000 young people for five hours going through it to the beat of these boys ... The genius of these musicians- these three guitars and two wild drummers in the back... The central guitar, Bob Weir, just controls this crowd and when you see 8000 kids all going up in the air together... Listen, this is powerful stuff ! And what is it? The first thing I thought of was the Dionysian festivals, of course. This energy and these terrific instruments with electric things that zoom in... This is more than music. It turns something on in here (the heart?). And what it turns on is life energy. This is Dionysus talking through these kids. Now I've seen similar manifestations, but nothing as innocent as what I saw with this bunch. This was sheer innocence. And when the great beam of light would go over the crowd you' d see these marvelous young faces in sheer rapture- for five hours ! Packed together like sardines! Eight thousand of them ! Then there was an opening in the back with a series of panel windows and you look out and there's a whole bunch in another hall, dancing crazy. This is a wonderful fervent loss of self in the larger self of a homogeneous community. This is what it is all about !
It reminded me of Russian Easter. Down in New York we have a big Russian Cathedral. You go there on Russian Easter at midnight and you hear Kristos anesti ! Christ is Risen ! Christ is Risen ! It's almost as good as a rock concert. (laughter) It has the same kind of life feel. When I was in Mexico City at the Cathedral of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, there it was again. In India, in Puri, at the temple of the Jagannath- that means the lord of the Moving World- the same damn thing again. It doesn't matter what the name of the God is, or whether its a rock group or a clergy. It's somehow hitting that chord of realization of the unity of God in you all, that's a terrific thing and it just blows the rest away." http://www.sirbacon.org/joseph_campbell.htm
Carl Jung and Simund Freud || on Amazon.com
While Freud saw myth and religion as childish illusions to be outgrown, it was Jung's belief that humanity, in all times and cultures, had engaged in the spiritual quest to be at one with the Divine Self.
As for astrology, Jung believed that archetypal reality interacts with our daily lives through synchronicity. Synchronicity is the process which unites two factors, archetypal forces and external events. The unconscious is the agent of this union of archetypal and material reality.
Through his research, Jung came to believe that the unconscious was receptive and intuitive. He also believed that disturbances of a psychological nature had a purpose and that these disturbances actually could reveal the way to heal the trauma.
The collective unconscious is the realm of the archetypes. The word archetype is a combination of the greek words meaning "original imprint". The archetypes are patterns of consciousness, universal principles which are the central focus around which gather emotionally charged ideas, memories, dreams, feelings, and experiences. They act as a blueprint for human experience, and influence our spiritual and psychological evolution. It is through the workings of the archetypes that spiritual transformation is brought about.