Howling at Windmills: Ginsberg, Censorship, and Overcoming the Cowardice of the Now
Allen Ginsberg's Howl
So why are we as a culture still debating censorship and indecency about a fifty year old poem that merely stated the obvious and was declared by the courts as not obscene?
It's another trip down memory hole lane. Propaganda comes in many forms. The best form is omission. Forbid certain works, forbid certain ideas, and in turn, legitmize dissent by reframing it. And marginalize it simultaneously. Otherwise, it's seek and destroy. Why is Howl so radical today? We live in a media saturated landscape that celebrates its own profiteering from sexism, heterosexism, violence, imperialism, greed, and narcisism. Telling the truth in times of universal deceit can (apparently) be a revolutionary act (as Orwell once stated). We're decades on, and this poem is still too relevant as cultural critique.
Ginsberg doesn't just leave it to Beaver? You mean there was a life outside the bourgeois establisment? Shocking! Real? Visceral? Couldn't be! That's why fifty years later it still can't be heard openly without fear. Perhaps a bit too close to the bone for too many. Try the links and see for yourself...what are we ready for? Why the FCC threat to cultural expression but not corporatist conglomeration and media ownership? It's too obvious...just listen at the first link above.
"America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flatsfloating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofsilluminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among thescholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall..."
Terror, indeed. As today, we're listening to a War on Terror through walls of media manipulation and the best minds of this generation are being destroyed by the cult of celebrity, celebration of mediocrity, and the angry, fruitless search of an endless fix for anything real.