Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Great books

Exerpts from:
Can You Pass The Acid Test
Find at

1960s and 1950s
From Beatniks to Hippies
Many counterculture writers got their start in the 1950s when the Beat
Generation, or “beatniks” as they were called, were the only rebellion
against America’s corporate culture. Some of these writers went on to
become an important influence on the 1960s counterculture.
Alan Ginsberg wrote Howl (1956), a poem that describes the street
scene in San Francisco. It features the world of heroin addiction and pot
smoking. There have been at least 51 printings of it and more than
750,000 copies have been sold.379
In his journals from the early 1960s and 1950s, Ginsberg wrote of his
first time using peyote, called “We’re flowers to rocks.” He described a
meeting with Bill Keck, who introduces him to peyote and explained his
interpretation of the “peyote god.”
As he described it:
“One of the buds has a double root like a cactus. The last has tip cut off
& looks inured & stunted, but center still good.”380
He was told to eat the pulp, “peeling away top & bark & all rot parts
from injury to head.” He added that it was hard to digest, so he suggested
eating it with milk or juice or especially with fruit salad.
He referred to it as the god (small peyote god) and carried it around in
his briefcase for two days wandering in New York. He saw the burning of
the early Christian martyrs in Quo Vadis with a friend the next night.
His journal also included the poem “Politics on Opium” and “Police”
(poem on the way to meet Timothy Leary’s). As with Leary, he was
fascinated by The Tibetan Book of the Dead.381
He also made use of the Book of Dead & Dyana for Beginners which
emphasized monsters that are part of what he called “aggregate of
Karmaic imaginaries—that the Final thing is nothing but emptiness of the
Another writer who rose to fame during the ’60s was William
Burroughs. As with many of the drug culture writers he started in the ’50s
with his book Junky, originally written in 1953 under the pen name
William Lee. As the book’s title would imply, Burroughs took a look at
the seedy lifestyles of the narcotics users’ underworld. He describes his
own first time using morphine:
“Morphine hits the back of the legs first, then the back of the neck, a
spreading wave of relaxation slackening the muscles away from the bone
so that you seem to float without outlines, like lying in warm salt water.
As this relaxing wave spread through my tissues, I experienced a strong
feeling of fear.”383
The book describes many of the people he knew, many of them
criminals, who made use of morphine and other narcotics. At times, the
characters were untrustworthy and violent. Burroughs also wrote Naked
Lunch (1959) which also included depictions of drug use. He also wrote
about homosexuality.

The Beat Generation
In 1955 Jack Kerouac published On the Road, which chronicled his
life traveling around the country with his friend Neal Cassady. Although
it was not a drug book, it did inspire the “beat generation.” The
“beatniks,” as they were called, rebelled against the stale and stifling
culture of the 1950s. They rebelled against the conformity and the
Puritanism of the corporate culture that dominated every aspect of life in
that decade.
Gilbert Millstein, of the New York Times (Sept. 5, 1957) said this of the
beat generation:
“Outwardly, these may be summed up as the frenzied pursuit of every
possible sensory impression, an extreme exacerbation of the nerves, a
constant outraging of the body. (One gets ‘kicks’; one ‘digs’ everything,
whether it be drink, drugs, sexual promiscuity, driving at high speeds or
absorbing Zen Buddhism.)”
He also adds:
“The ‘Beat Generation’ was born disillusioned; it takes for granted the
imminence of war, the bareness of politics and the hostility of the rest of

Also found: Memoirs Of A
Sex-crazed Yippie

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