November 19, 2007

The Insane and the Shallow

"When can I go to the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?"

Allen Ginsberg, "America," Howl and Other Poems

Poetry makes love to words; Allen Ginsberg's poetry rapes them.

Reading Howl and Other Poems was like repeatedly slamming a hammer on my thumb to see how long it would take to not feel the sensation of pain with each hit; then admiring the distortion of the limb. I can't say I've ever truly experienced that feeling while reading before now.

The lines are quotable and hideous, but quite possibly ingenious. The vulgarity of it is necessary. The faster the words fly across the page, barely pausing to give the reader an anchor, the higher the demand for their presence.

Perhaps the sense of the words has been lost on me, for example, "When can I go to the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?" There is no answer to such a question. The shallowness of American culture make that step a probable thought, as good looks buy everything else.

The sense is completely lost - and that is its ultimate value.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at November 19, 2007 10:13 PM | TrackBack

After reading Daniella's blog, I definitely think that this is one of the reasons that it was so controversial. It confronts horrible truths about society that everyone would rather ignore. We do have a tendency of being shallow, but how many people would readily admit to that? How many would not be offended when having to confront that fact directly?

Posted by: Jennifer Prex at November 20, 2007 3:01 AM
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