Feb 6: Alan Ginsberg, "Howl"

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Department
English
Course
ENG364Y1
Professor
Scott Rayter
Semester
Winter

Description
Feb. 6, 2013 Allen Ginsberg, “Howl” - Ginsberg had an influence on the Bob Dylan & The Beatles - Post WW2 – was published the same year as Lolita o A lot was going on culturally at the time o Just before beatniks - The second most important poem of the 20 century – the first was “The Wasteland,” which influences “Howl” Film - The animation o The problem is that it literizes what is not a very literal poem o The concreteness of NYC comes out via the animation o Any time you attempt realism, you do a disservice to something else o The type of animation effects it as well - Argues against literal representation - Reaction against domesticated modernism o Everything at that time (poetry) had become very tame & controlled The Poem - Ginsberg wanted poetry where poetry is the experience, instead of being about the experience - There is a lot of form in this poem (contrary to what was said about the text by some of the “experts” during the trial) - How do you account for messiness and chaos after war? (Men after war, etc.) - “Hydrogen jukebox” o Ginsberg called these abstract haikus (also “Angelheaded hipsters”, etc.) o Powerful image – the mind has to do an extreme leap when thinking about both o Two experiences of America – hydrogen bombs & war vs. jukeboxes, entertainment, etc. o A clash of the two o Hydrogen bomb also like entertainment to the masses - The poem is in 3 parts o First section is 78 lines, 1979 words - no period, & only 1 sentence o Visionary poem o Subject, predicate, object o The “I” doesn’t return until the 3 part of the poem - Repeated object – (who, who, who) – rhythmical (like the beat of jazz) o Anaphora o Also brings you back continuously throughout the poem, reminding you of the subject - Paratactical subject – not so much a linearity – more that they all exist at the same time - There is a story though – it’s a journey poem o Some say it’s a descent into hell o Some say it’s an ascent - “who chained themselves to subways…” – this line is one of many examples of alliteration throughout - Adrienne Rich: “In those years formalism was part of the strategy—like asbestos gloves, it allowed me to handle materials I couldn’t pick up bare-handed.” -
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