The Philosophy of the Beats

Front Cover
Sharin N. Elkholy
University Press of Kentucky, Jan 1, 2012 - Philosophy - 291 pages
Originating from underworld slang-the domain of hustlers, drug addicts, and petty thieves-the term "Beat" was short for "beaten down" or downtrodden. To writer Jack Kerouac it symbolized being at the bottom of society's hierarchy and looking up. Kerouac introduced the phrase "Beat Generation" in 1948 to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York City at that time. The Beat Generation consisted of writers, artists, and activists, and they became a uniquely American cultural phenomenon with a worldwide influence that introduced new ways of looking at visual art, music, literature, politics, race and gender issues, religion, and philosophy. The original Beat Generation writers include the familiar names of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso. Other figures who associated with the movement are Herbert Huncke, Neal Cassady, Bob Kaufman, Gary Snyder, Ken Kesey, Philip Whalen, Diane DiPrima, and John Clellon Holmes, to name a few. The Beats were deeply invested in a philosophy of life that they drew upon to create literary works and bohemian lifestyles. Theirs was a constant search for meaning, a coping with anxiety, alienation, revolutionary protest, and the struggle to find one's place in the world. In The Beats and Philosophy editor Sharin N. Elkholy has gathered leading scholars in Beat studies and philosophy to explore the enduring literary, cultural, and philosophical contributions of the Beats in a variety of contexts. Including essays on the drug experience in the works of Ginsberg and Kerouac, feminism and the Beat heroine in Diane DiPrima's writings, Gary Snyder's environmental ethics, and the issue of self in Bob Kaufman's poetry, this collection will explore the philosophical underpinnings of the Beat generation and will help explain why it remains one of the most defining movements of modern American culture. The Beats and Philosophy will appeal to Beat scholars, philosophers, writers, artists, and fans alike. Sharin N. Elkholy is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Houston-Downtown. She is the author of Heidegger and a Metaphysics of Feeling: Angst and the Finitude of Being (Continuum) and her most recent article "Friendship Across Differences: Heidegger and Richard Wright's Native Son" appears in Janus Head (Summer/Fall 2007).
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Philosophy and NonPhilosophy of Potato Salad
9
2 Laugh of the Revolutionary
19
3 Beat Utopos or Taking Utopia on the Road
33
4 BeingatHome
47
5 From SelfAlienation to Posthumanism
65
6 I am not an I
79
7 Tongues Untied
97
11 High Off the Page
163
12 Genius All the TIme
179
13 Spontaneity Immediacy and Difference
195
14 Two Ways of Enduring the Flames
213
15 Anarchism and the Beats
227
16 Between Social Ecology and Deep Ecology
243
17 William Burroughs as Philosopher
267
Contributors
281

8 Joanne Kyger Descartes and the Splendor Of
115
9 John Clellon Holmes and Existentialism
133
10 Wholly Communion
147
Index
287
Series page
293
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About the author (2012)

Sharin N. Elkholy is an assistant professor at the University of Houston-Downtown. She is the author of Heidegger and a Metaphysics of Feeling: Angst and the Finitude of Being. She lives in Houston, TX.

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