erin lynne. (footnotetohowl) wrote in beatgen,
erin lynne.
footnotetohowl
beatgen

x-posted.

i'm so desperate that for a moment i contemplating buying one of those internet essay. my essay is late & i've barely started it. i am/was writing on the theme of madness in howl but i'm not getting ANYWHERE. everything i write is merely a retelling of what he wrote & i'm majorly lacking in analysis of the text. i need help so bad. i need some recommendations on how to analyze the theme of madness in howl or even a new thesis that would be easier to analyze. you have know idea how much any tiny bit of help will be appreciated.
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  • 8 comments
When the Beats spoke of madness, they gave it a different meaning from the generally accepted usage, as in the famous Kerouac quote: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”

Also, the theme of madness in Howl is a metaphor for the corruption of the beauty of life by the forces in power. It's a recurrent theme in literature.

ahhh, thank you. you may have broken the ice of my writer's block. seriously my brain is overflowing with ideas right. you are a godsend.
Feel free to quote me.
I would be extremely careful about using Cloudwatcher's interpretation of the poem. In order to argue that Ginsberg is talking about beaten madness, you would have to provide some fairly extensive evidence from the entire beat movement, and dig very deep into the poem.

Whereas if you look at 'madness' in the traditional sense, you really don't have to dig that far. Consider AG's reference to homosexuals - back in the 1950s, homosexuality was considered to be a mental illness. Look at his reference to communists - again, when Ginsberg wrote Howl, psychologists (who were scared of being caught in the McCarthy-ist fervour) spent time arguing that communism was the result of neurosis (which is a Freudian term for madness). The poem covers drug abuse/addiction and several other concepts that were considered 'crazy' back in the day.....
i've finished the essay. i didn't talk about anything that clouwatcher recommended. i just needed a mental jolt to get me writing. i ended up writing about the three madnesses [plus more] that you discussed [homosexuality, communism, & drug use].
The actual poem is written "to" Carl Solomon, whom Ginsberg met at a mental hospital. The madness IS the conventional kind, he is basically showing solidarity with mentally ill people, by describing all the craziness he (a sane person) has seen and experienced in the everyday world. The last part of the poem, with "I'm with you," kind of underscores his point.
When analyzying Howl, it is very easy to get lost in Ginsberg's language. To avoid getting lost in the poem, I strongly suggest reading it as follows. Any Beat purists in the crowd will cringe at this, but honestly, based upon your questions (and the sentence structure you use), I suspect that you need things simplified as much as possible.

"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,"

then

"I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,"

and on and on until....

"I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years."

Then, you get to meet a more mystical Allen Ginsberg - his rants to Moloch are extremely interesting - provided you gain an understanding of who/what Moloch is, and what it would represent to AG.

And finally, part III brings it all together - it is something of AG's farewell verses to a friend.

If you are having trouble getting your mind wrapped around Howl, I would strongly suggest finding a way to 'hear' Ginsberg read it. There is an mp3 version of Howl floating around - honestly, find it and listen to it. It is very difficult to feel the poem until you hear how Ginsberg's voice flutters over the consonants.

And finally, don't steal an essay - to do so is not only an insult to the entire educational process, it is also an insult to yourself.
once i got started i had no problem writing, it was just breaking that initial writer's block. i briefly talked about how moloch could be interpreted as one's personal madness brought on by society [it sounds a lot better in the paper. oh i didn't pull that idea completely out of my ass. ginsberg talks about how moloch is the mind in this interview. & i've heard ginsberg read howl many many many times, i have howl & other poems on cd. i feel that the best way to understand howl is to listen to it because ginsberg wrote it with the intent of performing it. & finally, i wasn't actually serious about stealing an essay. i mean, it's tempting. but completely ridiculous because i'd get caught for sure [i have to user turnitin.com] & i have a bit of an ego & think my essays are wayyyyyyy better than the pieces of shit they sell online. so don't worry the idea of buying an essay was only a fleeting fantasy.