The Hippie Movement and the Beat Movemnt

How the Hippies got hip with the beat of the Beat Movement Jack Kerouac once said, “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” (Kerouac 5). Kerouac was the symbol of the Beat Movement.
He was the rebellious and adventurous man, who during his time was considered an outcast, but soon later made way for the counterculture of the Hippie Generation. The beats were all about going against social conformity and usual political views (Bennett 340), which mirrored the belief system of the hippies one decade later. This is one of the many reasons why the Beat Movement was the actual beginning of the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic that occurred soon after. The Beat Movement was the main influence on the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic.
The Beat Movement consisted of a group of American writers and artists popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion. William T. Lawlor called the Beat Movement “an artistic movement noted for experimentation and a bohemian lifestyle” (Lawlor 70). These individuals involved in the movement believed in spontaneity and utilized this characteristic to go against the average culture of the 1950s and for personal self-expression through literature and art. Many found their inspiration of spontaneity in the urban environments that surrounded them.

Robert Bennett stated that Daniel Belgrad, author of The Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America, “argues that the beats were part of a much larger cultural movement that used spontaneous art to challenge the ideology of corporate liberalism” (Bennett 340). Many of the people associated with the Beat Movement help to create the distinct characteristics of this movement. Jack Kerouac was one of the main individuals involved with the movement and was the one who coined the term “beat. “Beat” was a slang term to describe the “beaten down” people in America at the time as Kerouac stated in one of his many interviews. Kerouac wrote one of the main works of literature that described the Beat Movement and its people, which was his novel On the Road (Lawlor 72). Another individual involved with the Beat Movement was Jack Kerouac’s good friend Neal Cassady. Cassady made appearances in many of Kerouac’s novels and is known as the symbol of experimentation with drugs and intercourse. Authors Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burrough were also important to the movement.
Ginsburg’s novel Howl and Burrough’s novel Naked Lunch are some of the best examples of Beat Literature. The Hippie Generation came into existence soon after the Beat Movement. Hippies were members of the 1960s counterculture movement who adopted a peaceful and optimistic lifestyle while disagreeing with corporate nationalism and the Vietnam War. The hippies were well known for wanting peace instead of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Hippies also liked to use bright vivid colors and rebel against the society of America at the time by dropping out of school, taking up different religions, and experimenting with drugs.
Hippies were usually Buddhists or Hinduisms and “…sought enlightenment through meditation…” (Chepesiuk 352). Hippie was not the original term for these rebellious people during the 1960s. Michael Fallon, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle coined the term “hippie” (Hippies 148). He said that a “hippie” was short for a “hipster”, which is someone popular at that point in time. Hippies, like the beats, turned away from middle-class society and were considered outcasts. Hippies were known as “…peace loving, nonmaterialistic, and nonconformists” (Chepesiuk 351).
Many people were involved during the Hippie Generation. Allen Ginsburg, who was also a part of the Beat Movement, was a part of the Hippie Movement. Ginsburg, like many hippies, took part of the anti-war movement and tried to get the United States to back out of the Vietnam War. Bob Dylan, a musician at the time, helped with his partakes in drug usage. Drug use during the 1960s was prominent, which is why the drug epidemic began soon after. The Woodstock Festival was a gathering of many of the people involved in the Hippie Movement designed to bring peace and music together.
That did not end up happening. At the festival many riots and fires occurred causing to create havoc and mayhem. This explains why some historians say the festival was the beginning of the end for the hippies. Bennett once stated that “…the Beat Movement…powerfully influenced the emerging counterculture of the 1960s by providing an early avenue for social protest and experimentation with alternative lifestyles” (Bennett 342). The Beat Movement and Hippie Generation had many similarities between them since one had influenced the other.
Both movements began in San Francisco, California and spread throughout the country, influencing people from all over (Lawlor 70; Chepesiuk 351). Both the hippies and beats were influenced by Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies. Jack Kerouac used Buddhist influences in his writing such as the novel Dharma Bums. Hippies meditated and believed in peace instead of agreeing with the war going on in Vietnam. Hippies also took trips to India in search of spiritual truth and also turned to nature. Hippies believed in Karma which is a practice of both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Another similarity is the roles in society people played at the time in which they existed. Both were looked down upon. Many Americans disapproved of the lifestyle they chose to live. Both also rejected authority and the status quo. Hippies felt their best chance at changing society was to drop out of school and the world around them while beats felt traveling around the country would help them defeat the horrors of society. They were both non-materialistic and non-conformists and believed in freedom of expression.
Beats showed their expression through literature and art. Both experimented with different drugs and started the drug epidemic which hit in the late 1960s. Allen Ginsburg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were major figures in the anti-war movements during the 1960s and wrote ‘beat” literature during the 1950s (Bennett 343). Another person was Neal Cassady. Neal Cassady was not only the symbol of the Beat Generation, but he was also the symbol of the Hippie Generation (Beat 36). Although the Beat Movement influenced the Hippie Movement, the two had many differences between them.
Since styles often change in quickly, the Beat Generation and Hippie Generation dressed differently. The Beat Generation looked more grungy with scruffy chins and mustaches and worn out clothing, while the Hippies wore bright vibrant colors with peace symbols and had long beards. Music also fluctuates so during the Beat Movement many listened to jazz music because it took place during the big jazz scene (Beat 34), while the Hippie Generation started with rock and roll and vinyl music (Hippies 148), such as Pink Floyd and the Jefferson Airplanes (hippie).
The last different between the two movements was the types of drugs they experimented with even though they both influenced the drug epidemic. The Beat Generation experimented and was mainly known for experimenting with marijuana and amphetamines (Beat 35). The Hippie Generation on the other hand, was known for their drug usage with many different types of drugs, such as LSD, marijuana and heroin (hippie). Even though there are many differences, they are all minor while the similarities are major.
In conclusion, the Beat Movement did in fact influence the Hippie generation and drug epidemic. Many people oppose to the idea that the Hippie Movement was influenced by the Beat Movement. Some even say that the hippies only came to be around because of the controversy dealing with the Vietnam War. They say that if the Vietnam War did not happen at that time, then the hippies would not exist. The 1960s Counterculture in America states that historian Terry H. Anderson once said that “the behavior of the [mainstream] culture boosted the counterculture.
Without racism, war, and campus paternalism, the population of hippiedom would have been proportionately about the same size as that of the Beats in the postwar society” (Hippies 248). This quote shows that some historians do believe that the Beat Movement did not influence the Hippie Generation. Also, others say that the Hippies came out only to rebel against the generation before them since the 1950s were all about wholesomeness, prudishness and restraint (Bennett 340). Basically, historians only think the movement was a rebellion against all conformity.
If either of those oppositions were true, then why are there so many similarities between the two movements? Thus, this means that the hippies were very much influenced by the rebellion and adventure the beats lived and wrote about. In conclusion, the Beat Movement did in fact influence the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic. The Beat Movement was all about going against the social normality’s of the “leave-it-to-beaver” lifestyle of the 1950s (Bennett 340). They spent their time experimenting with drug use and sexual freedom (Beat 34) and “many Americans disapproved of the lifestyle these young people lead” (Lawlor 352).
The Hippie Movement was much like the Beat Movement due to the numerous similarities these movements share. Since there are so many similarities between these movements, it is accurate to state that the Beat Movement influenced the Hippie Generation and drug epidemic. Works Cited Bennett, Robert. “Spontaneity, The Beat Generation and the Culture of. ” Beat Culture Icons, Lifestyles, and Impacts. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005. 340-44. Print. Chepesiuk, Ron. “Hippies. ” The Sixties in America. Ed. Carl Singleton. Vol. 2.
Dasadena: Salem, 1999. 351-52. Print. Hamilton, Neil A. “Hippies. ” The 1960s Counterculture in America. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1997. 148-50. Print. “hippie. ” Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia. 2005. eLibrary. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Viking, 1997. 5. Print. Lawlor, William T. “Beat Generation. ” The Sixties in America. Ed. Carl Singleton. Vol. 1. Dasadena: Salem, 1999. 70-73. Print. Layman, Richard, ed. “The Beat Movement. ” American Decades 1950-1959. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. 34-36. Print.

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