Mind Is Bebop

Were the Beats the shock troops of the cultural revolution that fully blossomed in the 1960’s informed by, or at least festooned with the trappings of the formerly underground occulture including Thelema? Better minds than mine would argue that AND against it! But the facts remain that the likes of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge would claim that a lot of the techniques William S. Burroughs used in writing were innovative yet sound thaumaturgy (and that Billy occasionally used them as such), meanwhile William Ginsberg was a longtime patron of EGC Bishop and future Thelemic Saint (if I had my way!) Harry Smith. So I’d suggest there are multiple reasons magicians and Thelemites might be interested in The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats – a collection of lectures on this topic that Ginsberg gave over a space of decades (including at the Naropa Institute where Ginsberg had Harry installed towards the end of the latter’s life).

The New York Times Book Review ran an interesting review of said book, and here’s two piquant excerpts therefrom:

“Ginsberg begins by paying intelligent tribute to the great bop pioneers of the postwar years. Their looser, more kinetic and improvisational rhythms drawn from black vernacular speech and the ebb and flow of consciousness itself — ‘Mind is bebop’ was a Ginsberg epigram — led directly to Kerouac’s invention of ‘spontaneous prose,’ an explosively lyrical style of anarchic simultaneity that in turn, as Ginsberg always acknowledged, made his own outbreak into originality possible…

“In his classes, Ginsberg asked his students to forget their preconceptions of what a poem or a story should be, and look instead for the ‘interior form’ they glimpsed beyond ‘the superficial level of mind’ of what they knew. What lies closest to hand is often someone else’s property.”


Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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