Wed 26 Apr 2006
When discussing works from the “Beat Generation” is it easy to see that authors often classified themselves as members of the generation. They saw themselves as the pioneers and wanted others to see that as well. However, there are many moments in works from the Beat Generation where people are mentioned as being “beat” without even realizing it. In Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, the character Morley is a prime example of this. He was the ultimate Zen Buddhist, because he did not think about being Zen Buddhist—he was who he was and that is what made me perfect. Ken Kesey, in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe is the same type of person.
Throughout Wolfe’s book Kesey is depicted as a man on a mission to keeping going in life. He does not want to get into any kind of routine. He doesn’t want to identify with one type of person or classify himself in any way. In the very beginning of Acid Test Wolfe mentions to Kesey that what he is doing with the Bus is a lot like what is going on in New York City at the time. Wolfe writes, “ ‘you mean on the order of what Andy Warhol is doing?’ I said. …pause. ‘ No offense,’ says Kesey, ‘but New York is about two years behind’” (Wolfe 9). This interaction touches on the notion that New York City was all about taking a particular stand and sticking with it—they were all about holding up a specific reputation. Kesey did not care about that idea in the slightest. He did not want to be put into the same mold as Warhol, or any of the Beat writers, or any hippies. He and his Pranksters were the anti-group. In my opinion, to be Beat and to truly be what everyone was trying so hard to be at the time, one has to act like Kesey and Morley and separated oneself from what is expected. That is how to be a true pioneer of the Beat Generation.