Lauren Cl.


“The worlds like an endless four-dimensional Game of Go.” Gary Snyder makes a very significant statement with this line of his poem RIPRAP. In this poem Snyder compares writing a poem to laying down a path made of riprap. He brings nature and poetry together. While he has many intriguing ideas in this poem I was most attracted by the “endless four-dimensional Game of Go” that he recognizes. Snyder and I seem to share the belief that world is always moving too fast. Everything and everyone is constantly on the go always having more to do. It is rare that you will find time to stop and just look at things, or appreciate things, or truely put the amount of time that is really needed into a project. Everything has a deadline and must be completely at the most efficient rate. Snyder addresses two things that should have more recognition and needs more time to simply be observed. These two tihngs which he discusses are poetry and nature. He says “lay down these words before your mind like rocks. placesd solid, by hands in choice of place” He says that we need to put our time and attention into writing poetry. He says that each word needs to be chosen specifically and put in its exact place. Like in nature, every rock and “creek-washed stone” has its own specific spot, but we simply never have the time to notice. I agree with Snyder in that people should slow down and really just stop and take a look at things. People should appreciate things more, and put more time and care into the things they do. The constant “Game of Go” keeps everyone moving too fast, and we are unable to see the small beautiful details.

I thought it was very interesting when I found a glossary at the end of Junky. It reminded me of Wordsworth’s theory that an author should be a translator for the common man and use common language so that they are easily understood. Wordsworth criticized the other poets of his time for using eloquent and sophisticated language in their poetry. He said that there was no reason to write in a way that was difficult to understand. It is obvious from Burroughs’ text and from his use of a glossary that he agrees with Wordsworth on this point.
It’s obvious that Burroughs was hoping to have a very large audience for this book because of his use of the glossary. Without the glossary he would be most directly addressing fellow beats and other junkies, because they would have the easiest time understanding it all. However, because he adds the glossary at the end, this is implying that he wants everyone, even non-junkies to be able to read and understand his book.
I’m curious to know who Burroughs would consider the “common man” to be. To him the common man could be other junkies like him who he can best relate to, and who can best relate to his book. However to us the common man would seem to be non-users, because they are the majority over junkies. It could go either way. But it is encouraging to see that Burroughs wants and makes an effort to tell his story to a wide range of people.

There seem to be many different opinions about the role of drugs in the beat generation between different authors of the time. Jack Kerouac, the creator of the word “beat” as a description of his generation, Norman Mailer, an author during the times of the beat generation, but not a supporter of the “hipsters”, and William Burroughs, another author and supposed “hipster” of the time all have very different opinions on the role that drugs play during the beat generation. ? In his article “Lamb, No Lion”, Kerouac puts his own reputation on the line to protect the reputation of the beats. He attempts to convince the critics of the beats that the beats are simply “trying to love all life”. He says that he does not “think the Beat Generation is going to be a moronic band of dope addicts and hoodlums” and that “the dope thing will die out”, that it “was a fad”. Kerouac does nothing but criticize the junkies that have been mistaken for followers of the “state of beatitude”. Another author of the times, Norman Mailer expresses quite a different opinion on the subject.
In Mailer’s article “The White Negro” he claims that all the “hipsters” were junkies and criminals and psychopaths. It is obvious from his writings that Mailer is a critic of the way of life of the “hipster” as he calls the members of the Beat Generation. He spends the article relating the hipsters to psychopaths and african americans. Along with disliking the hipsters, Mailer also obviously dislikes the african americans and claims that they are a hated race who have always been hated and will always be hated. He says that the Beat Generation was influenced by the african americans, and by saying this he is criticizing the beats. Another author of the time, William Burroughs plays a different role in this subject.
In a way Burroughs actually proves Mailer right, but Mailer takes it a bit to the extreme compared to Burroughs’ situation. Burroughs is an author of the Beat Generation, and would consider himself a hipster, but at the same time Burroughs is a junky. Because of this, Kerouac would say that Burroughs is not a true beat, and Mailer would say he was the perfect example of one. Burroughs and all of his friends in his novel “Junky” are all “hipsters” and are also all junkies. Burroughs would therefore argue that drugs played a big role in the Beat Generation, but he wouldn’t necessarily say that they were part of what defined a hipster.
There is obviously some disagreement as to what would truly be a hipster with the state of beatitude, but there are many opinions that all hold there own value.