Hello, goodbye

Hi Everyone.

As of now I will no longer be posting book reviews here. All of the reviews from here are going to be moved to http://philosophyafterdark.com and I will be posting new reviews there in the future. Hope to see you around!

Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems

It’s embarrassing how long it took me to read Ginsberg, given his still palpable influence on literature, and the world. Similarly, nothing I have to say about him is going to do justice to the force of his poems, and the effect they had on me.

In the introduction to this slim volume William Carlos Williams describes Ginsberg as “mentally much disturbed by the life which he had encountered about him.” This is perhaps the most accurate statement to my impression of Ginsberg. His poems emanate with an angry sadness (as opposed to a defeatist sadness), a feeling of otherness and lyrical brilliance.

I feel Allen Ginsberg never quite felt at home in the world. It offended his sensibilities (as it should, because look at the fucking mess we’re making). The two poems that most ingrained themselves in my memory are unsurprisingly Howl and Kaddish. The first can be read as an eulogy to his generation. To its being destroyed by the ‘American’ dream, the fear and loathing perpetuated by the American culture of the time; something which has now ingrained itself throughout the world. It’s amazing how astutely Ginsberg could diagnose these ills in just a few lines. Kaddish is written in memory of his mother. It diagnoses her mental decline and death, and is perhaps the finest poem I’ve read in this collection. Though I know I will read the entire book once or twice more before I must return it to the library.

Ginsberg surely felt other wherever he went. In America he felt un-American, elsewhere he felt American. His homosexuality only perhaps deepened his otherness. Coming back to the introduction, Williams wrote that he was astonished by Ginsberg’s ability to survive, travel and keep writing. In a way it is astonishing. The world was against him. But what a loss it would be if he weren’t capable of surviving or of writing.

Spare yourself the embarrassment I endured and get even this short collection. Book Depository or Amazon are here for this.