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Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) and the sign Connected

As Fernanda Pivano says: “Often the solidarity-quite overzealous- that Ginsberg showed in pleading with unwilling publishers for his friends or even acquaintances, by giving up to have his writings published in order to have others’ books published, as a kind of barter; thanks to Ginsberg the Evergreen Review accepted to host so many totally unknown poets, who became famous only later; moreover, thanks to his endless organizing energy so many avant-garde magazines had been published and then kept working, in some cases just by means of the money collected during this poet’s  public readings ” (4)

  • Fig. 2 –Allen Ginsberg’s handwriting

Ginsberg is a real concentrate of explosive energy and wherever he goes he can stir up. Even during his stay in India he could gather around himself a small group of young clandestine poets, leading them to write a manifest of their movement in a typical Ginsberg’s language: “You should not imitate Aristoteles’ reality, but catch by surprise under Art’s genitals the unenameled whore-reality; … solving a creative frenzy in order to take down the artificial world and begin anew from chaos ”(5) His relationship with Kerouac will be a caretaker’s too, so that his friend’s work be published; on the contrary, Kerouac did not believe Ginsberg an interesting character altogether, as “He just talks all the time”. (6)

Ginsberg proves himself able to ride all waves, the most disruptive too, without losing control of the situation. He took all kinds of drug, seeking that renowned experience called consciousness expansion that would put him in touch with God, but he was not overwhelmed by all that. In 1957 he was put on trial and charged with obscenity when he published his collection of poems “Howl”; he was acquitted as the judge’s statement about his work was: “it is an accusation against materialism, conformism and mechanization incumbent on America”(p.8), and therefore it carries a social meaning.- in those years he comes out about his homosexuality, in times when such an official statement could have disruptive effects in prudish America. These ones and many other provocations make him just somebody suspected for sheer showing off, but for the fact that his literary work is still valuable, in spite of the years. Ginsberg poems disclose a poetic mood made of very thick images, almost obsessively material; however, it is clearly perceived the consistency of the topics he told about, almost all related to the American youth’s incapacity to identify with the middle class values in addition to a high sensitivity to the feminine complaints he gave voice to in “Kaddish”, dedicated to his mother Naomi, many times instituzionalized in a mental hospital.

What makes the difference between Ginsberg and Kerouac is Ginsberg’s ability in creating social bonding: since young he was at the center of the public scene, thanks to the fame due to the obscenity charge; the raging Allen, questioning everything and everybody, is endowed with a real talent to get into a deep communication with anybody, be it a friend, a publisher, a journalist or even an adversary.  On the contrary, the very same concept of “adversary” does not exist for him, as he perceived any kind of contradiction as a challenge to find a deeper communication level, in order to reach the common core of mankind. Such was the goal he did not changed for a lifetime.

His ability in creating relationship was so remarkable that, while Kerouac –at his life’s end-could not identify the inner trend that led him through his painful path anymore, clear-mindedly Ginsberg singled out the research topics and ideals that informed the Beat Generation by influencing the 60’s and 70’s American culture and counterculture. In this way, by acknowledging such an intergeneration bond, he set himself inside the wider Universe, that is, inside the process of life-in-progress he longed for.

By looking carefully at his handwriting, we can immediately identify the personality traits that supported him in such an extreme research: the combination Curve- Rushing, because of its unselfishness and remarkable ability in creating social relationships wherever and in spite of everything; the sign Sinuous, as it can read inside the human soul and distinguish between substance and appearance; the sign Twisted, with its rebellious spirit (“proneness to being a subversive”, according to Moretti’s words); the sign Connected, due to its uninterrupted action and thinking; the thickness of the lines, suggesting his love for the physical world; his lack of the sign Spacing between Words, because of his lack of ponderation, which led him to follow always and only his feelings, for better or worse and consequently to reject rational reasons which could stop the instinctual movement of his heart. Finally, the sign Wavering, due to a tendency to reconsider always everything again and again, as he did not want to be imprisoned by anything, not even by the very same image of himself he could have built.