I spent the last week with two of my friends from the “Beat Generation”, Jack Kerouac, “On The Road” and Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”. 
 
From Wikipedia:
 
“Author Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time”
 
They employ a writing style known as ‘stream of consciousness”.  From Wikipedia:
 
“In literary criticism, “stream of consciousness” is a literary technique that seeks to portray an individuals point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her sensory reactions to external occurrences.”
 
 
To me that means you feel the thought, you write it down.  No days or weeks, or months, searching for the perfect word – first word, best word.
 
I can recommend to anyone that you go to your local library and get a copy of  “One The Road”.  After a few paragraphs you will quickly know if you will enjoy the book or hate it.
 
Howl on the other hand is a much more challenging read because it is a tortured tale with some “obscene” passages that speak to gay love.  In the introduction to “Howl” William Carlos Williams wrote:
 
“Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of angels.  This poet sees through and all around the horrors he partakes of in the very intimate details of his poem.  He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt.” 
“Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through Hell.”
 
The first and last lines of Howl will give you a view of Ginsberg’s hell:
 
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical naked”
 
“with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their bodies good to eat a thousand years”
 
Howl is clearly not for someone who is not prepared for a trip thorough hell.
 
The other thing about Howl is that it is considered by many to be obscene.  Copies of the book were seized by US Customs when they arrived from England.  The American publisher was arrested and charged with disseminating obscene literature.  The courts however ruled that it was not obscene because it had “redeeming social significance”  Howl is still banned from public libraries in some parts of the US.
 
The only words I consider obscene are those which direct hateful thoughts, or encourage hateful actions, towards another person.  For me war is a more obscene word then F—.
 
Questions:
 
1. Can you think of a phrase in any book that just jumped off the pages and give you that “oh wow” moment.
 
2. What is your definition of an obscene word?
 
3. Should any books be banned from public libraries?
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