I have been thinking about the beat poets today. I heard a quote about how the current generation mirrors the beat poets in that they have been cut loose from social norms that held for generations. It was actually sitting on the roof of my building having a smoke and watching the sunset. You might not think that some San Antonio roof repair guy would be a closet intellectual, but once again I was proven wrong! He asked to bum a cigarette and that was when he mentioned to me about this generation. He had gone to college for poetry, but here he was repairing shingles… but doing it poetically.
However, I told him,unlike the beats, who believed in a universe that may or may not have inherent meaning, the generation coming of age today believes in greatness. They believe in destiny. I find that hopeful. I believe it is true! So I wrote a tribute to the beat spirit channeling the perspective of an adolescent. I want to share it with my roofing friend, but I didn’t get his number. Roofer, I hope you see this and reach out. And keep writing!
Censor high-schoolers’ reading- the objectivists, the beats, the actors, the existentialists- ALL non-required reading- ban it all! Maybe some kids can read theses ideas and philosophies and edicts and dreams and epiphanies and ideals and let them roll off their well-adjusted, high-achieving, type-A shoulders, allowing them to do their homework and make their beds without questioning why they are squandering their brief but glorious lives away in actions that Allen Ginsberg would piss on and Hunter S. Thompson would hysterically embellish. That Aldous Huxley would find the meaning of life in! That Ayn Rand would do BETTER! That Sanford Meisner would transform into an exercise in illustrating natural action and reaction and emotion! That would not just be a task but a catalyst for something beautiful and precious.
Can one really live that way and still hope to succeed in an environment where worth in measured in the completion of a chore but not in the appreciation of the time and effort that went into it, proving the worth of the chores simply by its consumption of human time? Not that students should be coddled for fulfilling their responsibilities, but when was the last time a teacher said, “Why did you do that worksheet (or essay, or goddamn makeup)? Because it was expected of you?” This isn’t asked because most people would say, “Sure! You have to work within the system to beat the system.”
* * *
10 YEARS LATER
Ask the same strategists how that plan worked out? They’d tell you, “Almost! Soon I’ll break out! I’m almost at the point where I can get into that higher-income bracket (and stop bullshitting through college and graduate school and work and aquainemies (acquaintance-enemies) ) to the point where I can seize consciousness and breath. And open my heart to love(which is the only reality anyway) and “do” for the sake of the perfection of the moment gained from any REAL action… and stab with my previously numbed teeth the life out of a SECOND that be worthless without some action or thought or real emotion to justify it.
Among other reasons, I act because it is the one way I know to coat that vital urgency on every moment, since every blink or handshake or unscrewing of a water bottle could one day add to the life of a character who would show an audience how to let go of their facades and false responsibilities long enough to experience something genuine. And so, teacher, that is why I didn’t do my homework. No, my dog didn’t eat it. An, yes, by even explaining this to you, I’m adding to the very cycle I condemn the perpetuation of. I’ve just exploited the very artists and livers that would roll in their graves at the very thought of this exchange.
You know what? I HATE this! I hate making excuses and pathetic apologies. I just want the right to be myself! No, I’m not gay,or disabled, or black. I’m an overthinker who aspires to the condition of an overLIVER. I desperately desire- every single minute, feel the pressure- to live like each shoe-lace-tying is the last juicy bite of an almost over-ripe mango; or the first consuming kiss with a soul mate; or
You know what? Just do us all a favor and ban those goddamn books.