In the poem Howl, Allen Ginsberg challenges the political modernity of American culture that enforces the “best minds” to give up their freedom to gain the desired sense of normalcy that is glorified. He states “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked/dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix” (Ginsberg 9). That angry fix that he describes is what all of these “best minds” look for after being striped of their freedom to conform to the new American culture after World War II.
Without question a “best mind” in Ginsberg’s reference is one with all the freedom and insight before the turn of American culture that explicitly loose it through modernity. The “best minds” were not necessarily the wealthy and eminent but the people who used freedom for expression. They were the ones opposing the American culture that battles Capitalist and Communist control that was arrived post World War II.
The form of Ginsberg’s poem challenges the culture through the resistance of the “best minds”. Howl is separated to three sections that include long lines that look like paragraphs. Resisting classical poems, he arranges long sentences instead of breaking them into separate parts. This free verse poem reveals the unorthodox meter Ginsberg puts in place through the three parts. In the first section he repeats the word “who” before every line to address the “best minds” and how they are being destroyed. In the second, he does the same for the word “Moloch”. Moloch can be interpreted as the American culture that is the destroyer. He states: “Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the/ crossbone soulless jail house and congress of sorrows” (21). He explicitly speaks about the politics that are determining this culture to destroy the “best minds”. The reference to a “congress of sorrows” relates to the America’s politics that are the down fall to the their best people. Lastly, Ginsberg repeats “I’m with you in Rockland” in the final part. This addressed that not just Ginsberg himself is with “you”, the reader, but also all the people that were destroyed by the desired normalcy of living. “I’m with you in Rockland/ where we hug and kiss the United States under/ our bedsheets the United States that coughs all/ night and won’t let us sleep” (26) Ginsberg states. Ginsberg reflects on the satire of people worshipping American culture when it is actually the cause of their trouble. They are glorifying a culture that restricts you to normality, and destroys the best minds. These parts take the reader behind who Ginsberg thinks the “best minds” are and how the American culture changed the fundamental desires to destroy them.
American culture after World War II changed the idea of what people should desire for in life. The shift to looking for normalcy is what left the “best minds” looking for something more. The battle of politics left some people dishonestly worshipping Capitalism, or...