Saturday, September 29, 2007
Beat / Geek / Nerd
A beautiful article by Louis Menand in this week's New Yorker presents the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al.) as what we might nowadays call geeks or nerds. Far from the cool, hep-cat image peddled by the popular media that exploited them, these guys were shy, serious, scholarly types who struggled constantly with loneliness, depression, and multiple failed relationships. (Kerouac lived with his mother until he died.) Notably missing is the outsize ego associated with modern American male writers (Hemingway, Mailer): Ginsberg, as others have pointed out, continued to idolize Kerouac well after his own star had risen. Menand's closing paragraph alone makes the article worth a read.