Howl was absolutely nuts. My mind feels like eggs that have been scrambled and beaten. I had to do some outside research on this one to understand what was going on. For one, the poem is written for Carl Solomon. I looked up Solomon, and it turns out he was a patient in a mental institution. I felt like I should be put in a mental institution after reading this! I had an extremely hard time comprehending what point Ginsberg was trying to get across and his motives for writing it.
The first section seemed to me like Ginsberg was mad at the world for what it was becoming. He opens by saying he “saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” He continues to place this destruction on the use of drugs. There are multiple references to drugs, including, “looking for an angry fix,” and “Benzedrine.” Benzedrine is an amphetamine that was used as a bronchodilator but was commonly used for recreational purposes. There are also multiple references to sexual encounters in the poem, both heterosexual and homosexual. The second page contains a lot of them. For instance, “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy…” I just don’t understand why he puts all of these references in the poem. I found it to be a bit disturbing. One thing I noticed in the first section was the punctuation. There were no periods! Why did Ginsberg do this?
In the second part, Ginsberg references Moloch. Moloch was a deity who was worshipped by parents sacrificing their children. I’m sure this is significant, but I’m not sure why. Ginsberg switches his punctuation up in this section by using only exclamation marks. Is he yelling? I think Ginsberg is showing he is frustrated with society in this one. In one part, Ginsberg says, “Visions! Omens! Hallucinations…gone down the American river! Dreams! Adorations…religions…the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!” To me it was almost like Ginsberg was saying there is no longer any appreciation for dreams or any sort of aspirations or beliefs in America.
Part three was really where Ginsberg addressed Solomon. The first thing I had to look up here was Rockland. I believe Rockland was the institute Solomon was living in. I got a sad tone when I read this section as Ginsberg addressed Solomon. Solomon “laughs at this invisible humor.” Solomon laughs at nothing, implying that he is crazy. Solomon also, “…scream[s] in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss…” I took this as what’s going on in Solomon’s head; a monotonous game of pingpong, back and forth, in blackness. Towards the end I got the feeling Ginsberg was voicing his displeasure with the United States. I’m not sure what his displeasure was about, though. Maybe how they dealt with those in the institutions?
Can anyone help me on this one?