Apontamentos para a definição de Beat (Generation)

Isto tudo, porque a procura de encontrar uma definição satisfatória sobre o que significam termos como Beat, Beat Generation, Hip, Hipster, Hippie, Beatnik, etc., ainda não me levou a encontrar nada que apenas por si me tenha enchido as medidas do interesse por estes escritores e pelo que representa(ra)m no panorama da literatura do século XX. E já lá vão quase vinte anos desde que ouvi pela primeira o nome de Jack Kerouac e de algo desconhecido e intrigante como a Beat Generation…

Só a partir das primeiras duas idas a Londres e uma a Dublin (ainda falta a adiada ida aos Estados Unidos), além de algumas encomendas a amigos e, mais recentemente, as compras online, consegui reunir uma bibliografia que começou e continua a crescer saudável e vigorosamente para desgraça das economias e alegria dos neurónios e da insatisfação intelectual.

Aqui pelo cantinho a resvalar para o Atlântico, a bibliografia bem pode penar à mingua de estudos válidos pela profundidade dos seus conteúdos. Conto três teses de mestrado na Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa e uma mão (mal) cheia de artigos e textos, sem que alguns destes últimos não se livrem de se (in)fundamentarem mais nos mitos do que nas verdades, perdendo os leitores no conhecimento efectivo e nos erros que lhes são dados por factos.

Assim, o principal objectivo desta recolha inicial e posterior elaboração, é o de preencher a lacuna que existe nas letras portuguesas em relação a uma análise aprofundada sobre o significado da Beat Generation e o seu papel na literatura do seu tempo e do que se lhe seguiu.

Lanço-me então ao caminho com uma questão fundamental, que é necessário ser colocada para que todo o trabalho que se seguirá faça sentido:

Terá ou não existido uma Beat Generation (Geração)?,

usando como resposta provisória a afirmação de Gary Snyder, ao dizer que dificilmente um grupo de três ou quatro pessoas são uma geração o que, sob o ponto de vista de sociológico, é impossível de contestar.

Assim, torna-se necessário entrar por outro caminho, o da tentativa de definição do que existe sob a camada superficial de um nome. John Clellon Holmes, conseguiu fazê-lo, em 1952, para satisfação dos meios de comunicação que passaram então a dispôr de um rótulo para colar a todos os que não cabiam no espartilho dos valores da classe média americana dos anos 50 e se recusavam a moldar-se a eles. Mas o que esta definição tem de satisfatório para uma curiosidade que se deixa satisfazer pelo imediatismo do consumo de imagens, falta-lhe em profundidade que revele a massa e o fermento que as fizeram crescer.

(…)

Excertos bibliográficos

de NICOSIA, Gerald, Memory Babe, A critical biography of Jack Kerouac, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1994 (1983)

Pág. 70 [In 1940, 18 years old] He was caught in a dilemma that would impale many spirits stronger than himself, for a new sexual freedom was already driving permanent wedges in families across the nation. The Depression was ending; people suddenly has money to play again, with nothing  to stop them but fear of the consequences of “sin,” and how could those consequences be any worse than the economic purgation they had already been through? For Jack the dilemma was even worse because, as a writer, the freedom to experience life was essential.

The values his parents had given him-to get married and raise a family, and to get an education and better himself in the big city-had proved to be at odds. The fact that he couldn’t do both at the same time kept him alternating between domesticity with his family and the public life of a writer (making money and “the scene”). His was an aggravated case of the disease peculiar to his age; a splitting of the old morality into two separate codes, honor and expediency. You were now successful or you were good, but seldom both. In short, there was no Pure Land in the modern world. The Pure Land was to the past, and only to that could you look for stability. The newborn writer had his theme cut out for him.

In Jack’s personal life that split was a good deal more destructive. From time to time the demands of the world would become so egregious he would simply quit, leave success and popularity as he has left Mary, and drift around the country, frustrated by the fact that every act was only a halfway measure, born of a failure of his original purpose. As guilt from that failure mounted, he would lapse into the self-flagellation he called beat. And in his writing the self-flagellation generated a double-edged irony that sliced life open to its core.

Pág. 109 [September, 1943, 21 years old] Back in Liverpool he found another prostitute and engaged her right against a monument. He had to make his way to the ship through another blackout, but he was more afraid of the English ruffians than of the German bombs. England had lived up to his romantic notions of its grand history and culture, but he had also been impressed with the poverty of its inhabitants: the pubs closed for lack of beer, people reputedly eating sausage made with sawdust and storing coal in their bathtubs. On his last morning in Liverpool that vision of “beatness“, as he later called it, prompted him to conceive of “The Duluoz Legend.” Sitting at the typewriter (…), he suddenly foresaw as his life’s work the creation of “a contemporary history record.” The style wouldn’t matter as much as fidelity to the events and thoughts that registered on his consciousness.

Pág. 468 [October, 1954, 32 years old] Before leaving Lowell, Jack went to the basement church of Ste. Jeanne d’Arc, and in the shadows of dusk saw the statue of the Virgin Mary turn its head. In his later rewriting of Beat history, he would cite that moment as the point when beat began to signify beatific. Actually, apart from Al Hinkle’s even earlier memories, Jack had written to Allen in August explaining the beatitude of beat life, and the word beatific had been used in The Subterraneans, written in 1953.

(…)

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