The Beat Generation
The Beat Generation is something like an artistic movement, which started in the Fifties and lasted up to the Seventies. The word “beat” was first used by Jack Kerouac and means “poor”, “outcast”; it is also connected with the beat of jazz, a kind of music that was considered a way for improvisation and expression of inner freedom. There is also a connection to the word “beatitude”, because many of these artists turned to Oriental religions (such as Buddhism) in order to find a high level of spirituality among the materialism and the social instability after the Second World War.
The Beat Generation’s members rebelled against every form of authority and wanted freedom in every aspect of their life. Their main center was London, and they talked about “Swinging London”, because in this city they could express themselves: they wore new clothes (large pants, floral shirts…) and new haircuts (especially long hair), listened to new music (in particular Rock), and started the tradition of the music festivals. However, the presence of too much freedom and the lack of solid reference point made some of them turn to the abuse of alcohol and drugs.