Jack Kerouac in New York/ Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund in the upcoming adaptation of On the Road/ Howl trailer
If I could go back in time to one really specific area, discounting my usually broad answer of the 60's and 70's, I would be a part of the Beat generation. I'm completely and absolutely enthralled by this period in time which centred on action, not just ideas, spawning a whole generation of people actively pursing dreams and continuously travelling. One of Jack Kerouac's lines from On the Road endlessly plays in my mind 'the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk,mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.'
I've been reading a copy This is the Beat Generation by James Campbell which details the lives of various people known under the blanket term of the beats, focusing on Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. For a long time I have devoured the books of Kerouac and spent hours on youtube listening with pricked ears to the dusty voice of Ginsberg, although their lives are explored within their own writings which has a diary like view point, I wanted to know more about the social context of their being. I have to admit that I chose this particular book on account of it being the cheapest on Amazon when typing in 'Beat' in the search field, but I am pleasantly surprised at the range of anecdotes encompassed within these pages. For anyone who has an interest in this area of American history, I would recommend a book like this which is more biographical in style as oppose to the emotionally indulgent text of the people involved because this is a different perspective.
And if you haven't watched it, watch Howl which focuses on the story of poet Allen Ginsberg. James Franco who gives an intelligent performance matching both the rhythm and juxtaposed careful calculation that Allen Ginsberg himself gave in his own poetry readings. It is a wonderfully rhythmic account of this aspect of beat life encapsulating the kinetic energy embodied in this generation of discontent people.