And we be beat pimpin’, smoking teas. The beats came of age at the end of World War II; younger brothers and sisters of the men and women who had fought the war. Their generation missed out on the convenient definition afforded by great conflict.
While their older friends and relatives flocked to the suburbs to build the American Dream and perpetrate the Baby Boom, the men and women of the beat generation found themselves alone, without name or direction, in cities across America. They became social drifters, ebbing and flowing across the country, constantly struggling to create a unique identity.
Their searches led them to discover such core beat concepts as jazz, writing and recreational drug use. Forming into idiosyncratic hipster collectives, urban beats came to discover an alternate vision of America cast in shadows in the back of seedy bars and smoked out music halls.
Theirs was a raw assault on the capacities of human knowledge, the boundaries of human sensation and the conventions of human experience. Their exploration was not a reaction against establishment, as hippie culture would become two decades later. Rather, the beat motivation emanated from a thirst for understanding and living beyond the knowledge of the mainstream served to facilitate their incessant questing.
This unflagging pursuit of possibilities resulted in an era of artistic and literary achievement unparalleled in the latter 20th century.
Half a century later, beyond the Baby Boomers and a short hop, skip and jump past Generation X, a new generation comes into its own.
Like the beats, this generation had no glorious military charge. It was raised in a time of cultural turmoil, when the X Generation fought their Hippie-turned-establishment overlords in an orgiastic explosion of corporatism and technology.
As computers got faster and businesses became more efficient, the Gen-X rebellion gradually folded into the mainstream and created the glossy pop-culture sheen which has dominated the country ever since.
Raised in this post-apocalyptic atmosphere, the new generation had neither an identity nor a desire to forge one. Its hopes and dreams were closely monitored and systematically shortened in scope to recognize only the most readily attainable of goals.
Intellectual curiosity and experimentation were bred out of the souls of young boys and girls in favor of a twisted brand of consumer hedonism.
In a time of historic wealth, in a time of unprecedented access to media and technology, this new generation learned to be happy with what it was given: the hottest clothes, the real-est television, the hippest music, all created by and in service of an establishment bent on continuing the cycle of spending.
So pervasive was the establishment that even alternative lifestyles became fashion industries. In this parliament of whores, it seemed there was no room left for creation, experimentation and passion. Would even the beats have survived such an onslaught? Probably not.
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The beat sentimentality was founded on an ability to live below and beyond society, to live around it.
Yet the nature of modern technology and directed marketing leaves no shadows for the wanna-beat to hide and develop into a proper dope-smoking, mind-expanding hipster.
No, in order to turn the tide of 21st century society, the hipster of today must exist in and be a master of the very whoredom he wishes to undermine.
She must be a tech-wise street hustler who plays all the games and sees all the guiles of the man.
She must be a pimp. But being a pimp in today’s society is not enough. Pimping puts the potential hipster so deeply into the mainstream that without a guiding light, she might never know when it’s time to smack a ho, or when it’s time to lay back and smoke a blunt.
Enter the beat pimp: a person who knows the ins and outs of popular culture, but is at once informed by the relentless experimentation of beat culture. The pimp half knows how to work the world, and the beat half knows how to break it down. Where the beat has ideas, the pimp has implementations.
Together in one person these forces can flip the script on the establishment and use modern technology and opportunity to both create and disseminate the beat pimpin’ ideals to the masses.
The beat ideal will be more popular, and the pimp ideal more powerful, than would be possible for either one alone.
As the ideal slowly takes hold, those coming of age in the 21st century will learn of a hedonism used not to enslave people, but to set them free.
They will learn of a popular culture born not of efficiency, but of creation. And they will learn to know themselves as the beat pimpin’ generation.
Andrew Waugh is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Wednesday.