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Professor Cecilia Ready English 1050 30 September 2015 The Dharma Bums Influences on the BeatsDuring the post-World War II era, there was a group of authors whose literary works influenced American culture like never before. The authors were part of the Beat Generation, which also included singers, musicians, etc.These creative individuals took what inspired them and turned it into works of art.The word “beat” was shorthand for run-down, exhausted, and cheated, but when these artists or beats came along they changed the meaning entirely.This movement started with three men, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, who came together at Columbia University.Together they sparked a literary movement referred to as the “Beat Generation”.The youth were inspired by the authors and wanted to be a part of the generation.Jack Kerouac was one of the leaders of this powerful movement and defined beat as “a result of disillusionment stemming from the cold war, espouse mystical detachment, and relaxation of social and sexual tensions.” He referred to the Beat Generation as a “swinging group of new American men intent on joy.” In his novel, The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac uses his writing to investigate the non-conformity, spontaneity, and purity revealed by the lives of the Beat Generation. Dharma Bum, a term coined by Japhy Ryder, is someone who lives and spreads the values of Zen Buddhism or Hinduism in order to reach Dharma.The Dharma Bums“illustrates this desire for a new social consciousness, as well as focusing on the journey of an individual towards enlightenment” (Baratta iii).The story takes place during the 1950’s, a time when the 1
materialistic and consumer driven culture was just surfacing in America.Japhy Ryder and Ray Smith’s enlightening journey across the country highlights the non-conformity of the Beat’s livesduring this unique time.