Polsky, N. 1969. The Village Beat Scene.

Polsky, Ned. 1969. “The Village Beat Scene: Summer 1960.” Hustlers, Beats, and Others. Pp. 144-182. New York: Anchor Books.

Beats resent labeling, as it is square and conformist. “Hipster” as “simply one who is hip” (145). Use of drugs, jazz, anti-bourgeoisie attitudes; however, hipster is now pejorative – someone who “tries too hard.” Originates from “being on the hip” – a bodily position used while smoking opium – however, this is obsolete from current (even then) use. Absorption by hippie culture, but distinct. Purposefully lower-class, despite middle-class origins. Plain dress, a lack of desire to be seen by society. An unflamboyant dropping out?

Mostly a masculinized, raced scene – White and Latino ethnic men, with sporadic women, often ex-prostitutes. Little racial integration, although more frequent than occurring in external populations. Imitations of jive and jazz Blackness. Often associated with transience, drug use and abuse – often as a social activity, instead of isolate. High normalcy of homosexuality and bisexuality, particularly amongst males – however, this is not strongly defined – sexuality as fluid?

View “voluntary poverty is an intellectual gain; they gain by giving up the evil effects of meaningless work, gadgetry and the mass media” (155). Politically oriented toward figures of rebellion – Communist, Socialism, but are fearful of capitalism and fascism.

Despite media focus on beat intellectuals and writers, many beats are of low-education status, and very few recreationally read or write. Some are interested in Eastern religions and mysticisms of simplicity, but this as rolled out of fashion.

Ummmmm — and then Polsky freaks out and pretty much says that all Black people want to be White, and it’s a well-known social fact. (Despite, yes, there are issues of internal colonialism, internalized racism, etc.; Polsky is incredibly essentialist – like, Why wouldn’t you want to be White? It’s natural!). Though, he does criticize the colorblind and model minority models that promote racial integration in “special cases” – such as skilled musician, poet, etc.

(Why the fuck did I read this?)


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