Celebrated as a leader of London’s ‘Underground’ in the 1960–70s, and a leading British poet and performance artist of his time, Jeff Nuttall found fame through his critique of post-nuclear culture, Bomb Culture, which provided an influential rationale for artistic practice through absurdism but lost that recognition a decade or so later. Less well recognised, and with greater influence, is the distinctively visceral sensibility underlying much of his creative work, notably his poetry that draws on Dylan Thomas and the Beat Movement, his graphic drawing and luscious painting styles, and his pioneering performance art. This article argues that it is through these artistic expressions of visceral intelligence that Jeff Nuttall’s art and its long-term influence can now best be understood. It is intended to complement the Jeff Nuttall Papers in the Special Collections of The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, University of Manchester, deposited by the gallerist and poetry publisher Robert Bank (1941–2015), to whose memory this article is dedicated. Further papers have been added by Nuttall’s friends and relatives.
This book reveals the ideas behind the Beat vision that influenced the Beat sound of the songwriters who followed on from them. Having explored the thinking of Alan Watts, who coined the term ‘Beat Zen’, and who influenced the counterculture that emerged out of the Beat movement, it celebrates Jack Kerouac as a writer in pursuit of a ‘beatific’ vision. On this basis, the book goes on to explain the relevance of Kerouac and his friends Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder to songwriters who emerged in the 1960s. Not only are detailed readings of the lyrics of the Beatles and of Dylan given, but the range and depth of the Beat legacy within popular song is indicated by way of an overview of some important innovators: Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Donovan, the Incredible String Band, Van Morrison and Nick Drake.
Coupe 00 22/3/07 01:04 Page 1 Introduction This is not, strictly speaking, a book about music: I am neither a musicologist nor a pop journalist. Nor is it a wide, equal survey of an era: I am not a cultural historian. Still less is it a work of critical theory: I am not setting out to expose the hidden agenda of literature and popular song. Rather, it is a series of reflections on ideas addressed by certain songwriters who came to prominence in the 1960s. These ideas, I argue, derive from the literary phenomenon known as the Beat movement. My premiss is that
involved. (There was also an unstated, presumably ironic reference to a famous bombing operation by the USA during the recently terminated Vietnam War.) The Rolling Thunder Revue was an ensemble entertainment featuring not only his friend Ginsberg, but also musical acquaintances such as Joan Baez, Rambling Jack Elliott, Joni Mitchell and Roger McGuinn.1 Ginsberg had known Kerouac since the 1940s, and they had been closely identified with each other and with the Beat movement of the 1950s. They only discovered their irreconcilable differences during the 1960s: while
salvation, was the Beat poet most strongly identified with Buddhism, even though he never lost his sympathy for both Hinduism and for Native American religion. He went so far as to spend several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan. Zen it was that became popularly associated with the Beat movement, mainly because it was the focus of the novel by Kerouac already mentioned, The Dharma Bums, which centered on a fictional representation of Snyder’s spiritual practice. But as we shall see in our discussion of Kerouac, there was by no means unanimous endorsement of Zen
Cool, the Beat Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.3 The essay that follows considers the poem both as a deeply personal meditation and as a social act of involvement in the resistant counterculture beginning to form in the United States. With antecedents in Olson’s major predecessors, Herman Melville and William Carlos Williams, ‘The Lordly and Isolate Satyrs’ is both a visionary poem and a social document of its moment. Olson’s invocation of the motorcycle club helps to situate the poem specifically within the emerging Beat Movement, where it can
shifting emphasis: between the idea that the natural world is sacred in itself and the idea that its sacredness is only visible once human beings have cleansed the ‘doors of perception’. Snyder would seem to adhere more or less constantly to the former emphasis; Kerouac and Ginsberg would seem to veer towards the latter (though neither of them are notable for consistency, it has to be admitted). In what follows, we shall be exploring the dialectic between nature and vision, as exemplified by a small group of songwriters who are clearly indebted to the Beat movement
the sense of weary or worn down. 3 His conviction of a new kind of spiritual revelation, made possible by the first two dimensions. This is ‘beat’ in the sense of ‘beatific’. Coupe 02 22/3/07 01:05 Page 57 ‘Go moan for man’ 57 ***** Everybody who knows anything about the Beat movement knows that in the late 1950s Jack Kerouac often used to recite poems and extracts from his novels to the accompaniment of a piano or small band. Whether or not we agree with Bruce Cook that this enterprise was flawed, it is probably fair to say that it was thanks to his example
the right word to describe Trocchi in 2003. His name is not to be found in mainstream anthologies and textbooks on the literature of the Beat movement, and what was written about him before the film was released tends to dwell on his wasted potential and life spent in obscurity, rather than the quality or importance of his body of work. In such a context, Mackenzie’s continual praise for Trocchi becomes an instance of the director acting as someone with spe cialized knowledge who brings a forgotten figure to the attention of a larger national and international
Hesse, the Zen Buddhism of the Beat Movement, the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and contemporary New Age variants. While he acknowledges that certain of these treatments of the East and its religious philosophy are not necessarily satisfactory, and may well be distortions of Hinduism or Buddhism, he does not necessarily see blatant evidence of the hegemonic tendencies of the colonialist enterprise. Instead, he detects a subde ‘deployment of the East as a means of intellectual and cultural criticism [of the west]’ (1997: 107). Clarke himself does not