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Religions 2013, 4(1), 51-66; doi:10.3390/rel4010051
Article

Charisma and Counterculture: Allen Ginsberg as a Prophet for a New Generation

Received: 14 December 2012; in revised form: 7 January 2013 / Accepted: 16 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern)
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Abstract: The cultural role of Allen Ginsberg does not fit a typical Weberian model of charisma. The avant-garde poet was an outstanding personality and possessed an unusual ability to affect people. He played a vital role in expanding the boundaries of personal freedom in America of the 1950s–1990s, blazing new paths for spiritual, communal and artistic expression. Serving as a father figure for the counterculture—a symbol of an alternative set of cultural norms, lifestyles and literary forms—Ginsberg was a charismatic counter-leader, with no clearly defined followers or movement. As a leader in a more liberated era, he offered energy, ideas, inspiration, and color, but no structure or authority. Instead he was a prophet of freedom, calling on people to express themselves openly, to expand and experiment. This role demanded charisma but of a different kind—one that was more spiritual and less organizational or hierarchical. This article follows Gary Dickson’s essay “Charisma, Medieval and Modern,” in offering a suggestive analysis of and supplement to Weber’s understanding of charisma. The article grapples with the concept of charisma in relation to a generation that resented rigid structures and authorities.
Keywords: Allen Ginsberg; Naomi Ginsberg; Jack Kerouac; Peter Orlovsky; Beat Generation; counterculture; Jewish; Howl; Kaddish; Buddhism Allen Ginsberg; Naomi Ginsberg; Jack Kerouac; Peter Orlovsky; Beat Generation; counterculture; Jewish; Howl; Kaddish; Buddhism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ariel, Y. Charisma and Counterculture: Allen Ginsberg as a Prophet for a New Generation. Religions 2013, 4, 51-66.

AMA Style

Ariel Y. Charisma and Counterculture: Allen Ginsberg as a Prophet for a New Generation. Religions. 2013; 4(1):51-66.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ariel, Yaakov. 2013. "Charisma and Counterculture: Allen Ginsberg as a Prophet for a New Generation." Religions 4, no. 1: 51-66.


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