In the first place I would like to analyze the poem of the New Criticism school that emphasizes the aesthetic aspect. The focus is on the tropes used in the poem. Ginsberg’s poem focuses on drugs, altered states of consciousness, and the counterculture. The trope, ‘angel-headed hipsters (a person outside the mainstream culture) burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the crashed dynamo in the machinery of the night is a metaphor that fuses Eastern mysticism with techno-punk and refers to to the thirst of those addicted to altered states, and also reveals that the poet’s heart is in the ecstasy of a postmodern gnosticism.
The figure of speech: ‘they bared their brains under the EL and saw the Mohameddian Angels reeling on the roofs of lighted dwellings’ is a hyperbolic personification and refers to a mind clouded with surreal imagination, a date with jazz music and the techno-gnosticism. ‘Blake-light tragedy among wartime scholars who were expelled from academia for insane publication of bawdy odes in the skull window is a metaphor, where a politicized Vietnam protest and sit-in was vehemently thwarted by the bureaucracy selfish. ‘Who ate fire paint in hotels’ is a suggestive metaphor for drug inhalation. ‘They purged their torsos night after night’ refers to an idealism with countless adventures with heterosexuality. ‘Blind streets of clouds and shocking lightning’ is the personification. ‘Time between corridor peyote solidity, backyard graveyard sunrises’ is a metaphor that reveals a mechanistic surrealist hallucination, a dark obsession, a phantasmagoria. ‘Who sank all night in Bickfords underwater light’ is a metaphor that suggests hallucinatory mysticism gleaned from a drug-induced trip. ‘Listening to crack doom in the hydrogen box’ is a metaphor that tends to take a trip with rock music. ‘Baltimore shimmered in supernatural ecstasy is personification’. ‘Those who disappeared in the volcanoes of Mexico leaving nothing but the shadow of the monkeys and the lava of the ash poetry scattered in the chimney is a metaphor that portrays the subliminal, chthonic, cathartic experience when one passes through the vertiginous mist of an induced trip for drugs. ‘The Sphinx of cement and aluminum opened their skulls and ate their brains and imagination’ is a metaphor that shows the mechanization of the soul going through a journey of drug-induced narconeurosis. ‘Moloch whose skyscrapers rise in long streets like those of Jehovah’ is a simile that portrays the cold look of the city on the human. The city is an inhuman spectacle, deformed and distorted until the feelings and passions exhausted in it. ‘Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the mist’ is personified to show a wasteland of dehumanization.
Next I would like to unravel the political consciousness inherent in the poem. The poet laments the destruction of New York’s ‘best generation’. The poet is a defender of the counterculture and experimenting with drugs and alcohol in excess is a norm. The poet is in both minds and shows a contradiction. Has America become a drug trip ghetto and a mental and financial hell for its proletarians? The poet bombards the American bureaucracy for expelling Vietnam War protesters from the university. The American bureaucracy expresses itself in modern linguistic jargon: Trumpeting Trumpeting. The American bureaucracy is colonially masculine and sexist. The poet is a criticism of the legal machinery for having arrested marijuana possessors. The poet emphasizes the pacifism of the counterculture generation when they distributed anti-war pamphlets and organized sit-ins at the university. The poet describes in a metaphor the narcotic fog of capitalism. The poet sympathizes and becomes a supporter of egalitarianism. The poet is enthusiastic about the protests and mentions how counterculture activists were met with screams from police cars. ‘Sobbing boys in armies’ suggest military conscription and reveal the evil of capitalism to extend its tentacles of vicious power and start and engage in wars around the world.
The poet in a metaphor compares Moloch, the Capitalist State with an incomprehensible prison. Again the poet in metaphorical language says: Moloch the pure machinery: Moloch whose fingers are ten armies. The poet expresses the counterculture of protest against an inhuman government that is globally monstrous and satanically obsessed with the rights of the defenders of the Counterculture movement. The poet continues again with invective metaphors: “Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows: Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in long streets like endless Jehovahs: Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the mist.” The poet becomes a prophet of the dehumanized and mechanized creation of people whose lives become the nihilism of despair. ‘I am with you in Rock Land, where you plan the Hebrew socialist revolution against the nationalist Golgotha.’ The poet laments for a just society based on socialist lines. The poet becomes utopian when he speaks of an ultimate type of mystical freedom.
To base the work psychoanalytically would be to consider the poet as a sensitive hedonist, with liberal morals, but a Gandhi who advocates indulgence and pacifism in politics. The poet espouses a drug-induced conscience and is a libertine when it comes to lewd sex. The poet is a technognostic who is fascinated by the philosophies of Eastern mysticism. The poet is a hybrid of East and West. The poet’s hallucinations are surreal and go against rationality. The poet’s mind is in a fog, a neurotic labyrinth where time becomes a cosmic language of a vehicle flowing in streams of consciousness. Being populated in multiple worlds and multiple realities is a mythical and poetic adventure for the poet’s mind. The poet achieves a mechanized, mystical, cathartic, warped transcendence, the consciousness that echoes the beatific in a world headed for apocalypse. The poet is an angelic archetype, a fallen angel who is ultimately an idealist and who has a utopian vision of his society. Dream and reality merge in beatific visions. For example: the poet sees visions of Mohammedan angels staggering on the lighted ceiling. The vision becomes like a surreal painting with a voice. Is the poet a hedonistic Bacchus when he openly preaches experimenting with free sex and alcohol? Is the poet disturbing the democratic ethos of society? The poet is a visionary, an internalized angelic mystic whose mind alternates between Christ, Buddha, Time and Plato. The poet has to be criticized for still clinging to the great narratives of the time and not achieving the motto of a mythology that would triumph over individuality.