Long Dead Beatniks: The New Pharaohs, A Guest Post by Daniel Falatko

In the ancient Egyptian and Persian empires, Pharaohs and Kings remained fully worshiped for hundreds of years after their mortal bodies had perished. Massive cults would tend to their tombs, keeping the torches lit and the gardens lush. Festivals in their honor would occur regularly. New monuments would be erected. Thousands of bulls would be sacrificed. Fine wines and enough food to feed the populace would be laid out on the temple grounds to satiate the deceased Ruler in the afterlife. In their lifetimes these Pharaohs and Kings were seen as living Gods, and in their deaths they attained a level of eternal worship reserved for Saviors and those that have always existed beyond the mortal chains.

While this type of cult worship of deceased men has mostly died out in modern times, there is one glaring exception: Dead Beatniks.

How many books can there possibly be on the Beat Generation? 10,000? 87, 000? 1,00,011? It's hard to tell through traditional Amazon and Google searches due to the sheer immensity of the collected material on these dead literary icons. Just as an example, how many books on William S. Burroughs exist in the informational ether? An exact number is similarly hard to pinpoint, but at least 80 for sure. Keep in mind that dear old Willie wasn't anywhere near as mainstream as his handsome contemporary Jack Kerouac or that bearded jester Allen Ginsberg. So you can imagine how many weighty tomes have been dedicated to those two. When you add all of these printed pages to the dozens of professional and amateur documentaries on the Beats, the many yearly gatherings from large festivals to open mic poetry nights, the hundreds of web pages and message boards, and the long lineage of testimonials from artists both obscure and world famous, you can clearly see an ancient Pharaoh style centuries-long cult worship beginning to take shape.

So how long have some of these beatniks been dead? Winos never last long, so Kerouac has been amongst the dead for going on 50 years. The same goes for fringe characters who never strike it rich, so goodby to Neal Cassidy for around the same amount of time. Dear Old Junkie Uncle Bill has been gone since the 90s. The same for allen and his comb-over. These particular dead beatniks are certainly the titans of the scene, much to the consternation of the unfortunately still living Gary Snyder, who most likely regrets his years of mountain climbing and pure Buddhist health since they've allowed him to live in comparative obscurity while his contemporaries have died in worshipped glory.

When you factor in that the average ancient Pharaoh post-death cult lasted 300 years in the most extreme cases, you can see that the worship of dead beatniks has a very good chance of reaching this empirical level. Fifty years on and there seems to be at least a couple weighty biographies released on the Wino God and The Junkie God each year, and there appears to be no letup in the volume of events, festivals, think pieces, testimonials, and other modern style God offerings/sacrifices to these long dead Kings.

The curious and commendable aspect of this worship is its ability to find enough oxygen to exist in the suffocating atmosphere of today's ultra-politially-correct, language-and-thought policed, scorched earth landscape. This age is certainly not very forgiving to the arts. The increasing inability to separate the personal lives of artists and their works by large chunks of the populace should not be very kind to the beats, after all. In an age where John Lennon himself is seen as some sort of devil for the lone sin of having been a complicated person, then what about a gun toting, right wing, sex tourist old junkie? Or how about a NAMBLA-supporting, self-hating Jew? A child-abandoning dirty old man, anyone? How about a sexist conservative Catholic drunk who banged his friends' wives and died a deadbeat dad despite millions of paperbacks sold? Can the fact that these "problematic" aspects can continue to fly under the radar while the weight and impact of their artistic works are allowed to shine for themselves as they should be seen as an ancient-style reluctance to view once living Gods as being bound to the standards of the meek mortal masses? There may be a heat seeking missile of a think piece being cooked up as we speak in the Slate of HuffPo SJW basement, but until now it does look as if the dead beatnik Pharaohs, remarkably, have escaped the torches and pitchforks which have diminished the cults of other long dead Emperors and Kings.

Who would have ever thought that a ragtag and disparate band of 50's bebop-damaged jivesters who published between them a grand total of 3 (three) culturally-relevant works many decades past could somehow dodge and duck the pendulums of shifting modern cultures and tastes to ascend the gilded tombs of the Pharaohs, attended to by mass cults for what is starting to look like centuries to come? Keep in mind that these dudes were alive at a time when there was such a thing as a successful poet for chrissakes. The whole sixties thing that most people point to as the beginning of everything that is right and cool with the world hadn't even happened yet when these giants first walked the earth. And yet here they are poised to be the first set of cultural icons to match the cult worship endurance test of ancient times.

With the inevitable take-up from far-in-the-future generations eternally curious about dudes who took drugs and slept with lots of people, it really is beginning to look as if the dead beatniks, of all people, will be the New Pharaohs.

So lay your pottery at the foot of the stone steps and lead your bull to the alter. Place your fruit jugs of wine upon the massive pile. Dedicate 1/5 of your crop money to the erection of the new stone monuments. Hail the long dead beatnik Pharaohs and sacrifice you own well-being to assure that they are will nurtured and fully-equipped in the afterlife.

Or just crack open that beat-up paperback of Cities of The Red Night for the 27th time.

Daniel Fatalko's novel Travels and Travails of Small Minds is on sale October 2nd. He is the author of a previous novel, Condominium. He is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in New York City.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

Leave a Reply

Powered by Blogger.