These women and many more besides them were artists in their own right, just as prolific and legitimate in their creative output as their male counterparts, sailing just as uncharted waters. … Taking Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ as barometers of the male Beat sensibility, as works lauded then and now as representative of a generation’s ideology and concerns, this essay seeks to examine portrayals of the Beat way of life from the other side of the bed, concentrating particularly on those themes of sexuality, sexual activity, maternity, and fertility control. Centring its study on di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik – a veritable Delta of Venus for the bongo age which, nevertheless, in its philosophical grace notes, has much to say about the female experience of the time – it will also consider works by Cowen, Jones, and an assortment of other female artists and memoirists at heart of the movement.
Undoubtedly the key figure in this revolution of the manifesto form was F.T. Marinetti, the Italian poet whose Futurist Manifesto of 1909 demands an awakening to the Modern age, encouraging the glorification of masculinity and an enthusiastic embrace of the new century’s new technologies – of, in turn, the untold chaos and devastation they might bring. … Herself heavily influenced by the Futurist movement, even briefly entertaining a romantic relationship with Marinetti, Mina Loy wrote her Feminist Manifesto as a letter to patron Mabel Dodge Luhan in 1914. Only posthumously published, the document voices a vehement call to arms against an ‘inadequate’ contemporary women’s movement, differentiating the essential and the culturally contrived qualities of the female and discussing her vital obligations as social, sexual being. Latterly controversial in their mercilessly radical rhetoric and starkly nationalistic overtone, both texts approach the notion of gender and the gendered being as an axiomatic component of human progress – the embrace or rejection of either masculinity or femininity as an essential factor in the positive development of humankind.
Following the overthrow of its communist regime in 1989—emerging from the insular seclusion of the Iron Curtain age—Poland entered a new era of democracy, market economy, and crossable borders. Made possible by a mutual movement toward the fostering of international connections, toward a more open system of communication in the wake of the war’s worldwide devastation, the country found itself suddenly open to, and infiltrated by, global culture. Since this time there has been a seismic shift in the stylings employed and themes undertaken in Polish literature. Written and largely set in this new world, Olga Tokarczuk’s House of Day, House of Night (1998) is the story of Nowa Ruda, its inhabitants and history. Bringing together the two cultures of local and global, Poland and Other, it provides an interesting portrait of globalisation’s effect on this small, rural town – and what remains of its “innate” local character.
In television, that most direct portal of art to our own households, notions of family have been increasingly examined, from the amalgamation of two homes in the Brady Bunch to the conscious re-creation of a family-like support system in shows such as Friends. With televisual representations of bourgeois, heteronormative, nuclear families becoming at this point something of a thing of the past, perhaps the keenest contemporary study of habitual dysfunction within such a unit comes with Mitchell Hurwitz’s Arrested Development (2003-2006). Relating the trials and tribulations of the Bluths when their patriarch and family business CEO is incarcerated on increasingly trumped-up charges of treason, it illustrates a nexus of pathologically self-interested individuals, somehow never quite able to walk away from one another for good. Discussing the show’s rejection of genuine emotional connection or insight, its broad discussion of productivity and functionality and its broaching of cultural taboo, this essay seeks to investigate how Arrested Development challenges our assumptions of family life and interconnection, and to argue its success in depicting the latter-day-capitalist erosion of the familial institution as we like to think we know it.