I saw the best of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking of an angry fix, angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the Machinery of the night. Some of them bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw dreams of Arkansas and angels. Other drank drugs and remains in unshaved rooms in their underwear, burning the things that made food possible for them. Some of them made connections in white padded rooms, while other waited for Moloch to collect a sacrifice.
Howl by Allen Ginsberg comes off as critique of his whole generation, while also understanding it. He sounds disappointed by what has happened to it, but understands how they got to that point. It is like you and your friend has an addiction to the same drug, but you are able to pull yourself out of it, but you see that your friends are still following self-destruction. You are disappointed, but you understand why they can’t stop. It also feels like a collection of experiences and actions that Ginsberg has gone through. “Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness” seems like when the generation became decadent in comparison to lines like “Burning their money in wastebaskets. It also sounds like they were trying to disconnect from the system. “Who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow towards lonesome farms.” While part one sounds like a description of the hipster/beatnik generation, the second part deals with Moloch, who is an ancient Semitic God. He is usually involved with child sacrifice, but most of the time he is used as a presentation of something that requires a costly sacrifice. By using Moloch as a god figure, is Ginsberg saying that for his generation to receive the perception and outlook they have acquired, they had to sacrifice their own personal future and placement in society? The last section deals with Ginsberg and his friendship with Carl Solmen, who he meets in a mental hospital. Solomen and Ginsbergs both entered of their own free will and start to talk about their experiences. Ginsberg felt sympathy for Solomen, who related his experiences to him, such as throwing potato salad at lecturers on Dadaism.
(Sidenote: I also found this video that I think is amusing, which is a ......companion piece, I don't really know what to call it, a howl for the modern age?)