Monday, December 12, 2011

Analysis of "Sunflower Sutra"

           “Sunflower Sutra” was written in the 1950’s during a time of industry and consumerism in America. It is about the destruction of nature, beauty, and loss of one’s soul. “[Jack Kerouac and I] thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery”. Ginsberg believes that the new technology is to blame for the loss of souls. A “sutra” is something that holds something else together. The sunflower is Ginsberg’s sutra of hope and creativity. “Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then”. An example of the destruction of his sutra is the locomotive. “That veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial—modern”. Ginsberg believes that the locomotive destroys everything pure and natural. The sunflower is also a symbol of Americans. He believes Americans choose technology over beauty and life. “Poor dead flower? When did you forget you were a flower? When did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? The ghost of a locomotive? The specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive? You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower”. Ginsberg hopes that we will all reject technology and bring back the creativity in our souls. “We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed by our own seed & golden hairy naked accomplishment”. By resisting culture and conformity, we can bring our inner sunflower back to life. It is interesting to see how an idea Ginsberg had about technology is still an idea which is relevant today.

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