The Beat Generation, later referred to as the Beatniks, rose to prominence in the 1950s and surged through the 1960s—calling to question materialist culture, social constructs surrounding sexuality, drugs and religion, reinventing style and explicitly portraying the human condition—before incorporating into larger counterculture movements.Actually, the term beatnik was coined on April 2, 1958 by columnist Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. It is a portmanteau word fusing Beat with sputnik. Allen Ginsberg had this say about it: "If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man." As for Kerouac, he once told a reporter, "I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic." Or, as he told a gathering at Brandis University: "… I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to it ... Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?"
Not long before I retired, I wrote a piece about Kerouac: Jack Kerouac's sound of America.