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Reply To: Exchanging thoughts on Patrick Solomon’s upcoming film: What is Money?””


    The “Lost Generation” writers is a fascinating topic to explore within this topic as an example. The term was coined by Gertrude Stein who called all these writers a: “Lost Generation”; but the situation that many of them came from after the 1st World War was what helped to create such a creative community of like minded individuals. This creative force or pull that drew them together held a common bond and thread of something they all shared.

    Many of them came from repressed social and religious environments where the conservative value systems were not welcoming to their new artistic visions; and so they left and came to Paris which was the world’s artistic center. Food and rent were cheap after the devastation of the war and they could exchange ideas with people of like mind who understood what they were doing creatively. A poet could express what a painter was trying to say as one example. And as the different styles evolved there were different social platforms that were being expressed; often in opposition to what the society usually accepted; so there was conflict as well as incredible new art.

    Dada as a movement was one example that came out of a rejection of those value systems that helped to create the conflict of the war; (a form of protest you might say); but what developed out of much of this conflict was new art forms; such as the idea of how art was defined was up to the artist; not the public; in other words; how much of what we now define as: “Modern Art” that changed the boundaries of how any art was previously defined.

    This little window that lasted between 1905 to 1930 changed the world in ways that are still being felt; and Campbell saw this and understood what was happening. This was the period he became exposed to the writings of Carl Jung and he began understanding how mythological themes were being expressed in this work that he had seen in the Native American Indian cultures; so this was a huge wakeup call to him that changed his life. His professors at Columbia would not let him switch topics to this new focus he wanted to follow so he quit and moved to Woodstock and rented a little cabin and read for 5 years until a new opportunity might present itself; which later it did with his teaching offer at Sarah Lawrence.

    But it was in Paris where he was exposed to these lost generation writers like James Joyce; and it was Sylvia Beech who owned the most important bookstore where all these new writers went; like Ernest Hemingway. Gertrude Stein helped Hemingway with his writing so he could get published; and her Saturday evening Salons were where many of these writers and painters would gather to talk and exchange ideas. So all of this creative activity changed the course of much of the creative thought and expression in the modern world that we have now. That’s why part of the title of the film is called: “toward the making of the modern”; and the influence of these writers went on to influence other literary movements as well.

    There was cross pollination between succeeding generations such as Beat poets and novelists; and then the Hippie and counter-culture political movements as well. People like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and so many others came out of these artistic movements that produced new ways of looking at the world instead of the more traditional and confined ways that art had previously been expressed. And although by this time these counter-cultural movements had spread out in many different directions Joseph Campbell witnessed the beginning of all this creative activity and in his own work exemplified the best of this creative spirit as one of the world’s great scholars whose influence is still being felt today.

    Speaking of which I’m leaving a clip to a very indepth documentary on them that will help clarify this connection here.