The Source1999 Documentary
Cultural history is a very elusive subject. Trying to determine influences and connections is rarely a direct or specific process. But over the course of decades, the effect of individual or artistic movements frequently becomes more evident and understandable. Thus, some fifty years after their work first appeared, the moment is certainly ripe for a fuller evaluation of the seminal importance of the Beats and the Beat Generation. Chuck Workman's The Source undertakes such a task, but perhaps more importantly, he offers remarkably rich and edifying insight into both the genesis and development of contemporary cultural life. Beginning in the 1940s with the first contacts between Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs, Workman surveys the international bohemian scene. He carefully outlines the careers and contexts that the Beats encountered and documents this history. The evolution of the 1950s political and cultural activism that laid the groundwork for the widespread disaffection and cultural upheaval of the 1960s and '70s is fascinatingly portrayed and commented upon with film clips and interviews with a range of figures, including Timothy Leary, Michael McClure, Ken Kesey, Ed Sanders, and Gregory Corso, as well as Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs. The true scope and significance of the so-called counterculture has yet to be historically examined. In doing so here, Workman gives us an opportunity to rethink the status quo on everything from art to social consciousness; from gay, feminist, and other political changes to popular culture.