Best 5 Amusement Parks, Theme Parks in the World. Amusement parks have gone a long way from the European fairs and the so called pleasure gardens that they initially evolved from. The oldest amusement park dates back to the 16th century, and it is located in Denmark, north of Copenhagen. Today, the terms “amusement park” and “theme park” are often used interchangeably; however, there is a clear distinction between the two types of parks: a theme park will have specific landscaping, rides and other attractions based on certain stories or themes. Some examples of theme parks are Disneyland, Dinosaur World, and Santa Claus Land. The amusement parks’ industry accounts for 54% of the worldwide revenue so that it is of no surprise that it has adapted to everyone’s needs and financial resources. The offerings range from large amusement parks to medium-sized and smaller ones found in shopping malls, for example. Here are the 5 most wanted amusement parks in the world according to Forbes magazine.
1. Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens is located in the USA, Florida and it is the perfect amusement park for the whole family. This park is ranked amongst the best amusement parks in the world because it offers something for everyone: from various rides and live shows to quick-service or full-service restaurants and a zoo for the children to enjoy. As for the thrill seeking visitors, Busch Gardens will definitely meet all expectations with one of the 5 coasters it has, each featuring a different adventure. Nearly 3,000 animals are to be found the zoo and your up-close encounter with them is bound to make you feel like you’re on an African Safari.
2. Cedar Point
Cedar Point is the second oldest amusement park in the U.S.A., having opened in 1870, and being located in Ohio on a Lake Erie peninsula. This amusement park, also called “America’s Roller Coast”, is worldwide known for its world-record 72 rides out of which 15 are roller coaster rides, 15 are thrill rides, and another 11 are family rides, and for receiving the Golden Ticket Award for “Best Amusement Park in the World”. Cedar Point also features 13 rides for children since 1970, and a Challenge Park which has a mini golf, go kart tracks, a Skycoaster ride, and a Booster type ride.
Disneyland Park opened in 1955 for the first time in California, Unites States, being designed and built under the supervision of famous Walt Disney. He initially started the concept small wanting to create an 8-acre play park with a boat ride and other themed attractions, but he soon started visiting other world famous amusement parks such as the Tivoli Gardens in Denmark and Greenfield Village in the Netherlands for inspiration and then decided that this project had considerable potential. Today, Disneyland can be found in four different locations around the globe (California, Orlando, Tokyo and Paris), offering to its visitors amazing rides, games, shows, animals, restaurants, learning centers, spa’s and virtually everything for a perfect family vacation.
Everland Resort is a theme park located in the Yongin city of South Korea, having opened in 1976 for the first time. Today, this park ranks as the fifth most popular themed park in world. The resort consists of three theme parks each with its own rides and attractions: Festival World, the Caribbean Bay and Everland Speedway. Festival World has a zoo and numerous seasonal festivals. And while the Caribbean Bay stands out with its indoor and outdoor water facilities, Everland Speedway offers the opportunity to drive a car on one of the racing tracks for people without previous racing experience.
5. Legoland California
Currently there are 3 Legoland theme parks built around the world, and they are best theme parks for your holidays. The one that interests us is located in California, United States. This park is also a miniature park because of the many landmark reproductions it displays, including the White House, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, Central Park in New York, Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and many more. The park has life-sized animals build out of Legos and a Lego factory tour, but also numerous hands-on activities perfect to keep children busy for a really long time while parents enjoy one of the 50 rides available.
So get ready for your upcoming holidays destinations to be in one of those best amusement parks in the world!
The Eastern traditions and spiritual practices have been easily assimilated throughout the Western culture for decades now. At first sight, the intersection of such different views on life, materialistic and spiritual, would lead us to believe that the middle path is not within reach, but history has proven us otherwise. Even today, the Indian culture, the Hindu religion and its spiritual rites are held in high regard. Not to mention that the Western world often finds great relief in knowing that its rich literary heritage is still put into practice and that the philosophy of sacred Sanskrit books such as Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Upanishads is still the source of inspiration for the Indian people.
Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics and is thought to have been written sometime around 400 BCE. Although its author is unknown, many scholars have attributed it to the sage called Vyasa or Veda Vyasa or Krishna Dvaipayana, who is a central figure in the Hindu tradition, a character in the epic and who is considered to still be alive according to the Hindu belief. The title of this epic actually means “the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty” and the story supposedly dates back to incidents that happened as far as the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. Jaya is believed to be the core of this Sanskrit epic because the rest of it is built around it. Thus, Jaya is written as a dialogue between Kuru king Dhritarashtra and his advisor, Sanjaya, narrating each battle and fight of the Kurukshetra War which lasted exactly 18 years. The tale is often depicting the king’s laments and regrets, his feelings of guilt and shame with regard to the atrocities and destruction this war had brought upon the Indian Subcontinent. Mahabharata has contributed immensely to the richness of the Indian culture by offering invaluable information about the warfare, history and geography at that time, but also by portraying the religious and moral state of things.
Ramayana is the second major ancient Sanskrit epic, playing a very important role in the Hindu canon. It has been deemed that this great Indian epic was written by the great sage Valmiki, who is celebrated as Adi Kavi or the First Poet because it is believed he discovered the verse and established the form of traditional Sanskrit poetry. The term Ramayana can be translated as “the march of Rama”. With regard to its epic style it has been said that: “No language can be purer, none chaster, none more beautiful, and at the same time simpler, than the language in which the great poet has depicted the life of Rama.”The rhyming couplets, “slokas”, composing the epic are grouped into chapters or cantos which are also later grouped into books or “kandas”. The seven “kandas” of Ramayana depict allegorically the teachings of the ancient Hindu Vedas, revealing its core philosophy and the need for cultural consciousness by creating ideal characters and relationships.
The Upanishads are result of a sacred Hindu tradition which enabled the Indians to pass on the essence of the Veda or of the revealed knowledge by word of mouth. Approximately 200 Upanishads are known today and all have contributed to creating the theoretical and philosophical basis for the Hindu religion. They have been split into major or main Upanishads, and minor Upanishads based on the period when they were originally composed, so that the former belong to the pre-Buddhist period, while the latter category was still being worked on during the medieval and early modern eras. These writings talk about the importance of the Brahman which is the universal spirit and the Atman which is the individual Self; yet the core teaching is that the Brahman and the Atman are essentially one. The Upanishads also offer detailed explanations about Aum, the divine syllable, which underlies all cosmic existence, and about the famous Hindu mantra “Aum Shānti Shānti Shānti” which translates as “the soundless sound, peace, peace, peace”. Also, the stories of the Upanishads are often presented in form of a dialogue between two people or animals.
The best time of the year has arrived and we can finally let loose, indulge with wonderful culinary delicacies, engage in some really expensive wine tasting and, why not, plan a Christmas to remember for the whole family. For those of you who dream of enjoying a traditional Christmas there are several out of the box destinations, as well as for those who often thought about skipping Christmas altogether. Because finding the perfect place to spend Christmas with the whole family will probably be a last minute affair, we have thought about making it easier for you to decide in advance: rate the following best 5 places to visit on Christmas and take your pick!
The first destination on our list is, of course, the birthplace of Jesus – Bethlehem. Some modern scholars are truly skeptical as to whether Jesus was really born in Bethlehem or not; their main concern has to do with how to interpret the biblical stories and with the possible historical truths that they may contain. However, until the controversy settles down, we warmly invite you to discover the city of Bethlehem as it is today. The Christmas period is celebrated in a rather traditional and down-to-earth manner. There are no high end parties and over decorated trees, there are no carol singing and Santa Clause impersonators on every corner of the street; the holy day of the 25th of December is celebrated with a procession that passes through Manger Square – the plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity – and with a mass at twelve o’clock on Christmas Eve in St. Catherine’s Church.
The next destination is representative for the other side of the Christmas celebrations spectrum and it is none other than the Santa Claus Village in Finland. If you just can’t get enough of that jolly old man, eternally laughing away all the troubles and problems in the world, and you also have a considerably deep pocket for this time of year, the Santa Claus Village is the perfect location for you and your children to enjoy memorable adventures. The fairytale like landscape is bound to get you all in the Christmas spirit. Also, many surprises wait for you at the Santa Claus Post Office where your letters receive a special Santa postmark treatment, as well as at Santa Claus’s Office where you can talk and take pictures with the man of the hour himself.
For those of you who are just sick tired of the never ending fuss of the Christmas celebrations; for those of you who are in desperate need of peace, quiet and a cocktail you can enjoy in the company of the warm and sunny breeze of an exotic island - well, St. Lucia is the answer to your payers. This Caribbean Island has it all: luxurious vegetation, white sand beaches, extraordinary hotels and even a Festival of Lights with light sculptures and lantern contests, in case you decide to explore the island. There is nothing more relaxing than avoiding the low temperatures of December, and more enviable than coming back from your vacation to work with a suntan.
New York City is one of the top most wanted cities to spend the Christmas holidays in, especially because there are so many kinds of festivities and activities that literally transform this city into a winter wonderland. Amongst the attractions that New York offers to all its tourists during this time of year, you have to see: the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the ice skating ring in Central Park, the numerous holiday shows for kids and adults held at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and many, many other.
And the last destination on our list of suggested locations is also the less conventional destination of them all: the North Pole, Alaska. Not many people might know this, but this city is actually located at about 2,700 km south of Earth’s geographically real North Pole. The tale of Santa Claus has made this town famous around the world and has literally put it on the tourist map. Also known today as the home of Santa Claus, the North Pole is annually flooded by thousands of letters addressed to Santa and by hundreds of tourists ready to spend their money at the famous gift shop named Santa Claus House and while visiting the many Santa themed attractions the city boasts with.
Posterity celebrates him as the leading figure of last century’s visual art movement – pop art. Before he arrived on the artistic scene of the 1960’s, advertising and celebrity culture had already enthralled the American people. His contributions to fields such as drawing, painting, film making, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture and music, had something in common: his obsession with finding the relationship between artistic expression and popular culture items or people. During his lifetime, Andy Warhol’s controversial artistic personality stirred numerous talks about whether his so called art pieces could really be seen as such. Today we know that Andy Warhol’s works includes some of the most expensive paintings in the world.
One of Warhol’s most famous art pieces is the painting entitled “Campbell’s Soup Cans” which he produced in 1962 by making use of a semi-mechanized silk screening technique. It includes exactly 32 smaller paintings showing the now famous Campbell Tomato Soup cans, each of the same size, with a height of 20 inches and a width of 16 inches, being arranged in an orderly fashion on four rows. The number 32 is not coincidental, actually at that time there were exactly 32 varieties of soup sold by Campbell’s. Andy Warhol’s reaction to all the mass media fuss about this series was: “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” This art piece is in perfect harmony with his personal artistic belief: “…the most banal and even vulgar trappings of modern civilization can, when transposed to canvas, become Art.”
“The Andy Warhol Diaries” was published posthumously in 1989 and it comprises eleven years of telephone conversations between Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett. This project began innocently in 1976 after Andy Warhol was audited and it was at first used as a method of documenting his daily spending habits. Hackett was the one to carefully transcribe every monologue or conversation he had with Warhol for legal purposes, although sometimes they contained far more details about his personal life than such a process would have required. More than 20,000 pages of diary were condensed into an 807-page book telling the unconventional story of Warhol, starting with the 24th of November, 1976 and ending just a few days before his death in 1987.
Andy Warhol’s most popular sculpture is by far the “Brillo Boxes”. It was exhibited for the first time at the Stable Gallery in 1964 as a part of a series of “grocery carton” art works which also included Campbell’s tomato juice cases, Heinz ketchup, Kellogg’s corn flakes, Mott’s apple juice, and Del Monte peaches. With this masterpiece, just as with “Campbell’s Soup Cans”, Andy Warhol achieved once more a successful transition between consumer-product imagery to the realm of art. He employed carpenters to build a number of 24 plywood boxes in identical size and then with a bit of assistance silk-screened each box with the logo of the Brillo soap pads. With regard to this sculpture, Warhol received just the amount a bad critique he was aiming at.
After many attempts at receiving recognition for his avant-garde approach to movie making, Andy Warhol finally struck gold with his 1966’ “Chelsea Girls” movie. The movie was shot in the Chelsea hotel and other places in New York City, starring some of Warhol’s most admired superstars of that time, such as: Rona Page, Brigid Berlin, Ed Wood, Edie Sedgwick, Patrick Flemming and many others. The style employed to make this movie is rather eclectic and definitely out-of-the-box, amassing several unexpected features: alternating soundtracks for each scene, a split screen presentation, black and white alternating with color photography. The public’s and critics’ reaction to “Chelsea Girls” was mixed, to say the least.
Andy Warhol’s fascination with death and the process of dying is perfectly depicted in the series of paintings he entitled “Death and Disaster”. Actually, the three paintings included in this series – Red Car Crash, Purple Jumping Man, and Orange Disaster – were originally photographs that Warhol had taken, and then reproduced using the silk screening process. Interestingly enough, this series confirms Warhol’s theory that “everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame” because he actually made some unknown people he randomly photographed worldwide famous.
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What we do on an everyday basis, starting with our morning rituals and ending with our sleeping patterns, makes us who we are more than some might be inclined to believe. For it is our actions that define us who we are, and not the elusive image we have created in our minds about who we are. Unknowingly sometimes, we engage in behaviors that seem harmless, but are nonetheless, highly addictive.
When the clock starts ringing there is only one thing on our minds: “I need my coffee before I can do anything!”. We use it on an everyday basis indiscriminately, although some people have turned to black or green tea for a milder similar buzz. Its effects are stunning: it will stimulate your central nervous system and metabolism in a matter of minutes after consumption, lasting up to 5 hours. Tasty and efficient, thousands of people drink it every day and with every cup they become more tolerant to it needing higher doses for the same buzz. In many ways, caffeine is a highly commercialized and accepted drug, just like alcohol. Caffeinism is the official name for caffeine dependency; symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, headaches and heart palpitations. For those who have been brave enough to give coffee up, the process is painful and discomforting, the withdrawal effects lasting up to 9 days and they are very similar to those experienced with caffeinism.
Just like with alcoholism or caffeinism, watching TV shows can be subtly, yet very addictive in the long-run. If when you wake up the morning, your first thought is: “I need to check which TV shows are aired today!” and then you jump to your computer to check, chances are that you are already addicted to at least one show. There is also TV addiction that manifests as the viewer’s compulsive need to turn on the TV without intending to actually watch anything. But TV shows addiction is quite different in that it offers some sort of “high”, excitement and thrill due to the intensity the viewer experiences while receiving his/her drama/fantasy/romance/adventure/comedy daily dose. When confronted with this addiction some people will say that they are watching TV shows to: get their mind off things, to relax, to escape from this world’s limits. Essentially, TV shows are addictive because they offer people the chance to project themselves in another reality where things are more interesting, in a dream world they wish they could inhabit.
No one would have thought that such a daily routine as applying lip balm can be addictive. Actually, as with many other commercialized products, lip balms contain ingredients which if administered in any other form can kill you. Many lip balm users claim that they get a buzz from using it and this is easily explained by the menthol, camphor and phenol that most contain. Phenol, however, is the real culprit in this mix: it is normally used as an embalming agent, known to be highly corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Also, if injected with just one gram it can cause instant death. The catch is that these ingredients will actually irritate your lips thus requiring you to apply more and more. So, while you are trying to moisturize and heal, lip balm does not only harm your lips by keeping them dry, but it also creates an addiction that you are seldom aware of.
Stress, frustration, not enough time to sleep or rest, pressure and responsibilities – if you throw all these in the same bowl you get an explosive cocktail Molotov bound to drive you to your wits ends. The challenges and problems we are confronted with every day are the sources of our fears and anxieties, leading to sleepless nights or even insomnia, nervousness, irritability, lack of focus and they keep building up spirally. One of the things that we sometimes unconsciously resort to relieve some of that anxiety is biting our nails. This action, also known as a behavioral tic or onychophagia, is meant to induce a soothing feeling because it temporarily confirms that we are still able to do something even when we are mentally stuck. Not many people know this, but nail biting is classified as an impulse control disorder in DSM-IV-R, and it falls in the same category as other body-focused repetitive behaviors such as: dermatillomania (skin picking), dermatophagia (skin biting), and trichotillomania (the urge to pull out hair).
There is much public and scientific debate on whether video games addiction should be classified as a real addiction in the DSM and treated as one. On the one hand, studies show that approximately 3.0% of the game players experience the symptoms of pathological gaming, some of them being reported to have died after playing days on end without eating or drinking. On the other hand, recent research points out that gaming is meant to give the players the means to save the world, while they learn the habits of heroes. It is suggested that playing video games trains our problem-solving skills, thus being more beneficial than harmful.
After going through all these daily addictive behaviors, which one of them does it seem to you less likely to take over your personality and develop into a real disorder?
There are many Eastern practices that have been adopted by the rest of the world purely because they are based on a philosophy of life that mystify and intrigue. After having been an essential part of the Eastern traditions and culture for thousands of years, practices such as T’ai chi ch’uan, Qigong and Tao yin have been brought to the Western world by enlightened masters of the martial arts, yoga and meditation. It is without a doubt that they have enriched immensely our knowledge of the Eastern philosophy while helping us find the right balance for achieving peace of mind. Today, we are closer to understanding why the Eastern societies have always considered these practices first of all as spiritually enhancing.
T’ai chi ch’uan philosophy and practice stem out from a number of Chinese philosophical principles, including the Taoism and Confucianism. Within the Chinese classification system of the martial arts T’ai chi ch’uan is found in the Wudang category or the arts applied with internal power as opposed to the Shaolin category or the arts applied with external/hard power. Today, although there are schools teaching modern styles of T’ai chi ch’uan all over the world, they all can be traced back to at least one of the original schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu and Sun. Traditional training for T’ai chi ch’uan is based on the philosophy so well expressed by the Taoist Lao Tzu: “The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong.” To this end, the training process focuses on:
i) slow movements with a straight spine, abdominal breathing, encouraging natural motion; ii) applying the principles from iii) together with a partner.
There are medical studies suggesting that T’ai chi can be practiced as a form of alternative exercise and physical therapy that will have long-term health benefits (supports longevity, opens internal circulation of air, body heat, blood). Even more, due to its meditation component, T’ai chi cultivates calmness and clarity, focus and self-awareness, thus being amazingly efficient in stress management.
Qigong is a practice that has evolved within the Chinese culture for more than 4,000 years old before it spread worldwide. Throughout history, Qigong philosophy and practice have been kept alive by word of mouth, being passed on from master to pupil. Because only a few chosen ones had access to it, Qigong became a part of the elite lineage while the general population had little or no knowledge about it. Qigong literally means “life energy cultivation” and because of its undeniable health and spiritual benefits, traditional Chinese medicine used it for preventing and curing illnesses, Confucianism promoted it as good for the moral character and for longevity, Taoism and Buddhism saw it as a meditation practice, and Chinese martial arts encouraged it because it enhanced fighting abilities. The principles on which Qigong training is based have much in common with T’ai chi ch’uan because both of them ultimately help the body reach a higher state of consciousness or existence, of calmness and of self-awareness.
The Chinese medicine has a term defining the psychological and physiological disorder caused by improper practice of Qigong, called Zuo huo ru mo or “qigong deviation” which manifests through symptoms such as: pains, insomnia, headaches and spontaneous movements.
Tao yin derives from the Taoist philosophy of yoga and consists of a series of exercises meant to create and cultivate a healthy balance between internal and external energies. Tao yin literally translates into “The Secret Island”. While Tao yin is a precursor to Qigong, it is also a part of the T’ai chi ch’uan traditional practice, having wide known therapeutic qualities such as calmative and tonic effects on the body, enhancing the activity of the autonomous nervous system, giving better mind control and uplifting the mood. Tao yin is also known as the Taoist Respiration Therapy because this practice promotes correct breathing principles based on the traditional concepts of Yin and Yang, and follows the rules of the five elements (Wu Hsing). Thus, Tao yin consists of a series of different respiratory exercises which are closely synchronized with various physical movements.
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Each city on this planet is a masterpiece of cultural, social and economic achievement. Without a doubt they all reflect a nation’s traditions, its values and convictions, yet most of all, a city offers to any open-minded visitor an insight into its history, its political troubles, its financial problems, and its people’s contribution for future generations. With this in mind, Berlin is Germany’s largest city and its capital, worldwide known as the birthplace of the Nazi Party and the terrifying stories accompanying this slice of German history. Most traveling folks choosing Berlin as a destination are eager to see the Berlin Wall, or at least what is left of it, Hitler’s bunker (or better yet the small park where it used to be), the Jews’ Memorial, and are generally keen on finding out as much as they can about WWII Germany, concentration camps and Hitler’s ruthless political personality. However, in many ways Berlin is a modern city that has many other fascinating destinations for the traveller interested in rediscovering the city as it is today, and not as history portrays it.
The Reichstag building welcomes its visitors with an unexpected dedication written on the main facade right at the entrance: “Dem Deutschen Volke”, meaning “To/For the German People”. Its imposing structure hosts high ceiling and large inside halls, conference rooms for parliamentary sessions, and government meeting cabinets. During the Cold War this building was on the western side of Berlin, but just a few metres from the border with the east side where the Berlin Wall stood. On the 27th of February, 1933, under unknown circumstances the building caught fire only to be completely rebuilt 66 years later. The main attraction is the large glass dome at the top of the building which offers a 360-degree view of Berlin and an audio-guided tour for every visitor.
Another destination one should not miss when in Berlin is the Charlottenburg Palace. This exquisite architectural masterpiece was built for and named after Sophia Charlotte of Hanover who was the wife of the respected Dutch of Prussia and Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg. After Sophia Charlotte’s death, many other generations of high political figures preferred using this palace for celebrations, gatherings, generally functioning as a summer residence. Today, this is the largest palace in Berlin, having royally constructed and ornamented rooms such as the Oak Gallery, the Porcelain Gallery, the Golden Gallery, and many more. A tour of this palace will convince you of just how wealthy its owners were, how lavishly they lived their lives and how generously they exhibited that with every oil painting, Chinese porcelain, mirror, and interior design found in the palace.
The Fernsehturm, also known as the television tower, is located right at the heart of Berlin, close to Alexanderplatz and the famous Neptune Fountain. With a height of 368 meters, this tower is Berlin’s tallest landmark, offering a 360-degree view of Berlin to its visitors. It was built during the existence of the German Democratic Republic, between 1965 and 1969, and it is made of concrete and steel, including the sphere which has seven floors, all open to the public.
Checkpoint Charlie was one of the most popular Berlin Wall crossing points during the Cold War. This crossing point was officially designated to function exclusively for foreigners or members of the Allied Forces, thus, strict and meticulous searches and passport checking were done before anyone could step on either side of the wall. Its name comes from the letter C in the NATO phonetic alphabet, just as other crossing points were known as Alpha and Bravo, for example. Given that at the beginning Checkpoint Charlie’s only security gate did not exactly prevent the German people from crossing over, the East Germans finally had to lower barriers and add reinforcements. Today, visitors can see what is left of that historical checkpoint and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum close by where the passports of many famous people who passed through there are displayed for everyone to see.
A call to all art lovers – Museum Island is an oasis of pleasure for the visitor who enjoys going to the museum and walking for hours on end from one exhibition room to another, while admiring some of the most famous art pieces that mankind has ever created: from the bust of Queen Nefertiti and Egyptian burial chambers or papyruses, to paintings of world renowned artists and historical collections of coins. This island located on the river Spree in the Mitte district of Berlin, and hosts a complex of five museums: Altes, Neues, Bode, Pergamon and Alte Nationgalerie.
The Beatnik or the Beat Generation defined the 1950’s and 1960’s American literature scene and it was also the precursor of the hippie movement which borrowed much from the philosophy that the Beatniks strived to express. Although Herbert Huncke was the first author to coin the term “beat”, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg gave to it a spiritual connotation and came up with the idea of naming their generation the Beat Generation. The beatnik culture was easily assimilated and accepted even from its shy beginnings, gaining more and more popularity amongst the American youth. Authors pertaining to this movement published novels, poetry and short stories which spread a philosophy based on anti-materialism and the need for spiritual introspection or soul searching. Some of the most prominent figures of the Beat Generation are lightly described below.
Ken Kesey confessed in a 1999 interview that he considers his literary work as building a bridge between the beatnik and the hippie movements because of the age he had at that time: “too young to be a beatnik, too old to be a hippie”. Thus, drawing on the influences of the beatnik philosophy on the one hand, and the psychoactive drug experiences characteristic to the hippies on the other hand, Ken Kesey initially wrote two novels that were never published. Actually, he is known for writing only one novel that was an immediate success, his third, entitled “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”. The story behind the novel is quite interesting too: he got the idea to write it after having worked a night shift at a veterans’ hospital. Actually, he often volunteered to participate in experiments studying the effects of psychedelic drugs, and could be found on the hospital hallways talking to patients about his belief that people thought to be insane were really secluded by society because they did not fit the widely accepted and standard ideas of normality or of conventional behavior. His book explores this belief from the perspective of a human mind study, using first person narrative, numerous digressive flashbacks imitating memory, and introspection.
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Although his best known literary achievement is the novel “On the road”, Jack Kerouac’s other writings have been all published after his death in 1969, lately gaining the public’s interest more than ever: The Dharma Bums, Visions of Cody, Doctor Sax, Mexico City Blues, and The Subterraneans. Together with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, he pioneered the Beat Generation contributing to its formation by actively and publicly talking about its philosophy. “On the road” is regarded as a book dedicated to the beatnik lifestyle many youngsters aspired to, describing wild adventures and interesting conversations with people sharing the same ideas. Largely, the book is autobiographical and it relates Kerouac’s road-trip experiences since when he traveled across the United States and New Mexico together with Neal Cassidy.
Like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg was a respected poet and author, and a leading figure of the Beat Generation. Perhaps, he is best remembered for his iconic poem “Howl”, in which he describes the lives and gifts of his fellow beatniks as being wasted by a society that revers conformity, and instead creates madness and chaos. Ginsberg drew his inspiration for this poem and for another long autobiographical poem entitled “Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956)” from the experiences he had while growing up with his own mother suffering from a mental illness. However, Allen Ginsberg’s contribution to the Beat Generation culture is not confined to writing; he was often invited at hippie gatherings or during concerts to step on the stage and do poetry readings. Accompanied by a harmonium, and/or a guitarist, he would read from his writings or those of others, messages of peace and love, of sexual freedom and of spiritual awareness. Amongst other things, Ginsberg advocated for the legalization of marijuana and had an active role in the demystification process of LSD by promoting its use together with Timothy Leary. However, his views on smoking cigarettes can be easily deduced from the following lines: “Don’t smoke! Don’t Smoke! Nicotine, Nicotine, No! / No! Don’t smoke the official Dope Smoke Dope Dope.”
Their insights into the human soul, the world of ideas and the deeper layers of life or nature have made many people to assume artists are quintessential beings brought on this world for a higher purpose. Visionary and with an unquenched thrust for the unconventional, their artistic genius found extraordinary ways of expression, be it photography, literature, painting, sculpting or music. We all owe a tribute to some of the most prolific and well-known artists around the world, for they have contributed immensely to the way we explore and understand beauty, life and death, love and hatred, nature and free will, and so much more.
Like Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso is known as a man of multidisciplinary talents. He toyed with sculpting, printmaking, ceramics, and stage designing, but his most prolific work is by far revealed through his lifetime painting career. A man of controversial ideas, both hated and admired, Picasso is best remembered for his uncanny charisma, his political views and the numerous women he enticed to pose for him and then became his mistresses. Together with Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp, he brought about a revolutionary change in the 20th century plastic arts, making a fortune from constantly experimenting with different theories, techniques and ideas when painting. His longstanding affair with painting is generally accepted to be categorized in the following periods: the Blue Period (i.e. La Vie, 1903; The Old Guitarist, 1903), the Rose Period (i.e. Boy with a pipe, 1905), African-influenced Period (i.e. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907), Cubism (i.e. Three Musicians, 1921), Classicism and Surrealism (i.e. Guernica, 1937). Overall, Picasso produced approximately 13,500 paintings, 2,500 original prints, 1,000 ceramics, and about 700 sculptures.
Literary critics have labeled Isaac Asimov’s writing style as unornamented and relatively bare; however, considering that he was a biochemistry professor, we easily understand why he preferred a rather concise and to-the-point style to others conveying more dramatic effects. His writing career spans over more than 50 years and it resulted in approximately 500 books of hard science fiction, non-fiction, mystery and fantasy. He is also the author of “Nightfall”, a short science fiction story which has been voted in 1964 as the best science fiction story of all time. Asimov gained worldwide recognition when the “Foundation” series were published. His extraordinary curiosity for different and even opposite fields of knowledge, from physics and chemistry to literature and the Bible, portrays a complex man who liked to joggle with ideas, who loved to imagine what the world could look like one day, who enjoyed teaching others and guiding them through the mysteries of the unknown.
Joseph Haydn was born into a family of talented people with both of his brothers, Michael Haydn and Johann Evangelist Haydn, being actively involved on the music scene of that time. Although Joseph spent most of his lifetime in Austria as a court musician, by the time of his death he was one of the most appreciated and well-known European composers. His gift for music shone through from a very early age. At only 9 years old Joseph was impressing directors of music in Vienna, although once too often he was hungry and ashamed of not having decent clothes to wear. Joseph Haydn’s work includes no less than 2,500 string quartets, 1,890 piano sonatas, 1,450 string trios, 745 violin concertos, 326 piano concertos and 484 operas. No wonder he is still known as “The Father of String Quartet” and “Father of the Symphony”. Some critics venture to suggest that he wrote so much that publishers just couldn’t keep up with him, thus only a small part of his works were made public during his lifetime.
Henri-Cartier Bresson was one of the most prolific French photographers of his time. He is also known as the “father of modern photojournalism”, yet showing interest both in painting and in movie directing. Photographic realism defined his style, while contemporary surrealist contributions stirred his interest. Bresson worked exclusively in black and white, rejecting darkroom manipulation and the use of flash. Although he took some of the most famous portrays ever exhibited, Bresson strongly avoided publicity, shying away from interviews and cameras. Many of his photographs are considered masterpieces that reveal the intricate richness of human existence.