Allen Ginsberg, James Franco & “Selfies”

The “selfie” (word of the moment), the ubiquitous “selfie” – As Paul Gallagher noted recently, on one of our all-time favorite blogs, Dangerous Minds – “Along with being a poet, Beat writer, radical, teacher, diarist, singer, musician, photographer and Buddhist, Allen Ginsberg was also the pioneer of the selfie. Long before everyone was posting their self-portraits on social media, Ginsberg was out there taking snaps of himself in front of every hotel mirror. He snapped himself cross-legged, naked, half-dressed, fully-dressed, vulnerable, confident, unwashed, washed, smiling, squinting, happy-face, ugly-face, old-man-tired-and-going-to-bed face – the Ginsberg selfie captured it all”.

Here’s a few more Ginsberg “selfies” –

And a show-down taking place this week on Instagram – James Franco (who played Allen, of course, in 2010’s Howl movie)  versus Allen – “Who Did It Better?” – Word-on-the-street says Allen. What do you think?

And what’s this? who’s this? why, it’s American photographic pioneer Robert Cornelius and a daguerrotype taken in 1839 – according to Wikipedia, “the first known selfie”!

Here’s James Franco again.  Okay, enough of this – moving along…


Here’s James Franco reading his poetry (courtesy another of our favorite blogs, Open Culture) – James Franco Reads Six Short Poems From His New Collection

Here’s James Franco reading Allen

One comment

  1. I see the selfie as a representation of the isolation and insecurity that seems to inhabit the modern age. It has always been with us (at least in recent memory), but we have taken it to new levels. It has fueled a narcissistic obsession with trying to understand how the rest of the world views us. Ginsberg was a master of this kind of mind game with one's self. That is part of the genius of his work and part of why I love him. I am also afflicted by the "selfie" weakness. Maybe we can learn to connect again and take more pictures of those we love and who love us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *