During the Beat Generation, Morocco saw a flourishing of arts, political change, and visits by distinguished guests from the West. Encounters between the aspects of the mystical/sacred traditions of Morocco’s mixing cultures and emissaries from the West, many who indulged in the newly-opened freedoms and sacred traditions, led variously to works of genius, momentous cross- cultural encounters, and personal fame and ruin.
Events of these historical loci – the international zone of Tangier, the musical and healing hills of Joujouka, the turbulent south – have been recorded to some renown by the artistic ambassadors who made of them homes or sites of pilgrimage. Robert Palmer, Jean Genet, Brion Gysin, Paul Bowles, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs – to name a few – have produced works either explicitly or implicitly informed by the energetic field created from the political, artistic, and perhaps mystical upheaval that churned in Morocco from the late 1950’s through the late ‘70s. From Bowles, whose haunting prose captures the dark and magical atmosphere through his novels, to Gysin, whose multi-faceted artistic career bears distinctly Berber and Sufi roots, there is record enough to plunge the Western psyche into deep curiosity about the era. Pilgrims continue to trace the steps of their icons, whose genius is in some ways remains identified with the mystery of Morocco.