07 June 2006

Jack Kerouac

Well, someone remembered Jack Kerouac's birthday.

I didn't, but it was nice to read about how he had influenced someone else.
Erik's Choice
One of the interesting things about Kerouac is that the attractions of his writing are not all that obvious. He writes about quite ordinary things: driving or hitchhiking from place to place, meeting people, conversations, hiking, reading, going to parties. All these things seem to be quite ordinary, banal even. Why write a book about them?

What makes Kerouac's books different is that he sees different things in the ordinary things of life, and so helps others to see their own lives differently. It is as if, as Allen Ginsberg said, one drives 72 hours across country to see if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out eternity.

I was introducted to Kerouac's books by Brother Roger, an Anglican monk of the Community of the Resurrection, and he had, in himself, that kind of character. He could talk about ordinary things and make them seem extraordinary. I think that if anyone else had introduced me to Kerouac's books, I would not have enjoyed them so much. Towards the end of his life Jack Kerouac seemed to become more lost and alcoholic and disillusioned. But for Brother Roger it remained fresh and exciting. "Everything that happens is adorable", as he quoted a character in another novel as saying, in his paper Pilgrims of the absolute, in which he first introduced me to Kerouac and other such characters.

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Erik Donald France said...

Steve, I wanted to thank you for your comments and observations on Kerouac, much enjoyed and appreciated. Blogger's been having some kind of technical glitches, so I'll keep this short. Good luck -- great blog name!


Steve Hayes said...

Thanks for the comment -- I noticed the glitches when I was trying to correct a broken link, but hope I've fixed it now.

Erik Donald France said...

I didn't realize one could tag each post. Very nice. I think all of Blogger/blogspot was having "hardware trouble." Maybe a challenge for Google to keep up with the communications explosion?

Steve Hayes said...

I've only just worked out how to put those Technorati tags into individual posts -- quite useful if you're looking for a particular theme -- like Kerouac, for example

Michael L. Hess said...

I have been currently mapping and blogging On the Road using Google Maps. It started as an experiment so that I could learn the Google Maps API. You can find it at Littourati. I would love it if you stopped by and offered some comments, suggestions or reflections.

I think that for me, Kerouac's travels are a bit more than seeking the next girl/high/drink, even though his life seemed to be lived that way. I'm taken with the description of an America gone by...the kind of America where a woman driving to Iowa City would pick up a stranger in Joliet to help her drive. The kind of America where the way to travel wasn't Southwest Airlines, but a bus ticket or a thumb. The kind of America where a guy met a lot of people and learned a lot of their stories out of the simple acts of asking for information or cigarettes or a drink. I'm old enough to remember the last gasps of that America.

Steve Hayes said...

I've been having a conversation on someone else's blog that takes some of these things further, but perhaps that deserves another entry to link the threads together.


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