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Dealing with high and low cultures, he highlights the complementary contributions made by these works. Screening the Beats grapples with the Beat conflict between spiritual purity and secular connectedness, which often materialized in beatific bebop spontaneity, Zen-like transcendentalism, and plain old hipster smarts that characterized the writings of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg. Deftly threading literary, musical, and cinematic works with a colorful array of critical theories, this book illuminates the relationship between American culture and the imaginative forces of the Beat Generation.

Toon meer Toon minder. Recensie s Screening the Beats presents little-known material and treats familiar material in an original manner, reevaluating the sensibility of Beat writers in light of their personal adventurism, aesthetic experimentation, and social viewpoints.

Sterritt' s ability to cut across Beat literature, avant-garde film, bebop jazz, and sound composition is impressive. The writing is fresh, engaging, and eminently readable, and the application of critical theory is intelligently handled. Screening the Beats presents little-known material and treats familiar material in an original manner, reevaluating the sensibility of Beat writers in light of their personal adventurism, aesthetic experimentation, and social viewpoints.

Combining his skills as an astute commentator on beat aesthetics, film, and the post-war ethos at large, he situates the beats squarely in a tradition that is not entirely literary, expanding our sense of their considerable impact on cultural genres that were simultaneously influencing them. This work contributes much to the current reappraisal of beat literature as art. The scholarship is superior. Each essay is finely crafted and easy to follow, and the order of the essays in the book allows for the arguments to accumulate salience.

Audiences will not only welcome this book, but will in fact celebrate its appearance. Regina Weinreich, author of Kerouac s Spontaneous Poetics: A Study of the Fiction and editor of Jack Kerouac s Book of Haikus Sterritt s ability to cut across Beat literature, avant-garde film, bebop jazz, and sound composition is impressive. James T.

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Reviews Schrijf een review. Bindwijze: Hardcover. Verwacht over 6 weken Levertijd We doen er alles aan om dit artikel op tijd te bezorgen. Verkoop door bol. In winkelwagen Op verlanglijstje. Includes bibliographical references p. Kerouac, Jack, ——Criticism and interpretation. Autobiographical fiction, American—History and criticism.

Quests Expeditions in literature. Beat generation in literature. Spiritual life in literature. E Z '. In any case, a wondrous mess of contradictions good enough, said Whitman but more fit for Holy Russia of 19th Century than for this modern America of crew cuts and sullen faces in Pontiacs. Road, Town, and City 17 1. What IT Is? Tearing Time Up 19 44 3. The Revelation to Ti Jean 4.

The Track of Glory 53 69 Part Two. The Noble Path 83 5. Gone Beyond 85 6. Icon for the Void 7. Ethereal Flower 99 8. Kindred Spirits Part Three. The Lifelong Vulture and the Little Man 9. Downsizing He was babbling to me like the brook in Big Sur did to him some enlightened but incomprehensible message about something vital— in fact the key to all of this existence and suffering and folly and ranging madly to and fro in this show.

I bent my ear to it, a whispering voice coming either out of the bottoms of my mind or the tops of pure land heavens. Perhaps it was a voice halfway between kingdom hall and the demons in hell. Whatever the case, my sleep consciousness was not getting it. I wondered. What could be on his breath of mind? What is it I need to know? What is that one perfect word? Wake up! Joyce is dead! The sea took him! The stunning natural beauty of Big Sur and the peaceful solitude of the cabin in the canyon are all made horrific by the agonizing fact of death-in-life.

Religious belief, whether Catholicism or Buddhism, is of little consolation—until the very end of the novel when the vision of the cross wins out—after much painful contention between those ancient forces. Writing can no longer magnify the aesthetic distance. Completely undone, Duluoz carries on like one of those human vulture demons from his feverish cabin nightmare. All directions, both seaward and leeward, seem to echo the beat of a classic Western mantra: timor mortis conturbat me the fear of death distresses me.

To put it mildly. For the most part, a fair and honest assessment, since Duluoz was more sinner than saint; in short, one of us—flawed and shattered. Except for his first novel, indebted to the lyrical style of Thomas Wolfe, Kerouac avoided any trace of literary affectation or imitative shaping in his prose art.

He was a natural—a very intuitive writer, and arguably the most passionate, revealing, and underrated innovator of American literature in the twentieth century. The styles varied from an exuberant brand of conventional narrative e. About half of the novels in the Duluoz Legend were written in a spontaneous prose style, best characterized by its stream of consciousness that joined with the torrential flow of experience.

Kerouac goes even further in Visions of Cody, an experimental recasting of Road. Such a calling implies anything but a facile sojourn. I feared for his mind out there. His eye was like a fine membrane vibrating between the intolerable pressure of two walls of water: the consciousness flowing outward to absorb everything in the drench of thought; and reality flooding inward to drown everything but the language to describe it. Although Kerouac was baptized a French-Canadian Catholic and raised and buried a Catholic, he was also deeply influenced by Buddhism, particularly from early to when traditional Eastern belief was integrated into several novels and formed the basis for poetry, scripture, musings, and a biography of the historical Buddha.

But my serious Buddhism, that of ancient India, has influenced that part in my writing that you might call religious, or fervent, or pious, almost as much as Catholicism has. Original Buddhism referred to continual conscious compassion, brotherhood, the dana paramita meaning the perfection of charity. In a letter to Bob Lax 26 October , Kerouac expressed his deep involvement with Buddhist teaching. Starting off with some immediate obstacles to leading the ascetic life, Kerouac would first beg off the sensual lifestyle—swearing off women-lust and drunken booze-binges. During , he would work on his diet—moving from meat and potatoes to mostly vegetarian fare.

When considering the raucous and troubled life that Kerouac led as the living embodiment of the Beat Generation, and his later drift into alcoholic home life, the notion of such a pilgrimage becomes even more endearing with time. To see someone aim so high and land so low also tends to make one desperate. Desperate for what? Perhaps for some assurance that this cannot be, that this cannot happen to me.

But there is no guarantee in life, and literature only makes the pain somewhat easier to bear. When the booze failed to take him there, it at least numbed the disappointment. And though he gave into his drinking, he never completely abandoned his search. His record of that search reminds us why we value him so much. It was a sacrifice from which most of us shrink, a gift for which he paid the highest price.

In dying out of his time, he acted out his pain in the world, acted out the pain of the world. The insatiable craving was fed by the loss of the transcendent as a context in which truth, grace, and peace can be attained. Yet, who really knows? Perhaps he got to pure land heaven before they closed the door.

In light of this condition, the primary purpose of this book is to chronicle and clarify the various spiritual quests undertaken by Kerouac—as revealed by his novelistic writings. On the Road is the real kick-start of the quest and so signals my actual point of departure, though I begin properly in the introduction with the first novel—The Town and the City—for an appreciation of important foundational themes, spiritual struggles, and stylistic shifts. Although Kerouac wrote and published two more novels during the sixties Satori in Paris and Vanity of Duluoz , these works, which I discuss briefly in the afterword, neither extend nor deepen the quest for a beatific vision of unified being.

If anything, Kerouac should not be read or reread until one turns forty. Rodney Phillips, curator of the collection, was most helpful in digging out all of the Kerouac material and making it available for my perusal.

Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester - Benedict Giamo - Google Livres

I want to express my appreciation to the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame, for their help in defraying the cost of permission fees and indexing. Quite frankly, my own understanding of Kerouac would have been hampered without such easy access to these invaluable letters. Andre Leveille, C. Without their good friendship, intelligent conversation, and inspiring wit, I might never have gotten IT. His first novel, The Town and the City, written between and and published in under the name John Kerouac, realizes this wish both in terms of the broad scope of subject matter—the saga of the Martin family in Depression and World War II America—and the fullbodied flowing lines borrowed from Thomas Wolfe in which the tale is rendered.

The result is a very muscular novel, profound and beatific, despite the rather conventional mold and derivative style—and not only the strong influence of Wolfe, but echoes of Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, and F. Scott Fitzgerald can be heard as well. Throughout the novel, Kerouac presents the human condition in its physical, spiritual, and moral bearing. Behind such manifestations of life, one feels the expansive force of a mysterious presence tugging at the souls of the characters and spiritualizing their very existence.

There is a Catholic religious aura that envelopes the story that is more personalist than official and hierarchical. Given such an influence, the triumphalist, hieratic forms of official religious belief become less important than the holy essence that underlies belief itself. Though they may not understand it, none of the characters escape this spiritualization of existence. There were days when everything he saw seemed etched in fading light, when he felt like an old man standing motionless in the middle of this light and looking around him with regret and joy at all the people and things in his world.

What is it we do not know that is so true? Kerouac seems to ask this of his characters as they momentarily dematerialize into the claims of wonder, awe, mystery—their souls erupting to flash in the light of a bewildering fate that is not discounted nor limited to the conditioned knowledge of the political or social or psychological.

This is the way life is. In part three of the novel, the upheavals of the times begin to burst, slinging Peter and the other characters willy-nilly into the crooks and crannies of terra incognita. Away at college, Peter, more interested in life than the lab or practice field, decides on an impulse to quit both football and school. In one stroke, he snuffs out all the hope and pride and great expectations his father had for him and instead finds work as a grease monkey near town.

Caught up in the fervor of the war, he soon joins the merchant marine, which gives him the mobility and adventure his heart desires. Arctic Greenland; who ever heard of Arctic Greenland! And before that? What a simple good little guy I used to be. What happened? Is it the war? Where am I going, the way I do things, why is everything so strange and far away now? Such sorrows surrounding the ghostly void of lostness, however, give birth to the energized joy of new beginnings—new friends, loves, parents to know and meet again in the city.

Something silent, beautiful, inscrutable had made all this for sure, and he was in the middle of it, among the children of the earth. The energy behind the challenging social vision is wild and explosive, and the vision itself decadent and beat. All faces are blue and greenish and sickly livid. In the end, everyone looks like a Zombie, you realize that everyone is dead, locked up in the sad psychoses of themselves.

It goes on all night, everyone. Everybody is going to fall apart, disintegrate, all character-structures based on tradition and uprightness and so-called morality will slowly rot away. This act breaks the spell of the mad magic, causing it to backfire, as now Levinsky becomes the one to fidget and blush. Leon rationalizes: children cannot recognize madness. These were only some of the lives of the world, yet all the lives of the world came from the single human soul, and his soul was like their souls.

As Peter is drawn even further into the interesting and complex beat subculture, he lives out a bohemian version of the decadent vision. Will Dennison William S. But for Kerouac, that spark was the light of revealed truth and the revolutionary thrust of Catholic tradition engulfing new cultural forms of being and expression. As Merton asserts, there is always this kind of revolutionary force inherent in the tradition, especially given its opposition to the egocentric desires and obsessions of humankind: money, prestige, possessions, power, knowledge, etc. It makes them jumpy and neurotic.

In part, Mr. Martin attributes the lack of responsibility, concern, and hope among the young to the malaise caused by the war. This is New York. I only mean that these guys. But you never did tell me what to do! And so it goes, on into the early morning, but before the argument ends Mr. And the coldness of everybody!

Eckleberg from The Great Gatsby get fleshed out by Kerouac two decades later. In an attempt to reverse the familial temperature, Peter suddenly invites his parents out to dinner with him and his girlfriend. Martin are stunned into acceptance. As Peter leaves for Manhattan, he is in no way embittered by the heated discourse with his father. Catching sight of his father from the street, enshrouded in his literal subterranean Brooklyn gloom, lifts Peter back again to the transcendent level of existence.

The son steps lively into a subway reverie, where thoughts float up and coalesce, binding all those moral questions and generational differences into an encompassing framework—the felt and intellectual experience of the divine in humankind. And yet, that children and fathers should have a notion in their souls that there must be a way, an authority, a great knowledge, a vision, a view of life, a proper manner, an order in all the disorder and sadness of the world—that alone must be God in men.

In the novel, such disorder and darkness occur back-to-back. Peter as was Kerouac is called in by police as a material witness and asked to identify the badly bruised and mashed body. After a period of self-imposed exile, Peter finally returns to his family in Brooklyn so that he can be with his father who is dying. In the process, Peter makes a pivotal moral decision and resolves to nurture those values that he finds more aligned with his Catholic spiritual sensibility: A sharp knowledge had now come to him of the tragic aloneness of existence and the need of beating it off with love and devotion instead of surrendering to it with that perverse, cruel, unnecessary selfinfliction that he saw everywhere around him, that he himself had nursed for so long.

His father was dying—and his own life was dying, it had come to a dead end in the city, he had nowhere else to go. Peter did not know what to do with his own life but somehow he knew what to do about his father, who was now not only his father, but his brother and his mysterious son too. But such togetherness is no longer the occasion for rejoicing. Rather, an atmosphere of debilitation, pain, and loss pervades, along with the values of care and compassion, the poignant bond of our mortality.

And he talked to the lone self that would die with him for always. And when Peter came back in the mornings, the old man asked him what had happened all night in the cafeteria. And then father and son looked at each other, and talked about the past, all the things in the millionshadowed blazing past, and about what they would like to do, what they might have done, what they should do now. At these times they experienced moments of contentment talking to each other. This was the last life they would ever know each other in, and yet they wished they could live a hundred lives and do a thousand things and know each other forever in a million new ways, they wished this in the midst of their last life.

He saw that all the love in the world, which was sweet and fine, was not love at all without its work, and that work could not exist without the kindness of hope. It gets worse.

While Joe fishes, Peter, now even more sensitized to the pain and struggle existing in nature, is enmeshed in the web of an inescapable truth. It begins when Joe hooks a black bass and ends in compassionate comprehension of the sorrows he must bear. He watched its gaping eyes almost with terror. Back and forth, back and forth, with a hook in his mouth. Peter is swept away by his insight, and casts his own line, conveying the knowledge to Joe and Francis.

Joe gets somewhat aggravated and Francis tries to joke playfully and evade the whole matter. But Peter, baiting and bobbing skillfully, persists with his passionate sermon. What are we supposed to do in a suffering world. How can we be fair in an unfair situation like that? It suddenly occurred to him that his brother Peter must be mad. Peter seemed to sense this. It was as though Peter had revealed their common situation, and their differences in it, their individual sorrows. This was, after all, so much like the action of the man who had been their father. Instead, he moves on into open unknown territory— no doubt littered with the certainty of struggle and heroic sorrows.

Where are you going, Peter? Following Christ as mediator entails both suffering and triumph— both the hook in the mouth and the mystical unity of the soul. Is this not IT? PART ONE Road, Town, and City Men grow rich, or take power, ten thousand men want ten thousand things, most see their hopes go to ruin, a few see them all come true—but the man whose life right now, this day brings joy to his heart— is happy beyond harm. Everything fine, money holding out. Life is suffering, the precepts of both Buddhist and Christian teaching. Such a condition, especially when accelerated and telescoped as it is in the novel, generates rich insights into self and other, society in general, the stuff of human nature, and nature itself—its movement from high to low energy states and back again.

The proposition that the road is life, and life itself the equilibrist, demands a writing style that can respond to the movement between opposite emotive forces. The proposition also leads Kerouac away from a strictly Christian form of ecstatic mystical union and towards an embrace of the aesthetic and hedonistic factors in the nature of existence, and their consequences.

These qualities do not necessarily make for an amoral novel. Rather, the altered morality expressed in Road descends, in part, from D. Whitman was the first heroic seer to seize the soul by the scruff of her neck and plant her down among the potsherds. In the Buddhist sense, however, to be unenlightened is to be simply ignorant. According to D. It is all there for the taking, providing one has the wheels, the jack, and the knack: old highways, cars, hotels and flophouses, lunchcarts and diners, smokestacks, railyards, red-brick and gray-stone cityscapes, neonglazed streets, insane bars and jazz clubs, cantinas and whorehouses.

Think of Dean Moriarty, the hero of Road, lost western frontiersman turned urban cowboy—brakeman always on the make—a wild roaming being in perpetual motion. Gone, though not gone beyond. Along the road, however, it seems as though the pearl of wisdom Sal desires has been exchanged for the ball bearings of cumbustive metallic flight in the form of a Hudson sedan. As always, Sal goes along for the ride. As a form of ecstasy, the search for IT spins on the wheels of free, spontaneous, fleeting, hedonistic existence blurring the lines of our mortality.

In that time Dean is balling Marylou at the hotel and gives me time to change and dress. Together they form the hard surface and romanticized subject for celebration as well as for registering sorrow—especially the sadness bound up with suffering and the feeling of an impending mortality. But does he know or betray time?

The false start from Bear Mountain is the first minor indication. Sal had wanted to follow the red line of Route 6 on the map because it spanned the continent, from Cape Cod to Los Angeles. But getting a ride proved impossible, and then the rains came to drench his idealism. He ends up hitching back to New York City and taking a bus to Chicago and picking up Route 6 in Illinois, a much more practical maneuver.

By the end of chapter 9, while Sal is still in Denver, the oscillation between exuberant joy and certain sadness is already established. In the whole eastern dark wall of the Divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great Western Slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the western Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land.

We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess—across the night, eastward over the Plains, where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking toward us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent. The only response is a reflexive one—move on to San Francisco. Not only does Sal live amid the incessant squabbles of his friend Remi Boncoeur Henri Cru and his cantankerous girlfriend Lee Ann in Mill City, California, but he signs on to work with Remi as a security guard in the barracks that temporarily quarters overseas construction workers.

Sal is a somewhat inept and mildly subversive Chaplinesque cop as he makes his rounds, getting drunk with the dormers and accidently raising the American flag upside down on one occasion. Everything was falling apart. My stay in San Francisco was coming to an end. Remi would never talk to me again. It would take years for him to get over it. On the return, however, Sal finds someone and someplace to go before heading back—an amorous interlude with Terry, his Mexican girl whom he meets on a bus to LA.

After a skittish start, the romance blossoms and Sal finds love in the midst of Mexican and Okie migrant farm worker communities. Nobody was paying any attention to me up there. I should have known better. The expansive interlude proves tender and compassionate and also doomed to failure. Although vague plans are made to continue the affair in New York City, Sal and Terry both know deep down that this will never happen. I told Terry I was leaving. She had been thinking about it all night and was resigned to it. Emotionlessly she kissed me in the vineyard and walked off down the row. Tired, haggard, and weary, Sal begins to know the ravages of time by the end of his first trip across the country and back.

Thus awakened to the interplay of fervent dreams, suffering life, and drifting souls, Sal goes home to figure out what was lost and what was gained from the adventure. In this rough design, a certain equilibrium is stitched throughout the whole pattern: as time beats Sal down it also restores him. What happened to the big joyous family togetherness of The Town and the City? Therefore, as abundant American progress shifts into overdrive during the unprecedented military-industrial state of the s, the conformist ideal of social stability gets exchanged for the careening, full-throttled seizure of mobility.

The shuttle service is really a warm-up for a longer cross-country trip to San Francisco by way of Texas and the Southwestern route. Should he move or stay put? Which one is more beneficial to his well-being? But not without some reservations, or at least a nagging absence of something vaguely felt left undone, incomplete, unattended. It was this: I had forgotten something.

There was a decision that I was about to make before Dean showed up, and now it was driven clear out of my mind. In a moment of narrative calm and reflection, Sal considers the collective import of the dream: Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven.

The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced though we hate to admit it in death. But who wants to die? In the rush of events I kept thinking about this in the back of my mind.

Ah, the protective device of escapism on the run. But at least for the duration of a rest stop, Sal managed to grip something fundamental about the alpha and omega of human existence—its mixture of bliss and mortality, joy and sorrow, and the beauty inherent in the appreciation of it all. And merrily they go along, blurring time, which ends like the long stretch of the road itself, in death. The only reprieve from the terminus of chronological time is a high-octane mixture of speed and desire embodied in IT. IT, a transcendent state of pure excitement, stops the felt experience of linear time screeching in its tracks.

I want to be like him. This amounts to a countervailing sense of IT, and perhaps a glimpse into a spiritual form of ecstasy that will take root after the road trails off. After an amusing visit with Bull Lee, his wife Jane, and Carlo Marx in Texas, the ragged crew finally make San Francisco, where Dean abandons both Sal and Marylou, his first wife, in order to make amends with Camille, his second wife. Walking about, he seems to hear another note in the air— the long hollow breath of a bamboo flute signifying nothing. In a projection of remorse, the mother lashes out at him and the son suffers the good Christian opprobrium for his inclination toward unbridled pleasure, the lush life of drunkenness and routs.

Lost boy! I felt sweet, swinging bliss. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. Northrop refers to as the undifferentiated, all-embracing, indeterminate aesthetic continuum. The normal gray quotidian is made fragrant by the fact that he is on the street starving. One assumes that such an admission, and the meaning that it packs, is the result of leading the examined life and the discovery of Buddhist teaching.

Clearly, Sal is back on track with the design of the novel, the thrust of the Road, especially after Dean arrives to rescue him from the plank of idle visions in strange shadows of buttcrusted San Francisco street emptiness. They wanted some of my sandwiches. I told them no. It was a sullen moment. In Denver, the rhythm of the road kicks in, and by now the reader understands the beginning point of the quest: movement from a state of rest to the early stirrings of desire.

The sense of care that the two friends display, and the clarity of IT that occurs, gives the third trip a degree of tenderness and a growing depth of insight displayed by the narrator. Such development and maturation that Sal undergoes proves that Kerouac is no fool, no happy delinquent who, like a latter-day version of Peter Pan in zoot suit and chains, will never grow up. No, Kerouac is quite deliberate about IT all. Shortly after Sal finds Dean in San Francisco, they both get thrown out of the house by Camille, quite deservedly I might add. Drawn and disoriented but still suffused with pointless excitement, Dean stumbles and circles around in a wild spin of pure blank random intensity.

Dean, at first incredulous, giving Sal a look like the blinking sight of someone suddenly released from a dark closet, slowly adjusts himself to the fact that Sal is serious: Resolutely and firmly I repeated what I said. I looked at him; my eyes were watering with embarrassment and tears. Still he stared at me. Now his eyes were blank and looking through me. It was probably the pivotal point of our friendship when he realized I had actually spent some hours thinking about him and his troubles, and he was trying to place that in his tremendously involved and tormented mental categories.

Something clicked in both of us. The secret Sal alludes to is the one bound up with further swayings into the ecstatic rhythm of IT. As with most things in life, first comes the direct unmediated experience and only later the reflection and explanation. Uproars of music and the tenor man had it and everybody knew he had it. Dean was clutching his head in the crowd, and it was a mad crowd. They were all urging that tenor man to hold it and keep it with cries and wild eyes, and he was raising himself from a crouch and going down again with his horn, looping it up in a clear cry above the furor.

Everybody was rocking and roaring. In cooling down the orgiastic high of the human system, the tenor man hits those necessary flat notes that make life and time known in both its moments of emotional ferment and calm comprehension. In the meantime, Sal and Dean go back in the club for more.

And so it goes. On their way from San Francisco to Denver in a travel-bureau car, Dean and Sal, rocking the boat in the back seat, begin to draw from their own perceptions and recollections in order to enact the direct experience of IT. He starts the first chorus, then lines up his ideas,. All of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he gets it—everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries.

Time stops. But one begins from within the structure, some patterned chorus or thought that will, when deeply felt, sidestep itself and generate spontaneity.

Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester

The moment then transports one out of the periodicity of time and into the fullness of being or pure spatial excitement. There you have it, and—once you do—IT carries you away. Once Dean and Sal begin their incessant yakking in the back seat, that which is normally concealed suddenly reveals itself, without plan or preparation. We had completely forgotten the people up front. Phenomenologically, the difference this makes to Sal and Dean is that space and time are released from their fixed trajectory of rational sequential stages.

Likewise, the meaning of their high-tingled experience of being-in-time is perceived as not set in any absolute sense. Hence, for the moment, they are liberated, that is, they do not live in a state of consciousness in time, which is tantamount to betraying time, but rather bend time to consciousness. The idea that time is in consciousness is the idea of self as determining.

Once in Denver, while waiting to pick up another travel-bureau car to Chicago, Dean accelerates the momentum of IT into an energized state so charged that he seems to be a free electron, spinning out of control. His face was red and sweaty and mean.

The road reclaims Sal in the morning and before long he is back into the grand rhythm of life. When I closed my eyes all I could see was the road unwinding into me. When I opened them I saw flashing shadows of trees vibrating on the floor of the car. There was no escaping it. Sal does not resist the rule of the road, for it has been laid down well in advance, and so gives himself up to the inevitable rushing rhythm of this human condition: knowing time and betraying time.

Once they make Detroit, the deterministic grip of consciousness in time is reinforced by the images of popular culture. This generalization extends the experience of entrapment, and its correlate of spiritual pollution, to all, for are we not all betrayed by time and its mindless reels of hegemonic culture remotely controlling us from afar? This sense of consciousness in time, which subverts the ecstatic liberation of IT, is further heightened by virtue of repetition.

As trip four winds down, along the way from Detroit to New York City, Sal starts to recognize the landscape. The trip was over. What of Dean? Ah, rubbish—betrayed again! Sufficiently rested and buoyant once again, Sal moves on during the following spring by himself to launch the final trip of the novel. The destination is Denver, but life has more surprises under its sleeve for Sal.

Nonetheless, its force is great as it erupts into narrative consciousness. By the end of the novel, the sight has developed into a complete vision of Dean: a burning shuddering frightful Angel, palpitating toward me across the road, approaching like a cloud, with enormous speed, pursuing me like the Shrouded Traveler on the plain, bearing down on me. I saw his huge face over the plains with the mad, bony purpose and the gleaming eyes; I saw his wings; I saw his old jalopy chariot with thousands of sparking flames shooting out from it; I saw the path it burned over the road; it even made its own road and went over the corn, through cities, destroying bridges, drying rivers.

It came like wrath to the West. Is there no escape? Must there be no exit? Is that it? Now it seems that only the route south of the border can restore sensations, intoxicate the emotions, and intensify the spirit of fellowship with humankind. They find in this devolution a chance to transcend both geographical and conceptual boundaries associated with the constraints of chronological time—its tireless goose steps toward the future and its progressive form of historic development that always insists—onward!

Sal compares the road south of the border to driving across the world and into the places where we would finally learn ourselves among the Fellahin Indians of the world, the essential strain of the basic primitive, wailing humanity that stretches in a belt around the equatorial belly of the world. The waves are Chinese, but the earth is an Indian thing. Sal and Dean cannot escape that traditional masculine dualism of the virgin and the whore, and enter the latter before adoring the former. There does not seem to be any concrete mean in any part of the Americas for this duo.

After their mighty lust is quenched, they move on toward Mexico City, turning away from the pull of their loins and toward the push of more lofty images. They were like the eyes of the Virgin Mother when she was a child. We saw in them the tender and forgiving gaze of Jesus. Their mouths rounded like the mouths of chorister children. But Sal speaks too soon, for the real end of the road typically results in disaster—this time terrible feverish sickness—which takes away all of his appetite for IT.

This strange but persistent figure thus gives Sal and Kerouac a way out of the endless oscillations between intense pleasure and devastating sorrow. It is no less than an admission that all life is suffering; this is where the road begins and ends, and the various detours around such a condition and first principle can only result in a peace that is hollow and restless.

The mission of the writer is therefore discerned. Kerouac jams the brakes on the novel in part five—a mere five pages—and skids to a stop. Actually, throughout the novel the road has been thinning out: part four recounting the trip to Mexico is only about half as long as the first trip of part one, which is the longest account; parts two and three, almost identical in length, each comprise two-thirds of the first part. Back in New York, Sal closes the novel with a farewell to Dean, who pops back up in his life once again.

In perhaps much-too-facile a manner, Sal finds that concrete mean and falls in love with the woman of his dreams. On the other hand, Dean, still traveling back and forth across the continent, a clanging caboose rattling through dawn and dusk, seems to have rocked himself off the proverbial rocker—derailed. But he forgot what he wanted to say. The passage, both sad and joyful, as mixed as existence itself, achieves an equilibrium of sensibility, and thus provides solace and sustenance.

Moreover, it works to disengage Sal and the reader from action in order to reflect and consider, to take in the immensity of it all: self, others, nation, world and universe. What remains to think on? Where is the meaning here—both hidden and overt? Now what? What of IT? Is it just now being handed to Sal and, in turn, to us?

The stillness and evocation of the passage—the sense of love, adoration, and wonder about the ultimate nature of existence—delivers the story from confusion and desire, from rocking back and forth and going up and down in ecstasy and sorrow. It also seems to invite calmness, self-possession, and contemplation. In doing so, he does not try to cross-step chronological time; a pier is not a plank. Without diminishing the joyful spontaneity of IT, the hedonistic lifestyle celebrated in On the Road, the novel also calls IT into question in the interstices of restless busy action and through the forms of unconscious dreamscapes and transcendent visions.

Somewhere in the midst of all this earth-bound clutter an image emerges, momentarily flickering, of a finger pointed at the moon. That is all. But it is enough to challenge hedonism, not on the basis of morality, but simply in terms of the nature of things as they are. What the senses perceive is not unreal. How then to secure peace of mind and spiritual contentment? What are the conditions necessary for insights into the cross or the diamond of enlightenment?

How shall one think of this fleeting world? Wherein lies the path or device to get beyond the phenomenal tricks of time: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream. Even before writing the more conventional novel, Kerouac began to wonder about narrative form. Who says that a work must be chronological? Visions of Cody is an attempt to do just that—to suspend and shred the temporal sequence of storytelling linear narrative by unleashing the style of sketching and spontaneous prose.

Sketching, which is painterly, can be considered a method within the broader reaches of spontaneous prose, especially when the object actually exists before the writer. Spontaneous prose in general aims to reveal the inner life of the author when provoked by either the externals of the world or the memories of times past. The spontaneous interaction between self and object results not in introspective writing but in a kind of mystical naturalism whereby consciousness and reality mutually absorb each other in the intuitive moment of apprehension.

As Kerouac stated in a letter to Alfred Kazin 27 October , writing spontaneous prose is like a saxophonist drawing breath and blowing phrases, then releasing from the phrase. In short, spontaneous prose challenges an author to absorb the revelatory moment, the divine spark, writing freely and naturally and honestly and profusely, without literary affectation, and not only from the head, but from the heart and soul and through the body and blood, bones and bowels.

Part one, for instance, consists of brilliant descriptive sketchings of discrete scenes and events, mostly in and around New York City. A visit to St. The intense affection for and identification with Cody, and his bottomless skid row background, extends the love for one to all those damaged and hurt and punished underneath the glaring neons of Great America. A view of Cody broadens to take in others sharing a similar fate in the hostile land: America, the word, the sound is the sound of my unhappiness, the pronunciation of my beat and stupid grief—.

America is being wanted by the police, pursued across Kentucky and Ohio, sleeping with the stockyard rats and howling tin shingles of gloomy hideaway silos. The procedure he follows in doing this is both simple and instructive. First of all, he bothers to look their way. Second, he does not turn away. Third, his sensitivity and empathy draw him further into their very misery. Fourth, he humanizes this misery by giving it both presence and voice. And, finally, he cares enough to put their hands into ours so that we might see and know them as well.

The question, however, remains: What are we prepared to give? Cut to the tape: Jack. Who me? You come in without a prop, you got a prop Jack laughs because Cody imitating an Italian Jack. I was missin you round Akron, trying to catch a glimpse of your eyes. Some as big as your head, Jimmy! Evelyn has it Cody. The wine of contention has become the wine of mellowment and merriness Jack. Oh the wine of mellowment! And what? And merriment! No I said melliment, mellimistPat.

What, superfluous Cody. Superious Cody. What word? In reading through the entire transcript, one cannot help but chuckle along, but with this conviction: for the most part, you could do as well if not better in your own living room with your own microcassette player or camcorder. The Fourth Night is the best one, that is, the most substantive, because of the interesting reminiscences and stories told by both Jack and Cody of their lives and relationships. Despite the memorable reconstructions of people, dates, and events, time appears to be spliced together here in a curious way, reeling out of the mildly hallucinatory mind that tears and repastes reality—the guts of it—like one of Burroughs cut-ups.

The usual connectives, sequences, and transitions have been dismissed as Kerouac abruptly alternates between the fantastic and incongruous recollections of boyhood and young adulthood experiences. In this sense, like all art, it is an improvement on life. Kerouac joins the anonymous crowd and describes, frame by frame, the illusory spectacle, grotesque materialism, and undeserved fame of Hollywood in action.

This contrast between false image and genuine reality speaks to our discontent in fashioning our own lives in accordance with the role of protagonist. The result is a general cultural malaise as we, like dull planets, depend on Hollywood to project its starburst of glamorous lights onto the movie screen so that our lives may flicker and move with dramatic action. The numerous shifts from the lightning-swift narrative line in this brief sketch are lush and effective in combining free association stream of consciousness with literary merit. From that point on, the connective tissue is reestablished in the writing. GoodbyeCody—your lips in your moments of self-possessed thought and new found responsible goodness are as silent, make as least a noise, and mystify with sense in nature,. Adios, you who watched the sun go down, at the rail, by my side, smiling— Adios, King. Later, in his introduction to the published work, Ginsberg rehabilitated his opinion of Cody. Ginsberg was right, absolutely right in both early and later assessments of the work.

But the question still remains: why was Kerouac tempting fate? I believed from early infancy, or sensed, in late-afternoon dreamy ways, that a SNAKE was coming after me. And to grow to be a man, however unfortunate and covered with sin and self-disgrace, and be foolish. For God intended it. The only salvation from being claimed entirely by such evil resides, of course, in another mighty and greater force: God and his mediator-redeemer, Christ.

Jansenism, a seventeenth-century Catholic sect, stressed the corruption of human nature by original sin see Genesis 3 and the power of divine grace. Rooted in Augustine and his teachings on grace, which insisted on the consequences of the original fall and the need for redemption, and also colored by the Reformation, the sect looked very selectively upon the dissemination of such grace.

Without such a counterweight, his elevation would make him vain, or his abasement would reduce him to a terrible state of abjection. The novel, written in when Kerouac was thirty years old, is in turn frightening, amusing, serious, macabre, adventurous, mysterious, and wondrously joyful. Once again, Kerouac evokes the state of time in consciousness as a viable way to keep ourselves and our lives free of unbearable constraint—to stay alive to our own being-in-time rather than deadened to conditioned result.

The sense of being haunted was acutely felt when Ti Jean was very young: Doctor Sax I first saw in his earlier lineaments in the early Catholic childhood of Centralville—deaths, funerals, the shroud of that. Figures of coffinbearers emerging from a house on a rainy night bearing a box with dead old Mr. Yipe inside. We had a statue of Ste. Therese in my house—on West Street I saw it turn its head at me— in the dark. Earlier, too, horrors of the Jesus Christ of passion plays in his shrouds and vestments of saddest doom mankind in the Cross Weep for Thieves and Poverty—he was at the foot of my bed pushing it one dark Saturday night.

That same night an elfin, more cheery ghost of some Santa Claus kind rushed up and slammed my door. Though at first they come to haunt the boy willy-nilly, in time the phantoms—both traditional and modern—order themselves in coherent fashion on either side of an ancient theme: the contention between good and evil. Such opposition occurs in the very midst of boyhood innocence, an appropriate precondition for revelation.

Though born of ambivalence, that last sentence of the passage wants to reinforce a sense of innate purity, displacing evil to an external location— Snake Hill Castle, where the Satanic cult is holed up. This, Kerouac seems to say, is our starting point in the heroic struggle that remains to be won. So given this ragged inheritance, prophetic Sax, propelled to huge labors of mastery and conquest over evil, in earnest reclamation of a power robbed him, is duly enlisted in the battle set in time from the very beginning. He is indeed a strange figure, one who seems to rise up out of the industrial waste of Lowell, someone who deftly melds mysticism with the crazy antics of a holy stooge.

Rain glints on his nose as well as on the black slouch hat. Kerouac thus joins Christian and primitive myth. Finally, in a further attempt to universalize the quest, Sax is also aided by Italian doves, pippiones, who travel to Tibet to secure invaluable herbs from Buddhist monks. Therefore meet. Therein lies the grisly business. This is simply another way of stating the former question: how does one distinguish between good and evil so that one truly knows which end is should be up and, conversely, down? For Ti Jean, it all comes down to a simple matter of scruples, which are temporarily abandoned when, in imitation of Sax, whom he has only seen in the shadows of Lowell not yet understanding his real import , he takes on the persona of the Black Thief.

Donning a slouch hat and cloaked by a Mephistophelean cape, Ti Jean terrorizes the neighborhood. I replied immediately. Popeyed out of his hurtful prank, Ti Jean begins to know the color of evil, albeit petit mal. Nonetheless, it is a significant distinction, especially for the confrontation to come. In the meantime, life goes on. So while Count Condu and the Black Cardinal, Amadeus Baroque, dismiss the heretical leftist movement of the Satanic cult—the Dovists, misguided idealists who believe the Snake will prove merely a husk of doves at the final hour—Ti Jean is pictured wrapped in the protective gloom of his home and town.

The mundane level of existence and sensible texture of life—the scenes of boyhood fantasy play, the sounds of the Victrola, the smell of supper on the stove, the taste of freshly baked cupcakes—are seen by the reader as innocent designs set against the eerie rumblings of Snake Castle Hill.