Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Reaction to Kerouac's On The Road

"I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight and everybody goes "Aww!"

I just finished Kerouac’s On The Road. Before I read it, I read reviews by artists claiming that it changed their lives and sent them on a soul searching journey across the United States. It didn’t change my life, but it definitely inspired me to explore other parts of life.

Kerouac’s writing is by no means poetic and beautiful. In fact, I hated Kerouac the first time I read him (“And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks”—a collaborative novel written with William S. Burroughs, published in 2008). But once I got past the stream of consciousness style of writing and stopped waiting for a climax that would never come, I began to really appreciate Kerouac. When you read Kerouac, you need to look at the type of people and the lifestyle and form your own pictures, rather than look for the story and let him draw pictures for you.

His writing represents a movement hidden by its era. The Beats flourished in the 50s, a time portrayed in the media as a perfect, clean cut time, built on family values and American pride. This era has always represented perfection and structure. But the beats rejected these ideas. They were the first and they were the real rebels.

The Beats represented freedom, hedonism, and spontaneous creative thought. They were careless and crazy. They worried about little and cherished and acted upon every thought that came into their minds. They lived for today and lived for their kicks. They were constantly in search for the next wonderful.

Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity inspired me to bring this into my daily life. They taught me to try to do it all, love it all, and quickly move on to the next thing. And oh to think like a Beat! Never rejecting a single thought or action! I’m so blown away by the absolute freedom they lived in.

It’s exactly the place I am in my own life. Being disillusioned, and in another country, I want to take advantage of every second of my life. I no longer want to think about my future, though it will always be in the back of my mind. I have the perfect opportunity to do this here. I want to be a Beat and take every second of my life and transform it into a spontaneous thought and think on it, or into an action and live on it. If you look to the future all the time, you’ll miss today, and I don’t want to miss any more today’s. I want to get up and move, I want to feed my soul everything it craves, to get out and live, to be in an ever constant search for my kicks and to dig everything.

“On The Road” opened this up as an option to me. I’ve always had a lust for life, but I never pursued it in the way that Sal and Dean did. I never knew you could do that.

Unfortunately, the Beats are dead [in my opinion, the Hippies killed them, but that’s another point] and they can never be brought back. There is too much security, too many rules, and not enough time for endless road trips. Nobody has the motivation to do it anymore. All their kicks are right there on their computer screen. We’re all too attached to our comforts to leave them and pursue creativity and experiences. I’ll admit, I’m slightly one of these people, but at least I know that I can take some of the Beat movement and put it into my everyday life.

So while “On The Road” didn’t change my life, it inspired me to be out, to enjoy everything I see and touch, to dig it all, and always search for that thing that even Kerouac himself couldn’t name.

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