Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."

Somebody buy me Cadbury creme eggs, please. They're on sale now that it's already Easter. Le yum.
. . . . .
I had a conversation concerning whether or not you can call a book your favorite book if you've only read parts of it. And I have to say that at first I turned up my nose-- or crinkled it distastefully, at least-- at the thought that you could say something was your favorite anything if you hadn't even experienced the whole thing. Like, say, a movie. Can you have a favorite movie that you hadn't seen all the way through? What if the end had some horribly offensive plot twist that had nothing to do with the rest of the story or it just didn't make any sense or something? I don't know. I might just be biased in the case of books. Just about every word is carefully chosen, carefully arranged, so every word counts. :) But there's something to be said for liking something for just certain isolated reasons. We do it all the time.

Anyway, the book in question was On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. I guess there could possibly be some room for debate concerning this book because of the way it's written (and it wasn't even really edited). It's the defining tome of the beat generation, after all, and they were all about unconventionality and such, so of course there's really not supposed to be any structure. I mean, the guy was on one or more mind-altering substances, just writing away, stream of consciousness, la di da. And it's poetic and grand and free flowing at times. . . and confusing and disjointed, and non-cohesive in terms of narrative and plot at most points. In the end, yeah, I think it is something that can be loved for its parts, if not the sum of its parts.

[[At the same time I feel like my own writing has got some of that sort of un-fulfillment to it in a sense. Because it's beautiful and lyrical and it's a "joy to read" (I've been told) but in the end it doesn't seem to mean anything, to add up to anything. Purposeful purposelessness. I guess the M.F.A. can be the place I learn to harness it in and make something of it. And I'm not even jacked up or on heroin.]]

The conversation did make me go home later and thumb through my copy of On the Road that I hadn't touched in years, where I'd previously folded down some page corners to mark certain passages with pencil. So it made it easy to go back and find those lines that probably made so many decide to make it one of their favorite books-- as a whole or not. Debatably, you might not have to read it in its entirety after reading these.

(from my hotel room in San Francisco)

(the obvious one first)
"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 that 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 pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"

"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.

"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."

"A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world."

"She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do."

"And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it."

"They were like the man with the dungeon stone and gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining."

And then a random inspirational quote by Mr. Kerouac:
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

1 comment:

  1. Melissa, this book has been one of my favorite books since high school when I discovered it. I cannot say that I've read the whole thing, or when I did, I didn't relate to it. I think now I would understand it, but I need to go visit it an old friend who I'd still consider my best friend even after years apart. We can harness the creative messes that we are and turn ourselves into organized, readable, messes... and in the style of Jack Kerouac, be voices of a self-searching, self realizing, generation of people who thrive on discovery and growth within ourselves and our writing. You can do that...I see it for sure. It's what we strive for right? We write our way through these things.

    Love that you quoted, "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"



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