Monday, October 29, 2007

Hey Jack Kerouac

I’m reading “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac, in which the narrator hoboes across the United States in the ‘50s, wrestling with his own proto-Buddhist tendencies. Kerouac, binge-drinking alcoholic that he was, certainly had his attachments. But every once in a while he shows flashes of “getting it,” at least from what I can tell, my own flashes of “getting it” being few and far between as well. (And as they say, as soon as you think you’ve got it, you don’t.)

I liked this passage - complete with unconventional punctuation - in which he hits on the essential oneness of things, and the ways that all of the past snowballs down to us, becoming our reality in the present.

“It seemed that I had seen the ancient afternoon of that trail, from meadow rocks and lupine posies, to sudden revisits with the roaring stream with its splashed snag bridges and undersea greennesses, there was something inexpressibly broken in my heart as though I’d lived before and walked this trail, under similar circumstances with a fellow Bodhisattva, but maybe on a more important journey, I felt like lying down on the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling. Ecstasy, even, I felt, with flashes of sudden remembrance, and feeling sweaty and drowsy I felt like sleeping and dreaming in the grass.”

(Photo: Mercer Street, NoHo, Sept. 2007)


Anonymous said...

The Beats hooked into a very specific flow of artful energy, didn't they? I think they were the forerunners of all the movements of the 60's. They could envision what was about to happen, and relate their visions so poetically. Their work opened the door to the 60's. Wow.

Very cool post, and I do mean COOL, man COOL!!

Anonymous said...

I *HEART* Jack Kerouac!


Hey Jack Kerouac

I Think of your mother

And the tears she cried

Were cried for none other

Than her little boy lost in a little world he hated

And they dared to drag him down, her little boy courageous.


Lyrics by: 10,000 Maniacs - Hey Jack Kerouac

Anonymous said...

JDZS: You know the source of my headline, I see. :)

Reya: Absolutely! The sixties owe a lot to the beats and their rebellious, questioning, adventuresome attitudes!

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's nice to have you back! I think it's great you have explored what it is you want to do with the blog and have it be "more natural".

Kerouac is an interesting character, he spent time in the PNW woods, and I can feel that in this passage. Btw, the picture has a painterly quality to it, in fact, it could be pixar-animation. Very cool lighting.


Anonymous said...

Love that book... just spent many weeks doing a lot of meditating (no computer, no tv, shut off the phone during the daylight hours and you have a lot of time)
I thought of you a LOT. Am going to re-read the Quantum and the Lotus by M. Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan.