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Sunday, September 30. 2007
On The Road, Again
On the 50th anniversary of Kerouac's On The Road, we consider whether the book is worth reading, and whether its characters are of any interest - or is it just a road diary of an ordinary sociopath and his partner? Anthony Daniels in the New Criterion. One quote:
That is rough, but probably true not only of most of the beat authors, but of much of my generation in our adolescence...and maybe beyond adolescence. A sort of historical discontinuity, leading nowhere except to self-indulgence.
Photo: Jack Kerouac
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 20:53 | Comments (19) | Trackbacks (0)
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"As sort of historical discontinuity, leading nowhere."
It explains a lot of their rage.
Now, now, you can't say that it's "leading nowhere". Proverbs spends some time explicating with precision where it leads. It is a wondrous thing that so many were (and are) so utterly convinced not only of the totality of their "unigue" being but of the obvious rationality of their realization.
The writer of Ecclesiates could have saved himself ink and parchment had he known of the great progess that would occur some 2400 years later.
Great review- a balanced, bloodless skewering. Fave quote:
“…Doctor Johnson [author of Life of Savage] writes:
Where there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue.
“These elegant eleven words contain more enlightenment than the whole of Kerouac because Doctor Johnson uses his curiosity about the world as a dialectical aid to self-examination. He can take himself to illuminate the human condition as a whole because his self-examination is a genuine attempt to discover how to live, and we know that he will apply to himself any principle that he discovers with absolute integrity. That is why he is perennially instructive.”
As opposed to Kerouac's self-absorbed, irresponsible to others, and none too insightful impulsive narrative. Where is the redemption in On the Road or in the author's life?
timely words as I am reading "The Closing of the American Mind" based on a prior reading of one the Farm's musings. Wish I had read it 10 or more years ago instead of making a lot of mistakes over the past 10 years especially concerning the education of my daughters.
Since he died in St. Petersburg Florida near where I live Kerouac's considered a local celebrity.
I find "The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" much more valuable.
Where there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue.
Dr. Johnson is a horse's ass.
Shame is one of two active emotions. It requires thought to feel it, and that feeling never goes away. The action that produced the shame may fade from memory, but the feeling will never morph into any semblance of virtue.
As far as redemption, Kerouac wanted no part of the movement that resulted from his search for self-actualization. He scorned the fools who missed his point that individualism is a fine way to participate in life fully. If that does not suit your lofty need for redemption, the fact that he is famous for doing what he wanted with tolerance for all and a zest for cause and no harm done should do it.
Didn't understand a single sentence, sorry.
And, "no harm done"???
And for God's sake, are there actually "grown-up," non-publishing world fans and sycophants STILL living on the planet who haven't OD'd and who would give Kerouac two seconds' serious thought as a bona fide filosofer?
"Self-actualization" and K's writing are more like masturbation. Which is fine, i guess, but as a Guide to Life?
"He scorned the fools who missed his point that individualism is a fine way to participate in life fully"
Kerouac's was a drive-by, fly by the seat of your pants, indulgent individualism, unlike the principled individualism of the Pilgrims or the rugged individualism of western pioneers, both of whom contributed to the bigger idea and group identity that made America great. K's kind of individuality just corrodes our sense of self and strength by atomizing the larger Self into small, capricious, weak pieces with no unifying idea other than the pleasing and pleasuring of the (small s) self.
It's all about ME.
"Shame is one of two active emotions."
Say what? Only one of two, and what iz the only other?
Are there only two active emotions vs. the remaining maybe passive, inert or sedentary emotions? Or, perhaps there are only 2 active vs. the other reactive, proactive or interactive emotions?
Is this Jungian, Freudian or bytheSkinnerofyourteeth "thinking?"
That was Anonymous 1 at 15:55.
Anyway, no need to answer. Can see my best work has come to a good end in the game. Can't keep up the act as aggrieved "commenter" any longer, lol. Take good care and the best :)
K's kind of individuality just corrodes our sense of self and strength by atomizing the larger Self into small, capricious, weak pieces with no unifying idea other than the pleasing and pleasuring of the (small s) self."
Only if you give up your free will and give in to your capricious weak nature. It's your choice.
Pride is the other self-conscious emotion. Shame/guilt tend to exist in tandem. These man-made emotions require an active thought to experience it. The other emotions are instinctual.
This is no one person's thinking. It is common sense. Try it.
oh, man . Sorry, no time to really wade into this with you. Think you're way off-base in turning K's brand of individuality (which sure looks like a willful yielding to a capricious nature to me but maybe i haven't activated my active emotions or something) into some kind of benign or even heroic way of life. Imagine K Individuals comprising an entire population that theoretically would/could/should act as such. We could add Irresponsible Narcissism to the 20th C scourges of Nazism, Communism and Clintonism.
Doing away with motivating and inhibiting "pride and shame" probably would bring the world to a standstill. They are not just taught and experienced/ activated on account of thunk-up admittedly nice and mean cultural values, they're most basic to how humans survive, function and get the right/ workable things done more and the wrong ones done less.
I believe the need to seek Redemption and Transcendence for a fuller life is not so much a sanctimonious and taught "lofty goal" but is wired into our psyches. Some would say souls. Guess you don't, so let's agree to disagree.
Gotta go and good things to you.
The point that caught my eye here. Free Will. Is it or is it not. If I express mine, in a contrary way, does that make me beyond redemption. In other words, are there only certain models that fit that ideal of free will. All else to be denigrated as unfit for salvation or redemption. Narrow clique if so. Everything, teaches a lesson. We ignore at our peril.
Of course not, Luther. I don't think anyone is saying that. But if society doesn't hold to some kind of common values, some common identity, a shared past and idea of the future, then what works? Could we all go on the road like Kerouac, and is it completely benign that he gets to live that kind of drop-out, hedonistic way of life only because not everyone similarly indulges their whims on a full-time basis?
We all lead different lives, anyway, in our freer, more fluid society. Not too many of us are so shoehorned and trapped into a life and prescribed this and proscribed that we can't find another path to take or make compromises that satisfy our situations and needs. And be fairly responsible about it- to ourselves and others. There'll always be those people who do whatever and maybe they find their redemption. But we couldn't all do whatever, right?
Oh, lookee! A fat cat was lying in wait for a mouse. Sigh... Fat Cat missed her prey no matter how she pounced.
I think I'll eat her lunch. .... ..... ...... Ach .... Her Lone Ranger lunchbox is stuffed with Twinkies, Ho Ho's, chips, Tootsie Rolls, and brat wurst. oh gag....
ha ha ha ha....
Mamma said life is like a Lone Ranger Lunchbox, you never know what you going to get.