Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual by Benedict F. Giamo

By Benedict F. Giamo

Jack Kerouac, a "ragged priest of the note" in response to Ben Giamo, launched into a non secular quest "for the final word which means of life and ache, and the get together of pleasure within the meantime." For Kerouac, the hunt was once a sustained and inventive test in literary shape. Intuitive and leading edge, Kerouac created prose kinds that mirrored his look for own that means and non secular depth. those kinds diverse from an exuberant model of traditional narrative (On the line, The Dharma Bums, and Desolation Angels) to spontaneous bop prosody (Visions of Cody.Doctor Sax, and The Subterraneans). Giamo’s fundamental goal is to chronicle and make clear Kerouac’s quite a few non secular quests via shut examinations of the novels. Kerouac begun his quest with On the Road, which is also Giamo’s genuine place to begin. to set up early topics, non secular struggles, and stylistic shifts, notwithstanding, Giamo starts with the 1st novel, Town and state, and ends with Big Sur, the ultimate turning element in Kerouac’s quest.

Kerouac was once basically a spiritual author bent on checking out and celebrating the profane depths and transcendent heights of expertise and reporting either really. Baptized and buried a Catholic, he was once additionally seriously inspired by means of Buddhism, particularly from 1954 till 1957 while he built-in conventional jap trust into numerous novels. Catholicism remained a necessary strength in his writing, yet his examine of Buddhism used to be critical and never exclusively within the provider of his literary artwork. As he wrote to Malcolm Cowley in 1954, "Since I observed you I took up the learn of Buddhism and for me it’s the note and how i used to be taking a look for."

Giamo additionally seeks IT—"a important strength within the adventure of dwelling that takes one abruptly, postponing for the instant trust within the ‘real’ concrete gray daily of evidence of self and selfhood . . . its a number of meanings, paths, and oscillations: from romantic lyricism to ‘the ragged and ecstatic pleasure of natural being and from the void-pit of the nice international Snake to the joyous soreness of amorous love, and, eventually, from Catholic/Buddhist serenity to the onset of penitential martyrhood."

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Gone, though not gone beyond. The character of Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady) is the very personification of restlessness, “a wild yea-saying overburst of American joy” (10). Sal Paradise (alias Duluoz) catches the itch from him, going on the cross-country road by his own adventurous self and with his bosom buddy on several occasions—bosom because in Dean, with “suffering bony face,” Sal sees his “long-lost brother” and lost bliss of boyhood among the rough trade of Paterson (another stand-in for Lowell).

Drawn and disoriented but still suffused with pointless excitement, Dean stumbles and circles around in a wild spin of pure blank random intensity. “Poor, poor Dean—the devil himself had never fallen further; in idiocy, with infected thumb, surrounded by the battered suitcases of his motherless feverish life across America and back numberless times, an undone bird” (188–89). In a pure moment of compassion and concern, Sal offers to pay his way to New York and then Italy— somehow he’ll find the money.

Shearing, like Greb, rocks back and forth, not to a metronome, not to keep the cool beat of time’s deterministic tick-tockery, but to escape it altogether. ” Although “Dean was popeyed with awe,” Sal registers skepticism, as if to take the rhythm of back and forth to another existential level—hot and cool, fast and slow, high and low, ecstatic and flat, IT and NOT: “This madness would lead nowhere. I didn’t know what was happening to me, and I  • ROAD, TOWN, AND CITY suddenly realized it was only the tea that we were smoking” (128–29).

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