Questioning the status-quo is what eventually leads to change and action. Internal shifts first, and eventually social transformation. It's irrelevant whether the shifters are loved or loathed - they are a product of social events and internal grasping for revolution.
woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls ...
Before Elvis, before the Beatles, before the hippies, and all that these changed in the minds of young people and thereby society, there was the generation dubbed as Beat.
Beaten down and tired
connected to the primitive pulse.
Amongst the madness was a desperate need for stability, meaning, and love. Their thinking and their lifestyle - the mad circling of questioning and re-questioning - were the predecessors to sexual liberation, censorship liberation, respect for ecology and indigenous people, the anti-war movement, and liberation from the rule of the State.
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.
Kerouac, On the Road
the cover i own
On the Road is a book that pulsates with the undercurrent revolution. Kerouac didn't call himself a Beat writer nor did he fully connect with the Beat Generation. His works were Beat by default. It stemmed from living and breathing the same disillusionments and passions as his peers. Largely autobiographical, the book is a glimpse into that Lost Generation.
Kerouac had, after many years grappling with writing, uncovered his voice. The way I see it, he finally allowed himself to write the way he had lived.
As a style, Beat is stream-of-consciousness, passionate, raw, gritty, spontaneous, open-ended, and it bounces to the beat-bop rhythms of improvisational jazz. Likewise, this isn't a book of answers or a 'story' or neat endings. It's a pulse to an American generation that questioned and yearned like no one had done for a very long time.
20 years after the first reading that changed my life by pushing me out, onto the road, I was better able to appreciate it's layers. From, life experience, as a traveller, a bohemian, a questioner, a jazz fan, a mystic, a tireless walker of the authentic life.... I could connect to it's context as well as his voice.
Afraid that I would ruin a sentimental memory, instead I was thrust into first gear with it's passion, rawness, and intimacy, and the whole reading bounced and bopped for me.
What's your road, man?
Kerouac, On the Road
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