” The candle burns/And when it’s over/The wax lies in cold artistic piles/ —That’s about all I know. »
The sublimated novel/autofiction begins with an ecstatic experience. Jack Duluoz, known as Jack Kerouac, alone on the peak of Desolation, nourished by Buddhist readings and a deeply rooted mystical Catholicism, receives a revelation. “When a child is born he falls asleep and dreams the dream of life, when he dies and descends into a grave he awakens again to eternal Ecstasy (…) And once all is said and done, it doesn’t matter anymore. (…) Avalokitesvara laid down his diamond hand. » The only contact of the author ofBig Surwith civilization passes by the radio which links him to his colleagues, enough to make the memory box work at full capacity. On his mountain, he must watch for the appearance of potential fires.
This first part, long unknown in France, is only one continuous flow, without organization, joyful. No sorting, almost automatic writing, to rumbling. Where do they come from ? We are in his head, and everything is jostling. Upsurges, ” and each time one can wonder why this one rather than the other. We drink this coffee and we remember that the uncle is dead.“Sometimes dreams, the waltz of feelings: from euphoria to despair. Kerouac came to seek his mystical experience in remote nature. If it’s not the mountains, it’s often the desert. Great visions still appear as fire threatens under lightning that strikes the forest and his cabin. ” Desolation, Desolation,/where did you/gain your name ? »
And after this inexpressible understanding, the Void, the great Buddhist Void. The desire to come back down, the boredom, Poor human hearts knocking all over the world. Bottomless horror… several. Sad understanding is what compassion means — I renounce the attempt to be happy.“As a result of all his boundary experiences, “ all I want is an ice cream cone.He leaves his mountain after 63 days. All his naivety, very American, opened to him these closed doors for the Cartesian. ” My own life can only be enraged, lost, partial, critical, confused, frightened, stupid, proud, contemptuous, shit, shit, shit. (…) The Adventure of Desolation surprises me in the process of discovering deep within myself an abyssal nothingness, worse even than this absence of illusion — my mind is in rags.»
Kerouac is a great sufferer launched on the Christian path. All his work and his life are only one great Passion of Jack. He is not a saint, and cannot stand alone. ” Ahead of me, adventures await me with other far crazier angels, and dangers, though I can see that I’m determined to stay neutral — I’ll just push through everything, like what passes through everything .»
“Everyone everywhere is an angel”
Jack Duluoz (Kerouac) wants to reach Mexico, but first he will pass through several cities, including San Francisco, where all the poets of the Beat Generation await him, before crossing the world and returning, always with his Christlike gaze on everything. Back down, the abundant style of Kerouac remains, but settles down, normalizes (relatively), becomes more descriptive. A writing that inevitably provokes a form of anarchy where ideas pass, come back, contradict each other, in a great conjunction of opposites. “Association of the thought, the launched sentence, the dash, write deeply, seek its satisfaction: telepathic shock the flow to flow: to open you and let spring. Let the Holy Spirit speak through you.»
The visions give way to a reality on which he casts his singular gaze on life and society: “Everybody everywhere is an angel, Charlie Chaplin and I have seen their wings, you don’t have to be a seraphic little girl with a sad wistful smile to be an angel, you can be a Tall Striped Homasse smiling scornfully in a cellar, in a sewer, you can be the mysterious Wallace Beery in a dirty undershirt scratching himself, you can be a crazy Indian woman crouching in the gutter, you can even be a brilliant American boss beaming and full of convictions and the sparkling eyes, you can even be a dirty intellectual in the Capitals of Europe, but I manage to see the big and sad invisible wings on all the shoulders and I regret that they are invisible and useless on earth and always have been and all we do is fight to the death. Why ? (…) All caught in the game of triviality — shy before God — even the angels were fighting.»
Sinister Americans in a Seattle bar, these hitchhiking encounters, a dancer he contemplates, “drunk and crazy»… Kerouac sublimates everything he encounters: «It makes no sense, the world is too magical, I better get back to my rock.“Each page, its dazzling. Difficult to read the 550 pages when each of them grabs you by the collar. Now, the beat of jazz in San Francisco, a sort of American anarchist capital in the 1950s: a crowd of faces, madmen, poets, sad, serious, delirious… Irwin (Allen Ginsberg), “15 years that we know each other and we observed each other worried in life.“. The author ofhowlis portrayed as the little hysteric he is, always accompanied by Simon Darlovsky (Peter Orlovsky). The ambition of the two great neurotic naïves: to practice poetry in their lives.
Raphaël Urso (Greg Corso), the furious, enthusiastic, artistic and generous ex-con, and also Bull Hubbard (William Burroughs) who is just passing through. All figures of the Beat Generation are designed by their most talented representative. Other silhouettes pass by, Jarry Wagner (Gary Snyder), hero of his novel, The Celestial Tramps, Alex Aums (Alan Watts)… And the most important of them, Cody Pommeray, avatar of Neal Cassady, his mentor. He appears in the novel haloed with a halo of dangerous holiness. The frenetic Neal here is the overpowered Cody, born among the hobos and delinquents of Denver. The non-intellectual: a celebrant of the American road. “And they’re all there, my friends, somewhere in its miniature little streets, and when they see the angel smiling — Which won’t be so bad — Desolation isn’t so bad.» «So Cody is the Conductor of the Heavenly Train, and all the tickets are stamped by him because we’ve all been sweet lambs and believed in roses and lamps and eyes of the moon.»
Kerouac makes us live, with immense talent, the madness and this desire for transcendence that animated them each in their own way, like the profound ingenuity that characterizes all young peoples, and gives them their strength. The San Francisco of that time seemed the ideal playground for these idealistic and painful poets, howling in the buses and the streets new incantations, and inventing a new, purely American literature. All these young artists tried to trace an anti-bourgeois and anti-modern path in the harsh America of the 1950s, to “meditate and ignore society“.
But Kerouac, who cannot stop, will also leave his friends to continue on his way. We salute everyone:Jack be careful hold on to the banister and remember what i always told you baby we’ve been buddies for a long time in this lonely world i love you more than i ever have and i don’t want to lose you son —Neal Cassady was born the year his beloved brother Gerard died. This is why he sees in him his reincarnation. After Mexico, there will still be Tangier, London, New York, France and the return to the United States, all in passing.
The Beat Generation was born under the pen of a journalist and in Bohemia around Columbia University and Greenwich Village. Jack Kerouac will give three definitions of this expression.Beat, it is first of all to be broken by life, crushed. “It’s the beat generation, it means beat, it’s the beat to keep, it’s the beating of the heart, it’s to be beaten and beaten in the eyes of the world and like the end of the night…It is to extract oneself from the myths of American modernity, with the price that must be paid to do so.
There is alsothe beat, the rhythm, the pulse of jazz, its cadence. A bebop prosody. The Kerouac River zigzags. Raw art. Accept what happens. The form is free, without any inhibition, neither syntactic nor aesthetic. As close as possible to the first impulse. Write very quickly. Kerouac believes in inspiration: for him, you have to grasp the truth before it runs away. Like the chorus of a jazzman. Kerouac stares at the ephemeral, catches what passes like a madman who would never think about what he is saying.
And a last meaning: the generation of bliss. The personal heartbreak and the veils of a conventional society. All its poets and authors start from European influences: Céline, Rimbaud, Spengler, Freudianism, existentialism, surrealism, to achieve a typically American form, a mirror of these large spaces that François Busnel shows in his documentary on the great Jim Harrison. American transcendentalism also hovers above these idle young heads.
Kerouac’s fundamental anxiety runs through the whole story, and its contradictions spring from Le sens chez Kerouac and a constant refusal of meaning, in which he advances in the path of Buddha. But the nonsense clings to him, and he finds it extremely difficult to get rid of it. The exit from illusion only passes through the overcoming of meaningandnonsense.
If we consider, in a symbolic approach to things, as with certain authors or spiritualist schools, that each continent is affiliated with an element, the European continent would be that of fire (from which the United States would emanate). The Indian guru Osho, who came to the West to offer his awakening and personal development techniques, found that Asian techniques, made for “the air continent», were not adapted to Westerners, characterized by their inner turmoil. He then proposed techniques geared towards a goal: exhaustion.
A movement meditation. It is at the end of this fatigue, in this void of strength and feelings, that the light would pass… Perhaps Kerouac’s wanderings would have only this one goal?
In this text, written in 1956, Jack Kerouac is not yet the castaway he will become, destroyed by alcohol and the notoriety he could not bear. A novel of freedom, of style (thanks to the wonderful translation by Pierre Guglielmina), which takes us inside the Beat Generation, and which offers the wonderful possibility of being able to contemplate things withvisionso powerful of Jack.
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Jack Kerouac: to each his invisible wings
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