Sunday, July 23

...on Jack Kerouac

I just finished reading Big Sur by Jack Kerouac. A disturbing read as you are drawn into his desperate attempts at clarity through alcohol soaked boughts of insanity. The dialogue was hard for me to follow at first, written in the beatnick vernacular of the early 60's. Luckily, I hung in there and on page 34, he pulls out of a drunken stupor to lay out with precise clarity one of the most profound narratives I've ever read. It's a bit long, but well worth the read...enjoy.

The setting is a small cabin in Big Sur, California...sandwiched between ancient redwood forests on one side, the pounding Pacific Ocean on the other. Here's a link to the coastline view he mentions from the upper deck of Nepenthe.

At high noon the sun always coming out at last, strong, beating down on my nice high porch where I sit with books and coffee and the noon I thought about the ancient Indians who must have inhabited this canyon for thousands of years, how even as far back as the 10th Century this valley must have looked the same, just different trees: these ancient Indians simply the ancestors of the Indians of only recently say 1860-----How they've all died and quietly buried their grievances and excitements----How the creek may have been an inch deeper since logging operations of the last 60 years have removed some of the watershed in the hills back there----How the women pounded the local acorns, acorns or shmacorns, I finally found the natural nuts of the valley and they were sweet tasting----And men hunted deer-----In fact God knows what they did because I wasn't here----But the same valley, a thousand years of dust more or less over their footsteps of 960 A.D.-----And as far as I can see the world is too old for us to talk about it with our new words----We will pass just as quietly through life (passing through, passing through) as the 10th Century people of this valley only with a little more noise and a few bridges and dams and bombs that won't even last a million years---The world being just what it is, moving and passing through, actually alright in the long view and nothing to complain about----Even the rocks of the valley had earlier rock ancestors, a billion billion years ago, have left no howl of complaint----Neither the bee, or the first sea urchins, or the calm, or the severed paw----All sad So-Is sight of the world, right there in front of my nose as I look----And looking at that valley in fact I also realize I have to make lunch and it won't be any different than the lunch of those olden men and besides it'll taste good----Everything is the same, the fog says "We are fog and we fly by dissolving like ephemera," and the leaves say "We are leaves and we jiggle in the wind, that's all, we come and go, grow and fall"----Even the paper bags in my garbage pit say "We are man-transformed paper bags made out of wood pulp, we are kinda proud of being paper bags as long as that will be possible, but we'll be mush again with our sisters the leaves come rainy season"----The tree stumps say "We are tree stumps torn out of the ground by men, sometimes by wind, we have big tendrils full of earth that drink out of the earth"----Men say "We are men, we pull out tree stumps, we make paper bags, we think wise thoughts, we make lunch, we look around, we make a great effort to realize everything is the same"----While the sand says "We are sand, we already know," and the sea says "We are always come and go, fall and plosh"----The blue sky adds "Don't call me eternity, call me God if you like, all of you talkers are in paradise: the leaf is paradise, the tree stump is paradise, the paper bag is paradise, the man is paradise, the sand is paradise, the sea is paradise, the man is paradise, the fog is paradise"----Can you imagine a man with marvelous insights like these can go mad within a month? (because you must admit all those talking paper bags and sands were telling the truth)----But I remember seeing a mess of leaves suddenly go skittering in the wind and into the creek, then floating rapidly down the creek towards the sea, making me feel a nameless horror even then of "Oh my God, we're all being swept away to sea no matter what we know or say or do"----And a bird who was on a crooked branch is suddenly gone without my even hearing him.


TUFFENUF said...

Beautiful, thanks for sharing that, I enjoyed it and it is SO true. Also, your previous post about the bird brought a smile to my face - I love your blog so much!

Texas2Tennessee said...

Thanks Tuff...