Notes and Quotes – The Beat Generation

– Notes and Quotes –


The Beat Generation (Beats)

Jack Kerouac

Dr. Sax (1956), and On the Road (1957)


American writing


Zenith of congratulations


But what about…

The Poor

The Disenfranchised/ Unenfranchised

The Environment

The Soul


Response to socio & political


Materialism/Consumerism culture

Triumphalist America

Wandering in a post Christian/Judaeo reality.

Shift from conventional spirituality.

Spiritual dimension, not sectarian.

Literary traditions of Japan, China, and India.

Substantial, not an alternative.



Kerouac – Most innovative writer of the 20th Century


Truman Capote – said not writing, but typing.

Was right, but didn’t know what he was saying


What Kerouac made versus how he made it


Beat writing – Political, revolutionary, etc.

Radical of America and what it wants to be


Spontaneity & Velocity

An event rather than a product


The relationship of human and time

Kerouac – The obvious touch of time

‘“It’s happening now’” Abolishes fiction

This IS what happened

Not made up

Sufficient for art


Leave lousy life behind for art…

Kerouac – don’t feel diminished by art


Jazz – music as played now.

The production of its moment at that time

Cannot be reproduced, only played


Kerouac’s performance – in the midst of

The extent to pace of real, the writing.

Kerouac writing – in nature, challenge to conventional art.

Locates the writer among the readers

Restoring art to the mess of art

Novels put together in order

The legend

Sovereignty real time

We’re all in this together

Presence, how ever slight affects the music

You have to be there

The only authority you need

Be there while it’s played

Presence is authority directly from simple presence

– Not what you make of it, what it makes of you

Abolition of useless distinctions

You don’t know…because there is no difference

History, legends, fiction, truth, sacred, secular

Fictitious distinctions

Imagination / memory

Autobiography / fiction

Art / scripture


An entirety, wholeness, blessed, holy


Kerouac abolished dualism in his creation

The stuff of his art is stuff you know

Universal sanctity, writing scripture

Jazz and sacred music

‘“Bird Lives’”


Remove art from commodity and commerce

Eisenhower – uncomfortable with moving the conversation


Everything has a component of the sacred, large or small


Plot? Main event?

Each is its own plot / event/ realization


Where does it end?

It doesn’t

It stops

Like a car


No heavy explanations

Kids – the days end when you fall asleep

Alive until you’re dead


Sanctity perceived is sanctity present

The writer notices and cannot help but say


Trust in…the lord…whatever that means


Kerouac in rapture – on & on for pages.



From Doctor Sax (1922)

Starting from birth


‘“Central’” experience

Alive to death

Only credential needed, birth certificate

‘“Centralville’” – In the middle


– Epics – Begin in the middle of things

– Man’s fist disobedience and the fruit


Everything emanates from powerlessness, helplessness

…Free people by imposing power…no


– At the center of the saga, where you are

The heroic is a status belonging to us all

Not based on exclusion

Heroism of everyone

Sanctity of everything

Once there is a center, many centers


No end to being born

Once you start, you can’t stop

Continuous, not singular

Events do not end because others begin

Books have no beginning, middle, end

Books start and stop

Come to all your senses

Being is itself, a simultaneity of events

Not incomprehensible

Why pretend to be less, saying it’s more


‘“One, two, three years old’” – too many adjectives?

Beauty / truth – products of exclusion

What if true because let it all end?

Who gets in the lifeboat?


Kerouac – Never shy of interruption, because he remembered it


‘“The Great Bathrobe Vision’”

A revelation is a revelation

Realization / revelation / vision

Everybody’s story


– Kerouac remembering the day he was born


‘“You can’t remember’” – oppressive


Language / martial arts


Hallucinations – Language, maturity

Every realization is a revelation


Author’s power comes from what we all know

Not from withholding


You already know


Conned, oppressed, abjected, revelations


Visions – vouched safe for interpretation

Every perception is a vision


Friendship – sacramental power in beat literature

Quaker – society of friends

Friendship – potent and subversive force

Goes outside the family

Arbitrary, powerful, passionate, not contractual obligation, the law can’t touch it

Among spiritual discoveries

Not of culture, society, law, but experience


Kerouac – first friend, brother

Choices that transcend – law, obligation

Friendship values – outlaw


Violation of family values

To a different kind of values


Gerard is Jesus, you too

Who has access to holiness / sacredness? Everyone.

Not a god, but a friend, and near


Play the song / notes, and the play the rest of the song / notes at the same time


‘“Goodness & advice’” – organized in attention

Kerouac wants to know how to go to heaven


New Jersey – The Garden State – Paradise Lost

– Blows until breathless

Stuff of a hundred novels, and he says it

The stuff experience is the book, the life, the man

Conjunctions without the need to comb them out

A headlong rush to say without need because of the next sentence

No rehearsals necessary


To value because next

Not bigger, not better, but next

-Denial of simple truths – whole civilizations

-Catharsis is unpredictable

-Buddhism is anything

-Writing faster than mind can capture

-Writing in flight from mind

Purity through slovenliness




‘“Mechante’” – Human participates of the divine

The divine partakes of the human as well

-Leave it all in. It might be God

-Traffic moves both ways

Attention – The see is seen, also seen is seer

-’”Self-destructive’” behavior – in a hurry to heaven

-Saints tend to die on the toilet

-Life as it must be lived is unacceptable

Terms of survival, unacceptable


-Dog kills rabbit, has spiritual epiphany


-Samuel Beckett – ‘“We do what we can,’” ‘“We shouldn’t’”




‘“Like the protection’” – Helplessness

The art of helplessness

I cannot talk, look, hear…sense it

Holiness is temptation

-Martyr – can’t resist temptation, biggest sinner of all

-Helpless books that are resisted

Helplessness, necessary state of the artists

At the mercy of sanctity presented

Everything presented is sanctity

-Beat writing – reconsider helplessness

The next thing to godliness?

Godliness / power?

Godliness / helplessness?


-Self-help society

-Do-it-yourself dynasty

-Helplessness, dignified?

-Inability to resist self-destructive behavior

-Hopeful, rather than hopeless alcoholic, no despair

-Helplessness – the cure of despair

-Despair and ecstasy simultaneously

-Sanctity – all are helpless and…like god


Kerouac keeps typing

No separating his despair from joy

Accept suffering, what is suffering?

-The only way to be alive is if dying




‘“Endless future’”

-When do you stop praying? For prime time TV?

-When do you stop living and start writing?

-Bad faith? Vanity? Delusion? Always somewhere.

-Kerouac – Embedder explicit, that it shouldn’t be there at all

-Great jazz musicians played, didn’t write it down





‘“Meanwhile, insanely’” – Boom!

Joyful noise unto the world; jazz, fireworks

-All syntax is a power structure

-Shaker hymns, no language

-Language has original sin

-Writing faster than mind and words, only syllables. Not sense, but sound

-Why seek the meaning of life in old words. Make new words.

-Real ecstasy expressed in sound, boom, beyond words




‘“Among these skaters’”

-Unique, based in a pattering of divine

-Can’t talk about love without god

-Divinity in everyone

-Sacred & secular, indistinguishable

-Kerouac’s writing loses typical tidiness

Confusion, remorse, retreat, betrayal, complicates

-Simplify / simplicity, different




‘“I accepted everything’”

Testimony of a kind of loving

Unfaithful to every element except all of them




‘“I see her head bowed’”

Interior / exterior

Circulation of emphasis & location

Substance / spirit

Though / nature

Think of divine, thinks mortal

-White / black, up / down, she /me

Inevitable consequences of each other


-Sometimes it just comes together




‘“I could see all the rooftops’”

-Be your entire self at the same time

Victory, idea, sensation

Coming to his senses

-Ideas as feelable as sensations

-Ecstatically insane in innocence

Not born but, good fortune, innocence

-Not writing, no names, not gonnna give em names



Soul making, soup unspilt, go to heaven

‘“Dig we must for a better New York’”

Ann Charter – saint of academic life

Dedicated to the life of Kerouac, rare purity

Of his intentions and soul making

Jazz – the only American art form? Religion?

Looking for something rather than asserting

Beat lit – a protest against ascertation

Imposition of soul, rather than looking for soul

Literature – corrective of aftermath of war

‘“Exporting our great democracy’” (Demoncracy)


Our culture corrects our culture, ‘“yes, but…’”

MLK Jr. – stepped out of the box and opposed war too

The news of Vietnam…coming attractions to death



On The Road, Part 1

I first met Dean…a fracture.

It might be repaired

Healing, mending

Serious illness

Anticipation of healing

Messianic/messiahs – soul gets saved by many kings

Not acknowledge themselves

What you write is also about what you don’t write

What are you thinking Jack?

Healing, wellness

Whitman – I will be good health to you

William James – the healthy soul

Interior/exterior, one in the same

Well, at home in the world & happy.

‘“Wont bother to talk about,’” illness, in the tradition of Whitman and James

Everything was ‘“dead’” – feeling

Looking for resurrection

When somebody notices, it means something

Resurrection – with the coming of Dean Moriarty

Civilization – based on…

Sick, dead, resurrected, put on the road


‘“Part’” of my life, increments.

Life – material. Not metaphysical/ghostly

You can talk about life

Life is defined

You can touch it


Dream, planning, take off

The vauge – clear, concrete

‘“Dean is the perfect guy’”

Advent of a messiah, fulfilling a purpose

If it saves you, it saves you. And if it saves you it is a messiah

Salt Lake City – where the real juice comes from

Home made religions – LDS, Mormons

Any life contains within itself the possibility of spirituality

Salt Lake City/Bethlehem – on the way to Los Angeles/The angels

Everyone – born on the road, LA, SLC, anywhere

Potential of everything

The things that turn our lives around.

Kerouac – the world is overflowing with salvation


‘“Chad King’”

High culture combines with low culture

Proust/baseball cards

Jean the Baptist/Comic books

Mary Magdalene/Mary Lou

The gospels/Chuck Berry

An individual character is the composite, the consequences of loves

Whitman – Leaves of Grass

Soul under construction



Pg. 143


Blossoming enthusiasm – religion lives in fear of it

Embarrassed by enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is temporary

The story – scripture according to Kerouac

The bible – no footnotes, no scholarly apparatus

Dont think about it, write it, and then let’s go out

‘“That’s right man. Now you’re talking.’”

Happening right now, not writing, you’re talking, talk literature

Enthusiasm – rather than craftsmanship

Our response – enthusiasm rather than admiration



Pg. 144

‘“Dean had already left’”

The most fantastic parking lot attendant in the world


Value as production is displaced by value as action

A new economy

Not the product, but the activity

The parking lot was empty at start

Empty at end

The attendant has nothing to show for it

Valet – essence of car theft

Take care, take money, steal & sell to someone else




‘“He only stole cars for joy rides’”

Make a joyful sound onto the lord

Having it momentarily

‘“We know time’”

In favor of time instead of spatial possession


Jim/Huck – ‘“Come back to the raft, honey’”

The river/road

Tom Wolfe – Of Time and Of the River

A call to the nation – come back to the time

I know what it means to miss New Orleans

On the road, crossing




‘“Somewhere along the line’”

Girls, visions, everything

Messiahs appear to losers

Disciples – fishermen scared of a boat

Kerouac – not shy about using words

Everything leads to anything

One piece of holy ground to the next




‘“As the sun was reddening’”

‘“I didn’t know who I was’”

Need to be reborn, again and again

Horatio Alger – make something of yourself

Here – the preface of life is to lose your name, not to know who you are

The shadow knows

‘“Right there and then’”

Kerouac – characters never develop, just move around. They do what they do. Development is an Insurance to time

Time – emerge from the reality that…

Shakespeare – diseased

In the middle

Walden – time – the stream I go fishing in





American writers can be replaced by the movies

Heaven of purgatory

Nathaniel West – Day of the Locust

Hollywood – the end of spacial America

Supposed to be ‘“!!!’”, but when you get there, it was the end

Living in time, not nearly space

Open universe, not closed

You can always turn around

It’s okay to change your mind

It’s fun

Kerouac doesn’t go crazy the way Hollywood goes crazy

Zappa – what is the ugliest part of your body?




Bull Lee – helplessness

The gang cant do anything without thinking of things they’ve read; Dean comes, live your life, dont read/write it, live it!

The addict – the perfect American

Consumer society – cannot help but consume

Formed by consumption

‘“Is that what you want us to be?’”

Addicts. Will be it.

Everything exhorts us to addiction

These texts are a cultural critique

Bull’s extremity exposes the commodity culture that creates him

Things have worth, piece of wood, people

Emphasis on temporarily

How many days are needed to say a happy life was lived?

The pure value of being in time

‘“On the clock/cross’”

The river, not the trade center

Not up and down, but along, to and fro

Horizontality, where else do we live but time

No banks no source no delta

Affirm mortality

All things we rightly despise are insults to birth




Time is not a clock, but an emotion

Not only understood, but cared

Higher order

Fell back into ‘“somebody’s’” arms

A pimp in Mecca

Where there are no pimps

The temporality – what comes next

We don’t know what comes next

Because we don’t know what comes next

The artist is with the audience

Not writing the novel, but finding the novel together

Opposes Truman Capote – waiting to give the message from on high

They don’t hand out cough drops at jazz clubs

When isn’t it Mother’s Day?

Not from training, but feeling, enthusiasm

William Carlos Williams – ‘“The pure products of America drive Americans crazy’”

Ivory snow girl – Marilyn Chambers


Nicholas Ray

Vim Venders ‘“Lightning Over Water’” (‘“Wings of Desire’”)


The song doesn’t climax

The scene just ends

The experience is the meaning

Narrow-minded pseudo-fascist




‘“No end to the night’”

‘“That great roar of Chicago dawn’”

All happening at the same time

The night ends and it doesn’t end

Space becomes and emanation of time


Tim Hardin III – Live at Town Hall


‘“Whee’” – making noise we seek to find new phrases (not make new phrases)

Art – made/found

Commodity culture – emphasis on ‘“making’”

Kerouac – writes looking for the book

Looking for a hero/savior

Childlikeness of finding, phrases/money/ect.

New sound – making will come later

Go moan for man

‘“It’s the pathos of people that gets us down’”

Kingdom of heaven – endless Special Olympics




‘“She was in the alley’”

Alley – space between places, road, too

Identity between identities

Identity theft – if they can steal it, it isnt you

Being does not depend on identity

Not what you make of it, but having it

Being being squandered in search for identity

High modernists – strict limit on activities

Anguish department

Find the word that does the work of 10 (outsourcing)

Let all the words in

Art includes what it excludes

Every moment is an eternity

Opens composition to history/time

The sentence refuses to remit an ounce of its meaning

By living in time, we live in eternity

The sentence becomes the vehicle of the eternal

Blake – ‘“Eternity…’” Time

Keep writing until you run out of breath, respiration/inspiration




‘“In the street, where I meet all my bodhisattvas’”

The result of people he met in real time

Jaffe returns the quiet to the trip

Dean is a figure of crowds and noise


Being in time




Zen Buddhists

Not kindness, but confusing the intellect

They (Jack/Gary) disagree, creating change in agreeance

Changing their constellation

Kindness – looking for a way to be kind


Living in time, we suffer

Responding to time with kindness


Art – kindness, top of list of morals

Kindness replaces rigor

Structure without conflict – anti-conflict, ceases, leaves semantics

Serenity in the gaze of…gazelle in the jaws of a lion

We can’t use words without eventually involving conflict

Leave language for kindness





Abandon tradition

Why write?

Democratic National Convention – ‘“New Reasons for Spitefulness’”?

Kindness – the willingness to pay attention when the story is affected