Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Beat authors

Jack Kerouac on How to Meditate

Centuries after Montaigne contemplated the double meaning of meditation and decades before Western science confirmed what Eastern philosophy has known for millennia — that meditation is our greatest gateway to self-transcendence and that by transforming our minds it is actually transforming our bodiesAlan Watts began popularizing Eastern spiritual teachings in the West and meditation wove itself into the fabric of popular culture.

Among the early converts in the 1950s was Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969), who became so besotted with the ancient practice that he extolled its rewards in a poem, later included in The Portable Jack Kerouac (public library) — the same treasure trove of stories, poems, letters, and essays on Buddhism that gave us Kerouac on kindness, the self illusion and the “Golden Eternity,” the crucial difference between genius and talent, and his “beliefs and techniques” for prose and life.

HOW TO MEDITATE

— lights out —

fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance — Healing
all my sicknesses — erasing all — not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it out, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes — and
with joy you realize for the first time
“Thinking’s just like not thinking —
So I don’t have to think
any
more”

Many more records of Kerouac’s foray into Eastern teachings can be found in The Portable Jack Kerouac.

Complement this particular one with neuroscientist Sam Harris on the paradox of meditation, journalist Jo Marchant on how our minds actually affect our bodies, and David Lynch on meditation as a creative anchor, then revisit Patti Smith’s masterful music adaptation of Kerouac.

Note 1: I tied once to read a section of On the Road and gave up. I realized the real function of punctuations: Giving the reader a break to breath, and the author a fake sense of breathing.

This is the same case of reading Proust: More than 3 pages with no punctuations and my mind failed to link up with the many ideas: It was a suffocating and heavy experience, and I gave up on Proust.

Note 2: Jude Quinten Hawkins comment on Kerouac writing style:
When you read Beat authors like Kerouac, Kesey, or Burroughs, it helps to let go off any desire for a plot or arc of any sort.
Most of the time their books are more like snapshots of a place and time, put down in writing.

I try to pretend that I am there with them, hanging out in the car/apartment and just experience it as it comes without trying to make a bunch of grandiose connections about what it all means.
Maybe the key to success with On the Road is approaching it from the correct angle. Some people love it because its a rip-roaring party book, and in some respects, it is. But it is also a post WWII novel about people that had absolutely no idea how to live in the world they had helped build.

For what it’s worth, I toss it in the stack of work that I’d describe as apocalyptic.
Read it with Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, Carson’s Silent Spring, McCarthy’s The Road, DeLillo’s Point Omega, Harrison’s A Good Day to Die maybe watch Mad Max while you’re at it…

In that context, you probably still wouldn’t like the diction or the characters, but if the end doesn’t rip your heart and your guts right out, I’m not sure what would.

Honestly Kerouac is a mess, and to think that’s after going through edits and publishers. It seems to me that some books are meant to be read over and over, On the Road being one of them, his style really is a reflection of his environment and the journey he was on.

Extremely heavy drinking and drug use, in fact, and I can’t be 100% on this but there should be a study confirming it I’ll see if I can find it, but examining On the Road is basically a case study in the effects of speed on the brain.
Mad typing, half-formed ideas, seeming madness on the page, as if his mind was moving much too fast for the typewriter to keep up and even with that he typed the 120-ft scroll of On The Road in little over two or three weeks, single spaced, no edits.
In the end he’s a talented mad typist that seems to just let the machine, be it car or typewriter, take him places


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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