Off the Road

I've finally finished Kerouac's On the Road. I'm glad I revisited it, and I'm glad I'm done with it. My copy is an underlined mess. I'll probably just hold onto it now until I throw it out. I think anyone else trying to read this copy would just get too distracted. (That link takes you to my affiliate page at Bookshop dot org. I think most people are familiar with affiliate programs now. If someone buys the book through that link, I'll get a small commission, in theory. It doesn't affect the cost of the book.)

One of these days I may try to write some coherent thoughts on the book. But it's a swampy day here in Seattle with yellowish smokey skies. I'm assuming the tint is from western wildfires. My brain doesn't want to work that hard. Besides, thousands of people smarter than I am have written about the book.

I've read the back cover several times.

On the Road swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat. Now recognized as a modern classic, Kerouac's American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than F. Scott Fitzgerald's, and the narrative goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and passion. ~ Penguin Classics

Penguin is not on Team Oxford Comma.

There is a lot to dislike about the book. Its pages are filled with misogyny, homophobia, exploitation, racism, and othering. There are also moments of tenderness, searching, wonder, and awe. White characters don't get racial labels; I think every non-white gets one. And yet there is a sincere respect and appreciation for the power and beauty of jazz, the blues, and bop.

I'll leave it at that today, with one quick paragraph that resonated.

Ed Dunkel, his compassion unnoticed like the compassion of saints. Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance.

Speaking of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I got home last night and figured I'd watch a scene from The Spanish Prisoner. I clicked on Midnight in Paris and watched the whole thing. What a wonderful movie. A smart person would have then gone to bed. Not me. I watched all of The Spanish Prisoner, also excellent.

I mentioned in a previous post that several Capitol Hill bars and restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination. I also mentioned that I'm fine with that. I'm curious what other people think*. I'm not sure I've thought through all the angles and implications. I hope people choose to get vaccinated, but I'm not going to vilify those who are hesitant. Confusing times. (*That's a very personal question. No obligation to provide an answer in a public comments section.)

Here are a few links to articles I found really interesting.

Idiot Coin - anyone else confused by cryptocurrency? David Segal has an interesting overview of that strange market in the New York Times.

Mistaken identity. Terrifying account of a man who was falsely insitutionalized. This is yet another argument against capital punishment. No, this isn't a capital punishment case, but you can see how flawed our justice system can be.

Taibbi on our broken political parties.

Walter Kirn's The Bullshit. I'm disappointed in and disillusioned with the state of journalism and the media. Kirn's essay speaks to a lot of my complaints.