Jack Kerouac and The Beat

Jack Kerouac and The Beat
Jack Kerouac, was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts, as the youngest of three children. Jack decided to be a writer after his brother Gerard died at the age of nine. From the life and death experience of his brother?s death, and the Catholic faith of his childhood, he developed a spiritual tendency in his character that would last throughout his life. The fact that Kerouac was a spiritual ?seeker,? may be the most vital aspect of his life. In post wwii, Eisenhower America, Jack Kerouac came from a poor rustic industrial community to change the face of American Culture forever. He chronicled the wild rebellious culture of ?the Beats? in the late 50?s and early 60?s, paving the way for a more accepting American Society and the tolerance of alternative lifestyles enjoyed today.
As a Roman Catholic who grew up in Calvinist New England, Jack took in a double dose of guilt and sensitivity to sin. In his book Dr. Sax his first ?bout with sexual desire, masturbation, is interrupted-in a virtual parody of crime and punishment- by the news that his dog had been hit by a car.? Jack probably could have handled this ?double dose? trebled by the death of his brother. Jack gave up Catholicism early on, but carried inside him the "sad peasant mystery of Quebec Catholics ?(59 Kerouac). The Catholic association of Kerouac?s thought are as plain as an idea of his total incompatibility with Catholicism, but sometimes mistaken for it? the idea that the suffering oppression are saintly"(17, Victor-Levy). Kerouac rejected materialism and liberalism of middle class America; for example he was not political or religious but emotional (Rumsey).





Jack rebelled against what he saw as the stifling, conformist cultural values of the 50?s. He lived in a society that was less spiritual and more materialistic than the last generations society. This was the cutting edge of a literary movement that broke the back of censorship in this country. The ?spontaneous bop prosody? (34, Giamo) is a writing technique credited to Jack Kerouac. His technique draws from both ?jazz music and the automatic writing style of surrealists? (108, Theado). The interesting phase of this technique is that it ?equals revision with repression? (108, Theado). This idea for this type of writing came from a friend of Jack?s who made the suggestion that he ?write the way a painter might sketch?(108, Theado). It also freed the writer from constraints who then could better articulate the truth.



Kerouac was obsessed with independence. He did not want or like to depend on somebody else for support, he even left college to become a lonesome traveler. Kerouac wanted to persuade his followers to get out and venture the highway, travel the world and find truth in what they encounter. Kerouac felt one could satisfy their search for happiness using the truth to their advantage. On the Road allowed a new force in traditional America: ?joyful madness which learned how to organize itself? (122, Charters).





Kerouac through a Zen experience, enlightenment by direct intuition by meditation, became interested in Buddhism. This discovery led him to enjoy a life of study, meditation and contemplative living. Symbolism of Kerouac motifs in his 1955 novel ?Obsession with Speed & Escape? actually symbolizes Kerouac?s rejection of the slow steady society of the 50?s. Through Buddhism philosophy he realized that he shared ideas of ?spontaneity and compassion for ?beat? and down people? (83, Victor-Levy). Dharma Bums is the decline of the beat movement as seen by Kerouac.





In many peoples minds the Beat Generation members were romanticized figures that were reduced to a slogan and a fashion (216, McDarrah). In Kerouac?s writings he stayed close to the things that actually happened to him. His books were the expression of the theme of moral souls wandering earth in a time that is vanishing under our feet. Having sex with men tormented Kerouac who was a believing Catholic raised in a drinking family. ?I consider queerness a hostility not a love,? he said.





The ?Beats? lifestyle consisted almost always of drug abuse and alcoholism making them in a different state of mind to write and perform. Often times they would use amphetamine to improve the focus on their writing. Kerouac drank himself to an early grave, trying to escape reality.





One of Kerouac?s achievements was making literature; whether spoken or printed as ?sexy? as movies, jazz and rock n? roll. He also helped liberate poetry from the captivity of the page and took it to places more commonly associated with music, art and stand-up comedy. Dharma Bums had an important sociological effect because the characters in this novel are inhabitants of the new communes; all the elements are and were handicrafts, Orientals, life in the outdoors, nudity, and liberated sexuality, madness, holiness, poetry, alcohol and drugs, naively and depth-under different disguises this is still found in today?s communes. This had a major influence on New York beat writers of the 50?s (136, McDarrah).





Talent as a writer was not with characters and plots, but his power to dramatize the spirits of his own life into romantic fantasy. Jack Kerouac displayed a, ?disconnected soul, a human being sadly lost in his own illusions? (42, Clark). It was Kerouac who invented the phrase and his published long narrative, On the Road, is the best record of his life.





Kerouac influenced the youth of the postwar generation by presenting a philosophy that would give them direction. The Beat Generation was a time that most young people felt violated by society?s intervention, they were tired of police always watching them and waiting for them to make a mistake. They were tired of being arrested for smoking marijuana, expressing their opinions and protesting. These young people were raised during the depression and did not want to take on a different lifestyle outside of the ?dishonest? society in which they now lived. Their feelings could have been a result of the psychological effects that wwii had on society. Some of these young people found happiness without getting involved with the ?Beat? (Rumsey). On the other hand, many went for broke and found they had no where to turn. These are the people desiring change and the ones most influenced by Kerouac?s literature. Kerouac presented peaceful but resistant philosophy through his literature that influenced the attitudes of young people.





Throughout much of his work Kerouac was responsible for influencing the majority of the Beats to travel and live the lifestyle that makes them the happiest. For a period of time Kerouac?s career and his popularity peaked. Crazed writing about them followed his road trips. These years were the happiest for Jack (314, Charters).



After the Beat years of his 1st youth and downing too many glasses of alcohol Jack couldn?t return to the thinking of his youth, seeing nothing else but evil. He thought everyone was ?out to kill him because he was Catholic? (246, Theado). Jack Kerouac had a massive impact on society between the nineteen forties and fifties. He had amazing support from the young people and found himself the subject of considerable protest by the youth?s parents. In 1969, the last years of his life he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. There he stayed indoors and drank Johnny Walker Red Wine and read magazines, and the Bible (360, Charters). He was watching the television on the morning of October twentieth, eating tuna fish right out of the can, sipping whiskey and scribbling a note. He had a sudden pain in his stomach. He made it to the bathroom in time to vomit a waterfall of blood. His liver, long cirrhotic, had finally hemorrhaged. The blood filled Jack?s chest and welled up into his throat. His wife rushed him to the hospital. He remained unconscious while doctors operated on him and pumped thirty pints of blood into his body. He died an alcoholic?s death, drowning in his own blood at 5:30 the next morning (408, Charters).

Jack Kerouac and The Beat 8.8 of 10 on the basis of 4129 Review.