…I came to a point where I needed solitude and just stop the machine of “thinking” and “enjoying” what they call “living,” I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds— Jack KerouacAlone On A Mountaintop
“Civilizations east and west have long been on a collision course with wild nature, and now the developed nations in particular have the witless power to destroy not only individual creatures but whole species, whole processes, of the earth. We need a civilization that can live fully and creatively together with wildness.”
Gary Snyder in Etiquette of Freedom / Practice of the Wild
More Jack #Kerouac riffs – this one from the mighty Jerry Garcia
￼ “I can’t separate who I am now from what I got from Kerouac. I don’t know if I would ever have had the courage or the vision to do something outside with my life – or even suspected the possibilities existed – if it weren’t for Kerouac opening those doors.”
Jerry Garcia, remembering Jack Kerouac who was born in Lowell, MA on March 12, 1922￼
PS Remember Jack Kerouac’s “on the road“ scroll is ￼coming to Kobe in May with my workshop kicking things off on April 29.￼
Some years ago (1996 maybe), poet Gary Snyder was doing a reading at Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington. Folks are lined up with stacks of books for him to sign, including, books not by him but my other “associated“ writers. Thought this was very cheesy.
Anyhow, I only took a ragged copy of “Passage through India”. He gave a big chuckle and says “I don’t see many of these anymore” as he signed. Told him how i’d rambled with his books tucked in my rucksack through and arriving in Japan and reading Backcountry in Kyoto waiting for a bus to make me to Mochigase and start work on a mushroom farm.
Also, I had mailed him a documentary film I made (Hempenroad), and he recognized me from that and talked for a while about hemp and ecology while others waited impatiently to have him sign some Burroughs book or something. Felt so incredibly proud that he was aware of my existence.
“Humans can’t live in the present, like animals do. Humans are always thinking about the future or the past. So it’s a veil of tears, man. I don’t know anything that’s going to benefit me now, except love. I just need an overwhelming amount of love. And a nap. Mostly a nap.”
Townes Van Zandt
“I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ’em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.”
Poet Gary Snyder interview from Poland “Gary Snyder – Writers in Motion – Audiowizualna biblioteka pisarzy” you’ll likely enjoy:
*** Study Notes from Rabbit Holes including Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, and War in Pacific etc ***
Over the past while, whilst dealing with this illness, I’ve gone down deep into “rabbit holes” about various segments of history.
Went deep into Norse history from early viking expeditions to Orkneys and Hebredies in search of (literally) greener pastures, to invasions of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Francia and expeditions to Russia including trading with Middle East – Also their steel forging skills – All through to the Norman invasion with William the Conquero. Then Viking voyages to North Atlantic away from Europe and to North America. Also learned about new satellite archaeology techniques used for finding settlement sites in eastern Canada. There will be remarkable discoveries in the next decade which will rewrite books.
Then went deep into “dark” ages to the founding of what is now modern western Europe – roughly from post-Roman to Charlemange. I was specifically interested in how a culture grows up around the ruins of a much greater culture. Like you’re a dirt farmer in what is now England and you look around at lovely aqueduct and empty baths while you try to figure out how to get clean water. Makes me wonder if we’re living in a “dark ages” or we’re the Romans.
Then deep into the “Great war” and the unrest and revolutions which happened in the aftermath which broke down monarchies and gave rise to nationstates… But also produced situations which led to what we now call World War II through rise of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and showed the falls of capitalism through the depression. Each of these flavors contributed in away to the events that transpired. (Also Hitler’s home movies and i’ve already absorbed everything about art theft during this era).
Then deep into the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill and Josef Stalin and how they had to jockey amongst themselves to convince the others of the importance of their different priorities… Also deep into the north African campaigns through the desert – especially the desert expeditionary unit (mostly New Zealanders) who lived for months at a time in uncharted areas in difficult conditions to gather intelligence. They did receive a rum ration though.
And also I am continually unpacking my knowledge of the war in the Pacific… Most recently started with “Fall of Japan” a massive tome which chronicles – in great nuanced detail – the events in Japan from the day after Nagasaki bombing to the signing on Missouri (Aug. 6-30 1945).
As you might expect, lots of efforts to raid the palace, people convinced the emperor was a body double or coerced, dozens of ritual suicide by high-ranking officials, people going into hiding, renegade bands of soldiers holding tough, and back channel diplomacy actions trying to smooth things over for an inevitable fate. Including all the secret communication machinations used to finally get messages back-and-forth between the right people to effectuate the surrender and peace and landing etc.
Then watched film called Emperor – this began as MacArthur and his crew were landing at Atsugi after the signing and follows the story of a General Bonner Fellows who was tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito would be held to trial or not. Of course he had to wrangle between Tojo (who just had tried to kill himself but was “saved” in time to be tried and executed, and Kanabe (?), the previous prime minister, and all the militarists and hard core zealots who insisted on vague answers and didn’t understand that really they didn’t *really* want to try Hito but they needed an legitimate excuse not to do so.
Also Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur wasn’t too bad actually, and they dramatized the famous meeting between the Emperor and The Supreme Commander with only one dedicated translator between them. And they re-created the famous photograph.
Then, I’m onto a book called “Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan” which doubles back over the previous bit and starts with the planning of the signature ceremony on the USS Missouri and into his landing at Atsugi and motorcade (with thousands of Japanese soldiers turning their backs in respect) and starting to issue his edicts to manage the situation and deal with a starving population.
Still working on this one.
A few notes include (from a civilian peacenik perspective):
The rivalry between Army and Navy is far more vast than I realized. We civilians think of the Armed Forces as fairly unified and not completely discrete, or/and even rival, units. Of course this is most evident in the rivalry between MacArthur and Nimitz but also amongst the rank and file – especially jr officers seeking to climb the ladder.
The Tokyo firebombings must’ve been even more miserable way to go then the Atomic bombs further south. Both suck. Also glad Eleanor Roosevelt pushed so hard to spare Kyoto from the bombs.
The Russians joining the war against Japan the day after Nagasaki and still expecting a seat at the negotiation table so to speak. Funny Russians.
The Chinese Reds filling the power vacuum left by Chinese army instantly after the bombs – even while the news was still travelling to POW camps around Asia. The commandants of the camps did not know quite what to think when Allied forces started parachuting in to demand release.
The two-men chosen by Japan to sign the surrender document: the diplomat with the wooden leg who had to get from the US Destroyer to a launch via a bosun’s chair, and then try to maintain dignity wall climbing up a ladder on the side of the Missouri while wearing a cutaway coat and a top hat.
MacArthur’s choice of guests to be on board at the signing was very specific and included the Canadian doctor (who signed on Canada’s behalf) who had done the surgery on the affirmation Japanese diplomat’s leg.
He also made sure to invite a bunch of generals who got their ass kicked in the war including the poor bastard who was left on the Philippines (Wainwright whom MacArthur greeted with a “Hey Skinny!”) when MacArther split to Australia, plus the British general who had to surrender Singapore when they were caught unaware.
As per above: Didn’t realize MacArthur had fcked up and ignored orders after Pearl Harbor. Stationed in the Philippines, he didntorder a full alert and, as a result, the Philippines was destroyed quickly by the Japanese who were well ready for the invasion.
MacArthur’s move of exiting the plane with no weapons was a powerful move. Oh also, MacArthur had Admiral Perry’s US flag expedited from the Smithsonian to have on display on the Missouri. Nice nuanced touch which was noted by the Japanese who, after the ceremony, discussed amongst themselves they would have treated their vanquished enemy so kindly and respectfully. They concurred that they would not have and that convinced them to cooperate with the victorious allies.
I’m interested to continue on with this work and to see how MacArthurs “Republican” views were instrumental in outline things like brewing and hemp production in Japan.
(Yet another yet very welcome) article about Beat Poets working as Fire Lookouts in North Cascades.
Desolation Lookout Jack Kerouac’s post still stands. IMAGE: COURTESY NPS
How to pick a Fire Lookout Cabin to visit? Are you capable?
Perhaps these remarks from Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac will inspire (or retire) your ideas.
Art on High: Beat Poets on the Fire Lookouts
What was Jack Kerouac doing on top of a North Cascade peak?
By Allison Williams 8/1/2013 in the August 2013 issue of Seattle Met
Excerpt, Regarding the remarkable Mr. Snyder:
Gary Snyder was the first poet to get a job as a fire lookout, manning the now-gone station atop Crater Mountain in 1952 while writing and studying Zen; his old friend and fellow poet Philip Whalen took a nearby post the next year. Then, on the night of a now-famous 1955 poetry reading in San Francisco, Snyder was introduced to the young Jack Kerouac. (Allen Ginsberg, drunk on wine to calm his nerves, did the introducing before going onstage to perform a new poem called “Howl.”) Snyder convinced Kerouac to try a stint as a fire lookout, since he himself—a burgeoning anarchist, albeit a pacifist—had been banned due to McCarthy-era blacklisting.
Kerouac later wrote about the summer in Desolation Angels and The Dharma Bums, giving his pal Snyder the pseudonym Japhy Ryder. Snyder himself penned poems about the experience throughout his life; “Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout” concludes:
I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.
& (by the end)
“I wanta go where there’s lamps and telephones and rumpled couches with women on them.”