Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 8, Allen Ginsberg
The Paris Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers.
Leaving the town, we were caught in a rainstorm and took a bus to Bath. Then, hitchhiking toward London, we were unsuccessful until Ginsberg tried using Buddhist hand signals instead of thumbing; half a minute later a car stopped. Riding through Somerset he talked about notation, the mode he says he learned from Kerouac and has used in composing his enormous journals; he read from an account he’d made of a recent meeting with the poets Yevtushenko and Voznesensky in Moscow, and then, looking up at a knot in a withered oak by the road, said, “The tree has cancer of the breast … that’s what I mean …”
Two weeks later he was in Cambridge for a reading and I asked him to submit to this interview. He was still busy with Blake, roaming and musing around the university and countryside in his spare moments; it took two days to get him to sit still long enough to turn on the tape recorder. He spoke slowly and thoughtfully, tiring after two hours. We stopped for a meal when guests came—when Ginsberg learned one of them was a biochemist he questioned him about viruses and DNA for an hour—then we returned to record the other half of the tape.
Dylan and Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac’s grave in Lowell, reading excerpts from Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, the first poetry that hit Dylan to the soul.
Jack Kerouac’s 30 Beliefs and Techniques For Writing Modern Prose
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
Sure, you could experience the Beat sensibility on film by watching The Beat Generation. But why settle for that high-gloss Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature treatment when you can get an unadulterated half-hour chunk of the real thing above, in Pull My Daisy? Both films came out in 1959, but only the latter comes from the lens of photographer Robert Frank, he of the famous photobook The Americans. And only the latter features the unconventional performing talents of Allen Ginsberg, David Amram,Delphine Seyrig, and Jack Kerouac.
That Kerouac himself provides all the narration assures us we’re watching a movie fully committed to the Beat mindset. “Early morning in the universe,” he says to set the opening scene. “The wife is gettin’ up, openin’ up the windows, in this loft that’s in the Bowery of the Lower East Side of New York. She’s a painter, and her husband’s a railroad brakeman, and he’s comin’ home in a couple hours, about five hours, from the local.”
Kerouac’s ambling words seem at first like one improvisational element of many. In fact, they provided the production’s only element of improvisation: Frank and company took pains to light, shoot, script, and rehearse with great deliberateness, albeit the kind of deliberateness meant to create the impression of thrown-together, ramshackle spontaneity. But if the kind of careful craft that made Pull My Daisy seems not to fit within the anarchic subcultural collective persona of the Beats, surely the premises of its story and the consequences thereof do. The aforementioned brakeman brings a bishop home for dinner, but his exuberantly low-living buddies decide they want in on the fun. Or if there’s no fun to be had, then, in keeping with what we might identify as Beat principles, they’ll create some of their own. Or at least they’ll create a disturbance, and where could a Beat possibly draw the line between disturbance and fun?
Interactive Maps for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
Interactive Google Maps to follow the four cross-counry trips taken by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road narrator, Sal Paradise, in 1947, 1949 and 1950
On the Road is broken into five parts, but only the first four feature the extended road trips that the book is famous for. I’ve created interactive maps for each of the four road trips in the book.
- Map One — Summer 1947: New York to San Francisco by way of Denver, and back again.
- Map Two — Winter 1949: Rocky Mount NC to San Francisco by way of New Orleans
- Map Three — Spring 1949: Denver to New York by way of San Francisco
- Map Four — Spring 1950: New York to Mexico City by way of Denver
These are Google Maps and they are zoomable. Click on one of the placemarkers on the map to see a quotation from the book, zoom in it to see the location on the map. In many cases where the narrative wasn’t clear on a given place, I’ve had to approximate — apply a “best guess” solution to a given location.
There is also a link on each map to allow you to view a larger size on the Google Maps site.
The automobile and other forms of motor-driven transit figured prominently in On the Road, as it did in Post-WWII America. But no one who has read the book can forget three vehicles that figured prominently in the story. These are the only three vehicles that are identified by make and year in the whole book, and there was a reason for that: The cars themselves became sort of minor characters during the course of the adventures.
In the second trip, starting actually at Xmas 1948, Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassidy) shows up at the house of the brother of Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) in “Testament, Virginia” (really Rocky Mount, NC) in a brand new 1949 Hudson. This is the car in which they blast off to New Orleans and the West Coast, January 1949.
Like all of Dean’s cars, this one really took a beating.1947 Cadillac Limousine
In the third trip, Dean and Sal score a “driveaway” car at a travel agency in Denver, for delivery to a ritzy Lakeshore address in Chicago. Needless to say, the car is somewhat the worse for wear when it finally gets home.1937 Ford Sedan
In the fourth trip, this is the rattletrap car that gets the boys to Mexico City. It also, offstage as it were, gets Dean back as far as Louisiana where it finally gives up the ghost.Bonus:
1937 Greyhound Bus
It always comes a surprise to readers who first read On the Road to learn that Sal Paradise spent hardly any time hitchhiking. When he couldn’t boost a ride with Dean, in the cars listed above, he was comfortable in taking the bus. He logged many more miles on Greyhound buses than he ever did beating his shoe leather hitchhiking.
This is an example of the buses that, while they were ten years old or more at the time, were still rolling on American highways in the late 40s and early 50s.
Map of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
An interactive Google map of Sal Paradise’s first trip in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The map connects with the Littourati blog. Traces the journey of the author with accompanying reflections and essays. Also links with information on each place the author visited or mentioned. Concept and design by Michael L. Hess.
Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Map of the Hitchhiking Trip Narrated in On the Road
Surely most ardent readers of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road have tried to map Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty’s American journey. Above, partially alleviating your own need to take the pains of sketching out that great Beat journey yourself, we have a map drawn by the author himself.
Pulled from Kerouac’s diary, it traces the route of a hitchhiking trip of July through October 1948, which no doubt fueled the still-potent literary impact of his best-known book, which would see publication almost a decade later in 1957. Each stop has a label, from the iconic American metropolises of New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. to the less-known but no less evocative smaller towns like Des Moines, North Platte, Laramie, and Selma.
For a representation more strictly reflecting the fiction, see Michael J. Hess’ map of Paradise and Moriarty’s route across the country. It offers passages straight from Kerouac’s text about all the places they stopped briefly, stayed a while, or only mentioned, like Salt Lake City, “a city of sprinklers” at dawn; Flagstaff, whose “every bump, rise, and stretch mystified my longing”; Omaha, home to “the first cowboy I saw”; and the Indianapolis Paradise enters on a bus which has just “roared through Indiana cornfields.” Writer Dennis Mansker, on his own site, has created four separate interactive maps, each covering one of the novel’s parts. He also includes a rundown of the road story’s four major vehicles, including the 1949 Hudson seen just above. “This is the car in which they blast off to New Orleans and the West Coast, January 1949,” Mansker notes. “Like all of Dean’s cars, this one really took a beating.” But Dean’s cars just had to take it, since, as the band Guided by Voices once sang, “Kerouac Never Drove, So He Never Drove Alone.”
Open Yale Courses | The American Novel Since 1945 | Lecture 8 – Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Professor Amy Hungerford’s lecture on Kerouac’s On the Road begins by contrasting the Beats’ ambition for language’s direct relation to lived experience with a Modernist sense of difficulty and mediation. She goes on to discuss the ways that desire structures the novel, though not in the ways that we might immediately expect. The very blatant pursuit of sex with women in the novel, for example, obscures the more significant desire for connection among men, particularly the narrator Sal’s love for Dean Moriarty. The apparent desire for the freedom of the open road, too, Hungerford argues, exists in a necessary conjunction with the idealized comforts of a certain middle-class American domesticity, signaled by the repeated appearance of pie.
Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in three very short weeks in 1951. But then it took six years for the book, famously written on a long scroll, to reach the reading public in 1957. Shortly after its publication, critics were at least quick to recognize what the book meant. One New York Times reviewer called it “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago asbeat.” Another saw in the novel “a descriptive excitement unmatched since the days of Thomas Wolfe.” 54 years later, those early reviews have withstood the proverbial test of time. These days, Modern Library andTIME place the novel on their lists of the 100 greatest novels.