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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where was Kerouac going?

"Jack Kerouac’s proposed design for the front cover of the paperback edition of On the Road (1952)."
"... And yet, if On the Road long ago ceased to be a revolutionary narrative, it did introduce a pair of legends that remain persistent—and, I’d argue, counterproductive—ideals. The first is that of spontaneous composition which Kerouac promoted throughout the ’50s, even banging out a short guide, “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose” ...
... Kerouac, however, had been trying to write On the Road for two and a half years before he started working on this version; he’d struggled through several drafts that lacked the necessary immediacy and voice. That’s one reason the book has so much power—it’s the expression of an artist wrestling with a problem, the problem of how to make language and experience explode off the page. ...
... Nonetheless, he understood that spontaneity is not always the best strategy, and when he worked on Buddhist-themed books like The Scripture of the Golden Eternity (1960), which he considered holy, he wrote “in pencil, carefully revised and everything, because it was a scripture. I had no right to be spontaneous. ...”