Jack Kerouac

I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down. -- Jack Kerouac

If you're working with words, it's got to be poetry. I grew up with [the books of Jack] Kerouac. If he hadn't wrote On The Road, the Doors would have never existed. Morrison read On The Road down in Florida, and I read it in Chicago. That sense of freedom, spirituality, and intellectuality in On The Road — that's what I wanted in my own work. -- Ray Manzarek, keyboard player, The Doors

I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's. -- Bob Dylan

Once when Kerouac was high on psychedelics with Timothy Leary, he looked out the window and said, 'Walking on water wasn't built in a day.' Our goal was to save the planet and alter human consciousness. That will take a long time, if it happens at all. -- Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), American writer and poet was a founder member and spokesman of the Beat Generation.

The Beat Generation were an American social and literary movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which centered around San Francisco’s North Beach, and New York’s Greenwich Village and Columbia University. Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1920- ), Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs (1914–97) were its leading figures.

The Beat writers’ unconventional work and lifestyle reflected profound disaffection with contemporary society. Their professed credo was liberation from any form of conventional mentality, which they thought attainable through drugs (LSD), sexual revolution, and absorption of Eastern transcendentalism. Beat poetry and prose provided a stimulus that found its way into art and music as well as active social protest.

Literature includes On the Road (1957), a loosely structured and mostly autobiographical account of the Beat experience in America, the Dharma Bums (1958) a conventional novel on the theme of self-fulfillment through Zen Buddhism, Big Sur (1962), the sequel to On the Road, describes the retreat of a Beat leader to the California coast, where he attempts to put his life together.

Poetry includes Mexico City Blues (1959) and travel pieces Lonesome Traveler (1960).

His writings, most of which were autobiographical, are a travel log of his own adventures throughout the world, and his reflections on the state of that world.

Jack Kerouac reacted strongly, as did the other Beats, to the post-WWII 1950s consumerism. He tried to break out of this suburban consumerist middle-class conventional lifestyle, and this is reflected in his writings.

In his attempts to do so he dabbled with drugs, psilocybin and LSD, travelled around the world, and studied Buddhism.

The writings of Kerouac were one of the sparks of the counterculture of the 1960s.

A number of groups and musicians were influenced by Kerouac and the beat movement.

In the summer of 1965 Ginsberg and several Beats travelled to London. Their reading at the Royal Albert Hall led to the beginning of the London underground scene, based at the UFO Club. Bands to emerge from the UFO Club included Pink Floyd and Soft Machine.

Kicks Joy Darkness, a tribute album to Kerouac, features performances by several artists, including Johnny Depp, Hunter S Thompson, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Michael Stipe from REM, Joe Strummer from The Clash and Jeff Buckley.

The progressive rock group King Crimson paid tribute to Jack Kerouac and his works with their album Beat, which included the songs 'Neal and Jack and me' and 'Satori in Tangier'.

Dayna Kurtz wrote 'Just Like Jack' as a tribute to Kerouac.

Heavy drinking led to the death of Kerouac in 1969 at the early age of 47.

Literature ~ Beat Generation ~ Allen Ginsberg ~ Gary Snyder
(c) Keith Parkins 2005 -- March 2005 rev 0