Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Great Regulars: Even when I first read "On the Road,"

as a teenager in the 1970s, the core of its action--driving, talking, smoking dope, listening to music--was what my friends and I did every day. It took me years to understand what the book was getting at, which is the bittersweet ephemerality of everything, the idea that to "know time" is to know ourselves as at time's mercy, which makes its frantic movement less exuberant than desperate.

That is Kerouac's message, the message at the heart of all his fiction, made explicit by the ancient hitchhiker who, late in the novel tells Sal to "Go moan for man." Tellingly, this idea is absent from the movie, which is about not desolation but a kind of studied cool instead.

from David L. Ulin: Los Angeles Times: 'On the Road' toward mortality: A critic ponders Jack Kerouac


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