I am finally getting around to reading Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I have wanted to read it for years.
Kerouac’s novel is full of gems. I’m realizing that when many people quote “On the Road,” often it’s the following, which is early in the book:
… because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars …
But there are many insightful, relatable moments.
I was a young writer and I wanted to take off. Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.
For my whole life I’ve searched for adventure and can relate to Sal’s restlessness here. Similarly, I liked when he describes that desire.
I felt like a million dollars; I was adventuring in the crazy American night.
I also like how he describes people he meets and how they talk:
“LA.” I loved the way she said “LA”; I loved the way everybody says “LA” on the Coast; it’s their one and only golden town when all is said and done.
I feel like I am on the road with Sal. I celebrate his triumphs and feel his disappointments.
Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever with a buck among themselves, the mad dream — grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemeteries beyond Long Island City.
Sal’s has a poetic way of thinking.
The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.
And it turns out YOLO is not a new concept.
“I don’t like you when you’re with them.”
“Ah, it’s all right, it’s just kicks. We only live once. We’re having a good time.”
When he suspects that Marylou won’t “switch to” him from Dean in San Francisco (an odd situation, by the way) he makes a good point.
But why think about that when all the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?