Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The waves are Chinese, but the earth is an Indian thing

Quotes from On the Road (part 1).

So... let me just start off by saying all the characters in this book are very different from me - they drive at whirlwind maniacal speeds, hit a jam-packed club at every feasible opportunity, and are always looking for more weed to smoke.
Nevertheless, this is a beautiful book, with an incredible character - Dean Moriarty (aka Neal Cassady) at its core. The boys' drive to get high is definitely a huge theme at the brink of the book's plot (and one of the most defining features that allowed this book to be dubbed the piece that 'defined the 50s'), but I read it from a different perspective. These characters are madly in love with life and this is why I connected with this book so deeply.
The Speaker is Sal Paradise (aka Jack Kerouac). Now would be a good time, after all the 'akas' to explain that On the Road was originally written within the span of three weeks- or should I say typed -  on a 120 foot manuscript that is now called the  'original scroll.' Some rich football team owner bought it for 2.43 million American dollars. Anyway, the version I read was not the original scroll but the version edited for publication (although you can certainly get your hands on the published original scroll) and all the names are switched around, hence the aka's.
One of the characters in the book - Carlo Marx - is ACTUALLY Allen Ginsberg and the more you think about it as you read the more brilliant everything gets. And Old Bull Lee is really William S. Burroughs. So I suppose all the writers who defined the Beat Generation pretty much hung about together. Sort of.
Anyway, Dean completes this story and Paradise does a swell job of telling it in the first place. Cannot wait to watch the movie. Garret Hedlund makes a perfect Dean.
Without further ado, here are the first batch of quotes:
Everybody’s cool, everybody looks at you with such straight brown eyes and they don’t say anything, just look, and in that look all of the human qualities are soft and subdued and still there. Dig all the foolish stories you read about Mexico and the sleeping gringo and all that crap) - and crap about greasers and so on - and all it is, people here are straight and kind and don’t put down any bull. I’m so amazed by this. Schooled in the raw road night, Dean was come into the world to see it. He bent over the wheel and looked both ways and rolled along slowly. [...] The sun rose pure on pure and ancient activities of human life."
A new world.
You had a vision, boy, a vision. Only damn fools pay no attention to visions. How do you know your father, who was an old horseplayer, just didn’t momentarily
communicate to you that Big Pop was going to win the race? The name brought the feeling up in you, he took advantage of the name to communicate. That’s what I was thinking about when you mentioned it. [...] In the car as we drove back to his old house he said, "Mankind will someday realize that we are actually in contact with the dead and with the other world, whatever it is; right now we could predict, if we only exerted enough mental will, what is going to happen within the next hundred years and be able to take steps to avoid all kinds of catastrophes. When a man dies he undergoes a mutation in his brain that we know nothing about now but which will be very clear someday if scientists get on the ball. The bastards right now are only interested in seeing if they can blow up the world.
Love this quote... Old Bull Lee says it. Interesting about the mutation in the brain. If you read the book Old Bull Lee is the wise owl.
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.
This quote is one of my favourites. Hasn't anyone ever felt like this? When you sit still and stare and all of a sudden you're sure your life and the world is surely all in your mind and you feel all animal-like and strange and sit just existing.
The sun goes down long and red. All the magic names of the valley unrolled - Manteca, Madera, all the rest. Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon field; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries. I stuck my head out the window and took deep breaths of the fragant air. It was the most beautiful of all moments.

And, this is is just some really good writing I could not let slip. Beautiful descriptions ('pressed grapes,' 'color of love')

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