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Mar 28, 2006



There's a lot to think about here. The first thing that comes to mind for me is how the things Kerouac valued -- solitude, meditation, personal experience & spontaneity -- relate to blogging.

Blogging -- at least it seems to me, who admittedly am not that smart about things -- does rely a lot on personal experience and spontaneity, but in some ways blogging is inimical to solitude and meditation (posts like yours are a rare exception), not to mention the background themes you list -- silence, of course, being the obvious one.

I'm a writer who reads mostly litblogs, and I wonder whether the poets and fiction writers who also blog are -- aside from the promotional value of their blogs -- somehow harming their "imaginative" work by spending so much time posting every day.

I think about whether Kerouac, Ginsberg, Whalen, Burroughs, Snyder and company would have gained or lost if the web and blogging had been available to them in the 1950s.

Laura Moncur

I've been reading your thoughts about the Beat Poets and the correlation to Blogging today. I personally consider the Impressionist School to be a more apt correlation.

The Impressionists were painting, but in such a different manner that their work was shunned by traditional artists. Without the Impressionists, however, pixelation would have been unfathomable.

I think Blogging is writing, but it is in such a different form than newspapers, novel writing or even poetry. The linkability of writing on the Internet has created a completely different form of writing that will take years to become a "school".

You're right. These ARE exciting times. I actually think what we are doing is even more exciting than the Beat Poets themselves.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Hi Richard, Hmmm, you bring up some good points on whether blogging is helpful to creative writing. And whether the Beats would have blogged had it been available. I think they'd give it a go, esp. ones that were having difficulty getting published in mainstraim circles. Whether they'd continue, I'm not sure. That's a great question to ponder for ourselves, myself.

Hi Laura, Great comments on painting. In painter George Condo's introduction to Jack's "Book of Sketches" he says that Jack waas influenced by Andre Masson's Automatic Painting. He kept small notebooks in the breastpockets of his shirt to sketch out word paintings since 1951.

I'm PERSONALLY interested in the style of writing, but that's not what is historically significant. What's significant is that the Beats were mimicked by "junior hipsters" whom later became the "hippies". What's significant is they set the stage for free love, drugs, and Eastern thouoght ten years ahead of the masses. What's significant is that folks like Ginsberg welcomed and supported Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. What's significant is that they triumphed individual freedom and personal witness ushering in personal publishing (after Howl was read, hundreds of poets & writers were unleashed and began publishing outside NYC and doing-it-themselves hand presses) and personal computers. I'll hopefully get to that.

(Snippets from

"It could be argued that Kerouac's impact has been felt elsewhere, particularly on those 60's hybrids, the "new journalism" and "confessional poetry."

...Prior to meeting Kerouac in the 40's, and even in the early 50's, Allen Ginsberg was fitfully toeing the line of the post-T.S. Eliot era: that poems should be neat networks of images and ironies revealing as little of the author as possible. Moved, however, by the naked outpourings of Kerouac's fiction and by his theory of "spontaneous prose" ("Once God moves your hand--[If you] go back and revise, it's a sin!"), Ginsberg threw off fashionable strictures and emitted a poem entitled "Howl" that shivered the timbers of academe, invited a court case on obscenity, and, eventually, changed the course of American poetry.

...Bob Dylan read him [and later knew the Beats personally], and so did future novelists Thomas McGuane and Ken Kesey; all three were extremely impressed. Actor Nick Nolte read "On The Road" while still in high school in Omaha. His statement in a recent interview is eloquent testimony to Kerouac's effect on American adolescents: "I remember thinking, 'You mean you can just do that? Pick up and go?' It seemed incredible to me.""

Chas Martin

I remember reading "On the Road" in the early 70s. It inspired me to leave Boston and drive west, mostly on secondary roads. Three months and a lifetime of experiences later, I arrived in San Francisco. I wonder how many journeys Kerouac inspired. Not just the physical excursions, but the internal as well. His passion was so great that I find it hard to believe he could ever be still long enough to meditate, or to write. I read somewhere that “On the Road” was written on a continuous roll of paper. Seems appropriate.

Earlier today, I read a passage from "Einstein Picasso," by Arthur I. Miller. He made an interesting point about Einstein’s thought journeys:

"That creative thinking is essentially nonverbal seemed clear to Einstein: How else could "we ‘wonder’ quite spontaneously about some experience?"

Kerouac, for me, opened the doorway through which my imagination first, then my physical body, moved from one state to another. While my imagination has always been active, my input was limited. Once you taste the experiences of the road, you forever thirst for more. Once you’ve been there, you can always go again. The imaginary road offers at least equal rewards, and far fewer limitations.

Felix del Campo

The Beats are my co-pilots. We desperately need their energy, though it appears that you and I filter them in slightly different ways. To your list of "background themes" I'd add: noise, restlessness, rage, revolution, orgasm, transcendance, Dionysus. The Beats to me were as much a sword as they were a doorway.

Tom Foremski

Kerouac's font is where everybody else's creative font is too--it is inside. But to access it we have to switch off from the chatter of the conversations in the outside world--and the chatter of our conversations within ourselves about mundane stuff--and allow our brains to communicate to us but without conciously seeking that communication.

Our brain processes things in the background and then throws them out into the light of our consciousness where we can catch them, and record them, or we can miss them entirely. Like, dreams, it is important to write them down, it moves the information into a longer term data storage area.

That's why we get great ideas in the shower--it is one of the few places where we've cut out the external chatter :-)

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