26 March 2006

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

I had forgotten, or maybe I had never realized, what a depressing book this is. Interestingly, while reading it, I kept thinking of the (delightful) movie SLC Punk - I should watch it again soon. There are some definite resonances between the two.

Anyhow, Kerouac's language is absolutely delightful, and I am determind to drive to Mexico this summer and have some crazy adventures under an inky black sky laden with blazing stars, but I am nonetheless fully willing to wait until the summer to do it. The road calls me, sure, but not to the extent that I'll drop everything and make it my life, the way Sal and Dean do. And maybe that's because I'm not 16 anymore, but maybe it's because it doesn't seem to work out all that well for Sal and Dean. Their lives are a series of glorious adventures, fueled by a drive to get at the beautiful mystery of life, but they never quite find it. And re-reading it, one realizes that with all their excited talking and beautiful speeches, they hardly ever seem to listen to each other. And don't even get me started on the miserable lot of women in the book. At first, you're tempted to agree; these women just don't understand the call to the open road, they're always holding you back, keeping you down, and then you realize that they seem to get something about life that most of these guys have a hard time wrapping their heads around - the joy of settling, domestic bliss. That spending your whole life seeking out adventure is actually kind of depressing: while you'll have some beautiful adventures, if you constantly demand external stimuli and can't find joy in the little things around you, you'll always be wanting more, and you'll never really be happy. Contentment is a kind of complacency, sure, but it doesn't mean you've lost the game. Actually, I think it means you've won it. It's not that you have to bid adieu to beautiful adventures - it's just that you don't have to destroy the lives of everyone around you to get them. Or maybe I just think that way because I'm a woman...

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