May 26, 2012

"Unless you revive it by rereading it, re-imagining it, performing it, it’s a dead thing..."

"You have to reread it to make it live again."

Except we're not rereading it. It's a movie: "On the Road," which, oddly, has never been made into a movie (despite many abortive efforts over the last 6 decades).

If you actually want to read it — would it be a reread for you? — buy it here. Amazon suggests making a triple feature out of "On the Road," "Howl," and "Naked Lunch."


A. Shmendrik said...


The Crack Emcee said...

Amazon suggests making a triple feature out of "On the Road," "Howl," and "Naked Lunch."

Nope - those are dead things:

I suggest we bury them forever.

I've got a stack of DVDs next to my bed and one of the hardest things for me to do some nights is decide what to watch.

They're mostly liberal films, filled with liberal ideas, made by liberals, and featuring liberal stars - with tons of liberal endorsements (NYT, etc.) on the box.

All I want to do is watch a movie, not go to bed angry, but it's hard when liberalism is all that's on offer. Why would I want to re-visit these three totems of backwards thought? Why would Amazon "suggest" them? For the same reason you are:

Nobody "gets" it yet.

I want OUT,....

edutcher said...

Read it years ago, and wasn't all that wowed.

I can only imagine the movie, but Brando, around '55?

Yeah, that might have made "Easy Rider" look like "Sound Of Music".

Aridog said...

Frankly, I cannot imagine a movie of "On the Road." There is just no way screen writers don't screw it up. The product will be something it wasn't and isn't. Good Lawd, read the book and let your imagination travel ... now and then that's good for all of us.

PS: I am of the generation depicted & immediately following so I tend to be protective of that era. I have new CD's of Chalrie Parker, Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis, J J Johnson, Stan Getz, etc. in my truck and living room for remedial listening.

Mumpsimus said...

I agree with Capote: It's not writing, it's typing.

Mitchell said...

It will be disorienting seeing Viggo Mortensen without a horse.

ricpic said...

Based on the cast they're going to ruin the book by making it all about cool like can you pass the toke man hippies when in reality Kerouace and Neil Cassady were hot and hungry for kicks man types.

William said...

I can't remember much about it. Has anyone over the age of forty ever re-read it? e

m stone said...

I reread it, William, after 30 years and found it to have lost all punch for me. I originally read it at the site of one of one of Kerouac's adventures in Pa when I was "on the road.

I agree: more typing than writing.

Luke Lea said...

I listened to the audio format on a road trip. It was better than reading it, I feel certain. (This was an older version I picked up used.) The naivite and sheer, unabashed romanticism of the narrator -- it was so American! And so not now. I couldn't wipe the wry smile off my face or stop shaking my head. And had to admit I shared a lot of those same traits when I was young even though I came along 15 years after Kerouac.

And the scene when he finally leaves his Mexican girlfriend. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye your heart's made of stone.

On the Road is an American classic right up there with Huckleberry Finn.

Luke Lea said...

Guess I should mention I was 65 when I listened to that audiobook. I was too much of a literary snob to read it when I was younger. Maybe its a book for old men?

yashu said...

I still have a lot of affection for Kerouac, though I'd agree most of his stuff isn't great literature. I haven't (re)read On the Road in many many years.

I guess one could call his writing (in a sense) "liberal," but y'all know, of course, Kerouac himself was a proud Republican? Heh.

Here's a little bit of him on William F. Buckley's Firing Line-- typically (and sadly) for Kerouac, very drunk-- talking about voting for Hoover at six, and rebuking a hippy re "protest."

Interesting that the hippy, of course, still idolizes him (or shows polite respect to the drunk old Beat), and claims Kerouac as his herald and precursor (right before the clip cuts off: "in fact it's your fault…")-- but Kerouac himself sets himself sharply apart from what the hippy's all about. Kerouac got famous from his art, he says, not "protest." Cue one of Althouse's recurrent (provocative/ teasing) themes, on how "to be a great artist is inherently right-wing."

Not that Kerouac is necessarily a great artist, but what he drunkenly seems to be saying there about (his) art is pretty right-wing… or at least, very pointedly, *not* left-wing.

rcocean said...

Liked it when in college, tried to reread it 10 years and couldn't finish it. Same with "Catch-22". Capote called it typing not writing.

Someone wrote its better on audio CD, could be. "Catch 22" was seemed even more repetitive and verbose when read aloud.

rcocean said...

Republican doesn't equal "Conservative" or not equal "Liberal".

There are liberal Republicans were a lot more back in the 50s/60s when Kerouac was around.

David said...

The best part of the book is the manuscript--one continuous typescript.

I found On The Road unreadable, even as a young man. That put it in good company. I once got an A on a graduate school English exam about Ulysses by ignoring the question (I had never finished the book) and explaining why I found it impossible to read.

Never had to try that for On the Road, since I avoided any courses that taught it.

David said...

"There are liberal Republicans were a lot more back in the 50s/60s when Kerouac was around."

eh what groovy man high altitude choom you breathing.

yashu said...

David, your comment reminds me of a guy I knew, freshman year in college, who was really into James Joyce, Kerouac, and Ayn Rand. No kidding.

At the time I was pretty "liberal"-- i.e. left of center-- myself, so the Ayn Rand thing threw me for a loop. But I respected his individuality, espousing something sooo politically... unfashionable & "incorrect." I guess even then I felt a sneaking affection for right-wing boys.

Ah, college.

David said...

I was pretty conventionally liberal in college, but liberal meant something quite different then. I was in college 1961-65, which in most ways was still pretty much the 50's. I had 2 kids by the time I was 28 years old, which was a very 50's thing to do. Just as well, because only having kids made me start to grow up.

David said...

26 years old, not 28.

yashu said...

David, I was in college almost exactly 30 years after you. And deep down I will always refuse to give to give up the "liberal" label, throughout my serpentine political journey. I've concluded that I'm a classical liberal, and that's that. Nowadays, that makes me right-wing.

Robert Cook said...

I tried to read OTR twice and neither time could I get past the first 40 or 50 pages. Self-indulgent gassing, flabby and dull.

Give me Henry Miller or Louis-Ferdinand Celine, (or William Burroughs when he's writing--if you'll pardon the expression, "straight"), for compelling writing that derives from a contrarian or bohemian point of view.

Robert Cook said...

"I've concluded that I'm a classical liberal, and that's that. Nowadays, that makes me right-wing."

I hear this said here and there, (mostly here, though), and it always sounds like a self-serving excuse for having "turned right." What does it even mean?

(For the record: I was raised in a Republican household and registered Republican at age 18, voted for Gerald Ford in the first Presidential election in which I could vote, and voted for Reagan in '80. Since then, I've gone the other direction, registered as Democrat--although I'm disgustipated with the Democratic Party anymore--they're no less whores to the elites than the Republicans, and probably greater hypocrites, given that most of the Republicans probably actually believe the bullshit they espouse.)

Hey, I guess I'm a "classical conservative!"

yashu said...

Heh, Cook. I think ideologically we're pretty far apart, but I'd be happy to have a beer with you (when it comes to political orientation, most of my friends are probably closer to you than to me: I live in the land of deep dark navy blue-- or outright Marxist red).

I think the big gulf between us (as "liberals") has to do with our conceptions of the "market" (or economics) in theory and practice. (Leaving foreign policy aside, which is a whole other can of worms.)

E.g., we may share a disgust of Obama's crony capitalism; but it seems to me my disgust is directed toward the cronyism (and government regulation as a tool of cronyism); your disgust is directed toward the capitalism (and insufficient regulation as a tool of capitalism).

(By the way, is it just me, of is the word verification-- robot testing-- asking us to play Hangman now? Weird.)

sleepless nights said...

I read "Dharma Bums" at one point. It took me a few tries. The first time I was about 19, had high expectations, and threw it in the trash the minute I hit what I found to be a passage so eye-rollingly sexist as to render the entire thing worthless to me.

Decades later, when I eventually gained the patience to tolerate it, more out of boredom than wisdom born of years I'm afraid, I was struck by the ebullience of the prose. Usually the tone in "literature of note" is quite negative (which is, after all, where most of the best adjectives reside).