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« Our Stories | Main | "So Set Against the Notion of Convention That I Should Attack It" »

10/19/2009

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Steven Augustine

Jack had been reading his Stein:

"And now they were very happy in each other and then they were silent and then they became a little sadder and then they were very quiet once more with each other.

"Yes I certainly do love you Jeff!" Melanctha said and she was very dreamy. "Sure, Melanctha." "Yes Jeff sure, but not the way you are now ever thinking. I love you more and more seems to me Jeff always, and I certainly do trust you more and more always to me when I know you. I do love you Jeff, sure yes, but not the kind of way of loving you are ever thinking it now Jeff with me. I ain't got certainly no hot passion any more now in me. You certainly have killed all that kind of feeling now Jeff in me. You certainly do know that Jeff, now the way I am always, when I am loving with you. You certainly do know that Jeff, and that's the way you certainly do like it now in me. You certainly don't mind now Jeff, to hear me say this to you."

He lengthened the stride of the sentence but the fractures (where and how) are similar. Ginsberg wrote, of Kerouac, "What does the mind really think? What is the poetry of pure mind? And he was the first person to have that great breakthrough of consciousness in art. Well, not the first, it is a tradition. Gertrude Stein was into that."

It's funny that that sort of sentence, after all this time, keeps seeming like a breakthrough to every young writer who thinks that he/she discovered it. Probably because the "inventors" are inevitably well-known but little-read.

Steven Augustine

PS "The criticism frequently leveled at The Subterraneans, that it offers, through the character of Mardou Fox, a severely limited portrayal both of women and African-Americans..."

I chose to post the Melanctha excerpt because it's problematic in a similar way.

"Rose Johnson was a real black, tall, well built, sullen, stupid, childlike, good looking negress. Her white training had only made for habits, not for nature. Rose had the simple, promiscuous unmorality of the black people."

Joe Linker

That Jack was serious about On the Road is evidenced in a comparison to his first novel, The Town and the City, a conventional work for its time. The distance between Road and Subterraneans, for both Jack and audience, is a long decade. The discovery of improvisation, as many jazz musicians experienced, once the drugs and hype wore off, chilled a bit, but then allowed for perhaps a new and better chiseling control of theme and expression - which we see in Sub. The sociological critic will find Cassady's The First Third instructive - particularly if Moriarty still rankles. I was reading it after it first came out and an army buddy asked about it - he'd worked on the railroad, and he recognized the railyard key hanging from Cassady's belt in the cover photo. "I have to read that," he said. There was a community there that at once had nothing and everything to do with literature.

Youra Teemochenko

Well I just had this vision of Kerouak, as he suddently found himself sitting in the middle of a greyhound station, surrounded by his readers, all of them looking at him with curiosity, and totally silent. To break the silence one of the guys in gray Tshirt said, how is it going Jack? Jack looked at the guy, and without saying a word, slowly walked up to the windows, outside sparrows were chirping and it was sunny but cold, fat black lady walked by, she carried a big bag filled with something that looked like old jackets or some scraps of clothing... "I wonder what time it is in Russia right now? thought Jack to himself as he turned round...

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