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2/3/15, 1B

3 Feb

So, do we have resolution in his “novel”?  OR, do we just have more questions?  One week from today, your first longer paper’s draft is due.  The demanded length is 1100 words, or thereabouts.  I want you to craft a unique perspective and approach to the book, and argue it, that simple, right?  No.. this will take method, premeditation and organization of thoughts.  Be sure to develop all your paragraphs and have them liked by your driving idea (thesis)..  ITEM 1 for today: discuss book’s end; resolution or lack thereof; point and thesis of Kerouac, or other ideas to write about.. quotes I found valuable for a paper, “I found a great ghastly hatred of myself and everything…” (147), “Man I know all about it and I’m writing a final definitive article on how clean hard work is the saviour of us all…” (148), “…watch it…with horrified eyes…” (150), “I remember that makes me realize I dont understand what happened at Big Sur even now…” (161) “‘The hell with all this madness!’” (161).  I can only say we view decay as this book progresses, and a devolution to Kerouac and his perception and values, moral scaffolding and structure, as a character.. so if I were writing a paper, one of this length (1100 words) on ‘Sur’, I’d argue for the surrender in Kerouac’s character, and I’d support it with two outside sources (your choosing, this is required).  You could use the Paris Review article, the movie translation, or any critical/scholarly article found online or in the library, or in print somewhere.  Star your researching, immediately (even though you already have, what I’m, stressing is that you keep with it and select your final determined sources…).

Even the Sea poem shows unrest in Kerouac’s soul, the psychological and metaphysical dismemberment of his scope, sense, stability.  But don’t agree with me!  What did you see throughout this novel?  What did you see as Kerouac’s message, or prime, dominant consistency?  He was strong, till he became “famous” some could say, so was this ever reversible, or is the common conception true: this book simply documents a nervous breakdown?  Whatever your thoughts, write them, argue them!  We’ll talk more in class today.. find three to four quotes from the novel to support your position..

Emily Dickinson introduction.. similarities between her and Kerouac, as writers?  And the Kerouac documentary, from what we saw in class, and if you watched it all on your own, what’d you think?  Can you use it?  Anyone writing on Personhood.. the connection to Kerouac the man?  Zen?  Exile?  Alcohol?…..  Be Creative with this first critical paper!  Cheers!  -Mike

ps– 1100 words (not including works cited page); 2 outside sources required to support your argument.. due next Tuesday; Final draft due Tuesday 2/17/15

Trudge vs. Trek

10 Dec

— Big Sur, Ch. 1-3

(Mike Madigan)

Kerouac chooses this word, ‘trudge’, and it encapsulates not only the momentum of his movement in these first three chapters but his mood and mental state as well.  Not till the end of chapter 3 does he find some kind of “dreamy meadow” (14) or “familiar old Heaven on Earth” (15).  It’s not so much the introductory conditions of the Big Sur surroundings that are harsh or taxing or demanding on Duluoz’s character, but Duluoz himself and all the exhaustion that has accrued over the past few years after the publication of his book that has filed down his being and mental state, making all that’s around him demanding and with a menacing quality.

“woebegone and goopy” (7), how Kerouac’s character describes his disposition waking up.  This, attributed to alcohol excess, yes, but as well what this new fame, this being crowned ‘King of the Beatniks’ has done to him.  He doesn’t know how to deal with the attention and the transition to fame.  He’s obviously bothered and because so many have just shown up at his residence, many times invading and vandalizing it, he’s stricken with paranoia and a dismal delineation and catalogue of everything around him.  And just the language he uses, like “I’ve hit the end of the trail” (7), and “drunk practically all the time to put on a jovial cap” (8), and one that’s particularly foreboding, “I wake up drunk, sick, disgusted, frightened…” (8) show that this is a character in decay, not suited for a trek or mission or another cross-country travel at all.  All he can do is trudge, sluggishly towards his own fall.

And the contrast is highlighted not only with Kerouac himself in composing such a novel that is no question autobiographical, but the way he describes the dark surroundings with hallucinogenic detail, so monstrous and menacing, when there’s nothing but celestial realities all around him (ocean, rainforest, trails, fog, “etc., etc.”).  “big roaring Whoo Whoo in my head that shot me out of my pillow like a ghost” (9) Kerouac rallies, but it’s short-lived, as in chapter 3 we as reader are accosted and wrapped, rapt, in his nihilism and catalogued trudging.  But even in this introductory “Trudge” which so many could state is symptomatic of a “nervous breakdown”, I offer that it’s all aligned with his great Duluoz saga or epic of introspection.  Meditation.  And in that light, the journey to stabilize and maintain, actually locate inner-peace through some kind of journey, we have a trek.  Yes, it’s slow and Kerouac is weighed by certain element, but he’s curiously empowered observational practice.

One of the key principles of Beatdom is separation.  It’s possible that Kerouac experienced more unintended separation in Big Sur than anything premeditated or purposed.  But, it’s logical to conclude that at this point in the novel, Duluoz is in struggle, moving slow, pained, and problem-sewn.  He’s far from any kind of Heaven or paradise, but he’s set on getting there, even if it’s slow.  He, on his own trail, seeks some destination and renewed purpose.  And all this through his own, granted painful, form of meditation.