Tag Archives: Beat Generation

SRJC: 1A — “Plunge” (p. 102)

31 Aug

Week 3, and we get further into this book and Kerouac’s spiral.  Last week I propelled a lot of questions out in regards to why he does this to himself and why we as readers should care, why this book deserves a place in Literary history, or in the hands of modern readers.  So…..  Where are the gems for you all as readers?  Where is Kerouac teaching you something, having you maybe think about your own life and how you see things, moments and people, around you?

Kerouac knows what he’s doing, which raises the question of awareness in this novel and of and in his character; the alcohol, the old habits, and the ambitions of a former “Beatnik”.  He’s frustrated as a character, and as readers we can only sympathize, or even empathize with his character’s angst, but at the same time we may find ourselves becoming frustrated with him and his actions and words throughout this novel…  And the obsession with Cody, comparing him to a Greek God in one scene, and showing us there’s always something or someone or a collection of someone’s he’s following.  We could call him “sick”, Duluoz, and in many ways he is.  But the focus should be on recovery, or the possibility of recovery, getting better, standing up straight (as many times he mentions himself on the ground, ‘groaning’).

And more struggles with belief in something, “…I conceived of myself as a special solitary angel sent down as a messenger from Heaven to tell everybody or show everybody by example that their peeking society was actually the Satanic Society and they were all on the wrong track.” Interesting, this notion of the peekers, which puts in a moody perspective Mr. Kerouac’s/Duluoz’s paranoia, and lack of estimation in Humanity.

So, for today, we return to the notion of, 1, Personhood (wholeness of the individual; at peace), 2, Spirituality of Kerouac or lack thereof, and 3, the feel of the text.  How does the text itself feel and how does it make you feel as a reader?

So for today:

Let’s write

Let’s find evidence

Let’s talk about the text and about what Kerouac is showing us, and TELLING us (maybe telling us to do something with our own lives, regardless of time or era, or generation…)

Let’s discuss areas of focus going forward in the book, for example ‘his writing style’, ‘mood’, ‘imagery’, ‘general tone’, ‘the autobiographical dimension to this novel’, of you would call it a novel.  Then, UNIVERSALITY!  What makes any book immune to time and reader laziness…

10 min – writing

5 min – open mic

20 min – discussion

20 min – group

20 min – cooking of focus areas; questions

10 min – In class reading…

10 min – close, WAW’s…

HW: Read from 113 (ch 24) through 142 (ch 30)

-No typed reaction due; scribble intently in your Comp Books; make the topic your own, look further into his character; start forming your conclusions.

SRJC 1A, Monday 8/24/15 Meeting

26 Aug

WORD OF DAY:  Gallimaufry — ‘a confused jumble or medley of things’.jackkwithcat

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “…listening to the prompts of your own nature…” (Allen Ginsberg, on Kerouac’s writing style, 1982 Naropa lecture)

– The thought of Poetry.. poetry in this “novel” if you could call it such..  Poetic attributes to Kerouac’s prose.

– Categorizing his mood.  Is it beyond a simple category, some convenient tag?

– “One fast move or I’m gone…” What does this mean?  What do you hear in that line?

– “…this dismal cell, there’s my hopeful rucksack…”

– Interesting, the whole placement and reality of a “survival kit”.

– “…so I jump up, do my headstand first to pump blood back in my brain…”

– “…but something’s wrong…”

– All these passages create and convey a very intimate insight and feel for his state of being, in his mind and about his Person; fear, anguish, despair, but still a bit of urgency. – No conventional punctuation or many closed sentences… why?

– “A slimy green dragon racket, in the bush– An angry war that doesn’t want me pokin’ around…”

– “…AM ALONE…the religious vestal lighting of the beautiful kerosene lamp…”

– “…write these sea sounds…”

– “…my holy cup…” What are his beliefs?  His past?  His values?  Consider the Buddhist consistency to his attitude and references.

– In many parts, this book, novel or memoir, serves as a meditation, but just as well a re-evaluation of Kerouac’s/Duluoz’s Self.. to acquire and maintain TRUE Personhood.

– If he’s searching for something, some THING, then what?

– Is this an attempt at recovery?  To make better the Self, or what’s left of it?

W.A.W. from me:

Stop writing and it

stops.  The story stops.  We all

stop.  Nothing to read.

Blog Post 1

17 Aug

PLATH PIC 3:12:15On the first day, there isn’t much to do, really.  We introduce ourselves, we ask questions, do a little writing, a bit more introducing, then go get the books if you haven’t already.  My counsel:  GET THE BOOKS BEFORE THE NEXT MEETING!  We’ll be starting the semester’s readings with ‘Big Sur’ by Jack Kerouac.  Start with conducting a little research on Mr. Kerouac and what drove him to write this book.  Why does he sound the way he does in the novel and why is he writing the way he is, shunning certain grammatical formalities and practices and altogether disregarding and consistency with punctuation?

AND…..  Please buy a Composition Book.  One just for this class.  This will be where you log all your notes, musings, findings, evidences, and general brainstormings throughout the term.

But, again, this is the first day.  Simply immerse yourself in this new story and stage, why you’re here and what YOU want from English 1A.  Not what you’re told to want by some institutionally chiseled catalogue of “requirements”.

And I’m nervous, too, believe it or not–  “Well, I’m not nervous,” a student will say.  “Good for you!” I back echo.  But I am, always before a semester initiates.  I do however always promise to myself that I’ll do what I can to get where I want and to have the conclusion to the term that I envision.  So here I go…  Here WE go…..

Thoughts I’d like you to consider:

– “Be proud of your work.” Not just a trite provocation.

-Inventory your writings, all written work!  Have some system in place!  And I’m still learning this myself, so once more I have to remind you that you’re not alone.

-Don’t “speed-read”.  Ever.  Why.  Why would you do this to a text, to yourself?  Enjoy what you’re reading and if you don’t then know why you don’t.  Know why the text is registering with you however it is.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard students say they dislike a text, but can’t give me a reason.  If Wolff’s short stories don’t cause some expected reaction from you, don’t provide written reaction impetus, then be sure you know what’s missing.  Don’t be afraid to be a critic!

But, just the first day.  Have your pen and thoughts ready.  Be heard, be read, give yourself a chance to show that Self something new about YOU.  We’re writing a story, YOU are writing a story.  And we’re just getting started.  But we need to get started.  So write.  And don’t stop.  Not until that last day, that last page in December.

There…  Not nervous anymore.  I don’t think.

Always Here, Forever Loyally,


The reactions.. show ownership of your work! 

24 Jun

Titles.. indent…. interpret those passages YOUR way!

So for tonight’s class.. we are going to own our ideas.  And share them with confidence and forethought.  Observations in Kerouac’s novel, Dean’s impact on Sal and Sal’s on Dean, among much else.. what do we have in this book?  And what does Kerouac want for his readers?  To act?  To do something, right?  He wants a reaction and he wants us to see something.. IT, right?  So what is IT?

Tonight…  Let’s write together, let’s share our interests in the book, what we want to write about and why?  Remember, connect JK’s novel to your own life.  That is, use what you have lived as a special interpretive lens.

Let’s see what we find!


Bonjour, tout le monde!

19 Jun

Thank you all for a wildly wondrous first week!  Feel free to post anything below: comments on Reading, the freewrite we did yesterday (poetry).  Keep with your reads and start developing some focus with ‘Road’.  What speaks to you?  What do you find interesting?  And what does Kerouac say to you, personally?cup-of-coffee

With 7 weeks to go, we need to increase our pace.  My advice to you all: plan.  Time will win if you don’t.  Time loves to capitalize on the littlest of our follies.  If you plan and plot, measure your work appropriately, you’ll be inviolable (secure from destruction.. word of day…).  But, do, make time for you!  Like my Philosophy friend has always stressed, “You have to have fun!  You have to have fun, Mikey…” So, do.  I encourage you…..

Me, now, writing in a café looking at the clock, counting Time before having to leave for the winery.  Ugh, don’t you just sometimes wish for that day off, just one..  Enough of me, go enjoy your day, your story, your Road, your LIFE!

À bientot!


Merci, et Bonne Nuit!!!

16 Jun

Thank you all for a wonderful first night…  Everything from the discussions to the participation, Jack-Kerouac (1)willingness to participate, and our first in-class creative writing freewrite.  Feel free to share what you feverishly scribbled tonight, below!  If you wish to add to what you wrote or edit a bit, then fine!  But try to keep it as in tact as you can as to give us, your readers, and much a truthful taste of what you wrote in that brief ten-minute span.

Cheers!  I so very much look forward to seeing you all tomorrow night, and working with you over the next eight weeks….

Loyally, Yours,


Good Morning, Everyone!! [7:04AM, 6/7/15]

7 Jun

My name is Mike Madigan, and I’ll be your instructor of record for the next 8 weeks– or, 8 weeks from when the semester does actually start, June 15th… I just wanted to make sure you all have the books the first day, which are Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ and David Sedaris’ ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’. As well, please have one notebook (preferably a Composition Book), and some post-it’s for our readings and places in your journals where you may need to reference and re-reference certain ideas and writings, notes and what be…..
What you can expect from this class: what you invest, what you equate into the equation. So.. if your election is to be miserable, then you will be just that. BUT, new colleagues and friends, if you want to learn a couple new things about your writing voice and about how to approach Literature, and your dreams and academic pursuits, then you will receive that and quite plausibly more!

So, to close, I look forward to meeting and working with you all, and I’ll see you on the 15! Please feel free to introduce yourself below and what you want from this class and your academic life, or anything you want to narrate! Cheers!

Loyally, Yours,