Wild Young Minds: On the Road

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On the Road

I was planning to read the book that was lying on my desk for quite a long time, during my road trip this summer, but since the movie is coming out this May (and my dad obliges me to come with him, since it's one of his favourite books), I decided to read 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac now already.
Great decision, if I may say so myself. What a book. Somehow I knew beforehand I would like it, since I'm really into travelling, freedom (one of the most important themes of the book), America and jazz. The book was very influential and played a very important part in the Beat Generation, the heralds of the revolutionary sixties generation.
On the Road is about several trips Jack Kerouac (it's an autobiographical book) made through America and Mexico. The main character is Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouacs alter ego) and his energetic and quite mad friend Dean Moriarty. They drive from New York to Denver, Chicago, New Orleans, L.A., San Francisco and many more places. How I wished I lived in San Francisco (or Frisco, they call it in On the Road) back then. They met the craziest people (we can't even imagine how they must've been like) on their way, worked on farms and listened to jazz the way jazz was intented to be in the 1950s.
But Sal Paradiso is also lonely when he's on the road. Travelling can be romantic but also quite tough. Reminds me a bit of the line from Janis Joplin's 'Me and Bobby McGee': Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Sal only has an aunt, he doesn't speak about his parents and he has no wife, just some girlfriends on the road. Besides, his relationship with Dean isn't all that either. Dean is unreliable, has many wives (one in NY, one in San Francisco) and comes and goes.
But in many ways, it meets my opinion about life. For instance something Sal says in the beginning of the story: 'I just won't sleep (...) There were so many other interesting things to do'. Or Dean saying: 'Sal, think of it, we'll dig Denver together and see what everybody's doing although that matters little to us, the point being that we know what IT is and we know TIME and we know that everything is really FINE'. He's a genius, Dean Moriarty. Quite mad, like I said, but a genius.
With Jack Kerouac himself things ended badly. He drank too much and died young, another confirmation of the fact that all the good ones die young. Though I know life on the road is tough (On the Road shows this very clear) I'm sure it can also be amazing and pure (On the Road shows this even more), so I can't wait until the moment I will travel through America. East to West, North to South, I'll be going there. 'Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life'.

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