Saturday, March 21, 2009

Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

Jack Kerouac is a writer I got to know of through various blogs. I came across his name on the profiles of many bloggers and finally bought myself a copy of On the Road. I am half way through the book, but for some reason, it is not the kind I finish reading in one go (like Persepolis or Broken April)...

I wouldn't quite keep On the Road in my list of favourites, for the escapades seem too random and directionless. Yes, the writing is racy — and my reserve may be simply because of a totally different culture — the 'beat generation' that I can't quite readily digest.

Nevertheless, I found these 30 points listed by him very interesting:

Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, a list of thirty "essentials."

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
4. Be in love with your life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yrself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven


Julia Scissor said...

I totally go with #8 and #13.
And #1 is so me!

Joe Pinto said...

My dear Gauri,

Now that you're reading Kerouac "On the Road" you know where Joe's "Along the Line" is coming from. It's from the "beat generation" that you "can't readily digest".

Like certain food or music, the produce of the "beat genration" wants time to learn how to digest.

Take it easy. But take it. As Studs Terkel would say.

Thanks for reproducing the list of 30 "essentials".

Warm regards,
- Joe.

Darshan Chande said...

This is useful article.. liked knowing about Jack Kerouac :)

Indian Home Maker said...

1 and 4 are so me :)

This was informative.

Calliopia said...

Glad you're finally getting acquainted with Kerouac. I've always loved the Beat poets. Always had a thing for the Beat generation which I saw as very glamourous and happening, never mind all the negative stuff.

Btw, the list you've provided here makes for interesting pointers for bloggers too, methinks.

feddabonn said...

good girl, gauri! i disliked kerouac's on the road too, and have been hiding under a rock because one is apparently s'posed to love it.

@joe/calliopia: i like the stuff the beats are saying, i just get really bored by the way they say it! lol.

Gauri Gharpure said...

Julia-- No. 1 is a must if you don't want to miss out on what's on your mind.. best way to freeze random thoughts.. it also reminds me of school in some way.. We were heavily in the scribbled secret notebook phase then.. everyone had a 'personal diary' and then they came out with fancy diaries with locks.. :D..

Sir, On the Road being my very first, I am keeping my fingers crossed.. it's fun when you read about Sal and his mad friend, but the episodes leave you with a certain bitter taste and sadness..yes, i guess, i should take it easy..:)

Darshan, IHM-- thanks.. :) yes, point 4 is essential for anything and everything..

Callopia-- happening-- 100 %, glamourous, I am not quite sure.. I have not started reading the beat poets.. but now, i will be on the look out..

Baruk-- Ha ha ha... :) even i thought i was 'supposed to like' him and for the first 100 pages, I willed myself to love what I read. but by 150, i was like, hmm :( is this what i must like and croon about? no ...

Joe Pinto said...

baruk - Get yourself a copy of "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Allinsky to dissipate your Qs about the beat generation.

feddabonn said...

@joe: just googled/wikied that, and it sounds like a very good read. thanks!

Calliopia said...

Cmon, I stick by my glamourous description of the Beats. Of course, if you're not a fan of western music it might be tough to call it that but I grew up listening and vibing to Dylan (a close friend of Ginsberg btw), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, all the psychedelics etc. All the intensely happening culture of the 60s was intricately bound to the Beat generation and all of it to me was glamourous bigtime.

Cilantro said...

#4 is me. Loved reading.

Gauri Gharpure said...

no, I am not acquainted with Dylan and I have heard his praise from every person I have talked to.. my reading is limited to this book, and it is somehow full of reveration for a character called dean who seems completely lost.. all the same, I am sure i will read ---and definitely listen--- to more from the beat generation for i can't deny tht the produce is honest, raw and straight from the heart.

Cilantro-- thanks:) drop in again..

feddabonn said...

@gauri: at the risk of being shot...dylan's poetry/songs are good in bits. he cannot for the life of him edit, and so most of his songs will drag on forever and.

having said that, when it's good, it is brilliant. here's an example from mr. tambourine man:

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

the images are powerful and the rest of the song is more of the same.

however, if you do not particularly enjoy exTREMEly nasal singing with a stoned drawl and intermittent jangly guitars, i would suggest you read the work rather than listen to it. you will get a lot of stuff at

Joe Pinto said...

Gauri - thank you for not denying that "the produce" of the beat generation is "honest, raw and straight from the heart."

By that one assessment, you keep the windows of your heart and mind open to the brave new world of the 1960s.

Though you were born much later, you are one of the few among today's generation who deserve to have lived through that time when "we wore flowers in our hair."

Calliopia said...

fed, hey that's one of my absofreakinlutely favourite pieces of Dylan too - the closing verse of Tambourine Man. Sheer genius. Sigh. About some of his song lyrics, as well as that of the entire generation, I read somewhere once that some of it was inspired and written in a haze of drugs and other hallucinatory substances which explains their...erm...weirdness and out-of-itness :P

Gauri Gharpure said...

Baruk--- I cannot say much for i haven't heard him. :( the lyrics given here are grt and can only imagine how grt they would be with music.. i grew up in a house when my grandma governed the tv remote and pretty much everythign else, so missed on most of the stuff friends grew up seeing or hearing :) now is the time to catch up..

Sir-- yes, i cannot close the doors to the beat generation.. have one flew over a cuckoo's nest lined up for the nest read after this.. I wish i was born in 1920s or 30's .. the stories of railway life of my grandparents never fails to catapult me in a vivid, rich, clean, green world.. the era of the sahibs.. :)

Callopia-- yes, i also read abt the psychedelic bit while reading abt ken kesey..

John said...

since you are reading 'on the road' shall i suggest that you follow it up with the 'big sur'. you will enjoy reading these books back to back.