OTR QUESTION #18

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

OTR QUESTION #18

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:11 pm

Posted by: Liz - 7/2/2004 (3:35) - 67.174.198.151
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

At least a couple of you have expressed that you find Jack Kerouac to have been a contradiction. Did you find any examples of that in OTR?

Posted by: Naomi - 7/2/2004 (18:43) - 64.12.116.22
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

Well, I was going to avoid this question because I afraid of offending anyone. But anyway, here goes.

Of course JK and his fictional counterpart Sal are contradictory. So is JD, as well as Hunter, Brando, my kid, my closest friends and myself. I consider myself to be in good company.

JK absorbed and transmitted in writing everything he witnessed in his life as a self-described "Lonesome Traveler". His "stream of consciousness" writing was honest enough to reveal all of his external and internal worlds.

Any human being who chooses to reveal himself with that much honesty would automatically reveal
numerous personal contradictions. That's why I love his writing so much. He was a man "rehearsing to be himself"( ITTOYL). He never claimed to be a 'finished product"or perfect in any way. Frankly, I've never met a "finished product" of a human being. As much as a pain in the butt as people can be, the idea of a person without any contradictions is a scary thought indeed.

Posted by: DeppInTheHeartOfTexas - 7/2/2004 (23:13) - 66.69.248.59
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

Naomi, don't feel you have to avoid answering a question because you disagree or are afraid to offend! ONBC is a discussion group and if we all agree with each other what's to discuss? I'm not suggesting we get into knock down, drag outs here, but, in my opinion, a good discussion is healthy.

Posted by: scarlett - 7/2/2004 (21:32) - 24.211.52.135
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

Well said Naomi. I think you're right. Sal/Jack himself recognizes his many contradictions. He states basically that men and women don't get to know each other's souls well enough before they hop into bed, and then admits that he doesn't have the patience to practice what he preaches. Carolyn Cassady says that Neal and Jack by and large believed in the 40/50's morals (marriage, honesty, chivalry, etc.). If that's so, they seemed to have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy rebelling against those very values. As someone pointed out earlier, Jack had a controlling, overbearing mother that no doubt contributed to his wanderlust but, at the same time, he seems to worship her (in the form of Sal's aunt). As with most people, I do think the contradictions make him more interesting.

Posted by: Liz - 7/2/2004 (20:03) - 67.174.198.151
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

Naomi, you get the medal for bravery.

I asked this question because I thought it would inspire a lot of discussion. This topic had come up before we even began the discussion, so I thought it would be a great question. I guess I like a good debate, too.

I can think of one contradiction in OTR--Sal's view on women vs. his treatment of them. He says he wants to get married and settle down. He narrates in a way that would indicate he cherishes women, but actions speak louder than words.

Basically, I think that other than that, throughout the book he sticks to what he believes in and sets out to do. He is definitely a loyal friend to Neal. As Johnny would say, he's pure.

And personally, I'm a huge contradiction. I beat myself up over it all the time.

Posted by: nebraska - 7/2/2004 (21:41) - 209.50.5.154
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

There is some interesting commetary here! Yes, I have a lot of contradictions within myself. At times it shocks and puzzles me and I have a lot of difficulty explaining what I am actually thinking/feeling. Usually it seems to be more on an emotional level when some of these divisions come to light -- say for instance my belief that everyone is worthwhile, even the wicked, and can be understood as a product of things that have happened in their lives versus my angry belief that the death penalty should be used more often, that some people are so evil they aren't worth saving. Two very opposing points of view. Another -- my holier-than-thou reformed smoker attitude versus my love of photos of Johnny smoking. Sometimes I think that one viewpoint is intellect driven, right and proper and held because I feel that's what I "should" do, and the other is perhaps my gut level instinct. They clash. But I can't always define which is emotional and which is intellectual.

Posted by: scarlett - 7/2/2004 (21:52) - 24.211.52.135
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

I like your analysis Nebraska. I think intellect versus instinct does go a long way to explaining the contradictions in all of us. But you're right - sorting one from the other isn't always easy.

Posted by: Gypsylee - 7/3/2004 (3:46) - 205.188.116.24
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

"I think intellect versus instinct does go a long way to explaining the contradictions in all of us."

The thought that popped into my head when I read the above was Mort.....the inner voice saying what you should do and the gut level feeling of what you want to do.

Posted by: Liz - 7/3/2004 (12:09) - 67.174.198.151
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

My contradictions are more basic--my Christian ethical background vs. my worldly cravings (which include my intellect and instinct combined)

Posted by: nebraska - 7/3/2004 (7:06) - 209.50.5.149
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

Yep! That pretty much covers it!

I guess I didn't really answer the question that was posed, speaking about myself rather than Sal and Dean in my post. But perhaps what I posted explains why I didn't see glaring horrible contradictions, but rather saw the writing as an accurate human account of internal events and reactions.

Posted by: SueC - 7/3/2004 (4:15) - 82.37.80.32
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

I am sorry that I didn't respond to this question earlier. I thought, with the weekend break, that this thread would be slower, so I was going to take another look at the book today and post something later. This I have not yet done. However, coincidentally (again) I was reading Kingdom of Fear last night and noticed something relevant in the foreward: "Every man is many men - Whitman was stating the facts when he said that he contained multitudes". Ain't that the truth! I see some very interesting contradictions in Johnny, including a couple in the post below in the bio bit. I'm not referring to the flippant remark I made about doing nothing for nothing, but the frequent emphasis he places on acting as lying and his comment about fearing dark places. And, again, coincidentally, I think I may have found an explanation for that in Kingdom of Fear, although that is pure speculation on my part. I have my own contradictions of course too (which I happen to hate, as it happens, though I don't mind them in others. In fact, I find them fascinating in others)

Naomi, can I just say, I for one am not in the least bit offended by your comments. It's a good thing if we approach questions from different angles or points of view. This is a book that I think I probably don't appreciate as much as you do. However, I wholeheartedly value your posts about it because one of the group of reasons I'm 'here' is to deepen my understanding, enhance my appreciation and sometimes have my mind changed about a book or particular point. I'm very comfortable with that notion. I very much value the thought and background knowledge you bring! So bring it on, girl! It occurs to me that an on-line discussion is quite difficult in some ways because we don't have the non-verbal signals, which are so vital, to refer to as we communicate. Therefore, getting to know each other takes a bit more time, maybe. It's why we need those faces to suggest the tone of voice, after all. I know that quite often, when I read something I've posted, that it doesn't 'sound' at all like what I intended. So, I hope this one comes out all right. But as time goes by and we do all get more used to each other, hopefully the discussions can only get richer than they are already. I am not nearly so confident as I might seem at times. Sometimes, I am too timid to nail my colours the mast on a topic, or be totally honest in an answer. The main thing for me is that people are so supportive and encouraging. Anyway, I'll stop now because I'm rambling and I still haven't answered the question. See you later, as they say in my neck of the woods!

Posted by: Liz - 7/3/2004 (10:29) - 67.174.198.151
Edit Message - Delete Message - Ban Author - Archive Message

"However, I wholeheartedly value your posts about it because one of the group of reasons I'm 'here' is to deepen my understanding, enhance my appreciation and sometimes have my mind changed about a book or particular point. I'm very comfortable with that notion. I very much value the thought and background knowledge you bring! So bring it on, girl!"

This is exactly how I feel. For me, the whole purpose of a book club is to have a complete understanding of each book. It's not really a matter of whether you like the book or agree with it's message. And as I've heard over and over again here and in my "real life" book club, the nice thing about a book club is that you read books you never would have picked out yourself, so you are exposing yourself to a variety of reading.

Also, what one of my "real life" book club members pointed out to me recently was that books that are chosen for book club are not necessarily books that she would want to read for enjoyment's sake. What makes a good book club book for her is whether it inspires conversation.

And for me, one of my goals in this book club is to have a better understanding of Johnny. And one of the ways to do that is to dwelve into this book.

Thanks for your honesty, all of you.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

Return to “Kerouac and The Beats”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest