Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby Liz » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:20 am

What is the final essay about? Is “the deluge” a fitting name?
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:04 pm

I love Jack. I really do. I read On the Road and it made me want to get to know Jack, the man. So, I began reading his journals...

So, about The Deluge. He really can go on a ty-raid can't he? This was very much Jack, though', from what I've read. And so too, was it like him to feel so out of place in his world...no matter what position he was in, be it up and coming poet or well known writer. He was not comfortable as Jack the unknown and he was even more uncomfortable as Jack Kerouac. To me, that's really what this piece is about. His feeling out of place in the circle he found himself in. He didn't mean to end up there...he just did. He was always honest and open and that placed him in a famous place with the very people he loathed. I felt, in his rants, the cries of a man who just wanted his old life back. The Deluge was an apt title...describing the overwhelm he felt in his life, which clearly ended it. He drank himself into oblivion. He drank as the young Jack, unable to find his true place in society and he drank as the older Jack, uncomfortable with the title bestowed upon him.
It is a bit hard for me to read this piece, knowing it was so close to the end for him, as he is so clearly unhappy, disollusioned, angry and overwhelmed. It really did feel a rant to me and I don't mean that in any disrespect or in a bad way. That was how he expressed himself and I think he needed to get it all out, but all political meaning aside, I think all he was really trying to say was that he had been mislabeled. Misjudged. Misread. Misunderstood. Maybe, in the end, he felt his writings were all for not. Maybe, as much as he could be, at once, hopeful for a changed world, in the end, he felt nothing had changed and that those who always called the shots, still called the shots. The Deluge.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby shadowydog » Mon Nov 09, 2009 4:45 pm

Good post sweetchia. He totally went past me when I was growing up and was a young adult.

I think part of his "rant" was against those who quoted and used him to justify their philosphy and life styles. He felt that he was opposed to all they stood for and resented being "blamed" or given "credit" for what was, to him, a wrong headed movement that was being waged in his name.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby ladylinn » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:08 pm

Shadowydog - Jack Kerouac also totally past by me in my young adult years! Too busy starting a family and home. I will be an interested observer to this discussion. Thanks for the great summary sweetchia!

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby Liz » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:32 pm

Thanks for starting us off here, sweetchia. And what a beginning! I’m glad you understand him because I didn’t. Shadowydog said that he totally went past her when she was growing up. Well, he totally went over my head in this piece. I had no idea who he was when I was growing up either. I was a toddler at the time of the other 3 pieces. But not this particular essay. Funny how I thought I was aware politically in 1969, but this rant totally lost me. The only thing I can vaguely get out of it is that he felt misunderstood, misrepresented and disheartened.
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.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:56 pm

I didn't know who he was when I was young. I am Johnny's age and was stunned to hear he was reading him then. Amazing. It is because of Johnny I read On The Road and I will say, that at first, it was kinda hard to read, but then I got sucked in.

If anyone is having a hard time with him, might I suggest you read his journals. You really get a good idea of who he was and where his head was at. Makes his stuff a bit easier to digest, though I will admit to getting lost in his extensive vocabulary and never-ending run-on sentence rants in this piece.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby Liz » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:16 pm

I had no problem reading On the Road, with its stream of consciousness style of writing. And I got sucked into it and his adventures and his travelogue. Of course, I did not read it until a few years ago for ONBC. It was our 5th selection.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:41 pm

Liz wrote:I had no problem reading On the Road, with its stream of consciousness style of writing. And I got sucked into it and his adventures and his travelogue. Of course, I did not read it until a few years ago for ONBC. It was our 5th selection.


Yeah, it is MUCH easier than this piece. The stream of consciousness style took me a bit to get used to, having never read anything like that before, but once I got with the pace, it really did move and catch me. I too didn't read it 'til about 2 years ago. I'd never have been able to understand it at the age Johnny read it. Damn. Smart kid!
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:11 pm

I took it to mean that he disagrees with much of what is going on in the 60's and resents that people think it stems from people believing he is the "great white father and intellectual forebear who spawned a deluge of alienated radicals, war protestors, dropouts, hippies and even 'beats' and thereby I can make some money maybe and a 'new Now-image' for myself (and God forbid I dare call myself the intellectual forebear of modern spontaneous prose)...".

This part makes me believe he wanted to be remembered for his contribution as a writer and thinker, not as the godfather of the 60's counterculture movement, "the deluge". It also seems to me that he feels people think he should reinvent himself to make his image more current and popular. sweetchia's point about him not being comfortable no matter how he was perceived is a good one. He just wants to be himself whoever that is, not anyone's guru or spokesman. Our society always has a way of pigeonholing people and ides to make them fit in a tidy little package. Life is never quite that tidy.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby shadowydog » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:22 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:I took it to mean that he disagrees with much of what is going on in the 60's and resents that people think it stems from people believing he is the "great white father and intellectual forebear who spawned a deluge of alienated radicals, war protestors, dropouts, hippies and even 'beats' and thereby I can make some money maybe and a 'new Now-image' for myself (and God forbid I dare call myself the intellectual forebear of modern spontaneous prose)...".

This part makes me believe he wanted to be remembered for his contribution as a writer and thinker, not as the godfather of the 60's counterculture movement, "the deluge". It also seems to me that he feels people think he should reinvent himself to make his image more current and popular. sweetchia's point about him not being comfortable no matter how he was perceived is a good one. He just wants to be himself whoever that is, not anyone's guru or spokesman. Our society always has a way of pigeonholing people and ides to make them fit in a tidy little package. Life is never quite that tidy.


:highfive: You have hit the nail on the head. If you go through the litany of what he says in that article, he is constantly critical of the anti-war, anarchical sentiments being preached by those who professed to follow his "teachings". He points out that what "they" were condemning are the very things that gave them their freedom and continued to guarantee that they were free. He talks about what he calls the military/civilian industries that developed and deployed the weapons that kept "them" safe and secure. That is what I got from this article.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby stroch » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:51 pm

I think he sees the hippie movement as hypocrisy – taking the gifts of freedom and not realizing its cost, intellectually rejecting the society they are so physically comfortable in. What I don’t understand is why he rejected the “peace, love, and rock and roll” philosophy as being spawned by him. Perhaps he felt betrayed that his own spiritual quest and vision of America was not realized, and resented the shallow expropriation of his ideas.

Sad as it may be, his alcoholism could well have altered his personality. I remember seeing him on TV interviews and I could not put together the Kerouac I knew from his writing with the man I was watching. The Deluge is sad and depressing to me.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:01 pm

stroch wrote:I think he sees the hippie movement as hypocrisy – taking the gifts of freedom and not realizing its cost, intellectually rejecting the society they are so physically comfortable in. What I don’t understand is why he rejected the “peace, love, and rock and roll” philosophy as being spawned by him. Perhaps he felt betrayed that his own spiritual quest and vision of America was not realized, and resented the shallow expropriation of his ideas.

Sad as it may be, his alcoholism could well have altered his personality. I remember seeing him on TV interviews and I could not put together the Kerouac I knew from his writing with the man I was watching. The Deluge is sad and depressing to me.

I think it indeed altered his personality. I don't think anyone can drink as he did and not have it cause a rift in their life. I think it enhanced his struggles. In his early journals, while he's much more positive than he is in this work, he waffles back and forth between that and dissolution...even then. I think, as with so many alcoholics, he used the alcohol to cope, but then it just made all his demons more fierce.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby gemini » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:23 pm

I agree with sweetchia and all she says about Jacks life. I also think he was disillusioned by the time he wrote this and it is certainly a rant. He felt the beat generation was named because of him and so many new movements had been tacked on that were not what he was all about, hence the deluge. I too read "On the Road", which was written before he became so addicted to drinking. I think "On the road" showed his younger more positive outlook and by the time he wrote this he was very unhappy and it shows.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby gemini » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:29 pm

stroch wrote:I think he sees the hippie movement as hypocrisy – taking the gifts of freedom and not realizing its cost, intellectually rejecting the society they are so physically comfortable in. What I don’t understand is why he rejected the “peace, love, and rock and roll” philosophy as being spawned by him. Perhaps he felt betrayed that his own spiritual quest and vision of America was not realized, and resented the shallow expropriation of his ideas.

Sad as it may be, his alcoholism could well have altered his personality. I remember seeing him on TV interviews and I could not put together the Kerouac I knew from his writing with the man I was watching. The Deluge is sad and depressing to me.


I agree with you stoch. He was a very intelligent person and great writer but unfortunately I saw one of his later interviews where he was obviously either drunk or had after effects from too many years of drink and that will always come to mind when I think of him. It is a shame when I think how enjoyable he was as an impressionable young man traveling across the country in his youth.
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Re: Jack Kerouac Question #1 - The Deluge

Unread postby Buster » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:37 pm

I wondered about the historical context of the phrase "the deluge". It has been attributed to Louis XV, and has two possible interpretations:

As a first approach to the saying, note that one is dealing with a nominal phrase, that is, without an explicit verb. The phrase can have two distinct, though related, meanings, according to the verb which we implicitly supply:

a) On the one hand, if we understand After me the deluge will come, the saying seems to imply, as an assertive affirmation: “After my reign, the nation will be plunged into chaos and destruction.”

b) The verb could also be understood as a subjunctive concession: After me, let the deluge come (it can come, but it makes no difference to me). In this second case, the speaker asserts that nothing that happens after his disappearance matters to him.

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