Jack Kerouac is known as a Beat generation poet. It is called “beat” poetry for a number of reasons. One is that beat poetry sounds like it should be read over a beat, like a rap. Beat culture also refers to a group of people that rejected the traditional morals of the 1950s society. What makes Jack more than just the drunk asshole that some see him to be is that there was poetic and philosophical thought within his body of work.
He was a terrible Christian and picked what he chose of the Buddhist faith that made him feel good, but he had spiritual ideas that were transcendental in nature. However, one can argue that his significant philosophical contribution is the idea of nonconformity and thinking for oneself. My favorite line is from a passage in On the Road. This quote speaks to this. “The only ones for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” This quote encourages people to stop engaging in behavior that promotes the cliché culture in which we live. It also promotes discovery and taking an initiative to reach your goals. It is this perspective that I think motivated Kerouac to drink in excess, take Benzodiazepine, have sex with prostitutes, and listen to jazz music in the black clubs during a very racist time period. He follows a path that is considered wrong to the majority. Whether this is noble is a good discussion topic. I’ll talk more about this behavior in my next post.
2nd installment: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2015/12/second-installment-jack-kerouac.html
3rd installment: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2015/12/third-installment-jack-kerouac.html