Jack Kerouac Is a What?

3 May

by Jeff Flodin

No Kidding, I really heard this: A young sculptor held court over a lunch table of six colleagues.  “I dated a man who loved Jack Kerouac,” said the sculptor.  “I never saw what he saw in Jack Kerouac.  Jack Kerouac is a douche.”

None of the young man’s tablemates contradicted him and neither did I, never having read Jack Kerouac.  But I took the sculptor’s comment as a challenge to my ingrained literary world view, where Jack Kerouac was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a prose visionary.  Maybe his notoriety came more from his lifestyle than his craft.  Maybe his crowdGinsberg, Burroughs, Snyder, Corso—had more talent.  Maybe Jack Kerouac was a hack.

But a “douche?”  What exactly constitutes a literary douche?  Shallow characters?  Trite situations?  Vapid dialogue? I cannot clarify.  My copy of On the Road stayed parked on my bookshelf, never given the mileage of Siddhartha and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

I suspect the young sculptor’s verdict on Jack Kerouac had less to do with writing and more to do with the sins of his boyfriend.  People rarely direct their anger at the deserving target.  So be it.  I’m neither the sculptor’s analyst nor Jack Kerouac’s apologist.  What I detect is a lack of cultural and historical perspective.  Jack Kerouac changed the rules of the game.  He deserves his due.  Calling him a douche is like dismissing Jackson Pollock as “messy.”

So now I have decided to read On the Road.  Perhaps this trip will provide the missing perspective on my formative years.Perhaps On the Road will end up in the ditch.  When Ifinish here, when Spelling and Grammar check point out my typos and fragments, I’ll hitch a ride over to the NLS BARD website and download an audio version of On the Road.  Then I’ll be able to come up with my own noun to complete the phrase, “Jack Kerouac is a…”

Jeff Flodin writes the Jalapenos in the Oatmeal: Digesting Vision Loss blog (http://jalapenosintheoatmeal.wordpress.com/).  He also provides moral support for Stella De Genova as she does all the hard work for the Vision Through Words blog.  Jeff uses the JAWS screen-reading software and found, in this story, a major mispronunciation of the key word, for which he used JAWS Dictionary Manager to change the word’s pronounced spelling to d o o s h.  He suggests that other JAWS users do the same thing, as it helps add meaning to the story.

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One Response to “Jack Kerouac Is a What?”

  1. Al DeGenova May 3, 2013 at 1:03 PM #

    The Kerouac journey is not complete without reading his book ‘The Dharma Bums.’ Many consider Jack a genius, including his contemporaries and friends. Ginsberg needed Kerouac’s approval on his own work. Admittedly, Jack Kerouac was an alcoholic; a disease that tends to make people act like a douche…that could be where the comment came from.

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