Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not political legislators, who implement change after the fact. Art exerts a profound influence on the style of life, the mode, range and direction of perception. Art tells us what we know and don’t know that we know. (William Burroughs)
I was down at the creek at the bottom of the hill behind my house. I took my camera and looked around. Space. Quiet. I was listening. Trying to quiet the noise of my own thinking. Too much trying-to-understand. Not enough Being. It’s time to cool off. The end of school always leaves me feeling blown-out. I need to practice listening.
It’s difficult to explain the muddiness, the irrelevance, the pointlessness of anything I can think of to say. It’s a writer’s problem. I was looking for a word, an edge to grab. I lost my grip. I was out on my bike - the bike is a meditation machine - on a road cruise. There. It was Kerouac’s word. I’m beat. That’s all.
I got to wondering what Kerouac would have done with a weblog. From “Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials”, he offered some advice to writers.
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr 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 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 yourself
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. Dont 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. Youre a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
There’s a lot of stuff broken and in need of repair around here at the moment. Living in the country a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle brings challenges that can’t really be ignored. Summer is short and sweet. Intoxicating endless daylight for two months. I come unhinged. There’s magic in it. There’s plenty to do, too, and the joy of getting the days and nights mixed up is beyond telling. For anyone who cares to look in, keep an eye on my recent photos. The edge of nowhere is where the work is now.
A little more Kerouac:
…And for just a moment I had reached the point of ectasy that I always wanted to reach, which was a complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiance shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn’t in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but didn’t remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. (Sal Paradise, Ch. 10, On the Road)
“Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials” comes from a 1958 letter to Don Allen, in Heaven & Other Poems, copyright © 1958, 1977, 1983. Grey Fox Press.