Monday, September 17, 2007

On the Road to Creativity

I first heard about Jack Kerouac in high school. It was the thirtieth anniversary of On the Road, not that my high school celebrated it. I don’t really want to talk about that, suffice it to say that fundamentalists ran my school. Still, they couldn’t escape it. The syncopated clickety clack jazz beat of drifters and poets smoking cigarettes and marijuana and having sex with girls they met on the road and (gasp!) men ran counter to the idyllic fifties my school portrayed as the last hurrah of family values before the terrifying plunge into promiscuity and drugs that was the sixties. This was the twentieth anniversary of the Summer of Love too, and our leaders attempted to indoctrinate us against the era from which they all sprung. They were Jesus People after all. Perhaps the road to freedom didn’t tempt my fellow sheltered classmates, but the pull of intellectual freedom, of Nietzsche’s quest to become who you are was irresistible to me. I picked up On the Road at the library, but my mother found it under my bed and took it away and it was years before I finally read the book. By then I’d become tired of the imitators, of the lazy attempts to replicate cool. All those anniversaries of freedom howls merely highlighted my own generation’s lack of creativity. All the cool jeans and tee shirts or the hippie skirts we wore to stake our claim to individuality made me wistful for a time when we would break free and be original. I made myself avoid the Beats as an attempt to keep myself pure, but eventually I broke down and read the damn book. By then I’d already taken to the road, and like Kerouac I’d come back home. I am still wistful for a time that doesn’t exist, when I will have a creative voice all my own and won’t sit here with at a computer with its muted clickety clack and have something original to say.

10 comments:

dive said...

Gosh, that brought back some memories, young Sassy.
Back in the early seventies when I hit my teenage stride the three books to have hanging out of your pockets were "On The Road", "The Catcher In The Rye" and Dylan's "Tarantula".
I still treasure my totally trashed and stained original copies.
Sigh …

Robyn said...

Boy, those oppressive years really did some damage, didn't they. I went to public school, but the church I had to suffer through during the formative years was a lot like your school, Sassy.

zirelda said...

I was a kid in the 70's. I watched my sister and brother go thru free love and all that. What I ended up with is that none of us are original. We are much more alike than we'd like to think.

Now give me a beatnick beret and a doobie....

Medbh said...

The Beats owed much to Walt Whitman and the Romantics. Everyone borrows from someone else just about.
The jeebus freaks consign art to dogma and conformity. The Left Behind series is about as creative as it gets for them.
Blech.

Roxy said...

Somehow - the pangs of nostalgia always seem so sweet... and we're often yearning for something we never truly had.
Exiting oppression and entering freedom often creates a cage of its own.
Sad but true...
Marvelous thoughts, and marvelously said - as always!

Bock the Robber said...

Why have all Americans started to say Jeebus?

Rich said...

I'm wstful for good coffee

Sniffle&Cry said...

We shouldn't read this stuff beyond teenage years, our minds aren't bendy enough anymore. The stiffness in the bones is matched by a mid-life coagulation of the thought stream. Thanks much Sassy.

Conan Drumm said...

The trick is to listen to but not be haunted by those earlier voices. I met AGinsburg, had a day or two in his company. Grumpy old fecker he turned into.

Medbh said...

Because it's Homer Simpson's name for Jesus and because it's hilarious that he goes to church and has no idea of the god's name that he worships. It's a nice way to check all the religious freaks.