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next stop, heck

Just something short because I have to be out of here in about an hour and on my way to deepest, darkest Alabama (shudder). If you're going to be in Birmingham tomorrow (I pity you), drop by the Birmingham Public Library for the Alabama Bound book fair. I'll be reading from Low Red Moon sometime between one and two p.m., and signing afterwards. Just don't complain because I say "mean things" about Birmingham or I'll have to kick you.

A very good quote from Jack Kerouac, apropos of everything: A true writer should be an observer and not go around being observed. Observing—that's the duty and oath of a writer.

Until tomorrow...


Apr. 24th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC)
That was his whole problem. He was just a spectator. All he ever wanted to do was be able to be Neal Cassidy. All Neal ever wanted to do was get fucked up and have a good time. Spectators spend too much time watching and not enough experiencing. It is MY belief that experience is what leads to good writing. All I am saying is that I tried, I really, really tried to like Kerouac. I understand why he was groundbreaking, but, just like Andy Warhol, when all is said and done, one has to ask: Is it ART?

Personally, I believe that Cassidy was the superior artist, because he turned his whole LIFE into an artwork. And that takes some serious cojones.
Apr. 25th, 2004 01:35 am (UTC)
But isn't the "experiencing" you're refering to sort of like being a spectator of life? I feel I should point out, too, that not even half of Kerouac's books are about Neal Cassidy. They are, though, almost entirely about things Kerouac experienced. It seems to me that the people around him were merely one of Kerouac's biggest obsessions and that he was especially fond of Cassidy.

I'm intrigued that you would immediately go from questioning the validity of Kerouac's work being called art to suggesting that Cassidy was an artist for how he lived his life. If one can be called artist simply for their lifestyle, then Kerouac can certainly be called an artist for writing books, which, however poorly exploitive you might feel they were of Kerouac's role as a spectator, still employed devices designed to craft a commicative piece--like poetic language, scene arrangements, the decisions of what to write and what not to write and in what order (Kerouac was not always linear and--even if he had at some point used the "cut-up" technique--the arrangement of items reflects a desire to mould and convey).

If Cassidy is an artist merely for his lifestyle, then any fellow who rambles off his philosophies to his friends while speeding down a lonely highway is also an artist, simply for that. I'm not saying Cassidy was a bad guy or even a normal guy. Merely that if living is art, then the word "art" is almost meaningless.
Apr. 27th, 2004 11:43 am (UTC)
Naw man, y'all got it all wrong about Cassidy. He transformed himself into something...Into a "commodity" that was sought after by the way he lived his life. He sacrificed everything to become the person that he was. The mere act of living ain't a work of art. Fuck. You call Keroac drinking himself to death sitting in his mother's kitchen a work of art? Of course you don't. The entire city full of canuks called "WOONSOCKET" would be a greater monument to "art" than the secession building in Wien if that were true. But Cassidy dying after trying to out-run a Locomotive? That's art.