09 June 2011

ones who are mad to live

(Originally posted on tumblr here, but I hope you all know that
it is from On the Road by Jack Kerouac.)

A short while ago, I found the tumblr page of an old friend. I consistently gobble up everything she posts and sit back, nodding my head and occasionally pumping my fist in the air. We were never close friends, but judging by the tiny snippets I get from her online, we very well could be. When I saw her re-post this quote, I was comforted that these words touched someone else (and thousands of others) like it did me.

This was the quote I kept going back to in college, when I hadn't yet found a good tribe. I put it up on my wall, read it and reread it, underlining my worn copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, the author of which also inspired my blog's name. ("Oh, I was wondering what the hell 'unspeakable visions' meant.") I still love reading it and I still want to meet more of the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live and never say a commonplace thing. It grounds me in my ideals and reminds me of the bigger life picture when I get mucked down by the day-to-day. I'm hoping to revisit my old friend Jack this summer, starting with On the Road and my favorite Dharma Bums. I even have a few books of his I haven't yet read, so maybe I'll cross those off the list soon too.
(Photo courtesy of Christie’s of New York via here)

Fun fact: Kerouac wrote On the Road on a 120 foot scroll of taped-together translucent paper, with no paragraphs or punctuation, and some say he wrote it in just three Benzedrine-fueled weeks. My dad and I got a chance to see the scroll at Skidmore College's Tang Museum during the On the Road Scroll Tour years ago.  I have an edition of the book that is published word for word from the original scroll; I'm looking forward to reading that alongside the edited popular version


  1. Just makes me smile widely....xo

    BTW, George and I found you a JK collection at a used book store in Brattleboro last weekend. REMIND me to bring it next week.

  2. I gotta find me some Benzedrine. Thanks.

  3. Perfect timing on the post then, Mom! Thanks :)

  4. This is great. I need to re-read OTR again, too! Mini-book club this summer?! I have never read Dharma Bums, but it's on the list.

    I think the way you feel about JK is similar to how I feel about Kurt Vonnegut. I could read and re-read every KV book under the sun. When I was in my Senior year of high school, his books really start to resonate with me and helped me through some tough times in college. I'm sure some people are like "Vonneget? Really?" I often wonder if I'm on the right path, or if I'm living "my Best life " (a la Oprah), but then I always go back to this quote from KV's "Cat's Cradle"

    "St. Augustine, St. Augustine, he got to be a saint. So if I get to be one too, please momma don't you faint."

    Silly, but I just sing that in my head then push forward.

    AWESOME POST, friend!

  5. And, if I recall correctly, we stopped at a diner for an All-American meal after viewing the the manuscript! Good stuff....


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