Jack Kerouac – What he meant to writing, life and the sixties.

Jack Kerouac – What he meant to writing, life and the sixties.


Jack opened a door and let a new stream of light come flooding in. It swept the old dull formula away.

Before Jack there was a structure and form. Everything had its place. There were rules, procedures, format and sequence. It was staid. It was dull. It was controlled.

Jack opened a valve in his head and the steam of ideas, words and stories gushed forth in one long screaming roar.

Jack put his words into life as if he was playing a never-ending saxophone line. They wailed, parped and spouted out in uncontrolled frenzy. They streamed along in a great torrent that gathered you up and bore you along with it.

There were no rules. There was no formula. It was a raging waterfall that cascaded along with a madness, exuberance and all the spontaneity of now. It wasn’t so much telling a story as relating the moment, describing now.

And what a now!

It was a now teeming with desires, madness and a thirst for life that could not be contained, had no limits, and was bursting to explode out of the confines of the shackles society puts on us.

Jack was too alive to sit still, too wired. He had to let loose. He sought fellow freaks to travel, open up new horizons and explore possibilities; rapping endlessly as they delved the depths of possibility – ecstatic on discovery. Discovery of self, of possibility, for awe and wonder, to wrestle the demons, open up the senses, to let go; to give rein to all the sensations possible and experience life. There was sex, drugs, fast cars, laughs, kicks, craziness and exaggerated, heightened possibility. There was meaning, purpose and kicks to be screwed out of the drabness.

Jack was in awe of the emancipated black culture and its propensity to let its hair down; its sensuous sexuality, unloosed vitality and wondrous creativity. The black culture was rich and thriving where white culture was constrained and uptight. He wanted to be as loud, as natural and as in touch with his inner self and let all that bottled up energy out. In the black clubs with the black music it was GO GO GO GO GO – crazy man. There were no limits. You went for it.

Despite all the racism and poverty the black American culture had style, had class and knew how to let it hang out. When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. They burned. They grasped every second and knew how to extract the kicks out of it. It was wild. It was real.

After Jack how could one go back to living an ordinary life? To writing manufactured stories? – To following an ordained pathway into a career, a home and a life of tedium. This was a plastic culture of concrete and control. It was as dead as the dodo.

Jack had defied the cosmos and sought satori in the majesty of being.

How could you mow the grass and catch the eight thirty to the office?

Without Jack could we have had that sweeping liberalism of the sixties that swept the dowdy conformism away? Or would we be living in our little boxes, locked up inside as repressed as the society that spawned us?

Jack was the great liberator. Once the door was open then was no holding back the current. The dam gave way. The sixties was the flood that Jack unleashed.

I was swept along in that tide. Who could deny the energy and excitement? The freedom?

Allen Ginsberg howled and Jack roared down the highways of life. They both opened minds.

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