Monday, September 20, 2004

How can you be clever in a meatgrinder?

Jack Kerouac on the road with his mother:

Who are men that they can insult men? Who are these people who wear pants and dresses and sneer? What am I talking about? I'm talking about human helplessness and unbelievable loneliness in the darkness of birth and death and asking "What is there to laugh about in that?" "How can you be clever in a meatgrinder?" "Who makes fun of misery?" There's my mother a hunk of flesh that didnt ask to be born, sleeping restlessly, dreaming hopefully, beside her son who didnt ask to be born, thinking desperately, praying hopelessly, in a bouncing earthly vehicle going from nowhere to nowhere, all in the night, worst of all for that matter all in noonday glare of bestial Gulf Coast roads -- Where is the rock that will sustain us? Why are we here? What kind of crazy college would feature a seminar where people talk about hopelessness forever?

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), Desolation Angels, 1960, p. 339.

Compare Mexico City Blues, 1959, 211th Chorus:

The wheel of the quivering meat conception . . .
. . . I wish I was free of that slaving meat wheel
and safe in heaven dead.