UMass Kerouac Tapes & Lowell Portfolio

Jack Kerouac in Fred W. McDarrah’s apartment, Dec. 10, 1959.Copyright: Fred McDarrah/Getty Images

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, is increasingly becoming an important Kerouac nexus, and a visit to their Kerouac Center For Public Humanities web-site is well worth the time, not the least for the invaluable streaming-audio clippings there-contained (William S Burroughs on “Jack’s French” and (on) “Outcast Migrations” – Allen, with at least 8 clippings, including this (transcription of which follows) – Allen on Jack and.. “Visions” –

(see also Allen-on-Jack here, at the 1973 Salem State Kerouac Conference)

AG:  …The one thing I got.. he (Kerouac) went through phases of.. let us say, (with using the word) “visions”.. he wanted different visions each season, the visions of each season (that didn’t mean the supernatural visions, it meant the new insight or the new empathy or the new revelation, for him of each season, what new depth of.. he specialized in the thing in.)  I kept being amazed by how, year-after-year, or even week after week, he would return, say, from his own household, with some new symbol –symbol – he was a symbolist in that way.. early.. and his first symbolic (symbolist) book was The Sea Is My Brother, or whatever, so there was a lot of… you could say he was a symbolist, there was a lot of influence of symbolism in his personal view of life, that certain things became symbols to him, certain, like colors, or persons, or events, or notions – like the word “fellaheen”, or “golden ash”, or the word “bleak” – or people, certain people, would become symbols that he would use as a sort of vocabulary in talking to me and others  (and, in his novels, extended)

And it was.. and he used the word “visions” for that, like Visions of Gerard, Visions of Cody, the symbolic moments, or moments of greatest poignancy.

Yeah, no I think he speaks somewhere..He’s spoken of.. (either in letters or books).. of his “vision” (quote unquote) of Bull Lee (Burroughs), as someone on an infinite plain, staring off into the horizon.. (I’ve) forgotten exactly what it was.. was just the posture and attitude and gesture of Burroughs, staring off into the infinite horizon that.. ..That’s the type of vision he would have. And that conception of Burroughs would last for years – the last of the Faustian men with his hands in this great desert, looking out towards these.. (toward) horizon. So that would be the… So he did have these symbols, or visions, what he called visions, (assuredly) ,which might, in another literary context, be called symbols, or archetypes, or apercus – A-P-E-R-C-U – or poems, or lyric thoughts, or concept(ion)s.  (It was) Burroughs version of the “routine”, Burroughs’ mental working-term of the routine, say

William S Burroughs – photo: Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University / Allen Ginsberg Estate

Well, no I think it meant.. Jack meant, in his Visions of Cody.. It wasn’t.. I remember talking with him about this – (that) the trouble with On The Road was that he had to follow chronological sequence, but he.. what he really wanted to do was to get into describing certain moments – it was the moments (like in Proust’s tea madeleine), so it was those moments of intense vision that he wanted to poet-ize. So the whole point of Visions of Cody then was.. to go from one high-point to another high-point, one vision to another, or one apercu to another, one classic moment with Neal (Cody) to another classic moment  – and then string >them along and let them form the structure of the book.

Further audio observations include – “Death in Jack’s Writing” ( “Ginsberg believes that Kerouac’s experience, watching his father suffer and die permenantly affected his writing”), “Jack And The Question of Sexuality” (“Ginsberg believes that Kerouac’s entire way of being in the world rejects (simplistic) labels”), “American Vision Quests And Neal Cassady” (“Ginsberg responds to a critique by William S Burroughs”), “Mexico City Blues and “Memorial Cello Time” (“Allen Ginsberg dissects the meaning of “Memorial Cello Time” in Kerouac’s novel, “Mexico City Blues“), The Town and the City and Consciousness” (“Ginsberg interprets Kerouac’s passage about the football stadium in his novel, The Town and the City), and, “Jack’s Prose” (“Ginsberg discusses Jack’s prose style and suggests its relationship to the technologies of film”).

The Boott & Hamilton Mills, Lowell – from “Kerouac’s Lowell: A Life on the Concord  and Merrimack Rivers” Copyright:  John Suiter

Elsewhere on the site, John Suiter has published an excellent photo-portfolio and essay -” Kerouac’s Lowell: A Life on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”. there’s images of the On The Road scroll, there’s images of Kerouac book covers, there’s…

Garrett Caples review of John Suiter’s portfolio may be read here.

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