AG: Then having got out into America..
There’s a little section where he gets very early disillusionment on his first trip, the disillusionment with America as a poem (I mean he’s pronounced America as a poem, or he learned from (Thomas) Wolfe that America could be read as a poem, or seen as a poem, but also instantly a disillusion with that (which, on large scale, incidentally, is reflected in Gregory Corso’s Elegiac Feelings American which was Corso’s book written after Kerouac’s death, and (in) which, like Shelley writing an ode on Keats, Corso has an elegy on Kerouac’s death (as Shelley had “Adonais”, an elegy on Keats’ death), and I think Corso’s is in the grand tradition, of, like, great-poet elegies for other late-lamented, dear, great-poets – But the point that Corso makes there is that when the singer.. if the singer is the singer of the nation, and then nation decays, then what happens to the singer?). So that early disillusionment is reflected in Book Six of Vanity of Duluoz, or at least detected earlier by hindsight, in a late work relating back to his high-school days and college days.
“It was November, it was cold, it was woodsmoke, it was swift waters in the wink of silver glare with its rose headband out yonder where Eve Star (some call it Venus, some call it Lucifer), stoppered up her drooling propensities and tried to contain itself in one delimited throb of boiling light.” (he’s still capable of that in, like dying, like perhaps a year before his death, he’s still capable of these little cadenzas)
“boiling light” – that’s pretty. That’s just pure invention there. So he’s… actually his whole attitude toward writing or his whole practice over decades and decades and millions of pages, actually (millions of words, and I think a million pages at least, of just writing, writing, writing, writing) comes to that “delimited throb of boiling light.”
It’s easily.. tosses off the fountain-pen – “Ah poetic”, his next line – “Ah poetic”.
“I keep saying “ah poetic” because I didn’t intend this to be a poetic paean of a book. In 1967 as I’m writing this what possible feeling can be left in me for an “America” that has become such a potboiler of broken convictions, messes of riotings and fighting in the streets, hoodlum-ism, cynical administration of cities and states, suits and neckties the only feasible subject, grandeur all gone into the mosaic mesh of Television (Mosaic indeed with a capital M), where people screw their eyes at all those dots and pick out hallucinated images of their own contortion and are fed ACHTUNG! ATTENTION! ~ ATENCION! – instead of Ah dreamy real wet lips beneath an old apple tree. Or that picture in Time magazine a year ago showing a thousand cars parked in a redwood forest in California, all alongside similar tents with awnings and primus stoves, everybody dressed alike looking around everywhere at everybody with those curious new eyes of the second part of this century, only occasionally looking up at the trees and if so probably thinking “O how nice that redwood would look as my lawn furniture!” Well, enough… for now. (that’s at page one-oh-five-and-six)
“Main thing is, coming home, “Farewell Song Sweet from my Trees” of previous August was washed away in November joys”
And he comes back home, having quit the scene and having goofed-up and having run away and having gone down South
This is interesting as I remember him..I remember this.. I remember trips like this where he had some occasion to be around and do something and all of a sudden he’d disappear and cut out on an adventure and I’d say, “oh goddam!, he’s not.. he’s irresponsible!”
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-three-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-eight-and-three-quarter minutes in