Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bumming the Dharma

Lately I've been revisiting Jack Kerouac's "The Dharma Bums," a monumental influence in my young adult life. I don't connect with Kerouac as I once did on the cusp of adulthood but his prose has moments of glory and humor and are worth setting down here for some appreciation.

Both passages are excerpted from climbing California's Matterhorn: Kerouac reflecting on the woods in the first, Gary Snyder's (as Japhy Rhyder) metaphor of the Buddha as a mountain quoted in the second. I always try to read his sentences in Jack's peculiar, passionate spoken voice.

"The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling. Ecstasy, even, I felt with flashes of sudden remembrance, and feeling sweaty and drowsy I felt like sleeping and dreaming in the grass.

"Yeah man, you know to me a mountain is a Buddha. Think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sittin there bein perfectly perfectly silent and like praying for all living creatures in that silence and just waitin for us to stop all our frettin and foolin."

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite books ever.
    Has a special place in my heart and I've re-read it so many times.
    The Beats were always hero's of mine.
    The dharma Bums is in my humble opinion Jack's greatest work.
    Thanks for reminding me it's long overdue a reread.