Jack Kerouac


Jack Kerouac

1996 Cosmic Player Plate
1997 Cosmic Player Plate
March 12, 1922. Lowell, Massachusetts.
October 21, 1969. St. Petersburg, Florida (complications from alcohol abuse)
Mother: Gabrielle Lévesque. Housewife, house mother. Died 1973
Father: Joseph Alcide Léon ("Leo"). Printer. Died 1946.
Siblings: Gerard Francis (1916-1926); Caroline (1918-1964).
Family was Catholic and Kerouac was greatly influenced throughout his life by his Catholic background. He also explored Buddhism.
Graduates Lowell High School (1939); attends Horace Mann Prep School (1940), attends Columbia University (1941)
Work Experience
With the exception of a stint in the Merchant Marines and some infrequent work for the railroads and a few assorted odd jobs Kerouac's life was preoccupied with writing. That's exactly what his life was about: the pure act of writing about life.
Spontaneous Bop Prosody

Jack Kerouac is credited with the development of a writing technique that draws from both jazz music and the automatic writing style of the surrealists. The intriguing aspect of "spontaneous bop prosody" is that it equates revision with repression. Revision muddles the truth. In Desolation Angels Kerouac writes:

...I was originating (without knowing it, you say?) a new way of writing about life, no fiction, no craft, no revising afterthoughts, the heartbreaking discipline of the veritable fire ordeal where you can't go back but have made the vow of 'speak now or forever hold your tongue' and all of it innocent go-ahead confession, the discipline of making the mind the slave of the tongue with no chance to lie or reelaborate..."

The idea for this type of writing was sparked by an off-hand comment a friend had made to Kerouac in 1952. The friend, Ed White, suggested that Kerouac write the way a painter might sketch. The result for Kerouac, who had already published his first novel, The Town and the City and had written the unpublished On The Road, was the discovery of a style that freed the writer from certain constraints and therefore better articulated truth. In 1953 Kerouac attempted to codify this unstructured approach to writing in his essay "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose." The concepts laid out by Kerouac for spontaneous bop prosody are identical to the principles that many poets follow in the creation of poems. There are nine "essentials" according to Kerouac:

  • 1-Set Up The object is set before the mind.

  • 2-Procedure "[S]ketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image."

  • 3-Method No periods...no false colons...no timid usually needless commas...but the space dash-- yes to that.

  • 4-Scoping "Blow as deep as you want-- write as deeply, fish as far down as you want, satisfy yourself first..." (It's not surprising to note that Kerouac born on March 12 is a Pisces.)

  • 5-Lag In Procedure "No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of scatalogical buildup words till satisfaction is gained..."

  • 6-Timing "Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time."

  • 7-Center of Interest Don't start with any preconceived ideas. "[W]rite outwards swimming in the sea of language to peripheral release and exhaustion-- Do not afterthink..."

  • 8-Structure of Work "Modern bizarre structures (science fiction, etc.) arise from language being dead...Follow roughly outlines in out-fanning movement over subject..."

  • 9-Mental State "If possible write 'without consciousness' in semitrance..."

What's the point what's the object in writing like this where the words just flow unedited one after the other where it is a combination of breath and sound not concept and analogy that drives forward the rush to say something meaningful or important because what else is there to do but to write in such a way that it becomes a catharsis for the writer who mingles his own privacy with the generosity of a reader who will spend time with the words that seem to have come from nowhere except maybe an average education that taught grammar and vocabulary and whatnot.

After he discovered the spontaneous prose technique, Kerouac basically re-wrote On the Road . The re-written version is Visions of Cody. Seekers of the spontaneous prose style should read Visions of Cody. All of Kerouac's principles are embodied in that less-read novel.

There is, however, no known strategy for teaching someone how to write spontaneous prose. That's what makes it such a phenomenal form.

Kerouac at Literary Kicks Levi Asher's Literary Kicks website is the best first stop for Beat Generation information on the World Wide Web. This is a link to the Jack Kerouac page at the site.
Dharma Beat A Jack Kerouac newszine edited by Attila Gyenis.
The Kerouac Quarterly "A journal for the appreciation of the literature of Jack Kerouac" edited by Paul A. Maher, Jr.
Sherri's Kerouac Bibliography A comprehenisve bibliography including books, essays, magazines and other publications relating Jack Kerouac.
CBA's Kerouac Estate Controversy Plate The controversy that destroyed an internet mailing list (BEAT-L) continues to rage. When Kerouac died his estate wasn't worth very much. In 1998 the value of the estate is estimated in the millions. A court battle is underway to determine who will control the purse strings.
CBA's Kerouac Chronology
Movie Review: What Happened to Kerouac?,
Bohemian Ink- Beat Generation
Beat Generation FAQ and Resources
1998 Dharma Beat Roster

Jack Kerouac
Official Cosmic Record
1995 Beats lf .260 665 173 0 50
1996 Beats lf .231 610 141 25 85
1997 Beats of .265 445 118 9 42
Total 3 Seasons .251 1720 432 34 177
Jack Kerouac has been involved in CBA since 1983 when he first owned the Eden Bohemians, CBA's team of writers. He soon sold the Bohemians and bought the Dharma Beats (nee Bums). He owned the team until 1995 when he became a cosmic player. The team was sold to Kerouac's mother, Gabrielle.

As a baseball player, Jack is a strong but inconsistent power hitter. His fielding skills in leftfield are considered superb.

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Jack Kerouac- 1998 Player Plate
URL: http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/kerouac8.html
Published: June 15, 1998
Copyright © 1998 by the Cosmic Baseball Association
email: editor@cosmicbaseball.com