Monday, November 19, 2012

The prophet and the mountain

The New York Times (in the person of Ethan Todras-Whitehill) will go to it...because it's there.  Like Oakland, there's no there there.  But the view hasn't changed;
I passed through a stand of fir and out onto the bare ridge, and there it was: the squat white structure where Jack Kerouac spent 63 days as a fire lookout in the summer of 1956. I had assumed that the Desolation Peak lookout would be empty, a silent monument to the Voice of the Beat Generation.
That's in the north Cascades range in the state of Washington, and the beauty is incomparable.  Even worth what one has to do to enjoy it; 'a 3,500-foot climb carrying all the water you will need for the next day (not to mention camping gear).'  

Which makes it irrelevant that 'typewriter' Jack (Truman Capote's derisive comment about the Beatnik Bible On the Road) was ever there.  Even Todras-Whitehall seems to sorta know that;

I had imagined this night as my last chance to "get" the Beat writer. But in reality, I was already a Kerouac convert. Not to his writing — the guy needed an editor after Desolation Peak possibly more than he needed a bath — but to the story of his life, as recounted in Dennis McNally's biography and other places. It reads like a classical tragedy, or at least a high-minded Hollywood screenplay: a sensitive young man seeks truth in order to change his world; he doesn't find that truth, not in any real, sustained way, but his quest makes him famous and inspires a generation to follow in his footsteps, even as he cannot cope with his fame and drinks himself to death.
'A generation' that includes only a handful of people who knew who Kerouac was, and fewer who've ever read his work.  Not so few though, that the 'newspaper of record' won't indulge them.

No comments:

Post a Comment