Kerouac for secret optimists
This week marks 45 years since the premature death of Jack Kerouac. Once hailed as “the voice of a generation,” Kerouac was a prolific writer of novels and poetry — most notably On the Road. He also harbored deep spiritual thoughts and doubts. From his Catholic upbringing to his exploration of Buddhism, he often wrestled with these themes in works like The Dharma Bums.
Though the “king of the beats” is better known for his brooding, contemplative nature, it by no means limited his scope. In honor of his life and works, here are ten surprisingly uplifting quotes from the iconic misanthrope.
1. “The fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together.” Book of Dreams (1961) Foreword
2. “Happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.” Lonesome Traveler (1960)
On Life and Living:
3. “Maybe that’s what life is… a wink of the eye and winking stars.” Letter to Alan Harrington (23 April 1949) published in Kerouac: Selected Letters: Volume 1 1940-1956 (1996)
4. “All of life is a foreign country.” Letter to John Clellon Holmes (24 June 1949), published in The Beat Vision: A Primary Sourcebook (1987) edited by Arthur Knight and Kit Knight, page 93
5. “Believe in the holy contour of life” Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials in a letter to Don Allen (1958); published in Heaven & Other Poems (1977)
6. “Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and laugh.” Big Sur (1962)
7. “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials in a letter to Don Allen (1958); published in Heaven & Other Poems (1977)
8. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” Some of the Dharma (1997)
9. “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.” The Dharma Bums (1958)
On Financial Matters:
10. “Everything belongs to me because I am poor.” Visions Of Cody (1973) and The Beginning Of Bop (1959)