Friday, August 16, 2013

Genius in a hurry

Jack Kerouac had a native genius for language that I think was, tragically, obscured by the writer's urge to embrace experience in a hurry. In a hurry he was, influenced by both the elusive notion of Zen to be in the moment (or better, be the moment) and the zipping virtuosity of Charlie Parker and Bud Powell's jazz improvisations. 

Up tempo, crazy fast, instant configurations of genius adding up to a pulsing , nerve rattling kind of genius, these elements inspired Kerouac, but even at these speeds his heroes, both musicians, writers and even Zen masters, were required to take their time and learn the dictates of their disciplines; Parker's or Coltrane's or James' fluidity and near perfection of instant creation are the result of endless hours of practice and learning to go beyond one's habit of relying on easy conclusions, tired tropes or fussy, pretentious, hyperventilated phrase making and considering the sound, the effect, the expressiveness of the words their putting together. 


One learns, hopefully, to be elegant, poetic and original with alacrity. Jack Kerouac could indeed be moving and genuinely beautiful in what he wrote, but these moments are exceptions--there is such a need in virtually all his work to make experience more vivid, more real with overwriting that

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