han shan understood isolation and emptiness. he sought it out. same with kerouac on desolation peak. but when jack descended from the mountain he was irreparably broken by loneliness. the kind of loneliness that hanshan was looking for beyond the red dust. the sombre and silent roar of an empty forest and the wisps of smoke curling upwards from the pipe. some of us seek refuge in the simplicity, the elimination of all concerns and appreciation for the splendour of even the most simple of things. the frog in the pond. the seasonal effects on grass, han shan watched as an old man, sometimes drunk on plum wine and sometimes just simply alone. at the time, this would have been the mad man’s edge, the forced exile of the drunkards and mystics who see through the 3 dimensional illusions. holden caulfield’s hatred of the “phoniness” of the world was something all the kids could dig. jack was pushing 30 before he even hit the road. some of us never face the demons head on and win, some of us never come back from the inescapable desolation of realizing there is no escaping the self. even at the end of the universe, who is there to see it go out? “just keep floating downstream” said leary, yeah, like there’s anything else you can do. life’s a series of visceral traumas punctuated by breathtaking moments of wonder. the child is able to see this innocent newness…but check out what happens if you leave a kid alone. we get unbearably depressed and die. ennui? the state of the human condition. you can’t run from cold mountain because there’s nowhere else to run to.
surrounded. so many opinions and statements dressed up as facts. hard to find a fact in a barrel of fish. i hear jack now. i hear his voice in my head telling me how to spit out these lines. i think about how much better of a typist he must have been or at least he must have typed much more slowly and methodically. the scroll he threw down in 3 weeks of getting the road out of his head. i wonder if he looked at the keys. charlie parker and thelonius monk, they never looked at their own hands when they were sliding their fingers over the notes. jack you died before jazz got too electric. jazz reflects the nightclubs and the boozecans it came from. soaked in alcohol and smoke, drugs and sex, sweat and laughter. no-one gets it anymore, jazz is not cool at all. jack would have been agape here, looking at what passes for music the muse he sought as the means by which he wrote the tune in is head. a perfect meditation on the beat, the refrain that is always leading itself back to the main train, and it’s the way that an improvisation can suddenly take a turn out further past the known and still return back to the fold. people who dig jazz now are squares. it’s not cool to be too intelligent. the rebels say fuck everyone, but not you jack. you were mad for the ones who were mad to be saved and never said anything dull right? now everything is dull, it’s an ad already made. the poetry of today is a stream of product names and recycled sripts from the sitcoms and reality shows. it aint jazz.
these are observations jack. they are my cynical ones. the world is always getting better in some ways. trust me jack there’s some modern conveniences that would have made your stay on desolation peak that much more bearable. you went crazy with the facing of true emptiness. the solipsism that can swallow you whole and spit out a darkened shadow with no will to continue. imagine if you had an iphone. would you have been tapping away at it tweeting whatever thought came into your head? don’t you see this world has gone fully cassady. everyone is a non stop stream of psycho babble. the golden eternity has arrived on time, and everyone is connected. everyone wants to be driving the bus. sal, you were the hero. in the effort to pay attention to what this all meant, to see where the train went off the tracks and pinned neal himself to the ties. he could never write it down, the mythical book. the search for the father that was the premise for the whole journey jack, now that everyone wants to be that carefree hedonistic person on the search for kicks…the world you retreated from even then was weighted too heavily for a pure heart. all the geniuses get tortured by the demons and the apparitions of the untamed mind. the diversions from emptiness have created an unspeakable fullness. sal i can see your facebook status updates from desolation peak “day 43. i’m officially way past jesus’ record for isolation” or “OMG it’s quiet here”. you’d never say something dull so what place would you have on the social media fields? how ironic that the type of culture you ran away to isolation from, was nothing compared to the behemoth of illusions that swirls through your body as wireless data. if you’d done that fire lookout job now, you’d be required to be sending daily emails of your findings. you’d be able to watch movies. would you have been distracted? the will would have been to avoid using the net. there’s almost no way you can get that far away from yourself these days. some facet of yourself is emailing you . if you look away from it, you might miss something happening.
jack, i can’t hear you anymore, so i’ve turned off the music and let the silence of the moment speak to this. some days i realize i have not left this little apartment in days, but i’ve been more connected with more people than it would have been possible to dream of back in 68. ’69 man you died, a bit after cassady, and the world just kept on turning. of course. before you, there was nothing shaking up the starched wonder of the american dream. we had james dean, the causeless rebel. the catcher in the rye, teenage disillusionment with the illusory world of comfort. look how far we’ve come jack, sal, muse for the moment, look at what the questioning of these ideals has become. the dead students in ohio, man shit got serious real fast. You were Catholic and conservative in some ways. a buddhist and a believer. asceticism got hard for you once they wanted you for interviews and signings and yeah man you were the first media exploited writer. you were the first one they mass produced and used to water down the very message that that your whole life’s work seemed aimed at illuminating. this is the paradox that has haunted us ever since. maybe people have always been doing it in some way. they sold the dream back to us once the dream had changed. you were a rockstar before rockstars. neal followed this path to its ends, but you jumped out of the spotlight and tried to forget how much this irony, this paradox, this holy conundrum was your fate. desolation peak showed that you can never run from yourself. being surrounded by people didn’t work for you either. after everyone wants a piece of you. is that worse than no-one wanting any of you at all? after awhile you looked at what it even meant to write. what were you doing? the vanity of the hall of mirrors cracking as everyone stepped up to profess their poetic prowess. all the hungry ghosts in the unchecked head. legions of us came after you, seeing these illusions from a young age. reading your books, that you wrote when you were in your 30’s when we were 14. your revelations of the emptiness of the apple pie were repackaged into so many new formats, that it became a cult of the individual. It wasn’t about keeping up with the jones’ it became the iGeneration, the me meme, the build your own golden eternity myth. and here we are jack. i’m glad i tuned in to hear you for a minute and let you know how we’re doing since you left. i’m sure you check in now and again like the boddhisattva you truly were. maybe if you reincarnate it will be when jazz is back, and people get it.