And since I’m on a bit of a deep dive into Buddhist philosophy of late I decided to revisit this old classic to see if it still holds up to my long-ago memory of it.
Reading it again after so many years the book takes on an entirely new perspective. It is still lyrical and poetic, yes, but the mystery is not mysterious anymore. I have learned much over the years and the references (most of which anyway) I understand and I can put my own knowledge and experience onto the story and the characters. Their conversations about the various sutras, and comparing Zen to jazz, and all the other tidbits of dharma that Kerouac was dropping no longer seem strange, but rather familiar concepts that add a new dimension to the travels and tribulations of the characters.
The novel also brings back waves of nostalgia that wash over me like a Charlie Parker solo that rattles my old bones and makes me long for the whistle of the train and the rumble of the road, the smell of stale beer and cigarettes, eating hot dogs cooked on an open fire with a switch pulled from an old pine in the woods near the ocean with a girl I hardly know, we met at the truck stop a ways back on Route 1, I think her name is Sally or maybe Sue, but she dances like a whirlwind in the moonlight on the beach and makes me dream of all the things I could be, but never will be…
So that’s neat.