Slice one apple, one carrot, and a centimetre or two of ginger, throw into half a litre of water with the juice of one lemon and blend until liquid. Add ice or a scant handful of oats before you blend if you like. Drink. Gain life. Start reading.
Astrolab wants to be “the UPS or FedEx of the Moon,” and are “building an all-purpose truck that is intended to construct lunar infrastructure and also ferry astronauts around, enabling work that would make long-term settlement on the moon possible…the rover can carry twice the capacity of a Ford F-150 truck bed. The company eventually wants to build a fleet of rovers.” I am of a certain age and background that makes me leery of commercial space enterprise. For me, the exploration of space is the work of collaborating nation-states, and leaving the lives of explorers to the free market seems to me to be an unpleasant throwback to times well past.
It is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Jack Kerouac. I read his entire available oeuvre by the time I was sixteen, which was either the best or worst time to experience his work. It is “of its time” in many ways, which is the phrase we use to explain away casual sexism, racism and other phobias in things we have otherwise loved. (Even in the eighties, and as a kid, I was shocked at how his celebration of marginalised people could turn on a sixpence into homophobia.) But it also means it’s a document of its time, which in many ways is what Kerouac intended. His own model was Proust, and we go to Proust for memory and place, not for the news. I don’t forgive Kerouac his monstrosity or his probable gynephobia, or the damage he left in his wake – at sixteen, at the end of my Jack Kerouac journey, I read Jan Kerouac’s BABY DRIVER (UK) (US), which makes a lot of that very clear as well as being a great book in its own right — but he liberated American prose and gave me a whole new world to think about. He could be many things, at least in his prime before the drink and the fame. In the year of Jan’s birth, he wrote the genre-bending novel DOCTOR SAX (UK) (US), at the end of which, the eponymous Shadow-like figure, stripped of his trenchcoat and slouch hat and other signifiers of mystery and power, stands in shirtsleeves in the aftermath of the transcendental climax and says;
“I’ll be damned. The universe disposes of its own evil.”
I must admit, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to read Kerouac now. Lots of unpleasant throwbacks to times well past, I would suppose. But he taught me to get the first thought down, and how to have music in the prose.
This was my copy of BABY DRIVER. Remember Jan Kerouac too. Put her back into print.
Going down my own memory hole: Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg fell out towards the end of Kerouac’s life, but Ginsberg had the last word(s),as he found himself writing introductions to at least one Kerouac reprint. I think it was VISIONS OF CODY in which, discussing Kerouac’s “bleak male energy,” he suggests that Kerouac and Neal Cassady (who was bi) should have fucked as “it would have done ’em both some good.” The late-period Kerouac, whose complicated sexuality hardened into weird Catholic conservativism, would probably have shat.