Saturday, September 05, 2015

Kerouac: Visions of Cody

Visions of Cody
Lately, I've been devouring Visions of Cody, Jack Kerouac's searing, bubbling, brilliant portrait of Neal Cassady (written in 1951 and 1952), one of the most amazing English prose works of the last 100 years; and I thought it might be worth sharing a paragraph from it. Try reading the words aloud to extract the bleakmarrow fullness:
In Pueblo, Colorado in the middle of the winter Cody sat in a lunchcart at three o'clock in the morning in the middle of the poor unhappy thing it is to be wanted by the police in America or at least in the night (slapping dime down on counter like killing a fly with hand)—America, the word, the sound is the sound of my unhappiness, the pronunciation of my beat and stupid grief—my happiness has no such name as America, it has a more personal smaller more tittering secret name—America is being wanted by the police, pursued across Kentucky and Ohio, sleeping with the stockyard rats and howling tin shingles of gloomy hideaway silos, is the picture of an axe in True Detective Magazine, is the impersonal nighttime at crossings and junctions where everybody looks both ways, four ways, nobody cares—America is where you're not even allowed to cry for yourself—It's where Greeks try hard to be accepted and sometimes they're Maltese or from Cyprus—America is what laid on Cody Pomeray's soul the onus and the stigma—that in the form of a big plainclothesman beat the shit out of him in a backroom till he talked about something which isn't even important any more—America (TEENAGE DOPE SEX CAR RING!!) is also the red neon and the thighs in the cheap motel—it's where at night the staggering drunks begin to appear like cockroaches when the bars close—It is where people, people, people are weeping and chewing their lips in bars as well as lone beds and masturbating in a million ways in every hiding hole you can find in the dark—It has evil roads behind gas tanks where murderous dogs snarl from behind wire fences and cruisers suddenly leap out like getaway cars but from a crime more secret, more baneful than words can tell—It is where Cody Pomeray learned that people aren't good, they want to be bad—where he learned they want to cringe and beat, and snarl is the name of their lovemaking—America made bones of a young boy's face and took dark paints and made hollows around his eyes, and made his cheeks sink in pallid paste and grew furrows on a marble front and transformed the eager wishfulness into the thicklipped silent wisdom of saying nothing, not even to yourself in the middle of the goddamn night—the click of coffee saucers in the poor poor night—Someone's gurgling work at a lunchcart dishpan (in bleakbowl Colorado voids for nothing)—Ah and nobody cares but the heart in the middle of US that will reappear when the salesmen all die. America's a lonely crockashit.
—Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody