Tuesday, March 3, 2009

50th Post: Tuesdays with Memento Mori

"A great verdant jungle valley with long fields of green crops opened before me. Groups of men watched us pass from a narrow old-fashioned bridge. The hot river flowed. Then we rose in altitude till a kind of desert country began reappearing. The city of Gregoria was ahead. The boys were sleeping, and I was alone in my eternity at the wheel, and the road ran straight as an arrow. Not like driving across Carolina, or Texas, or Arizona, or Illinois; but like driving across the world and into the places where we would finally learn ourselves among the Fellahin Indians of the world, the essential strain of the basic primitive, wailing humanity that stretches in a belt around the equatorial belly of the world from Malaya (the long fingernail of China) to India the great subcontinent to Arabia to Morocco to the selfsame deserts and jungles of Mexico and over the waves to Polynesia to mystic Siam of the Yellow Robe and on around, on around, so that you hear the same mournful wail by the rotted walls of Cádiz, Spain, that you hear 12,000 miles around in the depths of Benares the Capital of the World. These people were unmistakably Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly civilized American lore--they had high cheekbones, and slanted eyes, and soft ways; they were not fools, they were not clowns; they were great, grave Indians and they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it. The waves are Chinese, but the earth is an Indian thing. As essential as rocks in the desert are they in the desert of "history." And they knew this when we passed, ostensibly self-important moneybag Americans on a lark in their land; they knew who was the father and who was the son of antique life on earth, and made no comment. For when destruction comes to the world of "history" and the Apocalypse of the Fellahin returns once more as so many times before, people will still stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as the caves of Bali, where it all began and where Adam was suckled and taught to know."

-The defining paragraph in On the Road


  1. FIRST!

    Rousseau did it!

    All ur dreamtime belong to us


  2. Curiously, and I didn't realize this until I went back to type this up, my own way of describing places in my writing is startlingly like Mr. Kerouac's. Perhaps this is why I liked the quote. It is excessively dramatic, with an intimate awareness of the sheer length of history.

  3. I meant to mention this when you quoted On The Road before, but "tea" is/was slang for marijuana. I wasn't aware if you knew.

  4. I will take you on a stravation induced adventure to find you animal spirit