Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1955).
Choice quote: “We’ve finally got to heaven. It couldn’t be cooler, it couldn’t be grander, it couldn’t be anything.”
The elves of Middle Earth longed for the sea, even if they didn’t know it. A wood elf might spend his entire eviternal existence without experiencing the longing, but once he did, the yearning hurt. They were meant–programmed, if you’re software inclined; hard-wired, if you’re hardware inclined–for the Undying Lands, and that meant intuitively longing for the sea. And so it is with American elves. Always, everywhere, Americans have loved movement. It didn’t start with Ford. It started with the Erie Canal. Heck, it started with the wagon and shoes. Even our aboriginal predecessors were on the moccasin move, displacing each other from their lands. Perhaps there’s something about America that prompts movement. I mean that literally: There might be a mystic force emanating through from the soil that makes us want to move, or maybe the geography exercises an unknown and odd pull on our psyche. I doubt it, but something is there, and I’m not convinced it’s merely cultural, like all have believed since Tocqueville. It’s more than just cultural, and Dean Moriarty knew it. It’s mystical, whether you subscribe to the odd materialistic mysticism of Lucretius and Santayana, the contemplative mysticism of Gregory Nyssa, the pragmatic mysticism of Theresa Avila, or the Benzedrine mysticism of Jack Kerouac. The Road is a religious pursuit. We might scoff at the motor homes (I do), but no religious pursuit ought be mocked. It’s evidence of the spirit, no matter how crippled.