Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Street Dharma

Before sainthood, in the Catholic Church, certain attestations must occur, stages be met.  Beatification is one such stage.  

And it's that term, picked up by the poet/novelist Jack Kerouac, himself descended from French/Canadian Catholic 'stock', that became applied to the kind of writing he did, and the kind of surprising glory he wished others to witness in the outsiders about whom he wrote.

The 'outside', for his time, were those worn thin by a major economic depression and a horrendous world war, and in particular people in urban centers, not a few of whom were of African descent, the very people who were vibrating with jazz and a sense that it was time to come 'inside'.

Many who now try to imitate his spontaneity don't do it well.

Many who dismiss his art would do well to note the seriousness and even religiosity embedded in his wildness.

He died poorly.  He lived sincerely.



  1. What a delight to hear Kerouac read
    His halting style makes the words open wider
    Among the books I am currently reading- that I picked up for $1 at the library- is, On the Road
    terrific timing Truly

  2. Even if i didn' read any writing from him, i like your apology,it's often needless to compare, but what you say make me think to Henry Miller who used to praise up the unknown heroes of a recent past, but without the sens of sacred.

  3. Suz,

    My friend and I read Kerouac in high school -- not part of the curriculum! We were 'dharma bums' in our attitude. On The Road is a classic. Well worth the buck. Enjoy!


  4. Isabelle,

    Henry Miller is difficult to teach in this country -- a nation known for its Puritanical revulsion to sex.

    I was prepared for a barrage of near-pornographic writing, but what I found in Tropic of Cancer was something like Huckleberry Finn! Most of the book concentrates on how hungry he is!

    Not that he avoids sex -- by no means. But he handles it 'naturalistically' and with humor. You're exactly right: he doesn't see it as a sacred cow to remain untouched. The world should be eaten.


  5. Tess,

    I agree. His was an auditory genius. His sense of phrasing we can hear from this clip. There's a great collection with him reading his work to jazz riffs played by Zoot Sims.

    Wow. Dig!