Excerpt from “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac ~~ Back Seat ~~

picture-OnTheRoad-KerouacWe were hot; we were going east; we were excited.

‘Let me tell you more,’ I said, ‘and only as a parenthesis within what you’re saying and to conclude my last thought. As a child lying back in my father’s car in the back seat I also had a vision of myself on a white horse riding alongside over every possible obstacle that presented itself: this included dodging posts, hurling around houses, sometimes jumping over when I looked too late, running over hills, across sudden squares with traffic that I had to dodge through incredibly – ’

‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ breathed Dean ecstatically. ‘Only difference with me was, I myself ran, I had no horse. You were a Eastern kid and dreamed of horses; of course we won’t assume such things as we both know they are really dross and literary ideas, but merely that I in my perhaps wilder schizophrenia actually ran on foot along the car and at incredible speeds sometimes ninety, making it over every bush and fence and farmhouse and sometimes taking quick dashes to the hills and back without losing a moment’s ground . . .’

We were telling these things and both sweating. We had completely forgotten the people up front who had begun to wonder what was going on in the back seat. At one point the driver said, ‘For God’s sake, you’re rocking the boat back there.’ Actually we were; the car was swaying as Dean and I both swayed to the rhythm and the IT of our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank tranced end of all innumerable riotous angelic particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives.

‘Oh, man! man! man!’ moaned Dean. ‘And it’s not even the beginning of it – and now here we are at last going east together, we’ve never gone east together, Sal, think of it, we’ll dig Denver together and see what everybody’s doing although that matters little to us, the point being that we know what IT is and we know TIME and we know that everything is really FINE.’ Then he whispered, clutching my sleeve, sweating, ‘Now you just dig them in front. They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there – and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see. But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won’t be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end. Listen! Listen! “Well now,”’ he mimicked, ‘“I don’t know – maybe we shouldn’t get gas in that station. I read recently in National Petroffious Petroleum News that this kind of gas has a great deal of O-Octane gook in it and someone once told me it even had semi-official high-frequency cock in it, and I don’t know, well I just don’t feel like it anyway . . .” Man, you dig all this.’ He was poking me furiously in the ribs to understand. I tried my wildest best. Bing, bang, it was all Yes! Yes! Yes! in the back seat and the people up front were mopping their brows with fright and wishing they’d never picked us up at the travel bureau. It was only the beginning, too.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac ~~ Back Seat ~~

  1. Jack Kérouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on 12 March 1922, and died on 21 October 1969, aged 47 years. ‘On The Road’ was published in September 1957.

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