“Go moan for man. It’s the pathos of people that gets us down. All the lovers in this dream.”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Moan Moan! I came across this beautiful list of Jack Kerouac‘s “Spontaneous Prose Method” this past summer during Naropa University’s 50th anniversary Kerouac celebration. This special week of the annual “Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics” celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of On the Road. The actual release date of this book, which no one would publish (I know that feeling), was in fact this week.
The following list is wonderful – not just if you are a writer, but if you are alive and noticing. Kerouac was part of the Beatnik Trinity that served as the structure of my creative perceptions – Beat Poets, Dharma and Jazz.
My parents were pretty hardcore hipsters – okay, no “pretty” about it. As my mom read “Mediation in Action, ”
like every early Trungpa student, my dad blew his horn, creating noises only a special few really understood, and Ferlingetti books were strewn about. (“Coney Island of the Mind was one of the first book titles I remember knowing by name. Not a lot of other New Jersey 5th graders were familiar with this one at age 10).
So this list is sort of like a fortune cookie. Whether or not you think it worked for Jack, that’s up to you. For me it’s a lot like the Buddhist practice of Lojong – a series of pithy slogans reminding one how to focus one’s mind and actions. Try picking a point, and see how that point might be borne out during one day of your life. Today I pick no. 4, “Be in Love with Your Life.” And for this day, I will also quietly add my own no. 4a. “and hand painted kid mohair.” Dig?
Spontaneous Prose method, the most concise would be Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, a list of thirty “essentials” by Jack Kerouac
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
4. Be in love with your life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yrself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
PS – Still getting references every day from the search terms “Naked Knitting.” I love it!