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The Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac

...see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway...all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ‘em Zen lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.
— Kerouac's rucksack revolution

Kerouac’s hagiography of Gary Snyder. For some reason I found this far easier to read & more enjoyable than On The Road. Both are explications of the rucksack revolution, a rearticulation of dharma practice in the dirty dusty streets of the American counterculture.

I once asked my Dad why all the Beat Generation figures were so fucked up, emotionally, physically, morally. He responded:

“Well, you can’t be on the frontlines of a war without getting wounded.”

That’s where I stand with the Beats. They weren’t exemplars of conduct, but they were exactly what the culture needed. Devoted, intrepid humans on the frontlines of a cultural revolution, a reclaiming and revalorizing the sovereignty of consciousness.

“…colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies [Gary Snyders] of the world go prowling into the wilderness to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, to find the ecstasy of the stars, to find the dark mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization.”