Herman Melville

IdleRich

IdleRich
Electric Kool Aid Acid Test is a funny one cos at first it feels like he's idolising these people and then it starts to hit you that he's just showing you how they act and is maybe not that impressed. Or that's how I remember it.
 

suspended

Well-known member
There is a film of On The Road where they do just come across as absolute wankers - I'm not sure it was a deliberate take though, I just think that all but the very blind can't help but see those people that way.
But in lukewarm defence of the book, I do totally agree with whoever said "That's not writing, it's typing" cos it pretty much was that and that's its strength and weakness. Strength in that as a blast of over-excited speed addled typing done in a single session (or whatever) it has a naive power to get that across albeit one over impressed with itself. But yeah that kind of writing will never have depth or nuance. And, as soon as you pause to think, hang on, what about the others involved and who are actually real people, not just background characters in the Dean Moriarty Show - as soon as that occurs to you then it's done.
It's true the form is probably the most interesting part
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Yeah he just kinda blasts through it. What else is there before that written so... fast, such a splurge of excitement? You might mention Bukowski but same issues apply. But yeah I think he was genuinely excited pouring it all out and for a while it can be infectious if you don't pause to consider what he's excited about - which you may not as the whole style is (or may as well have been) designed to prevent precisely that.
 

william_kent

Well-known member
Me and a friend had an interesting double bill a few years ago

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Magic Trip: A bunch of entitled wankers ( Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters ) take a load of CIA drugs while some fucking speed freak ( Neal Cassidy ) dining out on his association with mummy's boy Kerouac prattles away at the wheel of a clapped out school bus

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Black Power Mix Tape: Real people struggle with real issues

Same time, same country, different worlds

The contrast was striking....
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
I notice that Cassidy died young... what happened to him after his brief moment in the spotlight? Was it the lifestyle that killed him?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I just looked it up, seems he took loads of barbiturates and passed out by a train track and died in hospital a few days later, exact cause of death unknown.
 

william_kent

Well-known member
I just looked it up, seems he took loads of barbiturates and passed out by a train track and died in hospital a few days later, exact cause of death unknown.

Obviously the amphetamines have fucked up my recollection of events... in my world he still gets splattered by a train...it's what he deserves...
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
It's odd though that comparing Burroughs to the above crowd; he also lived a lifestyle that could be described as selfish (and basically fatal for his immediate family) and equally made it the centre of his books - yet somehow I don't feel the same dislike. Maybe cos a) his writing had a lot more to it b) maybe cos he was more aware and less self-aggrandising c) maybe just cos I'm a hypocrite.
Probably c.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
He was twice imprisoned for mutiny and twice escaped with someone. Apparently he also ended up marooned on an island of 'cannibals' for a month. I think that stuff happened in his early 20s though.
Reminds me of Blaise Cendars whom I was reading recently...
Blaise Cendrars - or the "son of Homer" as John Dos Passos called him - is himself a strange kind of fiction: born in La Chaux-de-Fonds of a Scottish mother and Swiss father, he claimed that he left home aged 15 to work in Russia during the revolution of 1905. He was a bee-keeper, a film maker, a chef, a picture-house pianist, a watchmaker, and a traveller with drunken gypsies. He spent the first world war fighting with the French foreign legion, where he lost his arm in combat, became an art critic, befriended Picasso, sailed the seven seas, shovelled coal in China, amassed and lost huge fortunes and had his own gossip column in a Hollywood newspaper.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I really like Simon Raven as an author too... seemingly a bit of an arsehole to say the least. But I think that part of the appeal with him is the way a kind of viciousness percolates through to the page.

Author biography:

Simon Raven was born in London in 1927 and educated at Charterhouse, from which he was expelled in 1945 for homosexual conduct (though it was not his first sexual encounter: he boasted of having been seduced at age nine by the games master, an experience he said gave “immediate and unalloyed pleasure”). He then performed his national service in the Army until 1948, at which point he enrolled at King’s College, Cambridge, to study Classics. In 1951 he married Susan Kilner after having gotten her pregnant. After the marriage he avoided her and infamously responded to her desperate telegram “Wife and baby starving send money soonest” with the message “Sorry no money, suggest eat baby”. The couple divorced in 1957. After leaving King’s College, Raven secured an army commission, serving in Germany and Kenya before being forced to resign (in lieu of court-martial) over his mounting gambling debts. He then managed to eke out a living in journalism until he met the young publisher Anthony Blond, who believed in Raven’s writing talent and offered to subsidize him while he wrote his first novel, The Feathers of Death (1959), on condition that he leave London and its temptations. His relationship with Blond was a fruitful one
 

william_kent

Well-known member
It's odd though that comparing Burroughs to the above crowd; he also lived a lifestyle that could be described as selfish (and basically fatal for his immediate family) and equally made it the centre of his books - yet somehow I don't feel the same dislike. Maybe cos a) his writing had a lot more to it b) maybe cos he was more aware and less self-aggrandising c) maybe just cos I'm a hypocrite.
Probably c.

I think it is maybe because his writing is so good? His "William Tell" act didn't end so well, but he had some great ideas and I love his novels so I'm prepared to ignore some of the less savoury aspects of his life..
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I think it is maybe because his writing is so good? His "William Tell" act didn't end so well, but he had some great ideas and I love his novels so I'm prepared to ignore some of the less savoury aspects of his life..
I suppose so... in terms of writing there is no real comparison between Burroughs and Kerouac.
Did you ever read Jesus Son by Dennis Johnson? I always think of it as what Bukowski would be like if he was a million times better at actually, you know, writing.
 

william_kent

Well-known member
I suppose so... in terms of writing there is no real comparison between Burroughs and Kerouac.
Did you ever read Jesus Son by Dennis Johnson? I always think of it as what Bukowski would be like if he was a million times better at actually, you know, writing.

No, but thanks for the tip - it looks like the sort of thing I'd enjoy reading. I'm a sucker for low life sleaze... anyway, I've paid amazon for it now...

I could never get into Bukowski, it's like being cornered by some whiskey breathed bore...
 

william_kent

Well-known member
I sort of place Burroughs in the same space as Miles Davis - I love what Miles did musically in the 70s, but as a person he might be considered a bit "problematic" with his violence towards women, etc., but the music is so good I will jump through mental hoops to ignore that...
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
No, but thanks for the tip - it looks like the sort of thing I'd enjoy reading. I'm a sucker for low life sleaze... anyway, I've paid amazon for it now...

I could never get into Bukowski, it's like being cornered by some whiskey breathed bore...
I loved it. And I too am fairly agnostic as regards Bukowski. I do hope you enjoy it.anyhow, let me know your thoughts, it will only take a day to read.
music is so good I will jump through mental hoops to ignore that...
I think that as a rule I'm happy (or at least willing) to separate art and artist. So my starting position is that a situation like yours with regard to Miles is generally fine.
But just specifically with the Beats above I was saying that that separation thing doesn't work for Kerouac cos his art is based so much around his (unappealing) life... and yet you could say the same about Burroughs so why don't I make that same argument?
 

william_kent

Well-known member
I loved it. And I too am fairly agnostic as regards Bukowski. I do hope you enjoy it.anyhow, let me know your thoughts, it will only take a day to read.

I think that as a rule I'm happy (or at least willing) to separate art and artist. So my starting position is that a situation like yours with regard to Miles is generally fine.
But just specifically with the Beats above I was saying that that separation thing doesn't work for Kerouac cos his art is based so much around his (unappealing) life... and yet you could say the same about Burroughs so why don't I make that same argument?
Maybe because Burroughs was a literary genius? .. but if Bill had ever visited my flat I'm sure I would have kept an eye on him, wouldn't want him pocketing valuables to trade for smack..although he was a trust fund kid so that probably wouldn't have been an issue... and objectively he was a creep - the whole "Yage Letters" episode is a case in point..obsessing about a young lad to the level of stalking ( also documented in "Queer" ).. then the issue of the underage boys he'd pay for sex in Morocco.. also some of his best ideas were filched from Brion Gysin.. but still he seems to rise above all that...and he did love cats as documented in "The Cat Inside" which effectively gives him a pass from me...

Compared to him the rest of the Beats strike me as a sorry bunch - pederast Allen Ginsberg, the one hit wonder of poetry, Gregory Corso, a toothless wonder dealing smack out of the Chelsea Hotel. As Patti Smith recounts, 'I first encountered Gregory long ago in front of the Chelsea Hotel. He lifted his overcoat and dropped his trousers, spewing Latin expletives. Seeing my astonished face, he laughed and said, “I’m not mooning you sweetheart, I’m mooning the world.” ' What a dick...
 

william_kent

Well-known member
I've found that sometimes it is best not to know any biographical details of people whose work you admire... I remember reading a biography of Samuel Beckett and there was a passage about how he bought a pair of shoes that were the same make and size as James Joyce wore - even though he was a couple of sizes larger he still bought them.. and thus he become a Joyce fanboy... how disappointing..
 
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