Archive for American Dream

Visions of Me, Reading Visions of Cody

“Ah the mad hearts of all of us.” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

I have ran through many places, many times, worn many faces, I have started, stopped, and restarted time on several occasions, all in the daunting task of completing a read-through of Visions of Cody. At times, the days were cold and sent shudders to the very marrow of my bones, other times, the sun scorched my neck, reminding me of nature’s raw beautiful power and its indifference to my speck of functioning in the world. Jack Kerouac is my ultimate muse author, and having read nearly two dozen of his books, I still was not ready for the wild, free-flowing, at times seemingly disjointed and nonsensical writings that make up Visions of Cody, or at least I was not at first, second, or even third try. Visions of Cody, in all its 400 plus pages of spontaneous (I mean really meandering and spontaneous) prose, is a moment in my life, an accomplished feeling of having experienced an admired writer’s most experimental and complex piece. And in the end, I am better for it.

So what is this piece I am writing now? Well, it is not so much a book review, as it is a momentary snapshot glimpse view back into my experiences with Visions of Cody…my visions of me, reading Visions of Cody.

The first two sections, and approximately one-hundred pages, visually resemble the original scroll version of On the Road, long blocks of small type-font, with little room for paragraph breaks, a true stream of consciousness, and spontaneous prose tale. I was hooked right away. I went into the book knowing of its legendary (in a hip underground beat sort of way) reputation, but was still left in amazement by the hyper-stream of consciousness, and the beautifully, and often tragic, acute attention to detail, so much detail for even the most mundane of situations, that painted vivid imagery in my mind, transporting me back to this bygone era of America. Consider this, there is probably an easy one and a half, to two pages wholly dedicated to describing a countertop and chairs in a skid-row diner. This is part of what Visions of Cody did, it brought you so close to what would in any other situation be considered the dull and mundane, and transformed it into a passionate and somber look back at Americana, as it once existed from coast to coast.

“I can’t think of anybody…who knows the sum and substance of what I know and feel and cry about in my secret self all the time when I don’t feel strong, the sorrows of time and personality, and can therefore on all levels make it all the way with me” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

The next two sections, and nearly two-hundred pages,  of Visions of Cody goes even further down the experimental and avant-garde rabbit hole of writing,  transcribing, word for word, a series of tape recordings between Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and other various Beats. It needs to be noted that these recordings are painstakingly random, at times incoherent, confusing, and are the result of much intoxication by all involved. It is in this stage of the book, that I am conflicted, torn between my love for self-expression, spontaneity, the “out there”, avant-garde, and the generally askew from the norm, torn between all this, and my ultimate takeaway, that while the intent of transcribing tape recordings of people in true naked conversations is bold and exciting (in theory), the end result is disjointed (and not in a good way) and lacking in true Kerouac storytelling depth. It lacked heart.

Countless cups of coffee, seasons of the year, and a kaleidoscope of people, places, and things came and went in my life as I read this book- my ever-present companion, Visions of Cody. There was some sort of bayou hoodoo spell conjured up within the pages of Visions, for each time I read a segment, my mind raced with intrigue, icons, lost visions, teleportation, and a heart-warming fondness for the less than glamorous side of America, the hard-working, the down-trodden, the people who will not show up on any billboards, wont star in a Hollywood movie, and would not even make a footnote in their local paper. This is the true America, the one Jack Kerouac saw disappearing, that he thought worth saving, the Americana of the blues, of railroad yards, late nights in bars, road trips across the country, a seemingly simpler time that was fading fast. This is just as poignant today as it was then, that is the beauty of Jack’s writing.

The remaining pages of Visions of Cody continues in the stream in which the book started, forgoing the tape recordings, and holds some of the most powerful and beautiful sections of prose I have ever read. I am not one for hero-worship, but I will say that there are some brilliant flashes of storytelling tangled within the stream of consciousness behemoth that is Visions of Cody.

In the end, Visions of Cody made me feel accomplished, rewarded for having made it through. It also left me inspired, inspired to continue writing, seeking adventure, living life on my own terms, and focusing on the little things in life, for they are what make up our memories (stories) we take with us forever. Perhaps, even more than any of those takeaways, Visions of Cody showed me a new level of pride in America (Americana), in the simple hard-working truth of the nation, and the unmolested beauty that still remains down every back-road, if we are just willing to let go, travel, and see what we have flown by blinded for too long, and for that, I am grateful that Visions of Cody is here.

“…the great black bird broods outside my window in the high dark night waiting to enfold me when I leave the house tomorrow only I’m going to dodge it successfully by sheer animalism and ability and even exhilaration, so goodnight” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

My True Path

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Upcoming…

  • Life Change
  • True-Self
  • American Dream
  • Your Own Path

Author’s Note…

  • I wrote this piece just a couple of months ago when I had just started considering that I would make a push for writing. It is very self-reflective, somber at points, yet hopeful and aspirational. In that moment, it was being as real as I could with myself on where I was at. I hope in reading this, you take something away for your own life and your own path.

 

I have come to terms recently that I am a disappointment to myself in life, sounds very harsh I know, and your first instinct is probably to say “oh no Scott…don’t talk like that…it’s not true…your great…look at all that you have…look at all that you have accomplished…” But it is true, I am a disappointment to myself. But, if you were thinking what I assume you would have said, you are also right. I do have a great life and so much to be happy and grateful for. I have my health, great family, friends, an amazing wife and son, I had a great paying job (one benefit), and more material possessions, beyond more than anyone truly needs. I have all these things and I have happiness in my life with my wife Laura, my son, and in an overall general sense- I am happy- but in another, primordial, base-level, cerebral, true-self sense, I am miserable, I am lost in my current path, and have great regret, disappointment and depression with myself. I have an immeasurable hole in my being for not having fully realized my true-self, my true-form as a writer, an artist. I could blame a lot of people and a lot of things, but fuck that, take a stand you sniveling sniff, it is on you (me)- I did this- I allowed this to happen- I bypassed a path as an artist, and went the expected route, the preferred way, the safe path, the “successful” mode of living- aren’t you all so proud of me? Outwardly making a nice tidy in-the-box living and life- nice house, good neighborhood, comfy high-paying corporate job- all I needed was the white picket fence. Smile Scott, smile for them, they all need to fakely believe you are happy, you have made it, look at you go.

We trade in our true-selfs for an existence of conformity and quiet despair. Very few finding themselves and even fewer having found themselves and then making it their truth, their daily existence.

The mainstream American society does not promote truth-seekers, the American dream is a facade, a sham, dreamt up by charlatans and spoon fed down our throats- the American dream means fitting a mold, sacrificing freedom, expression, individuality and truth-seeking in order to fall in line, get the job, get the house, get the family, get the happiness?

{insert hardcore public backlash here}

Before I am labeled a commie, or a blasphemous hater of all things good, pure and right in the world, I should say that I believe there is a true American dream, one hidden to the everyday eye, not known, not seen by any beyond a select few- There is an American (really a life) dream…it is at the core of us all and what I believe the American dream was meant to be before it was manipulated, perversely raped, and tossed aside to rot and transform into the ugly creation it is today. The seers of history knew it, a way to find happiness, to find truth, to find a pure path meant for each of us. It includes nothing of the American dream spoken about today- it is uttered throughout the ages by mystics, shamans and prophets. It is on the cuff of adventure seekers and spiritual lighthouses, a clear devotion and unapologetic pursuit of their (our) truth, a life uncompromised by anything and focused on pursuit of life. It is different for each of us, but the modal delivery remains unchanged at its core- pure unmolested unapologetic devotion to the path.

I know this.

I need this.

I am this.

I am.

I.

.

Looking Back…

  • There is a path for each of us
  • That path may be difficult at times
  • Each of our paths share a commonality at their true core