Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jack Kerouac's Girlfriend Interviewed at the Kerouac House

In 2010 one of Jack Kerouac's girlfriends, Joyce Johnson, visited the small College Park Cottage where Jack wrote "The Dharma Bums." Jack and his mother rented the back rooms in those days. "Listen Joyce," he wrote from Orlando to his girlfriend in New York City on a winter day in 1957. He had big news. He was tearing along on a new novel, "greater than 'On the Road'." he wrote. It would be called The Dharma Bums, and he described gazing up at the stars over Florida for inspiration about how to wrap it up. Joyce recalled, "I thought I'd never met anyone who'd lived with more absolute freedom … A need to keep moving, as if whenever he stayed anywhere too long, he exhausted the present by soaking it in too intensely."

Several college students were filming a documentary about the legendary "Beat Generation" author. David Amram, a musician who also knew Jack was there to be interviewed as well. "Jack had a kindness and devotion to writing." Amram explained. "He was always listening and watching like a great reporter. He was always writing epiphanies and inner feelings." "By your words ye shall be known." Yet for many Kerouac remains an enigma. Local news journalist and writer Bob Kieling has researched Kerouac for years, while writing about Kerouac's Orlando connection. New material always surfaces. While in Orlando, "On the Road" was published and suddenly Kerouac was famous. Kerouac's life spun out of control and he drank himself to death in 1969 at the age of 47. "How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy. To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life." wrote Walter Pater. The key of course is to not burn out.

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