Quotes by Jack Kerouac
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Jack Kerouac. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Jack Kerouac
Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969), often known as Jack Kerouac, was an American novelist of French Canadian ancestry, who, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, was a pioneer of the Beat Generation.
Raised in a French-speaking home in Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac “learned English at age six and spoke with a marked accent into his late teens.” During World War II, he served in the United States Merchant Marine; he completed his first novel at the time, which was published over forty years after his death. His first published book was The Town and the City, and he achieved widespread fame and notoriety with his second, On the Road, in 1957. It made him a beat icon, who published twelve more novels during his life, and numerous poetry volumes.
Kerouac is recognized for his style of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as his Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements. He has a lasting legacy, greatly influencing many of the cultural icons of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Doors.
In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking. Since then, his literary prestige has grown, and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.
Trails are like that: you're floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and flute boys, then suddenly you're struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak…just like life.
Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.
Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can't fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.
Holding up my purring cat to the moon. I sighed.
Be in love with your life, every detail of it.
All of life is a foreign country.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
My witness is the empty sky.
I really hate to write.
I know who the great poets are.
We had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
To me a mountain is a buddha. think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sittin there bein perfectly perfectly silent and like praying for all living creatures in that silence and just waitin for us to stop all our frettin and foolin.
We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.
Soon it got dusk, a grape dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.
Don't drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.
The truth of the matter is, you die, all you do is die, and yet you live, yes you live, and that's no Harvard lie.
Accept loss forever. Be submissive to everything.
Last night I walked clear down to Times Square and just as I arrived I suddenly realized I was a ghost -- it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk.
True friends won't grow apart even if they don't everyday.
We're a beat generation.
What difference does it make after all? -- anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what's heaven? what's earth? All in the mind.
I'm an idealist
who has outgrown
I have nothing to do
the rest of my life
but do it
and the rest of my life
to do it.
Because I am Beat, I believe in Beatitude and that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to it.
Paradise!' he screamed. 'The one and only indispensable Paradise.
What's Your Road, Man?
The dream is already ended and we're already awake in the golden eternity.
I clearly saw the skeleton underneath all this show of personality what is left of a man and all his pride but bones?
Mankind is like dogs, not gods -- as long as you don't get mad they'll bite you -- but stay mad and you'll never be bitten. Dogs don't respect humility and sorrow.
It's hard to explain and best thing to do is not be false.
In one sense the drinker learns wisdom, in the words of Goethe or Blake or whichever it was The pathway to wisdom lies through excess.
Holy flowers floating in the air, were all these tired faces in the dawn of Jazz America.
I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.
Ordinarily the death of a cat means little to most men, a lot to fewer men, but to me, and that cat, it was exactly and no lie and sincerely like the death of my little brother -- I loved Tyke with all my heart.
Most of the time we were alone and mixing up our souls ever more and ever more till it would be terribly hard to say good-by.
At night I closed my eyes and saw my bones threading the mud of my grave.
Look at that party the other night. Everybody wanted to have a good time and tried real hard but we all woke up the next day feeling sorta sad and separate.
I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that's practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.
Go moan for man. It's the pathos of people that gets us down, all the lovers in this dream.
I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another til I drop.
Details are the Life of Prose.
I suddenly discovered the delight of rebellion.
A sociable smile is nothing but a mouth full of teeth.
For the first time in my life the weather was not something that touched me, that caressed me, froze or sweated me, but became me.
This is a thing which astonishes me no end, but affects you not.
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.
Did I come into this world thru the womb of my mother the earth just so I could talk and write like everybody else?
Dean and I both swayed to the rhythm and the IT of our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank traced end of all innumerable riotous angelic particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives.
Desolation, desolation, I owe so much to desolation.
0 the pain of telling these secrets which are so necessary to tell, or why write or live.
There is a blessedness surely to be believed,
and that is that everything abides in eternal ecstasy, now and forever.
There are worse things than being mad.
It's impossible to fall of mountains you fool!
I'd rather be thin than famous but I'm fat paste that in your broadway show.
The straight line will take you only to death.
You can't fight City Hall. It keeps changing its name.
The blue sky adds Dont call me eternity, call me God if you like, sll of you talkers are in paradise: the leaf is paradise, the tree stump is paradise, the paper bag is paradise, the man is paradise, the sand is paradise, the sea is paradise, the man is paradise, the fog is paradise.
I believe in order, tenderness, and piety.
He had a third martini. He looked at me intently and took hold of my arm. 'Look', he said. 'You're a fish in a pond. It's drying up. You have to mutate into an amphibian, but someone keeps hanging on to you and telling you to stay in the pond, everything's going to be all right.
They were like the man with the dungeon stone and gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining.
Suppose we suddenly wake up and see that what we thought to be this and that, ain't this and that at all?
I feel guilty for being a member of the human race.
It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate's so easy compared.
Fear life but don't die, your alone, everybody's alone, oh Cody Pomeray you can't win you can't lose all is ephemeral all is hurt.
And you have been forever, and will be forever, and all the worrisome smashings of your foot on innocent cupboard doors it was only the Void pretending to be a man pretending not to know the Void.
As I was hiking down the mountain woth my pack I turned and I knelt on the trail and said Thank you, Shack. The I added Blah with a little grin, because I knew that shack and that mountain would know what that meant, and turned and went on down the trail back to this world.
I have all the time in the world from life to life to do what is to do, to do what is done, to do the timeless doing.
I don't wanta hear all your word descriptions of words words words you made up all winter, man I wanta be enlightened by actions.
The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.
Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.
I looked up at the dark sky and prayed to God for a better break in life and a better chance to do something for the little people I loved.
While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light.
Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing.
Are we fallen angels who didn't want to believe that nothing is nothing and so were born to lose our loved ones and dear friends one by one and finally our own life, to see it proved?
I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it.
Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.
Jesus was a strange hobo who walked on water.
I realized either I was crazy or the world was crazy; and I picked on the world. And of course I was right.
One night I realized that when you give people understanding and encouragement a funny little meek childish look abashes their eyes, no matter what they've been doing they weren't sure it was right -- lambies all over the world.
And the stars were icicles of mockery.
It's terrible never to find a father in a world chock-full of fathers of all sorts.
And the story of love is a long sad tale ending in graves.
I'll go to the south of Sicily in the winter, and paint memories of Arles -- I'll buy a piano and Mozart me that -- I'll write long sad tales about people in the legend of my life -- This part is my part of the movie, let's hear yours.
Between incomprehensible and incoherent sits the madhouse. I am not in the madhouse.
The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death. But who wants to die?
And nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old.
Here I was at the end of America...no more land...and nowhere was nowhere to go but back.
In seeking to severely penalize criminals society by putting the criminals away behind safe walls actually provide them with the means of greater strength for future atrocities glorious and otherwise.
It made me think that everything was about to arrive -- the moment when you know all and everything is decided forever.
I'd also gone through an entire year of celibacy based on my feeling that lust was the direct cause of birth which was the direct cause of suffering and death.
That's the story of my life rich or poor and mostly poor and truly poor.
I took a straight picture that made me look like a thirty-year-old Italian who'd kill anybody who said something against his mother.
I'd rather hop freights around the country and cook my food out of tin cans over wood fires, than be rich and have a home or work.
Think what a great world revolution will take place when ... there are millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country.
Don't touch me, I'm full of snakes.
His friends said, Why do you have that ugly thing hanging there? and Bull said, I like it because it's ugly. All his life was in that line.
To the children and the innocent it's all the same.
A man who allows wild passion to arise within, himself burns his heart, then after burning adds the wind that thereto which ignites the fire again, or not, as the case may be.
I was having a wonderful time and the whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.
Who can leap the world's ties and sit with me among white clouds?
I think it's all lovely hallucination but I love it sorta.
Man lowers his head and lunges into civilization, forgetting the days of his infancy when he sought truth in a snowflake or a stick. Man forgets the wisdom of the child.
Because I cannot write my native language and have no native home anymore, and am amazed by that horrible homelessness of all French-Canadian s abroad in America.
Man, wow, there's so many things to do, so many things to write! How to even begin to get it all down and without modified restraints and all hung-up on like literary inhibitions and grammatical fears.
In fact I realized I had no guts anyway, which I've long known. but I have joy.
Parade my trouble in front of you guys? Make you realize that my heart is broken ... that as long as I live I'll have chains dragging me down to the oceans of sad tears that my feet are wet in already.
Somebody had tipped the American continent like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling to LA in the southwest corner. I cried for all of us. There was no end to the American sadness and the American madness. Someday we'll all start laughing and roll on the ground when we realize how funny it's been.
In my madness I was actually in love with her for the few hours it all lasted; it was the same unmistakable ache and stab across the mind, the same sighs, the same pain, and above all the same reluctance and fear to approach.
I forgave everybody, I gave up, I got drunk.
How clear the realization one is going mad -- the mind has a silence, nothing happens in the physique, urine gathers in your loins, your ribs contract.
I told Terry I was leaving. She had been thinking about it all night and was resigned to it. Emotionlessly she kissed me in the vineyard and walked off down the row. We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.
Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.
Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift... The net result of Naked Lunch will be to make people shudder at their own lies, will be to make them open up and be straight with one another. Swift and Rabelais and Sterne accomplished a step in that direction, and Burroughs another.
He William S Burroughs has no patience for my kind of neurosis, I know... But since then I've been facing my nature full in the face and the result is a purge.
It's pretty amazing to see a guy, while steering at the wheel, suddenly raise his little 300 dollar German camera with one hand and snap something that's on the move in front of him, and through an unwashed windshield at that. (On the road with Robert Frank, 1958).
A fine thing to be talking about angels in this day when common thieves smash the holy rosaries of their victims in the street.
I promise I shall never give up, and that I'll die yelling and laughing, and that until then I'll rush around this world I insist is holy and pull at everyone's lapel and make them confess to me and to all.
Who doesn't feel studious when he doesn't have a girl with a Riviera suntan?
Sixty three sunsets I saw revolve on that perpendicular hill -- mad raging sunsets pouring in sea foams of cloud through unimaginable crags like the crags you grayly drew in pencil as a child, with every rose-tint of hope beyond, making you feel just like them, brilliant and bleak beyond words. -- .
I didn't dictate sections of 'Visions of Cody'. I typed up a segment of taped conversation with Neal Cassady, or Cody, talking about his early adventures in L.A. It's four chapters.
If you tell a true story, you can't be wrong.
And I realize the unbearable anguish of insanity: how uninformed people can be thinking insane people are happy, O God, in fact it was Irwin Garden once warned me not to think the madhouses are full of happy nuts. (p. 200).
Cliches are truisms and all truisms are true.
And I realized no matter what you do it's bound to be a waste of time in the end so you might as well go mad.
It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.
My shoes are clean from walking in the rain.
Is Virgin you trying to
What's your road, man? -- holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where body how?
Everything was everlastingly loose and responsive, it was all everywhere beyond the truth, beyond emptyspace blue. The mountains are mighty patient, Buddha-man, I said out loud, and took a drink.
My lion is fed, I sleep at his side.
Aw I don't wanta go to no such thing, I just wanta drink in alleys.'...
But you'll miss all that, just for some old wine.'
There's wisdom in wine, goddam it!' I yelled. 'Have a shot!
Aw I don't wanta go to no such thing, I just wanta drink in alleys.'...
But you'll miss all that, just for some old wine.'
There's wisdom in wine, goddam it!' I yelled. 'Have a shot!'
Will you love me in December as you do in May?
The more you study, the more you subsequently know; naturally, the more you know, the nearer you get to perfection as a journalist.
Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.
The yard was full of tomato plants about to ripen, and mint, mint, everything smelling of mint, and one fine old tree that I loved to sit under on those cool perfect starry California October nights unmatched anywhere in the world.
I decided someday to become a Thoreau of the Mountains. To live like Jesus and Thoreau, except for women.
I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.
My aunt once said that the world would never find peace until men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness.
It's okay, girl, we'll make it till the sun goes down forever. And until then what you got to lose but the losing? We're fallen angels who didn't believe that nothing means nothing.
Meanwhile the sunsets are mad orange fools raging in the gloom.
But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?
The cowboy music twanged in the roadhouse and carried across the fields, all sadness. It was all right with me. I kissed my baby and we put out the lights.
She brooded and bit her rich lips: my soul began its first sink into her, deep, heady, lost; like drowning in a witches' brew, Keltic, sorcerous, starlike.
I want a blaze of light to flame in me forever in a timeless, dear love of everything. And why should I pretend to want anything else?
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.
Because the only people for me are the mad ones.
The empty blue sky of space says 'All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don't care, it still belongs to me.
At night in this part of the West the stars, as I had seen them in Wyoming, were as big as Roman Candles and as lonely as the Prince who's lost his ancestral home and journeys across the spaces trying to find it again, and knows he never will.
The smog was heavy, my eyes were weeping from it, the sun was hot, the air stank, a regular hell is L.A.
I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets godawful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.
Paris is a woman but London is an independent man puffing his pipe in a pub.
We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco.
It was like the imminent arrival of Gargantuan preparations had to be made to widen the gutters of Denver and foreshorten certain laws to fit his suffering bulk and bursting ecstasies.
Down in Denver, all I did was die.
And there in the blue air I saw for the first time, far off, the great snowy tops of the Rocky Mountains. I had to get to Denver at once.
The air was so sweet in New Orleans it seemed to come in soft bandannas; and you could smell the river and really smell the people, and mud, and molasses, and every kind of tropical exhalation, with your nose suddenly removed from the dry ices of a Northern winter.
I rather like the idea of having all my hours to myself: eating a Fudge Sundae, watching a movie, sleeping on my couch, singing in the bathroom, studying the woods, kidding around with a girl, playing cards lazily -- all kinds of stuff that American brands 'shiftless.'
The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.
I suddenly realized I was in California. Warm, palmy air -- air you can kiss -- and palms.
Dean's California -- wild, sweaty, important, the land of lonely and exiled and eccentric lovers come to forgather like birds, and the land where everybody somehow looked like broken-down, handsome, decadent movie actors.
Why did I allow myself to be bored ever in the past and to compensate for it got high or drunk or rages or all the tricks people have because they want anything but serene understanding of just what there is, which is after all so much.
They spent all week saving pennies and went out Saturdays to spend fifty bucks in three hours.
But I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.
When you've understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can't understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.
So therefore I dedicate myself, to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my suffrances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -- it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
The night is longer than a day for those who dream, and day is longer than night for those who make their dreams comes true.
The road must eventually lead to the whole world.
Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it's that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through -- originality.
Rest and be kind, you don't have to prove anything.
Believe in the holy contour of life.
Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.
I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.
The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.
The only truth is music.
Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.
You can't teach the old maestro a new tune.
It's hard to write haiku. I write long, silly Indian poems.
If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.
I got all my boyhood in vanilla winter waves around the kitchen stove.
I'm not a beatnik. I'm a Catholic.
All my editors since Malcolm Cowley have had instructions to leave my prose exactly as I wrote it. In the days of Malcolm Cowley, with 'On the Road' and 'The Dharma Bums', I had no power to stand by my style for better or for worse.
All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land.
I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.
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