“IT” / On the Road

(On The Road, Jack Kerouac, pp.195). “Dean and I sat alone on the back seat and left it up to them and talked. ‘Now, man, that alto man last night had IT — he held it once he found it; I’ve never seen a guy who could hold so long.’ I wanted to know ‘IT’ meant. ‘Ah well’ — Dean laughed– ‘now you’re asking me impon-de-rables–ahem! Here’a a guy and everybody’s there, right? Up to him to put down what’s on everybody’s mind. He starts the first chorus, then lines up his ideas, people, yeah, yeah, but get it, and then he rises to his fate and has to blow equal to it. All of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he gets it — everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries. Time stops. He’s filling empty space with the substance of our lives, confessions of his bellybottom strain, remembrance of ideas, rehashes of old blowing. He has to blow across bridges and come back and do it with such infinite feeling soul-exploratory for the tune of the moment that everybody knows it’s not the tune that counts but IT–‘ Dean could go no further; he was sweating telling about it.”


(Reminds of the end of Sonny’s Blues, published the same year, 1957?) According to Brad Gooch’s just read biography of Flannery O’Connor (pp.349) she thought there was “a lot of ill-directed good” in the beatniks.

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