Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kerouac on Dostoevsky

I just came across this passage from the journals of Jack Kerouac, dated March 1950:

I think the greatness of Dostoevsky lies in his recognition of human love. Shakespeare himself does not penetrate so deep beneath his pride, which is all our prides. Dostoevsky is really an ambassador of Christ, and for me the modern Gospel. His religious fervor sees through the very facts and details of our everyday life, so that he doesn't have to concentrate his attention of flowers and birds like St Francis, or on finances like Balzac, but on anything... the most ordinary things. There alone is proof about the sparrow that falls. It is the crowning glory of such a man as Spengler that he recognizes Dostoevsky to be a saint.

The vision of Dostoevsky is the vision of Christ translated in modern terms. The fact that he is barred in Soviet Russia implies the weakness of the state. Dostoevsky's vision is that which we all dream at night, and sense in the day, and it is the Truth... merely that we love one another whether we like it or not, i.e., we recognize the other's existence - - - - and the Christ in us is the primum mobile of that recognition. Christ is at our shoulders, and is "our conscious in God's universe" as Cleo says... he is the recognizer in us. His "idea" is.

The reason "television admen" get drunk at night, as above, is only because the nature of their pursuits shuts them off from meek love of men, which is what we all want. D. H. Lawrence is mere masturbation of self.


BackpackerBill said...

Good information. Thanks. I am trying to find out where it is that Kerouac has a character ask another to explain Dostoevsky. I believe it is in On The Road, but I can't recall which characters.

Anonymous said...

It's Remi Boncoeur in On The Road. He asks Sal the name of that Russian author he was telling him about. Then, he refers to a mean-looking military man at the barracks where they are working as a "Dostoevsky."