Litkicks Message Board Archive

so, i guess we mostly agree

Posted to What Are You Reading?

We agree mostly, then, on Kerouac's level of Buddhism; it seems we
differ mainly in our idea of what "quite a bit" means.

Your point about his biographers is a good one; indeed they do want
to sell books, and might well therefore focus on certain saleable aspects
of Kerouac's life. However, I think some are pretty balanced in their
presentations: Ann Chambers is one example. Moreover, I don't think
we should look to novels (which is what _Dharma Bums_ et al. are,
indisputably) for reliable biographical details. Is there a fair amount of
autobiography in the books? Yes. But, is it pure? No. There are alot
of what Huck Finn called "stretchers" mixed in there.

And, as for being a "master of Buddhism": I think if we read Kerouac's
letters etc., we'll find him claiming a fairly high degree of attainment.
For example, he calls himself "saint" and "bhiksu," both of which imply
mastery--certainly "sainthood" does. And "bhiksu" is at the very least
a serious practitioner--quite a bit removed from Kerouac's position.