Alrite im compelled to
spill my guts a bit on this one, sheerly because my first encounter with the Beats was in 9th grade via litkicks itself. Id heard the word beatnik & wondered about it for the last time, so some schoollibrarycomputer's searchengine said to me, "litkicks.com...", & litkicks.com said to me, "Jack Kerouac....(neal cassady)... see On the Road." On the Road was a couple aisles away, & i think what it said to me was, "English classes have been lying to you. All writing begins with a blank page, where it goes from there is up to the writer (not Blahblah Style Manual, pg 8.)" My certainty of becoming a rocknroller became optionial. On the Road really kicked down the door for me to understand that genius level artists werent all musicians, & it literally prompted me to explore a lot areas i had neglected. This is obviously a rightplaceatherighttime phenomenon, (& im sure im being more general towards Beats & more specific towards myself than you O Questioner would prefer), but the fact that this work had the capability to trigger something like that has always given me the feeling that theyre an endless array of surprize beauties lurking completely within reach; i think its a superbly fruitful neurosis. It also was my first taste of what travelling could be like, far different then any tour-guided family-vacations I had understood to be meant by the word "travel."
I pushed On the Road on everyone who i thought had half a chance of liking it, but it was a no-go. (Even my then-girlfriend of a year wouldnt open it.) This illustrated lesson #2: for the most part, people are going to do what They want to do. Maybe it was my approach, i dontknow...
Anyways, the first time i encounter Supreme Art (which is of course subjective), i always get this tightstomach of ambivalence: im really happy to experience such a profound & systemshocking artwork, but theres this territory-threatening "heyimnotgoingtojustsitonthebleachers&observe" feeling that struggles to resolve into some future plan. Fortunately ive identified this phenomenon by now, but when i first read it i hadnt at all, & J.K. being my only touch with what i considered literary-greatness, I think i felt a bit crushed (which further testifys in favor of the piece), as tho he had eaten up anything worth eating, leaving table scraps for fools. It wasn't until i read Hunter Thompson the next year that i realized that these Great Writers werent all-encompassing, they couldnt be, they were each their own well-devised vending-machine of style. There were billions of different mindcandys to be sold, & i myself could (if i wanted) be there in some hallway of cool saying, "insert coin."
One last sentimation: i remember saying to this friend of mine that i was going to write a great american novel, & he scoffed it off & said, "Yea right. You dont even write your school papers. Youd never write a book." & of course, since i was the (adolescent) "you" in that sentence, i think i had some myfeathersarentruffled-reply like "watch me."; but reflecting now, i think thats illustrative of how people who havent sampled the honey-of-greatwriting react to the notion of the beefood-of-words.
so nut-shellized: for me, On the Road (specifically) prompted me to: explore other arts; redefine 'writing' in my mind; add 'writer' to my list of meness.