Litkicks Message Board Archive

Desolation Angels

Posted to What Are You Reading?

I am also reading Desolation Angels. I am very ambivalent about the Beats. On one hand, they were tremendously talented, they were courageous (Kerouac and almost all of the others could have done much better financially if they had decided to lead "conventional" lives- if he had gone into the insurance business as he had planned, etc, they were thoughtful. On the other hand, they were very hedonistic. Using the criterion of Kant's Categorial Imperative, one would have to say their lives were at least to some extent immoral, as one could not use their behavior as a universal standard without total chaos resulting in the world.
The subjectivism of Kerouac's outlook is reflected in his resorting to terms and words that he realized very few of his readers would understand. Even his spelling of the word "can't" without the apostrophe throughout the book is a good example of his belief that his writing was somehow important enough (read "unique enough") to suspend the rules of proper English usage.
But after all is said and done, he was a genius. His first two novels, Town and City and On the Road are classics. After that, to the extent that he looses himself IN himself, he loses me a bit.