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On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Viking Press, September 5, 1957

In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river and I had to ride back to New York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains—chatter chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and money I’d wasted, and telling myself, I wanted to go west and here I’d been all day and into the night going up and down, north and south, like something that can’t get started.

It’s the smell of the road. It’s the sticky feel of hot sun on a cracked and warped 40s car seat. It’s the madness of just being alive, truly alive, running from city to frail city, coast to pale coast; moving without really knowing where the fuck you’re going to. It’s the friend in the seat next to you. It’s the thrusting color of thick poetry on the breaths of all the dirty angels. It’s the drunk hobos and sad painters. It’s the word-workers, all the sentence mongers, all the lonely writers of the world spinning their blackness and beauty and the tragedy of their lives, the human condition, honing it all down to a pure and solid core, whittling it into hard pieces of shining art. Its the fierce sex smell of lovers tumbling like ghost weeds in the night. It’s the kinetic flow of thick prose gushing across a teletype roll, moving, rolling, pouring, GROWLING out forever like wild beasts of the street, upward, onward … onward! It’s the dusk and it’s the dawn and it’s all the crazy and beautiful and ugly little things in between, all of it!—each and all of IT that simply blows the infinite and fucked-up mind. It pumps the muddied blood and shoots through the worn vein and fuels the tired (the very miserably tired) but moving soul. The galloping self. And the whole rich, incredible universe, too, firing it all out and up like some scorching shrapnel, like slogs of stars shooting across the dark vastness of the night.