Saturday, December 29, 2007

There Is No End To My Talent...

...even when I feel like shit (which to be honest, is pretty much most of the time these days).

I have been re-reading Kerouac's novel, The Dharma Bums (which I read for the first time a million years ago, well, at least 38 years ago). When I first read the book, I enjoyed it, of course, Kerouac is an easy read, at least on the surface, but I had no idea that the characters in the book all corresponded to characters in real life. This time out I was far more aware. And damn! I nailed every character immediately. OK, so Alvah Goldbook = Allen Ginsberg was not a stretch. But Rheingold Cacoethes and Kenneth Rexroth - woo hoo! What confused me about that name was the Greek sounding last name (does that translate to "bad ethics" - it actually might, caco means bad in modern Greek). I have no idea what Rexroth means or is, although I understand that Mr. Rexroth spent about a year in a monastery as an Anglican postulant. Anyway, most of the pseudonyms Kerouac uses in his novels at least match the real names either ethnically or in syllables and syntax, but Cacoethes does not follow the usual pattern.

Funny, the domino effect of literature! I read Ginsberg's Howl in 1965 after that fateful and embarrassing Bob Dylan press conference. From Ginsberg, I moved on to Michael McClure and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and then I read Herbert Read's The Green Child in 1966 and became aware of Kenneth Rexroth at that time (he had written a blurb for it and the introduction, I believe). I started reading Rexroth and eventually made my way back to Ferlinghetti. Always Ferlinghetti, I think, because his poems are hopeful. And now, from Ferlinghetti I went back to Kerouac and there was Cacoethes/Rexroth and Mr. Goldbook/Ginsbgerg. And why I am babbling about this I can only guess: because I have a computer and a headache at the same time?

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