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August 7, 2014

Jack Kerouac & the Rose of Jericho. {Video}

(Rose of Jericho from Sean Steininger on Vimeo.)

I dug deep into my bones and tried a thousand times to find the words—the right ones—that could capture the tug I feel in my chest when I watch this video.

The words are elusive (as they can be, at times)—they dangle on the tip of my tongue but the moment I try to capture them and transform them into life, they are gone and I am left aware of the ache they leave behind.

If there was anyone who holds the mystical essence of something that hovers in-between, it’s Jack Kerouac, and if I close my eyes and imagine any other shape he could take, a rose of jericho seems to me the only possibility.

He’d unfold—with his wisdom intact—from a dried brown tumbleweed, and grow back in time into a bright green fern, and just as it is with all of us here on earth, the journey would take time and he would falter and the privilege of witnessing a cracking open such as this would put stars in our eyes.

And so, a few my favorite Jack quotes, in honor of all-the-things-that-are-so-raw-and-beautiful-they-make-us-ache:

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was—I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about 15 strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.” 

 

***

“My witness is the empty sky.” 

 

***

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.” 

 

***

“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?” 

 

***

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” 

 

***

“The page is long, blank, and full of truth. When I am through with it, it shall probably be long, full, and empty with words.” 

 

***

“The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.” 

 

***

“So therefore I dedicate myself, to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my suffrances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.” 

 

***

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.” 

 

***

“On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars—Something good will come out of all things yet—And it will be golden and eternal just like that—There’s no need to say another word.” 

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photos: featured image courtesy of the author; Rose of Jericho from Sean Steininger on Vimeo.

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