Paul Nervy Notes
“Jokes, poems, stories, and a lot of philosophy, psychology, and sociology.”

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Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  .This section is about thoughts on specific books and authors.  Topics include: ( ) Bukowski.  ( ) Kerouac.  ( ) Beats.  ---  1/24/2006

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  "A Walk Across America", by Peter Jenkins was a bestseller during the mid-seventies.  When I read this book as a youngster, I thought, gee whiz, what could possibly be wrong with this vision of America?  Thirty years later I stumbled across a well-worn copy of "A Walk Across America" and thought more critically about the book.  The sixties and seventies were an era during which hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hipsters were traveling and writing about their travels.  Why did the publisher pick Peter Jenkin's book?  The publisher published Jenkin's book because the publisher thought Jenkin's book would sell a lot of copies.  Why did Peter Jenkin's book sell so well?  Jenkin's book sold well because it was simple and false.  Jenkin's book sold well because it is repressed and avoidant.  Peter Jenkins was a hippie minus the dope smoking, rock music, and orgies.  Peter Jenkin's was a hippie minus the Vietnam war protests, minus the civil rights protests, minus any protest.  In Peter Jenkin's world there is racial harmony, rather than racial tension.  In Peter Jenkins world there is class harmony, rather than class tension.  In Peter Jenkins world there is merely small towns, honest work, and nature as a respite.  In Peter Jenkin's world there is humble old-timey religion.  Peter Jenkins looks like a hairy freak, but he just likes to work hard, walk in the woods, play with his dog, and go to church.  A Walk Across America is a walk that conveniently sidesteps the social tensions of the sixties and the cultural wallow of the seventies.  There is no rock music, no sex, no drugs, no big cities, no polluted environment.  A Walk Across America is a walk for the myopic American middle class.  Feel good by ignoring the problems of the world.  Jenkins looks like a hippie but he's just a hard-working, middle-class young man who doesn't think too much.  ---  5/13/2007

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  "The night was moist.", is a notion found in the poem, "I Heard The Learned Astronomer", by Walt Whitman.  "The night was moist.", is also a line from the movie "Throw Momma from the Train".  ---  12/23/2006

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Beat generation (1) Got more out of life than the average person, in thought, emotion, action (doing), and experience.  (2) They wasted more life than the average person, with drugs, booze, rebellion, and early deaths.  (3) A few beats were able to accomplish much by virtue of their intelligence and independent character.  They succeeded despite their decadent selves.  Many other lesser beats were not as smart, and did not accomplish much or become famous.  (4) Kerouac had a very limited, one sided system of ethics.  ---  12/30/1996

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Beats.  Beat writing is a very psychologically healthy style.  It is spontaneous, improvisational (like jazz), free associative, unrepressed, cathartic, confessional, first word best word.  Since it is un-self-censored it can address any subject, any view and any feeling, even taboo ones, using any vocabulary, even taboo words.  ---  12/03/1997

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Beats.  The beats evolved in a decade of political oppression (mccarthyism), sexual repression, and artistic repression (banned books).  The beats were about freedom.  The freedom to remember, feel, think, say and act.  Sexually, artistically, and politically.  ---  8/10/1998

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Beats.  To Kerouac, everything is good, everything is yes.  He couldn't bear to get angry, only depressed.  Bukowski got pissed off.  He was willing to say "This is crap.  This is wrong.  You are a jerk.  This is evil."  Bukowski fought.  He took an ethical stance.  Kerouac, the angel, can't say a bad word about anyone.  Bukowski, at core, was a fighter.  Kerouac was not.  Bukowski lived a long time.  Kerouac did not.  ---  01/07/1997

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Bukowski is dead.  Some called him a poet of excess.  But Bukowski was more than that.  Just because he talked about the ugly and not the beautiful, the problems and not the well, the downside of life and not the bright side, the lowest classes and not the highest, does not make him bad.  Just because he did not write abut the beautiful upper or middle class did not make him bad, just as those zillions who do write about it are not necessarily good.  Bukowski did not glorify the low-lifes, nor did he condemn them for things that were not always their fault, nor did he ignore them.  Great acts of heroism take place on the bottom of society as surely as great acts of villainy take place on the top.  And if he spoke roughly, it is because a rough life in a rough environment can give one a rough voice.  But Bukowski was able to maintain a classy nobleness, an intelligence, and a sensitivity that makes for great art.  He talks to losers, in their language, about their problems, consoles them, and enlightens them.  Which is more and better than those self-congratulatory upper class writers trying to tell winners things that they already know.  ---  04/16/1994

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Bukowski.  Bukowski is not a stylist.  He is an idea man.  So am I.  He was a great idea man.  That is what I want to be.  ---  10/20/1988

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Bukowski.  Bukowski stayed hungry and productive because he never became popular.  He never became popular because he picked a style and subject matter that did not appeal to the masses.  He was smart.  ---  11/10/1988

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Kerouac.  Nostalgic for youth, romantic, idealist, pessimist, debaucher.  That is why I like him.  Spontaneous, bop jazz, prose.  Stream of authors consciousness, not characters.  ---  02/07/1994

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Kerouac.  What affects me most about Kerouac's writing is his power.  ---  08/21/1988

Arts, literature, criticism, specific.  ---  Step right up to Bill Bryson's carnival of science entitled, "A Brief History of Nearly Everything".  You will laugh at the eccentricities of the truly creative.  You will be amazed at the social awkwardness of mega nerds.  Be astonished at the absent mindedness of the super intelligent.  Gawk and rubberneck at the misfortunes of other people.  Take a voyeurs delight in bitter rivalries and feuds.  Be comforted by simple morality plays.  All for the low price of admission.  Step right up and don't delay.  ---  4/30/2005

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Paul Nervy Notes. Copyright 1988-2007 by Paul Nervy.