Explore the Connections: On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road  is widely considered a definitive tome of the beat generation

At surface level, the story is a series of adventures that play out across the backdrop of the American landscape; in essence, On the Road  is a ceaseless search for meaning.  Hidden between the sex, philosophy, and drug experimentation that make up much of the book's subject matter is a quest to understand what can be known, who can be trusted, and an honest admittance of the complexities of life, love and friendship.  On the Road is as much about spirituality as it is about reveling in the joys and challenges of an uncensored, unapologetic, immediate life.  Kerouac is known for his interest in the dharma, and these themes are embedded in all of Kerouac's works.  As with any book that could be said to define a generation, the richness and lasting legacy of this literary gem is evident in the breadth of resources still circulating around Kerouac's brilliantly captured moment in American history.  See below for a vast web of connections that begin with On the Road and end only when one stops exploring.

1. Learn about the people that defined the beat generation, many of whom are primary characters given pseudonyms in On the RoadWilliam S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Joyce JohnsonNeal CassadyLucien Carr, Carolyn Cassady, and others

2. Watch the movie, or explore the beat generation on film with this film list compiled by Ray Carney of Boston University.

3. Go to The Beat Museum in San Francisco.

4. Read about the original scroll and Kerouac's methodology at The New York Times.

5. Marvel at the beat generation in comic form.

6. Explore more of Kerouac's oeuvre: Big Sur, Book of Blues, Desolation Angels, Dr. Sax, Some of the Dharma, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, You're A Genius All The Time, and others.

7. Try train hopping (using your imagination, or assume all liability).

8. Go on a road trip, or

9. Channel the beat spirit of defiance and self-definition and opt for a very un-beat luxury road trip; rest easy, the only potential danger is over-indulgence.

10. Revel in Americana at The Smithsonian Museum of American History, or by considering an attempt at the very American pastime of competitive eating.

 

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