“Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind”: Jack Kerouac, creativity and academic writing

I just came across this wonderful list by Jack Kerouac, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, in the Beats anthology I’m slowly making my way through:

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

There’s a few points in here which really speak to the argument I’m developing for an upcoming paper about sociological writing, blogging and attentiveness. I’m not sure how, if at all, I could include them in the paper – something which actually neatly illustrates the broader point I’m trying to make in it. I’m having to abstract away from what I’m trying to express, as well as the terms in which I feel moved to express it, for the paper in a way which I’d never have to do on a blog.

But assuming that the form of the paper serves a purpose (it clearly does) and is not going away any time soon (it clearly isn’t) then the personal question becomes how to preserve the creative impulse from corrosion by the endless, sometimes imperceptible, acts of censorship and detachment which ‘academic writing’ unavoidably entails. I’m arguing in the paper that blogging can be an integral part of this, as part of a practice of cultivating attentiveness, though there’s no guarantee it will be so for any one person or for ‘academic blogging’ as a broader trend.


Categories: Sociological Craft

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