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The holy relic of Saint Duluoz
January 18, 2006 7:05 AM   Subscribe


 
I guess there's no irony in paying $2.4 million for this thing.
posted by Rothko at 7:13 AM on January 18, 2006


I saw the roll in Minneapolis years ago. It wasn't unrolled at all--this is much cooler.
posted by bardic at 7:24 AM on January 18, 2006


That's neat as hell.
posted by dead_ at 7:55 AM on January 18, 2006


Absolutely right! It is a sacred document. (and the dude who owns the Colts bought it?)
posted by indiebass at 7:59 AM on January 18, 2006


a friend of mine helped with the installation of the scroll at the library. the set-up was pretty intense and she said she put on some soul and blues music to keep everyone going and in a good mood. at some point near completion, someone realized "hit the road, jack" by ray charles was playing in the background. yeah, they all laughed. just one of those moments -- life with a soundtrack.
posted by lapolla at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2006


IANAC (I Am Not A Curator): but shouldn't they be wearing gloves while handling the scroll in this photo .

Or is the scroll laminated or something...
posted by toftflin at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2006


You can actually read the first few paragraphs of the roll at the NPR story. The hoopla around this is far more interesting than the book itself. I'm with Capote and his summary of On the Road: 'That's not writing, that's typing."
posted by LarryC at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2006


One wonders if it still reeks of sweat and benzedrine ...

& PS - fuck Truman Capote
posted by bhance at 9:10 AM on January 18, 2006


bhance: I'm sure Truman would love it. But allow me to explain: the fact that Capote made any comment at all is a high compliment.

toftflin: that was exactly what I was thinking. You'd think librarians would know better. Maybe it is laminated or something.
posted by Goofyy at 9:27 AM on January 18, 2006


I see to remember hearing some debate at one point whether the long scroll version that's being displayed was actually the first draft or one of the first rewritings post-editing. Wikipedia backs this up -- a lot of the original writing was done in notebooks while traveling, with the long scroll being the first attempt to put things together. There was a lot of editing by friends (Ginsberg, etc) before the thing went to the publisher. In any case, this is one hell of an artifact for anyone who's ever spent a few starry-eyed days wandering around after reading Kerouac's work.
posted by mikeh at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2006


Washing your hands before touching it would probably be enough, it's modern paper.
posted by fire&wings at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2006


I met Carolyn Cassady once. Talented, witty lady, and her book Off The Road is great. (But I wouldn't advise even coming close to suggesting to her that the relationship between Neal Cassady and Kerouac might have been in any way whatsoever even a tiny wee bit homoerotic.)
posted by jack_mo at 11:07 AM on January 18, 2006


the fact that Capote made any comment at all is a high compliment

No, it's not. The book and the writing are overrated. It's the romanticization of Kerouac and the Beats that continues to appeal to audiences.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:14 AM on January 18, 2006


You can actually read the first few paragraphs of the roll at the NPR story.

It's also interesting to compare this version to the final text, which can be read on Amazon.
posted by neurodoc at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2006


It's the romanticization of Kerouac and the Beats that continues to appeal to audiences.

Well, many thanks for speaking for all of everybody, but, um, maybe their ideas continue to appeal? And maybe, just maybe, the body of works by a very talented generation of writers?

(If you don't like On the Road, that's cool, but don't dismiss the whole Beat movement--it, along with Transcendentalism are, IMO, the two most important philosophical movements in US history so far.)
posted by LooseFilter at 1:42 PM on January 18, 2006


But I wouldn't advise even coming close to suggesting to her that the relationship between Neal Cassady and Kerouac might have been in any way whatsoever even a tiny wee bit homoerotic.

I gotta hear this story...how exactly did she react?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 2:22 PM on January 18, 2006


"He opened a million coffee bars and sold a million pairs of Levis to both sexes. Woodstock rose from his pages.” -- W. Burroughs on Kerouac.

When invited by Jerry Newman to a recording session with the pianist Ralph Burns, Kerouac got drunk on whiskey and started preaching the merits of wild New York pianist Cecil Taylor, “the only pianist worth listening to”, taking over Burns’s piano and calling him a “dirty Jew bastard”.

On The Road was meant to be a 'grand act' rather than a novel, a piece of 'writing'. “Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind . . . The unspeakable visions of the individual . . . No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge” (-- Kerouac, Beat Manifesto). In reality I'd say it was more of an exposure of the grand acts of others (e.g. Cassady). Kerouac wanted desperately to be Cassady, or Ginsberg, or one of the “happy, true-hearted, ecstatic Negroes of America”. He almost did become something like them, but his real success was being the only one stable enough to try and directly give a voice to all of the above, in his own somewhat messed up but heartfelt way.

AFAIK, Kerouac was adamant that the original draft (i.e. this scroll) be published unedited, but no-one would do that, so he eventually relented and got Ginsberg and others to help him edit it more and more until it was published.

Carl Solomon, Ginsberg's mentor-in-crazyness, coul have used his connections to get the book published, but didn't because he thought Kerouac was a "nasty, stupid, worthless, idiot-brat son of a royal house”.
posted by Drexen at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2006


My two cents = the beats are great, but kerouac isn't among their best and "on the road" is his worst. Hearing a person on speed talk endlessly about how wonderful everything he sees is just isn't all that interesting.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2006


Very neat pictures. I'm with LarryC on the overall merits. (I also was surprised that guy wasn't wearing gloves.)
posted by OmieWise at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2006


On the Road is a wonderful book full of sharp observation, humor, humane insight, vitality, and the chords of transcendence that distinguish all art of lasting value.

The notion that Kerouac was among the worst of the Beats is utter nonsense, considering that Ginsberg considered himself a Kerouac imitation and Burroughs would never have written Naked Lunch without Jack's help (and title!). So who does that leave? Gary Snyder? Well yes, he's great. But other than him -- oh and believe me, I've read it all -- I can't even imagine what es_de_bah is talking about.
posted by digaman at 8:40 AM on January 19, 2006


the relationship between Neal Cassady and Kerouac might have been in any way whatsoever even a tiny wee bit homoerotic

Yeah, I can imagine that Carolyn would be that way.

Considering the deep love that Kerouac had for Neal -- and considering the number of times Kerouac praised Neal's beauty in his writing, and even the man's giant penis fergawdsakes -- there was certain more than "a wee bit" of homoeroticism in their relationship. I do think, however, that it was more homoemotional than homoerotic, which is to say: love.

I once asked Ginsberg if he thought Jack would have wanted to have sex with Neal alone, considering the fact that Neal and Jack slept with Carolyn together at least once. Ginsberg's response was precise and illuminating: "Oh no," he said, "Jack would have been too embarrassed."
posted by digaman at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2006


Kerouac wanted desperately to be Cassady, or Ginsberg, or one of the “happy, true-hearted, ecstatic Negroes of America”. He almost did become something like them, but his real success was being the only one stable enough to try and directly give a voice to all of the above, in his own somewhat messed up but heartfelt way.

Sorry, but this doesn't make sense to me either. Ginsberg was "stable enough" to continue writing and reading poetry, teaching, and lecturing for a couple of decades after Jack drank himself to death. While Jack certainly idealized Cassady, I can't think of a place in his work where he seems to envy Ginsberg.
posted by digaman at 3:24 PM on January 19, 2006


digaman :

It's true that they switched around, but in the early days (i.e. On The Road times) Ginsberg was much crazier, spending time in various institutions, seeing visions of God/William Blake, nearly topping himself etc... while Kerouac handled the talk shows. Also, Kerouac's whole experimentation with Buddhism was inspired by Ginsberg's aforementioned vision.
posted by Drexen at 6:39 AM on January 21, 2006


digaman: "I once asked Ginsberg if he thought Jack would have wanted to have sex with Neal alone, considering the fact that Neal and Jack slept with Carolyn together at least once. Ginsberg's response was precise and illuminating: "Oh no," he said, "Jack would have been too embarrassed.""

That sounds about right.

If I Had An Anus: "I gotta hear this story...how exactly did she react?"

Angrily. I was interviewing her after a reading and Q&A where several questions had touched on the subject, which she'd dismissed out of hand quite sharply, saying, basically, that Kerouac and Cassady were good mates and anything else was fanciful invention. When I asked her about it again, she flipped. Dunno if it was becuase it touched a nerve or because she was just sick of answering that question.
posted by jack_mo at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2006


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