It’s taken a day to decide if the venue for Campaign Tech West was tawdry, ineffable or inspired. I’m leaning to ineffable. Across the street from the Naked Lunch restaurant, near the triangle of Broadway, Columbus and Grant. Nearby, what the Chinese call “Ahdalah Hong” the short walkway that formerly bore the name “Adler Place”. In recent years, it has been dubbed “Kerouac Alley”, in honor of the beat denizen who frequented the City Lights Bookstore on the corner.
One wonders what Kerouac would have thought of the gathering of political techies on the street where he composed his “spontaneous prose.” He thought editing robbed prose of being in the moment, and thus somehow dishonest. Had he been around to witness the billions of “moments” enshrined in tweets and posts today, perhaps, he would have been less opposed to such dishonesty.
Kerouac’s spontaneity was arresting in his time, and not always appreciated (“That’s not writing, that’s typing,” said Capote). Yet, Kerouac thought before he wrote, which immediately distinguishes him from our own often too-connected world. I thought about his roman à clef style and tried to imagine Kerouac blogging. I suppressed the impulse to raise that question among Tuesday’s gifted tech panelists, or when visiting Google and Facebook’s respective HQ’s on Monday.
It would have been hard to watch Kerouac die, 144 characters at a time. From Rome to Zen and back to Rome again. From leftie beat poet to cantankerous conspiracy theorist, one suspects the journey would have been difficult to watch, if only in one’s newsfeed. Spurning the “communists” who stole the beat’s movement, Kerouac would die surrounded by a stack of old National Review magazines. Once visited by some young neo-Nazis, he ran them […]