My Name Is Nobody

Road trip. Mind can’t help but wander. Remember in college I took a seminar entitled “Literature of the Trip”. Started with Odysseus. Modern era was ushered in by Kerouac and On The Road which was an exploration of the newly unlimited freedoms of the American Dream. Here in the US, we emerged from WWII with comparatively unscathed success and with the west also won continental ontological parameters disappeared and a search for new meaning began.

It was the ‘Beats’ who led the quest. I’d long thought that the term related to a musical concept. However, upon reading background notes to Kerouac’s second book I learned otherwise. First it was a term employed to relate a sort of “exalted exhaustion” and then in reference to a Catholic vision of beatitude. Evolution of etymology is interesting, isn’t it?

Jung wrote that “The more a man’s life is shaped by the collective norm, the greater is his individual immorality”. The collective norm doesn’t point the way ahead. It obviously aggressively reinforces the status quo. Or worse, to a banal evil. Kerouac was the perfect sort of person to break new ground. Among other factors attenuating any rootedness was the fact that he was French Canadian and English was his second language.

Makes me think of the current Hispanic diaspora. To me it’s heroic. Operatic even. The struggle of those forging north, setting out for the territory ahead, Tom Joad like is only a current example of an innate capacity for adventure that lies dormant in a dominant culture. At least in 3D. I say more power to them. Poetic justice for us.

Kerouac and other artists of his time didn’t end well for the most part. Forward scouts often end up carrion by some means or other. Boredom at the end of the journey often led to substance abuse, suicide etc. After their return George Rogers Clark went on to great things, but Merriwether Lewis self destructed…

This here road trip is for a graduation and the ensuing second stage in the diaspora of our family. Some of the same stuff applies. Hunger, a new skill set, and a sense of adventure seem, in this case, to point over the western horizon.

Grandma’s along for this trip. She’s made it to eighty-one without any stripped gears even though having traversed some difficult terrain and uncivilized territory. Perhaps she will offer up her perspective on how to find one’s way through unfamiliar territory.

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