Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama, Kerouac, & Me

Driving to campus this morning, I was thinking about two things: 1) that we have elected a man who is African-American (or Black - I never can be sure which term is least divisive) to be our next President (Huzzah!), and 2) that I want to say something about it in The Daily Beat.

My dilemma is how to make a connection between Obama and the subject of this blog (which is all things related to my book, Kerouac, the beat generation, etc.).

Occasionally, with some thought, a connection comes to mind: for example, my blog several days ago about why Jack Kerouac would vote for Obama. I like to think that particular blog entry put Obama over the top. Crystal says I have narcissistic delusions of grandeur. But it's nice to fantasize. And it's beat to be narcissistic (shit, Jack was). So I have no problem being so labeled.

Which leaves me at square one. Hmmmm....

Wait! The answer is so obvious: What would Kerouac do?

It amazes me that we "know" things and don't use that knowledge. (Also, that we base decisions on things we "know" that really aren't so.)

I wrote an entire book based on the premise that asking the question "What would Kerouac do?" is an excellent way to chart a course of action (or at least trigger a laugh).

When I started my recent faculty forum about my book, I began with that question. The answer of course was that I would have shown up for the forum good and drunk. Which I did not do. As I say in my book, we don't have to do what Jack would have done. But we can certainly ask the question.

So, what would Kerouac do when faced with the blank page and the idea of connecting Obama's election with the subject of this blog?

He'd just start typing.

And, my fellow prisoners -- oops -- I mean bloggers, that is what I have done. You have before you the result. No editing (well, I fixed a couple of typos and fixed some mechanics). Just what came out.

I guess in effect that I have indeed connected Obama's election with Kerouac by simply stating that I want to make the connection and then writing about it. (By the way, I was taught that effect is a noun and affect is a verb - with one exception - making it very easy to distinguish between them, yet when one looks in the dictionary one finds that effect can indeed be used as a verb and it drives me crazy that our language is so ambiguous. At least it's clear that where the English language is concerned, its main claim to fame is that it is at least clear as a bell regarding when to use it's and when to use its.)

But I digress.

Obama won. I am happy about that. I have a great hope that his election will effect a profound change in our psyches over time that we cannot fathom, that our affect regarding racial differences - hell, all differences - will turn toward the compassionate, that everyone's voice will matter in his administration (and I mean everyone - as he mentioned in his post-election speech), and, most of all, that his leadership will inspire us all to ask ourselves - routinely - if the next step we contemplate is of any use to the poorest person on the planet (M. Gandhi).


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