Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16: On Personal Hygiene

Today's Kerouaction

I've been thinking about personal hygiene for some reason. Maybe it's because I've been sick as a dog since Thursday and haven't paid much attention to such matters (sorry, Crystal). There's one entry in The Beat Handbook titled On Hygiene (Day 98). Generally, I don't recall Jack writing about hygiene issues very much.

It does seem that the beats are probably painted with a broad brush of anti-hygienic tendencies. If you Google "Jack Kerouac's personal hygiene," you'll find this interesting page about Bohemianism. It says the term bohemian "carries a connotation of arcane enlightenment (the opposite of 'Philistines'), and also carries a less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness about personal hygiene and marital orthodoxy."

The article goes on to say that there are 5 types of bohemians, beats being one of them:
The Bombshell Manual of Style author, Laren Stover, breaks down the Bohemian into five distinct mind-sets/styles in Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge. The Bohemian is "not easily classified like species of birds," writes Stover, noting that there are crossovers and hybrids. The five types are: Nouveau, Gypsy, Beat, Zen and Dandy.

Certainly, the beats didn't worry about hygiene like many of us do. They'd be more inclined to skip the daily shower routine, favoring a quick swim in a lake over a shower. Soap would likely be an option versus a necessity. With the cost of soap these days, using a little less wouldn't hurt the ol' pocketbook. A middle-of-the-road idea might be to take your daily shower but just wash your armpits and nether-region and hair. I bet you'd find that's sufficient! And maybe that dry-skin problem you've been having would clear up.

While skipping showers and cutting down on soap are Kerouactions you might consider where personal hygiene is concerned, I admit I'm shooting in the dark here given the dearth of hygiene references in Jack's novels. Or maybe I just missed them?

Anyway, I do know Jack shaved, because he almost always appeared clean-shaven. But I bet his razor didn't vibrate. Or his toothbrush.

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