Monday, March 1, 2021

Happy Birthday to Lucien Carr

 

(L-R) William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Allen Ginsberg
(for more photos see https://allenginsberg.org/2021/03/m-m-1/)

Proto-Beat Lucien Carr was born on this date -- March 1 -- in 1925. He appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: as Damion in On The Road; Sam Vedder in The Subterraneans and Book of Dreams (expanded edition); Julien in Big Sur; Julien Love in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; Claude De Maubris in Vanity of Duluoz; Claude in Orpheus Emerged; Kenneth Wood in The Town and the City; Kenneth in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; and, Phillip Tourian in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.

We remembered Carr a little over a month ago on January 28 (click HERE), so we won't repeat biographical details except to say that Carr was an influential member of the early Beat Generation whose name is too often omitted when speaking of same (see Catherine De Leon's eye-opening article about Carr HERE). Carr has a rather extensive entry on Wikipedia in case you want to read more about him. Wikipedia gets a bad rap all the time, but I often find it to be a useful tool in getting the sense of a person, concept, or event. 

Here is an excerpt from a February 24, 1956 letter from Jack Kerouac to Lucien Carr:
Are you reading your Diamond Sutra daily like a good boy?--I got it divided into days--that is the best thing you'll ever read, it is the only thing ever written that has any value. The Bible is for shits. The Diamond Sutra is for ding-dong Buddha gongs. The words and the paper of this letter are emptiness, the words and the paper of this letter aint different from emptiness, neither is emptiness different from the words and the paper of this letter, indeed, emptiness is the words & the paper of this letter. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 564)
My copy of A Buddhist Bible

I've been in a Buddhist frame of mind of later, and that passage rang out to me. If you're a Kerouac fan, you must have a copy of this book. It is the only book he took with him to Desolation Peak. The Diamond Sutra starts on page 87 of my edition above. Happy reading...

...and Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Carr.


2 comments:

robin andrea said...

I had forgotten about Lucien Carr. It was a little bit heartbreaking to remember his story. Happy Birthday to Lucien.
I've never read The Buddhist Bible. Now I'm going to have to google around to see what it's about (everything in the universe inhaled and exhaled in our breath, I'm thinking!).

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

I inspired myself with my post to re-read some Buddhist scripture, starting with The Diamond Sutra.