Friday, October 4, 2013

the holy contour of life

Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

by Jack Kerouac

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language &knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

- via Blues for Peace

I hadn't seen this particular piece, this riffing, by Kerouac until last night and so many of the lines are just soaring and wonderful and liberating. "Write in recollection and amazement for yourself."

Remove inhibitions, open up. Write in secret for your own joy. Become fixated on an object, become dreamlike, tranced out.

I think lately I've forgotten about the beauty of writing secretly, the writing trance, that joy. Even writing this personal writing manifesto, one can feel Kerouac's lack of inhibitions. And usually, I'll write a list before I begin a new work, one that says what I want the writing to be. I write the list, and then promptly forget all about it but of course it's there the whole time.

Another favourite from above is number 4.

Be in love with your life.

What are the things that you love about your life? List even the difficult things, that make you who you are.

I love that our house is filled with art, that it comes and goes, and that we spend so much time talking about flowers and colour and light. Yesterday Rob sprayed a couple of his paintings with the varnish he uses, and today, if they're dry enough, he'll ship them to the gallery that represents him in Banff. It's difficult to see favourite paintings go, of course. It's also difficult to live so precariously, financially. We've always done it somehow, but sometimes it feels very touch and go. You have to have a crazy blind faith that the paintings will find the right viewers, the right home. That can take time. Months go by, nothing, and then suddenly, several will be sold at once. It's maybe not exactly true that I love this about my life, but here's what I do love: that we've never given up believing in this kind of life, in the paintings, and in the work itself. We've never given up on believing in beauty and the necessity of looking for it every day. I love that our solitudes, Rob's and mine, complement one another. And I love that paintings, their slow and persistent arrival, give shape to the holy contour of life, ours.

I also love that no one in this house would question my recent obsession with these 3 stone bowls of mine. Filling them with flowers that I then watch dry out, photographing them again and again.

The last of the roses will be left outside, so that the weather may change them, and so they may be allowed to persist, to reach the ending which is uniquely their own.


  1. as you know, I too, love those stone bowls ... and that rusty bird in the garden with its wings spread. They both speak to me.
    I also love that you are so open and this particular post is a refreshing reminder to all to respect and live our dreams. I sacrificed a lot early on and now am reaping some of the benefits though I can't say I ever truly felt liberated to live my dream earlier on. I've had to adjust my twilight years dream and am enamoured with the life I now live. It makes all that came before a foggy blur. Goodness, where did all this come from!?

    1. Diane - that's beautiful. And I'm so glad you're in love with your life now. I feel like it's all a process of becoming....ongoing.....

  2. Thanks for this, Shawna & Mr. Kerouac. "Write in recollection and amazement for yourself." A timely reminder.


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