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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
With this piece, I mulled far longer about whether to write a commentary than I did with my previous one, Displacement of Ash. Where the latter’s intention was for it to be one that was interpreted almost wholly allegorically, this, Visions of Jack, is comparatively more straightforward. However, it is a piece that relies heavily, albeit not completely, on its context and intertextuality. It doesn’t have to be looked at through such a lens, however. Meaning and value, I hope, can still be derived from it, but it would only take a poor reader to discount the glaringly obvious intrinsic part of the story. That being the name Jack Kerouac. The main reason for writing this commentary is because a simple Google search of who Jack Kerouac was does provide substantial information, but might seem confusing or lost when aligned with the content of the story.
Jack Kerouac was, as you’ll know if you are to read one of my previous articles ‘The Beat Generation – Who Were They?’ an integral part of the Beat movement in the 1950s. This group was, with the exception of Allen Ginsberg, rather apolitical, and instead focused their life on a principle similar to hedonism: living in the moment, though through reading their works you can see that there was a Buddhist element, though rather tenuous, in their lives that they prided themselves on. I highly recommend you read some of Kerouac’s works, especially On the Road and Desolation Angels. His ‘spontaneous prose’ was divisive in its reception; it is similar to that of the stream of consciousness narrative with long continuous sentences, mimicking the improvisational free form of jazz to create a style that is not only rather conversationally lyrical but also fast-paced – mirroring the Beats’ chaotic and adrenalised lives.
The title of the piece, Visions of Jack, is derived from numerous titles of Kerouac’s own work (e.g. Visions of Cody and Visions of Gerard). I wrote the story around the time of the European Referendum results so I’m sure you would have read the headlines of newspapers, or perhaps more prominently plastered on the walls of Twitter, of how the vote was agonisingly close, and that the nation was ‘bitterly divided’. Every part of data showed that a fissure had broken the unity of society: old voting differently to the young, the middle class voting differently to the working class, the highly educated voting differently to those with a lower degree of education – we were constantly inundated with this rhetoric of division.
So, I decided that this would be the premise for my story. At the time I was rereading Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, and within this book, he articulates his perceptions on the absurdity of the seriousness of dogged ideas that serve as a means of separation. It is through this prism that I was then able to view this message of division, and I then envisaged what Kerouac would do or think (much like a devout pious person would of Jesus Christ – although I would not hold Jack Kerouac in any such moral esteem).
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