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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.
Thus, I started the story with this image of bitter separation (“stands an impasse, a chasm”), but I was adamant on adding, as the Beats do in their literary works, a musical element to the piece. This is why our narrator listens to this division as music before he is to see the divide; “it is homogenous (as one) at first but [soon] the rhythm becomes divided, distorting into a sort of pounding syncopation” – this, whilst signifying the division of people, envelopes this separation in a musical tone that, as the later stage of the story shows, proves to be harmonious. Jack Kerouac (or what is portrayed as a vision of Jack Kerouac) is then introduced. The rugged look of him (“dirtied flannel shirt stained with patches of red wine – the same stains that rouge his lips and teeth”) is mainly due to the fact that the Beats lived life not unlike that of homeless people, persistently hitchhiking and looking for shelter.
What then proceeds after the line that soon becomes a motif (“what is he thinking, I wonder?”) is an insight into the mind of this projected Kerouac. “The world is doomed in protest” – this is an ironic statement, given that whilst Kerouac was predominantly apolitical, his life, and indeed the whole Beat movement, was a protest against the status quo. He notices that the people “have rendered themselves as banners by erecting themselves as pillars of solitary principle”, and that they are similar to flags in that they not “subject to any internal breeze”. This sets the main principle of the story; to protest and be so angry with the other side of the (in my mind, the Remain and Leave sides) is to think of them as merely thinking of them as a blank canvas with the only colour painted being that of the opposite idea to which you espouse. This is reflected in the following paragraph (“sees not his mother’s in that woman’s over the arbitrary divide”)
In this paragraph, we see that the crowd are “missing the sun”, this image of all-encompassing comfort, which will later translate as a communal harmony.
“Might he be mourning the angel-headed hipsters” – the “angel-headed hispsters” is a reference to Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl’, and is a term he used for the members of the Beat Generation.
“Mourning, too, Neal Cassady” – Neal Cassady was one of Kerouac’s best friends who was said to have typified the Beat movement. “Will he be thinking of the time when such harmony was missed in the warring eyes that vied for the lust of the brunette babe?” – this is a direct reference to Desolation Angels when Kerouac and Cassady are in a jazz club (“Wars’ll break out over women’s eyes – and the harmony will be missed […] it augurs something good in men that they’ll listen to the truth in harmony […] it’s hard to live in a world where you grow old and die, why be dis-harmonious?”
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