“It’s sad and I don’t like it.”
Excerpted from On The Road by Jack Kerouac, ©1957:
Dean was having his kicks; he put on a jazz record, grabbed Marylou, held her tight, and bounced against her with the beat of the music. She bounced right back. It was a real love dance. lan MacArthur came in with a huge gang. The New Year’s weekend began, and lasted three days and three nights. Great gangs got in the Hudson and swerved in the snowy New York streets from party to party. I brought Lucille and her sister to the biggest party. When Lucille saw me with Dean and Marylou her face darkened- she sensed the madness they put in me.
“I don’t like you when you’re with them.”
“Ah, it’s all right, it’s just kicks. We only live once. We’re having a good time.”
“No, it’s sad and I don’t like it.”
Every time you re-read a book, any book, you take something different away from it. As we grow, learn, and evolve, we see the world through different lenses.
This time through On The Road, I’m inclined to agree with Lucille. I’m almost overwhelmed by the selfishness and self-deception of the principle characters. They are casually misogynistic, callous and manipulative; they abuse drugs and have sex joylessly; they believe their hedonism is teaching them hidden lessons about life when in reality that’s the very thing preventing them from seeing anything other than an illusory surface.
Lucille is right. It’s sad.
And I don’t like it.