Wednesday, August 14, 2013

College Fashion Link-Up: Rambling Man

Summer is winding down, and there's no better time than the heat of August for a great summer road trip. I should know; at this time, two years ago, I was scouting out Eastern Washington's colleges, and at this very moment, several members of my family are holed up at a hotel in SoCal, deciding whether my sister, The Cheerleader, could make it a home. (My guess is yes, being that they bisected the straight line traveling between universities with quick trips to Universal Studios and the Winchester Mystery House. I don't think her heart's ever going to leave the state now.)

Then again, while I may be enjoying the time I have left in my beloved Tacoma, I can still take this mental vacation, courtesy of Jack Kerouac, with On the Road.

The story follows the young recent divorcee Sam Paradise, through his cross-country adventures, and his relationship with the hedonistic and un-anchorable Dean Moriarty. Based off of the true 1940s travels of Kerouac and his fellow Beat man, Neal Cassady, the tale was written on a single continuous scroll of typewriter paper in 1951, and is lauded for its lyricism and jazz style, as well as being a manifesto of sorts for the rebellion and exploration of the Beat generation, of which Kerouac became the official mascot when it was published in 1957.

I'm not one to dwell much on the romantic ramblings of quintessential rebellious, moody American Manhood (Here's to spitting in your eye, Ernest Hemingway, the unofficial drunk uncle of this type of literature). The constant sexism masquerading as a lover's temperament was degrading and dulled the first half or so of the book, as well as all of Dean's relationships, and the racial romanticism and ill-depiction of the ethnic representation in the book was stereotypical and served little purpose. This all being said... this was a young guy, an aspiring writer, in a time where behaviors and themes like these were en vogue. Of course he was going to be an overly macho, woman-using, racially insensitive, over-thinking pavement chaser and un-tethered philosophist. This was, after all, the era of the Beats.

I was fully enraptured in, while not what he was saying, the way he was saying it. If you are ever misguided enough to ask me what my favorite style of writing is, I'm always going to say the flighty, floaty dreaminess, yet deeply mentally-focused practice of "Stream of Consciousness" style. While Kerouac was not really a "SoC" writer, he was definitely not one to be confined by typical writing practices of punctuation and grammar. It was as if the fact that he wrote the entire book in three weeks on a constant coffee drip (true story), had granted him enlightenment, in some fashion, and his every word was escaping off the page with his ascent into nirvana. It was, honestly, glorious, and I loved it.

I was so inspired by the prose - the sentences that stretched on like sections of roadway, the paragraphs that lasted as long as road construction in Washington and made just as much sense - that I ended up using the novel for my most-recent article on College Fashion. I even mixed in some of my favorite lines from the novel, as well! While you'll have to follow the link to see it yourself, here's a sneak preview at one of my favorite looks from the piece, involving the personal philosophies of the Beat boys of Kerouac's generation:

Pretty cute, huh? Unfortunately, I won't give away the thought process behind the outfit; you'll have to journey over to my "Looks from Books: On the Road" article yourself to read it. 

While I didn't necessarily love the narrator, or what he had to say, I really appreciated the structure - or is it more like mis-structure? - cadence and pacing of Kerouac's rambling tale, and that's enough for me. Fans of interesting and unique writing styles - as well as philosophical journeys towards what is youth, progress, love, and dependency - this book is a must. Best take it for a spin before school starts, and enjoy it in the remnants of the summer sun. 

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