From the bunch of things I read about Kerouac and On the Road last week, here's a snippet from a 1968 Paris Review interview with him (and as always, thank god for Paris Review interviews and the eloquence they always seem to prompt). For the most part, this is actually a pretty nice description of the principle behind the spontaneous prose style:
By not revising what you've already written you simply give the reader the actual workings of your mind during the writing itself: you confess your thoughts about events in your own unchangeable way . . . Well, look, did you ever hear a guy telling a long wild tale to a bunch of men in a bar and all are listening and smiling, did you ever hear that guy stop to revise himself, go back to a previous sentence to improve it, to defray its rhythmic thought impact. . . . If he pauses to blow his nose, isn't he planning his next sentence? And when he lets that next sentence loose, isn't it once and for all the way he wanted to say it? Doesn't he depart from the thought of that sentence and, as Shakespeare says, “forever holds his tongue” on the subject, since he's passed over it like a part of a river that flows over a rock once and for all and never returns and can never flow any other way in time?
And then we got to this:
I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no FEELING. Goddamn it, FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings.
And, well, I couldn't help myself:
|Oh really? Tell me more.|
I am sorry, it's not that I am laughing at Kerouac and his shouty FEELINGS! vs CRAFTINESS! deal (although okay, I am laughing). It's just that Condescending T.S. Eliot really needs to be a thing on the internet.