Monday, 18 January 2010

I am Adam and I'm alone again with all my ribs intact

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The following letter, written by Jack Kerouac in 1962 following an apparent escape from New York's many temptations, is predictably fascinating and equally saddening. Over the course of just three pages addressed to Jacques Beckwith, Kerouac manages to touch on his general ill-health, his many troubled relationships with women (most notably then-girlfriend Lois Sorrell), the ever-worsening drinking problem which would ultimately kill him, and the daughter he still refused to believe was his own.

For those wondering, the drinking companions mentioned by Kerouac are Lucien Carr, Gregory Corso and Hugo Weber.

Transcript follows.







Transcript
Dear Jaques —

I didn't leave "unceremoniously," I was in Hicksville L.I. near Idlewild Airport (at my lawyer's house) and took the first plane I could get because also I was coughing and choking on my coughing like a T.B.— And sure enough, in a week, the Florida sunshine and sleep got rid of the cough — Didn't you hear me cough in N.Y.? (mostly from sleeplessness for 7 days and nights, thus more smoking and nerves) (and bronchitis had set in) — I was really afraid of winding up in a N.Y. hospital —

And to come back to Manhattan from L.I. and start drinking with Lucien or Gregory again would have done it — and with poor Hugo —

Of course I'm not mad at you, Jacques my buddy — Mad at Lois, yes, but for no good reason because she's always had other guys anyway — But she's gotten mean for the first time, mean to me I mean, since that idiot psychoanalytical warlock's got hold of her — But I'm not even mad at Lois because every time I had a chance to make love to her I deliberately got drunker anyway because I really don't believe in Sangsara anymore just like I was when she first met me and she begged me to make love to her and I would not for months — Sangsara is the work of Mara the Tempter and I'm not going to be tempted so easily any more — I'm a priest at heart even tho such a wiseguy loudmouth "wit" when I feel "good" on booze — I'm not "tough," just a soft hearted Imbecile — And Lois and Janet and all those other girls actually scare me down deep (Dodie didn't scare me half as much!) — They scare me because of their slinky beauty like snake-beauty....what do they want? Out of me? If they won't give me a piece of ass because I'm a rowdy inattentive monk drunk, then why do they want to see me? They scare me like the Devil — Their intentions are not honorable. — They also realize I don't like women and never did — I only like their bodies for sex — I think women are evil the way they coolly manage men with big ungovernable hurting hard-ons — Let the devil take his Eve back — I am Adam and I'm alone again with all my ribs intact

As for N.Y., you saw what happened — If I cant even keep a cheap hotel room to read in and sleep in and meditate in....what can I do in N.Y. but be a drunken mess? It's a shame you've never known me when I'm sober, in the woods, and don't say much — You will someday —

I'm back at my writing work again now, on this cool halfmoon night — I sit by my new little cumquat tree and wait for my mind to organize another drama for the necessary exercise of my poetic narrative — Like Handel I sometimes fall on my knees and pray for work —

Right now I'm just waiting — typing up old poems and haikus and prose pieces and putting them together in different bound volumes — And pretty soon I'm going to study the history of Europe in detail — I meanwhile dabble at the New Testament, Thoreau's "Week on Concord and Merrimack," Psalms of David, George Herbert's holy poetry, Haiku of Japan:-

Spring rain
Conveyed under the trees
In drops
— BASHŌ

Harusame no / Koshita ni tsutau / shizuku kana

ETC.

By the way Jacques, why don't you throw those 3 books in an envelope (Morley and Singer) and send 'em to me — ordinary mail, 25¢ or so —

I'm paying $52 a month for the girl they say is my daughter — I still know she's no Kerouac but the law insists and besides I can afford it now — But I will have nothing to do with her or her mother or her mother's lovers — (The Judge told me the N.Y. Supreme court allows no illegitimacy, and the blood test doctor works for the Supreme Court, is appointed by the Supreme Court, so there are no bastards in N.Y. State period) —

I wanted to see Lucien and Cessa again but tell them how sick I was —

Enclosed is a letter for Dear Hugo (GIVE IT TO HIM OR MAIL IT ON)

À plus tard

Jean
COPAIN