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Jack Kerouac Quotes

60 of the best book quotes from Jack Kerouac
  1. #1
    “But now George has TB and they tell me he may even die... Which adds to that darkness in my mind, all these DEATH things piling up suddenly -- But I cant believe old Zen Master George is going to allow his body to die.”
  2. #2
    “And as far as I can see the world is too old for us to talk about it with our new words -- We will pass just as quietly through life (passing through, passing through) as the 10th century people of this valley only with a little more noise and a few bridges and dams and bombs that wont even last a million years -- The world being just what it is, moving and passing through.”
  3. #3
    “All said So-Is sight of the world, right there in front of my nose as I look, -- And looking at that valley in fact I also realize I have to make lunch and it wont be any different than the lunch of those olden men and besides it’ll taste good -- Everything is the same.”
  4. #4
    “Tho why after three weeks of perfect happy peace and adjustment in these strange woods my soul so went down the drain when I came back with Dave Wain and Romana and my girl Billie and her kid, I’ll never know -- Worth the telling only if I dig deep into everything.”
  5. #5
    “That first night I sit there and all I know, as I look up, is the kitchen light is on, on the cliff, to the right, where somebody’s just built a cabin overlooking all the horrible Sur, somebody up there’s having a mild and tender supper that’s all I know...”
  6. #6
    “And such things -- A whole mess of little joys like that amazing me when I came back in the horror of later to see how they’d all changed and become sinister, even my poor little wooden platform and mill race when my eyes and stomach nauseous and my soul screaming a thousand babbling words, oh -- It’s hard to explain and best thing to do is not be false.”
  7. #7
    “There’s the poor little mouse eating her nightly supper in the humble corner where I’ve put out a little delight-plate full of cheese and chocolate candy (for my days of killing mice are over).”
  8. #8
    “My old thoughts about the silt of a billion years covering all this and all cities and generations eventually is just a dumb old thought, ‘Only a silly sober fool could think it, imagine gloating over such nonsense’ (because in one sense the drinker learns wisdom, in the words of Goethe or Blake or whichever it was “The pathway to wisdom lies through excess’) – But in this condition you can only say ‘Wisdom is just another way to make people sick.‘”
  9. #9
    “Nevertheless I go there every night even tho I don’t feel like it, it’s my duty (and probably drove me mad), and write these sea sounds, and all the whole insane poem ‘Sea.‘”
  10. #10
    “I’m bursting to explain everything to him, not even Big Sur but the past several years, but there’s no chance with everybody yakking -- And in fact I can see in Cody’s eyes that he can see in my own eyes the regret we both feel that recently we haven’t had chances to talk whatever, like we used to do driving across America and back in the old road days, too many people now want to talk to us and tell us their stories, we’ve been hemmed in and surrounded and outnumbered -- The circle’s closed in on the old heroes of the night.”
  1. #11
    “Pacific fury flashing on rocks that rise like gloomy sea shroud towers out of the cove, the bingbang cove with its seas booming inside caves and slapping out, the cities of seaweed floating up and down you can even see their dark leer in the phosphorescent seabeach nightlight.”
  2. #12
    “But Cody’s oldfashioned family tiptoe sneak carries that strange apocalyptic burst of gold he somehow always manages to produce, like I said elsewhere the time in Mexico he drove an old car over a rutted road very slowly as we were all high on tea and I saw golden Heaven, or the other times he’s always seemed so golden like as I say in a davenport of some sort in Heaven in the golden top of Heaven.”
  3. #13
    ″(all over America high school and college kids thinking “Jack Duluoz is 26 years old and on the road all the time hitch hiking” while there I am almost 40 years old, bored and jaded in a roomette bunk crashin across that Salt Flat)”
  4. #14
    “The road’s up there on the wall a thousand feet with a sheer drop sometimes, ... And worst of all is the bridge! I go ambling seaward along the path by the creek and see this awful thin white line of bridge a thousand unbridgeable sighs of height above the little woods.”
  5. #15
    “All kinds of strange and marvelous things like the weird Ripley situation of a huge tree that’s fallen across a creek maybe 500 years ago and’s made a bridge thereby.”
  6. #16
    “I’ve got the directions all memorized from a little map Monsanto’s mailed me but in my imagination dreaming about this big retreat back home there’d been something larkish, bucolic, all homely woods and gladness instead of all this aerial roaring mystery in the dark.”
  7. #17
    “O the sad music of it all, I’ve done it all, seen it all, done everything with everybody.”
  8. #18
    “In fact, flying silently around my lamplit cabin at 3 o’clock in the morning as I’m reading (of all things) (shudder) Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde -- Small wonder maybe that I myself turned from serene Jekyll to hysterical Hyde in the short space of six weeks, losing absolute control of the peace mechanisms of my mind for the first time in my life.”
  9. #19
    “I see it all raving before me the endless yakking kitchen mouthings of life, the long dark grave of tomby talks under midnight kitchen bulbs, in fact it fills me with love to realize that life so avid and misunderstood nevertheless reaches out skinny skeleton hand to me and to Billie too -- But you know what I mean.
    And this is the way it begins.”
  10. #20
    “So once again I’m Ti Jean the Child, playing, sewing patches, cooking suppers, washing dishes (always kept the kettle boiling on the fire and anytime dishes needed to be washed I just pour hot hot water into pan with Tide soap and soak them good and then wipe them clean after scouring with little 5-&-10 wire scourer).”

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  1. #21
    “In those days he really didn’t know what he was talking about; that is to say, he was a young jail kid all hung-up on the wonderful possibilities of becoming a real intellectual, and he liked to talk in the tone and using the words, but in a jumbled way, that he had heard from “real intellectuals” - although, mind you, he wasn’t so naive as that in all other things, and it took him just a few months with Carlo Marx to become completely in there with all the terms and jargon. Nonetheless we understood each other on other levels of madness, and I agreed that he could stay at my house till he found a job and furthermore we agreed to go out West sometime. That was the winter of 1947.”
  2. #22
    “One of the biggest troubles of hitchhiking is having to talk to innumerable people, make them feel that they didn’t make a mistake picking you up.”
  3. #23
    “That last thing is what you can’t get, Carlo. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once for all.”
  4. #24
    “Marylou was the only girl Dean ever really loved. He was sick with regret when he saw her face again, and, as of yore, he pleaded and begged at her knees for the joy of her being. She understood Dean; she stroked his hair; she knew he was mad.”
  5. #25
    “I wondered how he could live with her like this. He had more books than I’ve ever seen in all my life - two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls, and such books as the Apocryphal Something-or-Other in ten volumes. He played Verdi operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with a great rip down the back. He didn’t give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the New York waterfront with original seventeenth-century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a big spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out, he was so excited with life.”
  6. #26
    “First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who’d shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty.”
  7. #27
    “And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.”
  8. #28
    “Remember that I believe in you. I’m infinitely sorry for the foolish grievance I held against you yesterday afternoon.”
  9. #29
    “I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was- I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds.”
  10. #30
    “The night was getting more and more frantic. I wished Dean and Carlo were there - then I realized they’d be out of place and unhappy. They were like the man with the dungeon stone and the gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining.”
  1. #31
    “That was the way Dean found me when he finally decided I was worth saving. He took me home to Camille’s house. ‘Where’s Marylou, man?‘”
  2. #32
    ″‘Well, then, I’ll put it off.’ I had no money. I sent my aunt an airmail letter asking her for fifty dollars and said it would be the last money I’d ask; after that she would be getting money back from me, as soon as I got that ship.”
  3. #33
    “During the depression,” said the cowboy to me, “I used to hop freights at least once a month. In those days you’d see hundreds of men riding a flatcar or in a boxcar, and they weren’t just bums, they were all kinds of men out of work and going from one place to another and some of them just wandering.”
  4. #34
    “There was a lull when we came in. Gene and Blondey just stood there, looking at nobody; all they wanted was cigarettes. There were some pretty girls, too. And one of them made eyes at Blondey and he never saw it, and if he had he wouldn’t have cared, he was so sad and gone.”
  5. #35
    “It was a warm and beautiful day for hitchhiking. To get out of the impossible complexities of Chicago traffic I took a bus to Joliet, Illinois, went by the Joliet pen, stationed myself just outside town after a walk through its leafy rickety streets behind, and pointed my way. All the way from New York to Joliet by bus, and I had spent more than half my money.”
  6. #36
    “Suddenly we came down from the mountain and overlooked the great sea-plain of Denver; heat rose as from an oven. We began to sing songs. I was itching to get on to San Francisco.”
  7. #37
    “And Carlo began his monkey dance in the streets of life as I’d seen him do so many times everywhere in New York.”
  8. #38
    “We were so used to traveling we had to walk all over Long Island, but there was no more land, just the Atlantic Ocean, and we could only go so far. We clasped hands and agreed to be friends forever.”
  9. #39
    “I asked him the circumstances of his being in LA in 1944. ‘I was arrested in Arizona, the joint absolutely the worst joint I’ve ever been in. I had to escape and pulled the greatest escape in my life, speaking of escapes, you see, in a general way.‘”
  10. #40
    “To make up lost money he pulled tricks in the lot, a change artist of the first order. I saw him wish a well-to-do man Merry Christmas so volubly a five-spot in change for twenty was never missed.”

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  1. #41
    “I felt free and therefore I was free.”
  2. #42
    “The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.”
  3. #43
    “My karma was to be born in America where nobody has any fun or believes in anything, especially wisdom.”
  4. #44
    “Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.”
  5. #45
    “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
  6. #46
    “I don’t wanta hear all your word descriptions of words words words you made up all winter, man I wanta be enlightened by actions.”
  7. #47
    “Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, “God, I love you” and looked to the sky and really meant it. “I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other.” To the children and the innocent it’s all the same.”
  8. #48
    “Pain or love or danger makes you real again...”
  9. #49
    “Rocks are space, and space is illusion.”
  10. #50
    “One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.”
  1. #51
    “It all ends in tears anyway.”
  2. #52
    “The silence was an intense roar.”
  3. #53
    “The human bones are but vain lines dawdling, the whole universe a blank mold of stars.”
  4. #54
    “Are we fallen angels who didn’t want to believe that nothing is nothing and so were born to lose our loved ones and dear friends one by one and finally our own life, to see it proved?”
  5. #55
    “Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.”
  6. #56
    “Pretty girls make graves.”
  7. #57
    Mind is the Maker, for no reason at all, for all this creation, created to fall.”
  8. #58
    “Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.”
  9. #59
    “I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”
  10. #60
    “It was all completely serious, all completely hallucinated, all completely happy.”
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