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Dreamed early Aug. 1954 by Jack Kerouac

Plane breaks up over a city, sketch by Wayan of dream by Jack Kerouac. Click to enlarge.

AIRPLANE DISASTERS... have been recorded by a camera device that takes pictures of people while they're crashing you see their agony and even one shot of a man rolling over in smoke---(at the crash)---the device never breaks---We're watching a series of pictures---l am completely horrified because I identify myself and forget it's a (dream) device taking the pictures---Civilian passengers are shown in a writhing tormented assembly in the brave brown plane as it's hurling downward in the night to crash and kill them all---You see men looking at one another with expresions of intolerable regret--

I watch one man looking down at the floor quietly as the others moan and pray and writhe---He is going to allow the crash to take him quietly---But as the picture goes on, closer and closer to the actual contact moment of death as the plane nears the ground, our hero has jumped up and is shouting---No matter who you look at, the face (women, children, men) shows something never seen before on that face and never to be seen again---Intolerable regret and great bemused understanding streaked with pale sashes of fear so great I myself tormented to see it---

You see shots of the dying in the smoke and flames, famous heroes in throes of agony alone not knowing their pictures are being taken or that anyone will ever see this or that anything will ever happen again---It's the Loneliness of Death, the selfhood of death---the fruits of self at last and the pain and terror of it---Its hold was so great, the letting go of it is a great terrified wrenching--O if I could only describe those faces, the eyes at last looking with a new, a final realization of something---Their throats gulping when they try to take it quietly, some sobbing in hands as the poor world falls screaming to destruction---Og----OM! Deliver all sentient beings with thy diamond mace!

--Jack Kerouac


I posted this dream for its sheer emotional intensity. Kerouac had other nightmares of disasters, even plane crashes (like Big Flaming Airplanes), but in most he focused on his own survival, his own feelings. Here he's a pure witness feeling compassion and horror.

Source: page 238 of Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac, expanded (2001) edition, City Lights Books.
Date: estimated from sequence; may be a week or two off.
Paragraph breaks: added. The web is not the printed page. I apologize to purists.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: planes - crashes - TV and video - death - nightmares - Buddhism - more Kerouac

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