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Gigantic Sand Mountains

Dreamed early Sept. 1953 by Jack Kerouac

writer Jack Kerouac

GIGANTIC SAND MOUNTAINS of the railroad, a hospital or big brother infirmary nearby, the sun, a yawning cave pit---I say to myself "l knew I was going to work on the railroad again, but I'm afraid really afraid I think of these sheer drops, peaks, trestles,---" The rails lead into sweet All Lowell laid out below in some March sun, in fact here there's the daily noon move to clear the mainline for the hotshot passenger to Boston, I see the ancient conductors and proud young brakemen of Lowell in blue uniforms jabbing in the breeze by the engines---I'm up in the sand cliffs seeing this, working freights---

Later it's my writing desk, typewriter, paper, novels---I uncover the old Cannastra Finistra paper roll of Sal Paradise ON THE ROAD novel--- ['Sal Paradise' is Jack's pseudonym in On The Road]

I'm talking to a rnan and a woman, she's going to Mexico, is a parent, says from now on she's going to really live and enjoy genital sex, there's something vaguely futile about her as though she's been making big final decisions like that all her life---selfishly like me---the futility of the Bohemian decider and undecider trying to find hedonistic formulas to happiness in an ascetic ball of globe covered with unhappiness---

In the sand pits there'd been a hegira of adventures with my mortal enemy who was trying to get me to fall but b'god in time after time of clever formula and slow painstaking ah-bedeardoed activishmity ah done laid him onerous bones and all on his rack and pit pot bottom plot, aint never seen him since, 'ceptin I remember his face, sad figure on hill, distant hostility like something in the wind, sadness of his pinpoint soul dementing to me like a rock thrown from the universe of light---but as I say I succeeded in somehow avoiding him and making it and now I'm alright, I had to struggle through all such horrors to get to peaceful railroad securities---It's the shroudy stranger in a white B Movie serial shirt---in his earliest Lowell Lineaments was Fish---the kid who punched me---

--Jack Kerouac


In Book of Dreams, this is one huge paragraph--Kerouac routinely ran each night's dreams together as if they're one big dream. I added the three breaks; suddenly it's clear he had three distinct dreams, wrote them out in a flood, then remembered more of the first dream and appended it. That last paragraph, incidentally, shows that despite Jack's love of dreams as experiences to be lived not symbols to be analyzed, he's well aware of running themes & characters--in this case tracing his Mortal Enemy all the way back to childhood. Positively Freudian!

Equally intriguing: dream/paragraph three, about the hapless Bohemian. It shows Kerouac saw how easily Beatism softens into narcissism. I get the sense, here and in other dreams, that Jack felt he had a right to drop out, even if it hurt others, only because hurt is inherent on this "ascetic ball of globe covered with unhappiness"--and he'd come here not to please anyone, not even himself, but to write. To do the work. To break free long enough to sit on a sandbank and write. "Ascetic" is no accident.

--Chris Wayan

Source: page 128 of Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac, expanded (2001) edition, City Lights Books.
Date: estimated from sequence. Could be very late August.
Title: Kerouac always capitalized a dream's first phrase as a working title, even if it didn't fit the dream as a whole.

LISTS AND LINKS: trains - on the job - writers & writing - dropouts - austerity & ascetism - more Kerouac

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