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The Dharma Bums - Essay Example

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“The Dharma Bums,” is an autobiographical novel published in 1958. According to Jack Kerouac, the author, every moment of life has a meaning, just like every beat of the music contributes to the total harmony of the orchestra. …
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Download file to see previous pages He was the leader of the Beat Movement that challenged the social norms of America of the 1950s. Jack was inquisitive about investigating the higher meanings about the day to day existence. Music, particularly jazz, inspired his writings. His contemporaries failed to understand and judge the profound meanings of his inspirational writings. One of his well-known literary creations is “Dharma Bums.” This is not the ordinary path for those who pursue spirituality. He has explained in the novel the royal road to seek perfect and harmonious understanding of life in its totality. Jack Kerouac gives a vivid description about his ascent to Matterhorn Peak in the Sierra Nevada. This relates to the actual occurrence rendered in the fictionalized form. These experiences, if properly understood, are life-transforming. “Running down the mountain”, he writes, “…..with one of my greatest leaps and louder screams of joy, I came flying….” (64) Inner transformation of an individual, when it has to take place, happens within a split second. Jack provides an incredible description about the goings on in his inner world that finds expression through his actions. He writes, “Then suddenly everything was just like jazz: it happened in one insane second or so: I looked up and saw Japhy running down the mountain in huge twenty-foot leaps, running, leaping, landing with a great drive of his booted heels, bouncing five feet or so, running, then taking another long crazy yelling yodelaying sail down the sides of the world and in that flash I realized it's impossible to fall off mountains you fool….” (64) “Dharma Bums,” is not an ordinary story for an ordinary individual. It is an extraordinary story that reveals the potentiality of one’s extraordinary capabilities. It tells such an individual to rebel against the social procedures wherever they hold up the spiritual progress. Its ultimate message is liberation is not in running about here and there. It is there, where you are and one has to discover its source and achieve it. The doomed expectations of the American Dream in the 1960s left no choice to the combustible younger generation. Jack Kerouac opines since a poor individual has to start his life from zero, he has no limitations for his achievements. Therefore, everything belongs to the poor. Elaborating this further he writes, “That’s the story of my life rich or poor and mostly poor and truly poor.” (33)The suffering of the poor in relation to spiritual conflicts differs much from that of the rich. The emptiness of the middle-class American life needs to be understood in terms of fulfillment of their secular demands. In the final analysis, Jack Kerouac argues, “Obtaining Nirvana is like locating silence.” (111) The Dharma Bums is the story of Ray Smith, and his adventurers as a hitchhiker. To climb the mountain in this context is compared to the ascent on the spiritual journey. Ray has not severed his contacts with the secular world and he enjoys revelry along with meditation. He has mastered the art of life and carries on with the available discipline in the world, in the absence of perfect discipline. Free-spirited people in the real sense are not escapists; they are in the thick and thin of life Ray’s life-- Escapism to begin with and inquisitiveness in the end: Ray cannot be termed as the real inquisitive in search of spiritual goals in the initial stages of his quest. He enjoys simple pleasures of life and believes in genuine friendship. One of his friends had committed suicide and this incident has the telling effect and proves to be the turning point in his life. This is the one strong reason why he decides to leave his cottage. If ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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