Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

Jack Kerouac and Friend

Jack Kerouac and Friend

The following is an itemized list in its entirety of how to write modern prose like a beatnik by Jack Kerouac. It was published in The Evergreen Review, Volume 2, No. 8, in 1959. As usual, Jack varies between the profound and the mundane, all mixed up like:

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house [a rule often violated by Jack]
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry, but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Dont [sic] think of words when you stop but to see the picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning [eh?]
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

The above is reprinted in Fred W. McDarrah’s book Kerouac & Friends: A Beat Generation Album, a not bad introduction to the movement together with photos of its main characters.

If there is a lot of unevenness in the whole beat vision, I think you can see why.