Taken from Daybreak Films/Mill Valley Film Group's documentary "Kerouac, the Movie" (1985). Edits were in the footage already. Wanted: this complete intervie...
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Kerouac to this day is controversial. Not just because of the drugs and language which pose a significant road block for novel adoption in high schools, but for literary "style."
Call it "stream of consciousness" or just plain rambling, Kerouac's style was probably as disruptive to traditional novel writing paradigms as Picasso's cubism was to the existing paradigms in portraiture.
Bob Dylan disrupted folk music similarly.
Yet in retrospect all were trail blazers disrupting established practice, maligned in their oddness, and eventually glorified in their visionary contributions.
Truthfully, I was more of a Steve Allen fan than a Kerouac fan. Though my exposure to Steve Allen was far greater than my exposure to Kerouac. But, my interest in both drew me to this short video.
My attraction to Steve Allen was entirely based upon his disruptive influence on entertainment particularly the talk show. His humor was "modern." His piano playing, interview styles, and cast of regular sidekicks such as Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Tom Poston, and Don Knotts were all "fresh" and "refreshing" comedians. At the time a bit edgy, though time has softened the edge considerably.
In watching this clip, enjoying Steve Allen's "hip" style, interviewing Keroauc while tossing in an occassional jazz riff on the piano brought back fond memories.
But, my memories of Kerouac were less fixed due to the lesser exposure I brought to the clip. Yet, I found myself absolutely amazed by his reading. It was poetry passing itself off as narrative. It sang the narrative with a pronounced rhythm and coolness.
I had never made the connection before between Kerouac's "stream of consciousness" and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's prose poetry. And, I've never spent much time listening to rap music, yet it's clear that many rappers, are following in the footsteps of Kerouac's style.
And while writing that last sentence, I had the thought that another big influence in the same area of disruptive innovation was immediate the first time I heard Ken Nordine's Word Jazz.
Perhaps whatever the lesson might be in disruptive creativity or in revisiting examples of those who were disruptive to their contemporaries, it might be worth considering whether such literary efforts today such as those found at PoetryTweets (https://twitter.com/PoetryTweets) and Google Poetics (http://www.googlepoetics.com) might raise criticisms among one generation of literature educators that will be well received in retrospect.