Sunday, 28 September 2008

28 September 2008

weekend. The place was deserted, we were the first customers, ten o’clock. Shearing came out, blind, led by the hand to his keyboard. He was a distinguished looking Englishman with a stiff white collar, slightly beefy, blond, with a delicate English summer’s night air about him that came out in the first rippling sweet number he played as the bass player leaned to him reverently and thrummed the beat. The drummer, Denzel Best, sat motionlessly except for his wrists snapping the brushes. And Shearing began to rock; a smile broke over his ecstatic face; he began to rock in the piano seat, back and forth, slowly at first, then the beat went up, he began rocking fast, his left foot jumped up with every beat, his neck began to rock crookedly, he brought his face down to the keys, he pushed his hair back, his combed hair dissolved, he began to sweat. The music picked up. The bassplayer hunched over and socked it in, faster and faster. It seemed faster and faster, that’s all. Shearing began to play his chords; they rolled out of the piano in great rich showers, you’d think the man wouldn’t have time to line them up. It rolled and rolled like the sea. Folks yelled for him to “Go!” Neal was sweating; the sweat poured down his collar. “There he is! That’s him! Old God! Old God Shearing! Yes! Yes! Yes!” And Shearing was conscious of the madman behind him, he could hear every one of Neal’s gasps and imprecations, he could sense it tho he couldn’t see.” That’s right!” Neal said. “Yes!” Shearing smiled; he rocked. Shearing rose from the piano dripping with sweat; these were his great days before he became cool and commercial. When he was gone Neal pointed to the empty piano seat. “God’s empty chair” he said. On the piano a horn sat; its golden shadow made a strange reflection along the desert caravan painted on the wall behind the drums. God was gone; it was the silence of his departure. It was a rainy night. It was the myth of the rainy night. Neal was popeyed with awe. This madness would lead nowhere. I didn’t know what was happening to me, and I suddenly realized it was only the T that we were smoking, Neal had bought some in New York. It made me think that everything was about to arrive—the moment when you know all and everything is decided forever. I left

1 comment:

information as material said...

Time: pace of reading.

It struck me a couple of days ago (Friday 26 September 2008), the pace of reading Kerouac’s prose. If you read the novel conventionally in a few days, you would be going fast like the road is fast. Perhaps the perfect way to read the ‘original scroll’ would be to read it over 21 days, the time of its construction. You could even read 12000 words the first day, 15000 the last day and make an average of 6000 words every other day if you really wanted to match Kerouac’s frantic pace of construction. However, reading a daily page might allow you to get closer to the ‘beat’ of the novel. “He’s wailing beer caps and bottles and jamming at the cash register and everything is going to the beat. It’s the beat generation, it’s be-at, it’s the beat to keep, it’s the beat of the heart, it’s being beat and down in the world and like all time low down and like an ancient civilization, the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat.” The story unfolds over real time, so when you read about a party for New Year’s eve (starts half way down p.226 with the words: “The New Year’s weekend began and lasted three days and three nights.” and finishes bottom of page 299: “I left everybody and went home to rest.”) the party takes place over three days and nights and it takes you just over three days of reading to cover the corresponding pages, it feels like you are in synch with the unfolding events, digesting them in real time.

keeping the beat,