The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.
Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.
And I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.
There was nowhere to go but everywhere.
We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell - across the night, eastward over the Plains, where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking toward us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent.
I was in California. Warm, palmy air – air you can kiss.
The sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.
LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.
We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.
She understood Dean; she stroked his hair; she knew he was mad.
Dean had to drive with his scarf-wrapped head stuck out the window, with snowglasses that made him look like a monk peering into the manuscripts of the snow.
Southerners don’t like madness the least bit, not Dean’s kind. The madness of Dean had bloomed into a weird flower.
My aunt once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness.
I had a dream about a strange Arabian figure that was pursuing me across the desert, that finally overtook me just before I reached the Protective City. I proposed it was myself, wearing a shroud. That wasn’t it. Some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced in death.
Everything was about to arrive - the moment when you know all and everything is decided forever.
Prison is where you promise yourself the right to live.
We asked him what he was reading. He didn’t know. He didn’t bother to look at the title page. He was only looking at the words, as though he had found the real Torah where it belonged, in the wilderness.
On rails we leaned and looked at the great brown father of waters rolling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls - bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa vales and things that had drowned in Three Forks, where the secret began in ice.
Old Bull Lee was a teacher, and it may be said that he had every right to teach because he spent all his time learning.
When you start separating the people from their rivers what have you got?
We know time.
We wanted to get out of this mansion of the snake, this mireful drooping dark, and zoom on back to familiar American ground and cowtowns. There was a smell of oil and dead water in the air. This was a manuscript of the night we couldn’t read.
One morning Dean stood naked, looking at all San Francisco out the window as the sun came up. He looked like someday he’d be the pagan mayor of San Francisco.
I suddenly realized that all these women were spending months of loneliness and womanliness together, chatting about the madness of the men.
And so we rolled down the hill, two broken-down heroes of the Western night.
I suddenly realized that Dean, by virtue of his enormous series of sins, was becoming the Idiot, the Imbecile, the Saint of the lot.
Dean’s got the secret that we’re all busting to find and it’s splitting his head wide open.
Holy flowers floating in the air, were all these tired faces in the dawn of Jazz America.
That alto man has IT and he holds it once he finds it. Somewhere in the middle of the chorus he gets it; he picks it up and carries. Time stops. He’s filling empty space with the substance of our lives, confessions of his bellybottom strain, remembrance of ideas, rehashes of old blowing. He has to blow across bridges and come back and do it with such infinite feeling soul-exploratory for the tune of the moment that everybody knows it’s not the tune that counts but IT.
Dean was happy again. All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
You never cry. You don’t die enough to cry.
He’s mad. And yes, he’s my brother.
His soul, I think, is wrapped up in a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road.
«Where we going, man?»
«I don’t know but we gotta go.»
No matter where I live, my trunk’s always sticking out from under the bed, I’m ready to leave or get thrown out.
The whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.
Suddenly I had a vision of Dean, a burning shuddering frightful Angel, palpitating toward me across the road, approaching like a cloud, pursuing me like the Shrouded Traveler on the plain, bearing down on me. I saw his huge face over the plains with the mad, bony purpose and the gleaming eyes; I saw his wings; I saw his old jalopy chariot with thousands of sparking flames shooting out from it; I saw the path it burned over the road; it even made its own road and went over the corn, through cities, destroying bridges, drying rivers. It came like wrath to the West. I knew Dean had gone mad again.
I want to get on and on - this road drives me!
I realized the jungle takes you over and you become it.
They had come down from the back mountains and higher places to hold forth their hands for something they thought civilization could offer, and they never dreamed the sadness and the poor broken delusion of it.
Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance.