Jack Kerouac and the Role of Wild and Joy in Attempting Art

Black-and-white Me

I’ve been growing a beard, something I had never done before. I wanted to take a picture of myself but this is tricky even with the Canon remote trigger. It was hard to get the light right. This is one of about 20 pictures I took. I like it but this was not what I had originally envisioned. On the other hand my best images are often unplanned ones, pictures that somehow appear in the corral along with the tame cattle and they are the wild ones.

Jack Kerouac listed 30 items on his Belief & Technique for Modern Prose. Among the items: “Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy.”

But getting the wild ones is not so easy. One struggles corralling the tame but resistant ones first, doggedly, believing despite failure and incomprehension that a wild one or two must appear. And sometimes one or two does appear and they make all that senseless effort worthwhile!

Many of the photographers I admire shoot black and white. One of these days I’ll create a black and white portfolio. There is something both somber and elegant when color is stripped from the image and all we see are shades of black into white. It’s as minimalist as one could get. I’ve perceived the Filipino personality and the society it has created as color and drama and movement as bewildering as a fighting cock; I want something different, something that is closer to my own spirit, the space within me that I must fill with life.

A classmate from medical school promoted my site to our classmates. They graduated in 1970; I finished in 1972.  I am grateful that they want to make me feel I am part of the group but the truth is I never felt I belonged either to this group or to any other group in my growing-up years. Even today I mostly walk my own beat, my own sometimes lonely road. It’s okay. It’s not so bad. It’s my road, my life, it’s what I have to work with and we each work with what we are given. We make the most of it and sometimes we draw that wild card that makes the lonely walk less lonely. We walk in the clouds once in a while and that is enough.

I felt different my whole life. I probably added to this feeling as I got older and learned to appreciate how being different was my unique being. The sense of being different stems largely from living so much in my inner world that doesn’t accept the barriers most other people see as barriers – between the sexes, between religions, between nations and cultures, between ages, between the conventional divisions of knowledge and art into which we’ve divided the world of experience.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have both time and space to indulge this inner world, which in itself is blessing enough. I just somehow think the rest of the world might be blessed as well if I can effectively communicate some of my world with the outside.

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