Written during a critical period of his life, Some of the Dharma is a key volume for understanding Kerouac and the spiritual underpinnings of his work.
While his future masterpiece, On the Road, languished on the desks of unresponsive editors, Kerouac turned to Buddhist practice, and in 1953 began compiling reading notes on the subject intended for his friend Allen Ginsberg. As Kerouac's Buddhist meditation practice intensified, what had begun as notes evolved into a vast and all-encompassing work of nonfiction into which he poured his life, incorporating poems, haiku, prayers, journal entries, meditations, fragments of letters, ideas about writing, overheard conversations, sketches, blues, and more. The final manuscript, completed in 1956, was as visually complex as the writing: each page was unique, typed in patterns and interlocking shapes. The elaborate form that Kerouac so painstakingly gave the book on his manual typewriter is re-created in this typeset facsimile. Passionate and playful, filled with humor, insight, sorrow, and struggle, Some of the Dharma is one of Kerouac's most profound and original works.
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Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.From Kirkus Reviews:
More ersatz Buddhism from postwar America's most overrated author. ``Dharma'' is a Buddhist term meaning, roughly, ``law.'' Some of the Dharma purports to be a journal of meditations on that subject, but Kerouac is unable to keep his mind on track, resulting in a work that's ultimately chaotic. His technique seems sound enough: He takes a classic Buddhist philosophical statement and then decodes it for his own use. Unfortunately, his interpretations are usually far from the point, as Kerouac is unable to separate Hinduism, Taoism, and even Catholicism from Buddhism, with repeated incorrect assessments of how the Tao affects Buddhahood (it does not) or how Jesus was a Buddha-like figure (by most accounts he was not). Furthermore, Kerouac, by his own admission, is unable to stay sober long enough to attain any real enlightenment. He sets forth the goals of not drinking, meditating regularly, and abstaining from sex, but he makes lame excuses for his falling off the wagon, and his rationalizations for avoiding sex devolve into plain misogyny, such as his statement ``PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES F*** you all,'' or his observation that jazz cannot possibly be a high art form if women can perform it. Kerouac's various conceits, e.g., that he is a greater writer than Joyce (whose term for verse- -pome--he steals) or Burroughs (whose ``cut-up'' technique it appears Kerouac is trying to approximate), are downright absurd. Comparing himself as an artist to Mozart on the one hand, while unable to get his manuscripts published (a continual obsession in the journals) on the other, often renders Kerouac laughable. If the reader is left wondering what all this has to do with Buddhism, the answer is, very little. If you're searching for real Buddhism, pick up Suzuki; if you must indulge your guilty pleasures with more Kerouac, reread On the Road. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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