Retracing the Road

People do this a lot, right? There are certainly enough Jack Kerouac fans out there, and the whole point of On the Road was to inspire readers to take their own trips. But I can’t recall anybody doing what Rev. Angus Stuart, an Anglican priest living in Vancouver, has planned—starting next Monday he and a friend will retrace the trip that the second part of Kerouac’s novel covers (inspired by the trip that Kerouac and Neal Cassady took 40 years ago). They’ll start in Lowell, Mass. to pay tribute to the author before officially kicking off the trip in New York. He’s set up a blog to cover the journey, and he explains to the Vancouver Sun that he doesn’t see a disconnect between a man of the cloth undertaking a journey modeled after one full of cursing, carousing, and so forth:

“The immorality of the book? That was just the backdrop,” [Stuart says…. “On another level, and this has become more apparent to me as I’ve reread it, it’s a parable of life.”

To Stuart, the parable can be many things — that one must strive to “suck out all the marrow of life,” as Stuart said, quoting Thoreau; that the path of excess, he said, quoting William Blake, leads to wisdom; that life is a gift not to be squandered; that you may find your home by leaving it. Whatever it is, what is important is the going.

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