The Dharma Bums
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One of the best and most popular of Kerouac's autobiographical novels, The Dharma Bums is based on experiences the writer had during the mid-1950s while living in California, after he'd become interested in Buddhism's spiritual mode of understanding. One of the book's main characters, Japhy Ryder, is based on the real poet Gary Snyder, who was a close friend and whose interest in Buddhism influenced Kerouac.
suction cups you can technically call yourself a vehicle" or some such to-me-incomprehensible (to everybody else) secret-meaning joke of his own, to which nobody listened much anyway, he kept talking and talking as though to himself but I liked him right away. We sighed when we saw the huge amounts of junk he wanted to take on the climb: even canned goods, and besides his rubber air mattress a whole lot of pickax and whatnot equipment we'd really never need. "You can carry that ax, Morley,
starting downstairs at Sean's and ending up here. And I'm not workin tomorrow so we'll cut some firewood for Sean. That's all he wants you to do. Though, if you wanta work on that job of ours in Sausalito next week, you can make ten bucks a day." "Fine . . . that'll buy a lotta pork and beans and wine." Japhy pulled out a fine brush drawing of a mountain. "Here's your mountain that'll loom over you, Hozomeen. I drew it myself two summers ago from CraterPeak. In nineteen-fifty-two I first
too close to leave his radio on, he disappeared from sound and then sight as the black clouds swept over and the lightning danced on his hill. But as the summer passed Desolation got dry and flowery and Blakey lambs and he wandered the cliffs and I was on CraterMountain in my jockstrap and boots hunting out ptarmigan nests out of curiosity, climbing and pooking about, gettin bit by bees. . . . Desolation's way up there, Ray, six thousand feet or so up looking into Canada and the Chelan
shoved an iron foot down my mouth. But I don't think that's anything but a dream cooked up by some hysterical monks who didn't understand Buddha's peace under the Bo Tree or for that matter Christ's peace looking down on the heads of his tormentors and forgiving them." "You really like Christ, don't you?" "Of course I do. And after all, a lot of people say he is Maitreya, the Buddha prophesied to appear after Sakyamuni, you know, Maitreya means 'Love' in Sanskrit and that's all Christ
fogged in by icy clouds. Rain, thunder in the mountains, but in front of the stove I read my Western magazines. Everywhere snowy air and woodsmoke. Finally the snow came, in a whirling shroud from Hozomeen by Canada, it came surling my way sending radiant white heralds through which I saw the angel of light peep, and the wind rose, dark low clouds rushed up as out of a forge, Canada was a sea of meaningless mist; it came in a general fanning attack advertised by the sing in my stovepipe; it