"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
The perspective of "On the Road" is interesting because even though Sal Paradise is the main character and the book is told from his perspective, Dean's life and experiences take up a large portion of the story. Sal is fascinated by Dean and in a way follows what he does because he admires him. In a way I can relate with Sal. I am quite, but like to be in on the action. I like to be the listener and bystander. Through Sals narration, you see how he becomes infatuated with peoples personalities. Not to the extreme of Sal, but I would say I like to surround myself with people who are energetic and get me to come out of my comfort zone which is what Sal does.
This story was written over 50 years ago, but it is still very relevant to society today. In recent year I have noticed more and more of this kind of "beat" thinking come back. I don't know if it's because I'm entering my young adult life and this adventurous thinking is what comes with this stage of life or if this attitude is becoming more common.
As I enter my young adult life and become more and more independent, I see a bigger future and have dreams that I can realistically achieve in my lifetime. A lot of my dreams revolve around some kind of adventure. There is no really good reason for wanting to go on these adventures, but its the concept of going out into the unknown/new thats exciting. I don't think Sal has a good reason for his cross country road-trip, but its the excitement of getting out into the world that draws him to go for it. In chapter eight, Sal says, "'That last thing is what you can't get, Carlo. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once for all'" (43). This line really got my attention and goes along with this theme of the need for adventure in "On the Road." Sal is saying that everyone is looking for the last thing or an end point, but unlike Dean and Carlos, Sal recognizes that this 'last thing' can never really be attained. If you keep wanting something more, you will never stop searching. In respects to adventures, one has a need to keep going on better and better adventures. Once someone has experienced an amazing adventure, I think there is an internal need to get back out and keep achieving that feeling you get from going on adventures.
Another interesting theme I saw in this section of reading what how Sal in never content where he is. He always tells himself that it will get better the next place to goes. Sal tells himself everything will get better once he gets to Denver. And then once he gets to Denver he tells himself that it will get better once he finds Dean. This theme is very relevant in society today. Everyones always looking to the future and never really embracing the present moment. And this also relates to my previous quote on how you can never really find the 'last thing' or in Sals case, he can never find true bliss.
In class, we talked about Zen Buddhism and the wabi-sabi view. This was an interesting topic to me because I am Japanese and also because I never saw the connection between Buddhism and this novel. I don't have a lot of knowledge on Buddhism, and I had never heard of wabi-sabi, but I researched it.
Wabi-sabi is the acceptance of imperfection. This view goes hand in hand with the journey of this novel and any adventure for that matter. On one of the websites I looked at they described wabi-sabi as, "undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered." This was beautifully put and helps me put words to why people have this internal need to go out into the world and discover the unknown. Beauty is everywhere and through the wabi-sabi view its seen more clear. Wabi has a connotation of loneliness and saddness, while sabi has a connotation of worn and impermanent. The combination of these two terms is where the beauty comes from. It's looking past the bad and imperfect.
In terms of relating this to "On the Road," I see the wabi-sabi perspective as something Sal is trying to figure out. Sal is on this journey in hopes of finding some deeper meaning in him life and ultimately discovering himself. He's characterized as a bit immature and this acceptance of imperfection is something I think Sal should implement into this lifestyle.
I also thought that peer pressure was an interesting theme because when I read Sals interactions with other characters it feels like he just goes along with what everyone else is doing.