Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jack's Rule #3: Try never get drunk outside yr own house

A few days ago, I dug out Jack's Rules of Spontaneous Prose. I hadn't read them in a while. It was fun to get the flavor of his vision and writing again. I have a few favorites among them, but they seem meant to be read as a whole. I'm going to keep them around, pin them to my bulletin board, let them remind me now and then to let go and just write.

Jack's Rules of Spontaneous Prose

1.  Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages for yr own joy
2.  Submissive to everything, open, listening.
3.  Try never get drunk outside yr own house.
4.  Be in love with yr life
5.  Something that you feel will find its own form
6.  Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7.  Blow as deep as you want to blow
8.  Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9.  The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language and knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored and Angeled in Heaven

~ Jack Kerouac


  1. As I read this, I get an overall sense of "free yourself and go for it." But I also see a lot of little phrases that seem to contain great brilliance or deep meaning or perhaps even a kernel of mind-blowing inspiration. It does look like a good thing to keep around!

  2. Have not read these! thanks...

    I have his classic On the Road quote committed to memory ;)

    ...] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'

  3. Some of these are strange, some are wonderful, and some are brilliant.
    But all of them are so much the mind of Kerouac. They are addictive and unfiltered.

  4. Hello Teresa:
    It seems to us that there is a great deal of sense to be found here in these often very amusing and witty 'rules'. Perhaps what does come over is that none of us should attempt to take ourselves too seriously. A big mistake, or so we feel.

  5. These are definitely Jack. I especially love #18, it spoke right to me. I hope you are doing well, I always look for a post from you to brighten my day.

  6. These are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them.

  7. What encouragement to Break Out of Mediocrity, forgo the meatloaf on Wednesdays, and follow an inner path. Thank you for sharing this today!

  8. #13 could be an out for me for not being able to catch writing missteaks.

  9. Old Jack Kerouac
    So beat and cool way back then,
    I still dig you man.

  10. So many spoke to me but 4, 8, 11, 18 and 27 leapt out at me. Never read these before. I agree that they do seem to need to be read all together, though.

    Love the roman candle quote, too, Carolyn. ;)

  11. I'm so glad these have resonated with all of you, as well.

    Carolyn, thanks for that beautiful quote. It's one of my faves and I'm so glad for the reminder.

    Ish, the phrase for today and probably tomorrow and the next day after that: "Break Out of Mediocrity." Thank you for that!

    One Fly, I make "missteaks", too :)

    To All of you, A Big Thank You! Each of your comments are deeply appreciated.

  12. I wonder what experiences #3 were based upon. I had neighbors who got drunk (indoors), accidentally set their house or fire, and got busted for public drunkenness when they ran outside to escape the flames. You might say that the cops had it in for them.

  13. Snowbrush, It seems so. For Jack, I think it was an ongoing struggle....

  14. In the end, Jack went bach home to his mother as Allen Ginsberg had predicted...

  15. Yes, I'm Very familiar with Jack's life.
    He loved her immensely, but was also challenged by it. As so many are....

  16. Dear Teresa,
    I've never before seen these "rules," but then I have to admit that I've never read Jack K. It would seem that I've really missed something/someone. So I need to get to the library and look at his books and pick one to start with. Any suggestions?

    These three "rules," which followed one another, jumped out at me:
    18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
    19. Accept loss forever
    20. Believe in the holy contour of life

    Yes. And again yes.


  17. Dee, I have loved everything Kerouac since I was 16 years old. His quote at the top of my blog sidebar pretty much sums up my own beliefs.

    The books: he writes in stream-of-consciousness, so they take some getting used to, but once you fall into his inner cadence it becomes a beautiful read, I believe. My personal favorite is Dharma Bums. It was, for me, transcendent. His classic is "On the Road" which more or less defined the Beat Generation. Jack was the first to use that phrase to describe his group of friends.

    Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy it. They are different than anything else that's out there today. It was an interesting time in our literary and cultural history.
    re: the rules. I love #20. It may be my favorite.

  18. Hee Hee Hee My sign in word is, "quitrap".

    This has to stop. Just got "On the Road" out of the library the other day.

  19. Cletis! Why stop now? We're on a roll. :) Love it.