05 January 2007

Frontier land

What is the fascination with American writers and the great frontier? I know that exploration, frontier (both internal and land-wise) and "road trips" are one of the great motifs of American writing. But I've never realized that it's really cool how it can mean two very different things until recently. Us 'Mericans have a love affair with our land, and it is fascinating.
I'm reading "On the road" and "Little house on the prairie", and it's all sorts of interesting to see a) how they travelled around and b) what the travels mean to the people. Despite the random and chaotic writing of Kerouac, that can get kind of annoying, I get a real sense of restlessness and how one can become addicted to the thrill of exploring-even if one has travelled that same road many times previously. I'm in the part where Sal and Dean-the Beatific-are making their mad dash to the East Coast. Will they make it to Italy? I can't wait to find out. Their ragged travels are speckled with unsavory characters that were beautiful in all their flawed glory. Why is it that, in our romanticism of the Golden Age of the 1950's, we ignore that yes there was lots of drugs sex jazz and wildness? It wasn't all "Ozzie and Harriett".
And, it's such a pleasure to read "Little house on the prairie" again as a "grownup". I have a deepened respect for those families who uprooted their lives, their safety to make a new home in the Frontier. (Please, lets not discuss here how the frontier was taken from the Indians and lets save it for another time) Pa and Ma Ingalls-man! They were self-subsistent, and it's really neat to see how they can and did do everything for themselves. From making a house to making cheese to mending clothes and knitting Christmas gloves-these people did alot of hard work. But they did it as free people and I imagine that their work was satisfying because it was for themselves.

Also, I'm recommending "Love is Hell" from Ryan Adams-great music, achingly beautiful lyrics.

:) LJS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

only thing good about Jack Kerouac's writing is that it inspired a 10,000 Maniac song