Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tender Communion-Kerouac on Brando, Dean & Presley

               

Richard Lewis read this previously unpublished Kerouac on the tribute/compilation Kicks, Joys, Darkness. I don't care for Lewis's reading but I quite like the piece, and it's interesting to hear Kerouac comment on these three contemporaries (he actually never gets around to saying anything specific about Elvis, though he knowingly includes him in the trinity), so here it is transcribed so you can read it from Jack's mind to yours.


America's New Trinity of Love: Dean, Brando, Presley 
[Written at the instigation of the two Helens, Weaver and Elliot 1957]

Love is sweeping the country. 

While wars and riots rage all around the world, in a vortex that resembles the dying Dinosaur Age of Violence, here within her sweeter shores America is producing a Revolution of Love. Three young men of exceptional masculine beauty and compassion and sadness have been upraised by its reaching hands. 

This is strange and it is good. Up to now the American Hero has always been on the defensive: he killed Indians and villains and beat up his rivals and surled. He has been good-looking but never compassionate except at odd moments and only in stock situations. Now the new American hero, as represented by the trinity of James Dean, Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, is the image of compassion in itself. And this makes him more beautiful than ever. It is as though Christ and Buddha were about to come again with masculine love for the woman at last. All gone are the barriers of asceticism and the barriers of ancient anti-womanism that go deep into primitive religion. It is a Revolution of Love and it will become a Religion of Love. The Garden of Eden might come back in its pristine form. The old American Hero fought the Devil; the new American Hero knows that the Devil never existed except in the minds of anxiety. There will be no more tempting of the woman by the Devil and no banishment from the paradise on earth. 

It's got to be. A Revolution of Love is the positive answer; banishment of war and the Bomb is only a negative answer. There have been Revolutions of Love before, accomplished always by some isolated individual like Cassanova, Valentino, Sinatra. But now the intensity and the need is such, that there are more than one. It's not a vain and self centered thing, but it spreads. This is implicit in the James Dean movie "Rebel Without A Cause" where, when the hero and the girl sneak off to make love in the empty mansion, leaving the desperate boy alone (Sal Mineo), and all the trouble takes place, Dean says: "We shouldn't have left him alone," the girl says "But I needed you," and Dean states "But he needed you too." This is child-like and innocent. "Suffer the little ones to come unto me." There is the need all around to be recognized and adored by some other human being, the need all around for kindness, for the ideal of love which does not exclude cruelty but is all-embracing, non-assertive, simply lovely. Not necessarily the Dionysion orgy but the tender communion. 

As always when something new grows out of the groaning earth, this earth which is a recent event in the cosmic eternity of light, there are angry complaints raised from all stations. The dryer intellectuals complain that the adulation of the dead James Dean by thousands of American girls represents a kind of unhealthy necrophilia; they point out the fact that 1,000 fan letters a month are still being written to Dean as though he were still alive, asking for his pictures and asking him to come back because they love him. "Even if you look bad and you're all cut up from your car-crash, come back anyway." Yet if St. Therese (of Lisieux) can make us the holy promise that she will come back and shower the earth with roses forever, this belief in the immortal lovingness of James Dean by thousands of eager believing chicks is well-rooted in a reverential mystical tradition that has certainly never harmed the sleeping babe in his crib. It augurs well for the world that it will refuse to believe that in death endeth loveliness, or endeth enlightenment. 

Elegant complainers say Marlon Brando is ill-dressed, vain, self-centred, Kowalski-Terry Malloy hoodlumish, irresponsible; they picture him as wandering away to leave his girl crying. Yet what is it he has?--that made a girl say "I just feel that Marlon Brando would know how to love me better than any man in the world, that he would go skipping down the street with me hand-in-hand, that he would do anything I asked him, and be kind. Because his soul is free and that's why he's so beautiful!"... Brando is indeed a free soul; his individual approach to his work as well as to his way of life bespeak a strong faith in himself as a man and as an American.      

                                                        

No comments:

Post a Comment