Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that On The Road is dying… or that beat literature is dying, for that matter. Dharma Bums remains one of my favorite novels, and the beat writers and poets will always occupy a special place in my heart.
But this particular book has definitely seen better days, like the roughly 2 years that it sat on a bookshelf, or laid on a side table as I slowly struggled throughOn the Road (it would be years before I read The Dharma Bums…) before it went upside down in a 1990 Honda Civic with a friend of mine and I.
I guess that was some time in late-1994, or maybe early 1995.
When I recovered this volume—some weeks after the crash, and also after some heavy rains—from the backseat of the totaled Honda, it was sopping wet.
Over several years, it developed some fairly nasty mold, and I kept it segregated from other books for some time, until I moved fully into the apartment I shared with some friends in 1996 and 1997. I was a bit lazy, and ended up stacking a bunch of books next to my bedroom door. This volume was on top of one of the piles, that, when taken together, in the dark, at 3am, after many hours of copious cheap beer consumption, and viewed by a myopic roommate apparently looked like quite a convincing toilet, and all of my protestations and exhortations could not stop the deluge that splattered all over this book and some of its brethren…
There must be something in the filtered schlitz that put down the mold, or perhaps some years of moving around, mostly packed tight on a shelf with other works, and traveling from Texas to Illinois to New York and back to Tx did the trick, because I can only find faint traces of a grey stain on most of the pages, rather than the rather mossy black that coated the sides and had infiltrated many of the pages.
This is a long story, I know, and if you’ve read this far, Thank You!
This picture is an in-camera multiple exposure: shot with the D7000 and Nikon 75-150mm Zomb-E Series, all at ISO100 and -1EV, two at 1/5 and f/16, one at f/3.5 and whatever the camera decided the shutter should be, since I shot them in APmode, and with some mild post-processing, mostly to pull another stop of exposure out.
Shots 1 and 2 were focused in such a way to give acceptable levels of blur to the spine, while keeping ‘Kerouac’ legible. Shot 3 was focused tight, just past the curled pages, and gave the overall dreaminess to the scene.
Also, if you’re wondering, this is another preliminary attempt at Levi Moore’s SLIproject, but not the final, and the lyric comes from Brian Eno’s “Dead Finks Don’t Talk,” from 1974’s Here Come the Warm Jets.