“Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy.” -Jack Kerouac, in Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, who didn’t edit anything.
“Only they’re not writers. They’re typists. Sweaty typists blacking up pounds of bond paper with formless, eyeless, earless messages.” -Truman Capote, in The Paris Review, who did.
I could get up in arms on either side. I could join Capote, and say that the carpenter who drops the nails and the screws and the hammer and the beams and the boards on your head isn’t honest. He’s not really a carpenter. Art, life, and identity are about the choices we make. They’re about how we hold ourselves. Spitting out another word and another word and another word in something you call “stream of consciousness” isn’t raw creativity: it’s giving up on the task of writing.
I could join Kerouac: we pretend so damn much. We poise and perform and polish away the us in us, but we don’t need to. That’s a choice. Sound your barbaric yawp, howl, hoot, cough, scratch, “Be in love with yr life” and live it. (That’s Kerouac’s fourth point in Belief and Technique). Say what you are. Be what you are. Be it fully, and be it now.
And Capote again: I’m not anything until I choose to be. I’m mad and I’m kind and I’m tired and I’m bored and I’m interested, or I could be, but what I really am is the collection I make by choosing which one to follow when, and what work to direct it towards.
Kerouac: no, you’re just mad and kind and tired and bored and interested and wild and rough and drunk coy hopeless helpful cruel cautious curious spiteful meandering inspired. Own that. Doing anything else is cutting off a piece of you.
Capote: if you want cutting metaphors, then carve me a duck without removing anything from the lump of wood. You’ll end up with the same eyeless, earless monsters you write. If you had a knife you might find form. An honest look comes from understanding your perspective, and walking around your subject so you can see from different sides; it’s not from pretending perspectives don’t exist.
Kerouac: your perspectives makes what you see into lies.
It’s kinda fun, watching them argue. I could get up in arms on either side. Sometimes I want to. Really, though, I think they both have a point. As far as I can tell, the two of them would never have gotten along in real life. I wonder if their ideas can in my head.