Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Feeling Existential

I've gone through three ratty paperback copies of William Barrett's Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy (1958). It's a happy take on existentialist writers ranging from the religious (Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky) to the not-so-religious (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus). Happy for the atomic age, anyway.

With Jack Kerouac's On the Road fast approaching fifty years in print come September, let's reach back to 1986 for a little biting satire by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper from their album Frenzy. You may or may not recall their college radio hits "Elvis Is Everywhere" and "Burn Down the Malls." I'd post the videos, but they're pretty ragged in a low budget 1980s way.

Feeling Existential (an excerpt)

Standing outside of a Winchell's
You're feeling very existential

You dreamed you were Whitman --
Walt, the poet, the bard --
But you're really more like Slim:
An evil tub of lard.
Lookin' in the mirror,
You think you see James Dean
Now you turn to Dylan --

You "could'a been him . . ."

Feelin' so depressed
You're lookin' so distressed

And all the girls you just want to undress
You're uglier than your high school principal
You're just feelin' very existential

You were kicked out of the college
Your Daddy couldn't afford
So you went out "On the Road"
In a '57 Ford

Then you went to Europe
You felt like Hemingway
You even loved a woman there
But you found out she was gay

Man, you gonna never get rid of your pimples!
You're just feelin' very existential

"Nothin' is nothin' -- Everyone's a twit!
Gonna tie myself up,
Have a little fit . . ."

So grab your granny glasses
Dress all up in black
Find your journal

Read Jack Kerouac

Bed on down through the winter
You're feeling very existential

You wish you had a Kirk Douglas dimple . . .
Instead you're crawlin' inside a Chinese temple . . .
And your mind, mind,
is so, so . . . simple

Standin' outside of a Winchell's
Feelin' very existential . . .

Through a Glass, Avengers

"Bond Girl" Caterina Murino.

Today's Rune: Journey.

Birthdays: Nathanael Greene, Nicholas Ray (b. Raymond Nicholas Kienzle), David Duchovny, Jimmy Wales, Rachel York, Charlize Theron.

Ciao, Beatniks!


JR's Thumbprints said...

Fifty years? I've never been a big fan of "On The Road". Jack Kerouac and the other beatniks certainly had colorful lives though.

the walking man said...

The one thing I like about Jack Kerouac is that his haiku was never haiku by syllable count. Just three short lines thrown together for people who can't count syllables.

That boy went on the road but never really learned anything from it. Except having his wife and mommy close by when he got to drunk to function was a good thing.

and can someone explain to me, because I really don't care, what is existentialism?



Charles Gramlich said...

I'll never forget a criticism I heard of "on the road." That's not writing, that's typing. But I can't remember who said it.