[Marxism] One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 21 14:15:15 MDT 2009

While not nearly as well known as “On the Road”, Jack Kerouac’s 
“Big Sur” is just as great a masterpiece. Written in 1951 and 
published 6 years later, “On the Road” marks the beginning of 
Kerouac’s career, a time of great joy even as he lived in poverty. 
Written in 1960 and published 2 years later, “Big Sur” was Kerouac 
at the pinnacle of his fame and fortune but totally miserable. 
Indeed, the main lesson of “Big Sur” is that fame can drive you crazy.

Kerouac fans and those who are interested in the creative process 
in general will surely want to get their hands on the documentary 
“One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur”, directed by Curt 
Worden.  But even more it can be seen as a meditation on the 
corrupting influence of money and success on the arts. In one of 
the most revealing moments, Patti Smith reflects on the 
ambivalence that artists have about such matters. Speaking over 
the image of a Time Magazine cover, she says that Kerouac both 
hated what had become of him—the bad-boy “beatnik” darling of the 
mass media—as well as addicted to the very things that transformed 
him into such a commodity.

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