Artist Resources

Daily Inspiration: Jack Kerouac’s Strange Superstitions

Author Jack Kerouac became the voice of his generation after his prolific outpouring of beat poetry, writing, and idiosyncratic stream-of-consciousness literature. Known for his works “On The Road” and “Darhma Bums,” Kerouac was an inspired author and artist and has been somewhat canonized alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg as symbols of a changing social order of the 1950s.

The other day I came across this bizarre quote by Kerouac revealing his deep superstitions and rituals he followed each day. I had no idea a man who appeared in his writing so spontaneous and outwardly flippant could be so obsessively superstitious. Kerouac was raised Catholic and had a complex relationship with his spirituality, and this quote below reveals just that. While his effortless writing  reads like jazz, it’s easy and sounds as if the words simply poured out of him. Kerouac mentioned that he felt as if his “mind is going”, and if anything this quote can serve as a reminder that those who have been immortalized by iconic works of art were once human, superstitious, and neurotic like the rest of us.

Kerouac’s spent his late life living with his third wife Stella and paralyzed mother which is mentioned below, however if anyone knows what Kerouac meant by the ‘ever-present kitties’ we would love to hear about it in the comments below.

I had a ritual once of lighting a candle and writing by its light and blowing it out when I was done for the night … also kneeling and praying before starting (I got that from a French movie about George Frideric Handel) … but now I simply hate to write. My superstition? I’m beginning to suspect the full moon. Also I’m hung up on the number nine though I’m told a Piscean like myself should stick to number seven; but I try to do nine touchdowns a day, that is, I stand on my head in the bathroom, on a slipper, and touch the floor nine times with my toe tips, while balanced. This is incidentally more than yoga, it’s an athletic feat, I mean imagine calling me ‘unbalanced’ after that. Frankly I do feel that my mind is going. So another ‘ritual’ as you call it, is to pray to Jesus to preserve my sanity and my energy so I can help my family: that being my paralyzed mother, and my wife, and the ever-present kitties. Okay?

[Header image: “Jack Kerouac Typewriter” by kerouac]