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Old Angel Midnight (Paperback) (Jack Kerouac)
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Old Angel Midnight is a treasure trove of Kerouac's experiments with automatic writing, a method he practiced constantly to sharpen his imaginative reflexes. Recorded in a series of notebooks between 1956 and 1959, what Kerouac called his "endless automatic writing piece" began while he shared a cabin with poet Gary Snyder, who encouraged his interest in Buddhism.
By this time Kerouac was fully matured as a writer: he'd written six novels, a collection of poetry, and had already been writing spontaneous prose for five years. Kerouac tried to emulate Snyder's daily meditation discipline, using the technique of "letting go" to free his mind for pure spontaneous writing, annotating the stream of words flowing through his consciousness in response to auditory stimuli and his own mental images. His associations move freely from thoughts to images to pure sounds to emptiness, as Kerouac chronicles "this inner life which we actually lead, one & all, in the new rhythmic measure which we actually speak, and in the inevitable prose or poetic forms dictated by unique revelation of the mind faithfully notating its own processes."
Kerouac continued his exercise in spontaneous composition over the next three years, including a period spent with William Burroughs in Tangiers. He made no revisions to the automatic writing entries in his notebooks, which were collected and transcribed for publication as originally written. Old Angel Midnight attests to the success of Kerouac's experiment and bears witness to his commitment to his craft, and to the pleasure he takes in writing: "I like the bliss of mind."