The Scripture of the Golden Eternity (Pocket Poets) (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) Paperback – 19 Apr 1994
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From the Back Cover
These classic Kerouac meditations, Zen koans and prose poems express the poet's beatific quest for peace and joy through oneness with the universe.
About the Author
Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The best-known of his many works, On the Road, published in 1957, was an international bestseller. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of forty-seven.
Anne Waldman is a widely acclaimed poet, editor, performer, teacher, and activist. She is the author of more than thirty books including, most recently, "In the Room of Never Grieve: New and Selected Poems," She is the co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute where she teaches.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a 'little big meditation'. Read it as a poem and let the meaning percolate deep inside you. Don't sweat it.
I don't think it matters what I say here, either the book calls you and you'll get it or you'll shrug your shoulders and buy yet another detective story.....in which case.....all is fine, you were not yet ready.
I was surprised to find out that Kerouac (whom I'd filed into another category in my brain) wrote such a golden book filled with the Ancient Wisdom of the east. He was going west, wasn't he? ;-)
Oh, how did I discover the book? A Czech teenager mentioned it to me when I was visiting Prague a couple of years ago, go figure.
But as I said if you are meant to read it, you won't be able to avoid it, so relax and throw a coin. Heads or tails?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Golden Eternity is an enigmatic concept that seems to transcend rational thought; it reminded me somewhat of the Tao. Kerouac uses many paradoxical statements to explore the Golden Eternity; his writing is sometimes funny. He also plays with words, using such terms as "the universal Thisness" and "the everlasting So." He even incorporates geometric symbols into one section of the Scripture.
Throughout are a multicultural constellation of references that give the Scripture a universalistic flavor. Buddha, Jesus, Shakespeare, Krishna, Kali, Einstein, and the Native American deity Coyote are just a few of the many references. He also finds insights in a butterfly, cats, and "your little finger."
Kerouac writes, "When you've understood this scripture, throw it / away. If you cant understand this scripture, / throw it away. I insist on your freedom." But whether you throw the book away, treasure it, or pass it on, chack out Kerouac's wonderfully written "Scripture."
_Oh yes, the book is a small one. perfect books are often like that- take a look at the Tao te Ching....
_A man that can write a book like this doesn't have to hang around this old world too long- he's already paid his dues and learned his lessons. Like Lao Tze it is time to depart, for your work is done, and the decline of the country is painful and tiring to witness....
Kerouac is known for his method of "spontaneous prose" which sometimes makes for disjointed, impenetrable reading. He did not write spontaneously in "The Scripture of the Golden Eternity". Rather, this book is carefully and beautifully written and edited. Kerouac seriously thought through the vision he wanted to convey.
The book is a short work in 66 numbered paragraphs which straddles the line between poetry and prose. Kerouac does nothing less than attempt to explain his spiritual vision and outlook on life. The book is eclectic in its sources, drawing heavily on Kerouac's engagement with Buddhism and on Catholicism as well. In addition to the extensive quotations and references, the book relies heavily on Kerouac's own experiences and thoughts.
Kerouac is moving in expressing difficult concepts. The spiritual vision expressed in this book is one of mysticism, shared in a loose way with mystic writers from many traditions and times. Kerouac offers a vision of a unitary, timeless view of the world and of the individual's place in it. He frequently describes individuals and discrete activities in space-time as "illusory", a seemingly paradoxical view shared by some other writers of his overall view, and one which may need to be interpreted. There are elements of pantheism in the book, although I suspect Kerouac might reject the term. The book is also heavily influenced by Buddhist teachings on emptyness and by the Diamond Sutra.
Some of the paragraphs in the book are lengthy and seem to present arguments while others are short and aphoristic. Here is paragraph 10, which seems to me to capture well what Kerouac is trying to convey.
"This world is the movie of what everything is, it is one movie, made of the same stuff throughout, belonging to nobody, which is what everything is."
An important aphoristic passage is offered in paragraph 30:
"Sociability is a big smile, and a big smile is nothing but teeth. Rest and be kind."
Kerouac conveys the mystic's sense of rest and unity in all things in paragraph 36.
"Give a gift to your brother, but there's no gift to compare with the giving of assurance that he is the golden eternity. The true understanding of this world brings tears to your eyes..... Religion is thy sad heart."
Kerouac fought losing battles with drugs, sexuality, and alcohol througout his life. It is too easy to put aside a book such as "The Scripture of the Golden Eternity" based on the troubles and shortcomings of the author. This would be to ignore the voice that comes through the book if not through the life. There is a felt spirituality in this book that informs Kerouac's other writings. Together with other spiritual works similar to this book, Kerouac has difficulty with differentiation and in thinking about evil. This form of spirituality might be viewed as condoning virtually any behavior, as might be suggested by several passages here taken in isolation. But the penultimate paragraph of this book describes the 64 earlier paragraphs as "the first teaching from the golden eternity" while the final paragraph concludes" [t]he second teaching from the golden eternity is that there never was a first teaching from the golden eternity. So be sure."
"The Scripture of the Golden Eternity" is an example of what is frequently described as "the perennial philosophy". It is a way of thinking about spirituality that may be found in other seemingly unlikely sources in addition to Kerouac. The text is available in a short single volume and in a valuable new collection of Kerouac's Collected Poems published by the Library of America. The quote in the first paragraph of this review is drawn from the LOA volume.