… Debunking the Caricature of Jack Kerouac the Nihilist | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Underlying all of this as Kerouac’s spiritual bedrock was his Catholic upbringing in Lowell, Massachusetts among working-class French Canadian immigrants. Kerouac described himself as a “strange solitary Catholic mystic” whose ecstatic vision of life was the direct result of an eschatology of the end of time. What he longed for was contact with the heavenly eternity overlaying and occasionally penetrating our anodyne perceptions of time. “Life is a dream already over,” he said. It was the furthest thing from an existential claim of the primacy of death and absurdity. It was life reinvigorated by recognition of a transcendent reality.
“I know everything’s alright but I want proof and the Buddhas and the Virgin Marys are there reminding me of the solemn pledge of faith in this harsh and stupid earth where we rage our so-called lives in a sea of worry, meat for Chicagos of Graves—right this minute my very father and my very brother lie side by side in mud in the North and I’m supposed to be smarter than they are—being quick I am dead.”