Sal Paradise, Dean Moriarity, and the Great Windmill Hunt
On the Road is Don Quixote told from the viewpoint of Sancho Panza/Sal Paradise/Jack Dulouz; the tale of the hurting, death-filled, craftsman sitting alone in New York City, waiting to be struck, waiting for his life on the road to begin, and then it did, not with some old knight of the dolorous face, but a young knight, a true knight-errant of America, Cassidy, Moriarty, and Sancho Panza, both squire and amanenuensis, goes along, looking for windmills.
He finds women, and strange far off cities on hills, and is promised islands and riches and all of that — Sancho, fat, still broken, in love with the bottle, as nervous as the rest of us when it comes to girls, thatsaid, could still light up a room with his darkbrow when he walked in it — and genderbending Moriarity, first-one, dancing in the moonlight with Old Queer Alan Ginsberg — what songs did those two sing? Cold-water flats in New York City. Here, in the post fin-de-seicle ultramodern new, I sit in Greenwich Village, their Village, after long travels, by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and environs — —
Who am I, echoing into the wishing well, deep dark, down below, coins chinking against the hewn stone sides, slippery with watermoss. What price freedom? Even revolutionaries have to die, Sancho Panza the first, dying in my father’s town, unmourned, unloved, unknown, as the United States carried on, ripping itself apart — the Empire still exists, says the Horselover, dead-now, cybernetic simulacra missing in America, that Black Iron Prison, Tricky Dick’s Ghost still in charge, the Undead King, where is Cassidy, where is Moriarity, where is our Knight-Errant Quixote, Zorro, Batman, Superman, Heroes dressed in pantyhose, silk stockings — when I was a child, my goal was to wear my underwear on over my pants —
We have the CultureMachine, and the MoneyMachine, and the FoodstuffMachine, and the TrinketMachine, and the ServiceMachine, and all these little submachines dancing along their subroutines, factors of production, neomarxist Adorno-style systems of control, post-historical paradise, while we rape and pillage the beautiful Edenic-rest of the world. The Empire still exists. Where goes Quixote? Disappeared at a Dead concert — and now I go to Phish concerts — everything is new again, happy days are here again, can’t keep banging your head against the wall, it hurts.
I lay in bed, under a red sheet and a blue comfortor, echoed behind my head in my two pillows, typing on a black computer whose 15-inch monitor glows too brightly for these night-eyes; to my left, a small wooden dresser, where I keep my clothes, next to that a half-size plastic shelving unit, the top sags under the weight of four books, an empty tissue box (know what that means), alarm clock sits on top of Finnegan’s Wake, my cellular telephone (almost forgot how to spell it, they’re just cellphones now, postnyms and retronyms, strange) plugged into the power strip that sits on the wooden floor, above this shelving unit is a framed print of Jasper John’s American Flag; in front of which, hangs my fuzzy blue bathtowels, big one, hand towel, and big one, then a fake plastic partition-door keeping me off from the living room, and then a large bookshelf-like structure, with a couple of other pictures stacked up, then some binders and papers, then a few of my law books (that’s right, I’m reading law presently), some more pleasure-books and DVDs, my wallet, watch and keys, and below that, on the bottom rung, precariously close to the dustmites my suit and shirts. On the other side, back up, some toiletries, some school (office) supplies, some papers, and then some laundry supplies. On the side of the structure is a shoerack type pocket thing, containing my dress shoes and umbrella. At the foot of the bed, cutting across at a sharp diagonal, is the sole window, looking out onto a small negative air space between our two townhouses, and a pole through which the hotwater flows in the morning, noon, night, sometimes, and a wicker table I mean to dispose of. That’s my room — small but large enough for this one, a double bed, books, computerized devices. 21st century chic. I am poor now, may be poor later, that’s ok — I only spent $23 today, half of that on groceries, milk, orange juice, and Raisin Bran Crunch. Shall I practice the art of KMart realism? Shall I go into those shiny plastic action figures that peopled my imaginary playfield twenty years ago? He-Man, and Lion-O, and Optimus Prime? Skelator, Mumm-Ra, and Megatron? Or talk about the science fiction apocalypses I witnessed as a child, Terminator 2 and Independence Day, Godzilla Remake, and the Lord of the Rings reduced to cellulite? Or how I spent the high holidays of my Third Grade Year reading through the original Tolkien, sweetly seduced by tales of hobbits? Absolute reality — absolute simulacra. Hyperreal. Ultramodern. Alone in the middle of nowhere on a farm in Tennesee, I eat mushrooms, and dream of what the aliens would think, seeing the human monkeys dance to loud music. I think that they would be impressed — I think that God, if he existed, would be impressed — the fun and wonder we have created.
Yes we die. Still, we die. But the fun and wonder we have created — the easy death as opposed to the hard death — the rich life as opposed to the poor life — the full life, well-lived, followed by the deep dreamless sleep — as soon as I stop typing, typing thought-fossil-graphemes out into the noosphere, I will slipslip into an analogous sleep — yes, yes, yes, there are windmills out there, masquerading as giants, masquerading as windmills, and there are yet Dean Moriaritys out there, Father Deans and Baby Deans, and several thousand Sancho Panza’s, waiting to be their shieldbearers. Quest on, Knight, the Questing Beast exists, continues, the Fisher King is wounded, who does the Grail serve, what secrets lie within the hidden sanctums of the Black Iron Prison, who will go there, to what ends, the ends of the earth, I dance ecstatic before the Ark of the Lord, I go to renew the promise, the Relationship, the Great Connection, Rainbow Connection, someday we’ll find it, the lovers, dreamers, me, I love you, Nina, I love you, Nina, I love you, Nina, and I wish that you were with me now, sick babygirl, sweet baby james. Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey, the romantic poverty of youth, the unbounded optimism of all tomorrow’s parties — oh baby sweet baby jane oh baby oh sweet baby jane — what kind of song will I sing tomorrow? What kind of song will I sing?