Rise of the Rucksack Revolution

I’m currently reading Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, in which the celebrated ‘On The Road’ author heads on a spiritual Zen Buddhist quest with the hero of the book Japhy Ryder. Having climbed the Matternhorn Peak in the Sierra Nevada in search of solitude, they head back to San Francisco where ‘yabyum’ and mad partying ensued. During their wine-fuelled antics with Goldbook and Coughlin, Japhy talks of reading Walt Whitman and his shared world view of:

“Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils and deodorants and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of the imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ’em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.”

This resonated with me on a very deep level. There is nothing money can buy that will lead to true happiness, and capitalistic greed has created consumer fuelled societies which are destroying the environment. This paragraph really makes you pause for thought and realise what is truly important in life.


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