Search for enlightenment – On the Road

Driving from London to Lausanne over new year, Jack Kerouac’s exuberant ‘On the Road’ kept me immersed each night in the question of why we are pilgrims. Whether or not you have read the book, you will no doubt know that  ‘On the Road’ is a relentless quest by the narrator – Sal Paradise and his pal Dean Moriarty to find ‘IT’, the essence of life, by criss-crossing the United States from east to west and back again as though the road itself held the answer. Sal and Dean belong to a long line of double acts in ‘quest’ stories, along with Siddhartha and Govinda, Kim and his llama, Gilgamesh and Enkidu. These tales about the search for enlightenment embrace many other dimensions of pilgrimage, not least its role in strengthening bonds of kinship. In Kerouac’s case, his narrator Sal initially sets off on his journey alone, but it soon becomes clear that without Dean, there would be no revelation, no enlightenment, and no story to tell.fullsizeoutput_713b

 

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