I apologize for being out of sorts lately. I think it's because I've been reading Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov while listening to Kerouac's On the Road in the car.
Oh those mad mad mad mad men. Maybe, that's all literature is–-mad men and crazy dreamers with an old monk thrown in for good measure. Bro-K is a huge novel where the characters dance around each other and their crazy father. I love how Dostoevsky just lays it all out slowly and meticulously. I feel like I am in good hands when I'm reading.
I had read Jack's book of road trips before, but listening to Matt Dillon read it in the car while driving in heavy traffic on six lane freeways, I felt the loss of a world that probably never really existed anyway. . And that Dean Moriarity (yes, yes, yes, yes), he's just bouncing all over the place with a new plan every month and trying to taste as much of life as possible. Nowadays, would he be diagnosed with ADD? Still, there's something sweet in his mania.
This past weekend, my world got hot, damn hot. I'm not being metaphorical. The temps were in the high nineties and hundreds, and I was sweating. I felt like I was inhaling a furnace. When it gets that hot, I just like to lie around and sizzle in a pool of my own sweat.
Fortunately, my own personal Mad Man grabbed my hand and pulled me into an air-conditioned multiplex. We ended up seeing a great documentary called Deep Water about the first solo around the world yacht race in 1968.
The race started and ended in England, shot down the Atlantic Ocean, into the nasty part of the Atlantic called the Forties, around South Africa, then the Indian Ocean, then under Australia and New Zealand, then the South Pacific, then around the Cape of Good Hope (some of the nastiest water on the planet, it churns and churns), then back up the Atlantic. All of that, on a boat by oneself, no stopping on land, for over a year. Nine guys started, and only one guy finished.
Could you do it? Assume that you are a skilled sailor. Could you spend a year on a boat sailing around the world? First, there is the ocean, which is big and brutal. Then, there is the boat. Anything could break. Then, there is the isolation. Can you live with yourself for that long? What happens when your ambitions are bigger than your boat?
One of the competitors, Donald Crowhurst, was an electrical engineer and a weekend sailor, but he had big dreams of fortune and glory. A newspaper in Britain latched onto him as an everyman hero, and he and his family were filmed right as he was being launched. He set sail with a boat not ready to go, and his story became a story of consuming dreams, and eventual madness.
Another competitor, Bernard Moitessier, was on the verge of winning when he decided to sail around the world again. Maybe he didn't like crowds. Maybe he was happy on the boat. He had said that you don't do this sort of race for the glory and fame. What do you do it for then? That untouchable thing that you'll know when you find it. That thing that Old Dostoevsky was feeling when he wrote his words.
And in all that sinking and madness, there is also something quite lovely. There's a kind of dreaming and wishing that is a positive thing. There's that thing that pushes one forward, forward, always forward.