The Dharma Bums Aesthetic Response Essay

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The Dharma Bums Aesthetic Response

After the opening chapter of the novel in which the narrator writes, "Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running- that's the way to live" (7), I knew that the book was not only going to be interesting, but also great. I was not displeased after finishing it either. The Dharma Bums struck me as being one of the most fantastic books that I have ever read; one that contains an amazingly simple and captivating plot, an introduction and insight into the Buddhist philosophy and its followers of the 50's, and also contains the most provocative insight and philosophy about humanity and life. After the finishing the last page,
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Though my copy of The Dharma Bums now resembles more a grade school child's workbook with notes and underlines contained on almost every page, there are a few quotations still stand out in my mind even weeks after reading. The first is Ray's response to Japhy who is partaking in yabyum and asks Ray to join. "I'd also gone through an entire year of celibacy based on my feeling that lust was the direct cause of birth which was the direct cause of suffering and death and I had really no lie come to a point where I regarded lust as offensive and even cruel. 'Pretty girls make graves,' was my saying" (29). I found this passage not only to be of extreme importance for it showed Ray's dedication to Buddhism, but also very interesting and quite noble. In contrast to the promiscuous sexual behavior that is often glorified during the Beat generation (whether straight or gay) and even in some of Kerouac's novels (which, of course, now I am going to look at more closely to see if I may have been mistaken in my interpretation of his earlier works), Ray's character who can be linked to Kerouac's literary voice, is really making the statement that these sexual desires are wrong. I just found this quote to stimulate a lot of thoughts. Was he siding with Conservatism? Was this his way of rebelling against his own generation? It is not that I find qualms with his beliefs, but I do find them to be
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