Explore these Jack Kerouac quotes to learn more about his views on life, writing, and more.
Jack Kerouac was an American novelist who was part of what was known as the ‘Beat Generation.’ The Beat was a group of novelists who wrote about the rejection of economic materialism and standard narrative values.
They wrote about sexual liberation, the human condition, and experimenting with drugs. Other authors included Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke.
Some of Jack’s most popular works were The Dharma Boys, Big Sur, and On the Road. His first novel, The Sea is My Brother, which he completed during his service as a United States Merchant Marine, would not be published until about 40 years after his death.
These Jack Kerouac quotes are from some of his most prolific works. There are also quotes about his views on life and writing. He likely influenced an entire generation of American readers as well as many other cultural icons such as The Doors, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘The Dharma Boys’
1. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
2. “Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
3. “One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
4. “Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
5. “It all ends in tears, anyway.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
6. “Pain or love or danger makes you real again….” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
7. “The silence was an intense roar.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
8. “I felt free and therefore I was free.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
9. “Believe that the world is an ethereal flower, and ye live.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘On the Road’
10. “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
11. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
12. “The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
13. “I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
14. “There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
15. “The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
16. “I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
17. “No matter what you do it’s bound to be a waste of time in the end so you might as well go mad.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
18. “Life is life, and kind is kind.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Jack Kerouac quotes about life and writing
19. “The only truth is music.” ― Jack Kerouac
20. “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” ― Jack Kerouac
21. “Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream.” ― Jack Kerouac
22. “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” ― Jack Kerouac
23. “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” ― Jack Kerouac
24. “I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference.” ― Jack Kerouac
25. “I’m going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.” ― Jack Kerouac
26. “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” ― Jack Kerouac
27. “So, therefore, I dedicate myself to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my sufferances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption, and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.” ― Jack Kerouac
28. “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” ― Jack Kerouac
29. “Be in love with your life, every detail of it.” ― Jack Kerouac
30. “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” ― Jack Kerouac
31. “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” ― Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘Big Sur’
32. “It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate’s so easy compared.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
33. “On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars – Something good will come out of all things yet – And it will be golden and eternal just like that – There’s no need to say another word.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
34. “It’ll take you eternities to get rid of me,’ she adds sadly, which makes me jealous, I want her to say I’ll never get rid of her – I wanta be chased till eternity till I catch her.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
35. “And when the fog’s over and the stars and the moon come out at night, it’ll be a beautiful sight.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
36. “The empty blue sky of space says ‘All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don’t care, it still belongs to me.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
37. “The more ups and downs, the more joy I feel. The greater the fear, the greater the happiness I feel.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
Jack Kerouac quotes from his other books
38. “A scene should be selected by the writer for haunted-ness-of-mind interest. If you’re not haunted by something, as by a dream, a vision, or a memory, which are involuntary, you’re not interested or even involved.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches
39. “After all this kind of fanfare, and even more, I came to a point where I needed solitude and to just stop the machine of ‘thinking’ and ‘enjoying’ what they call ‘living,’ I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds…” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler
40. “Practice kindness all day to everybody, and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Portable Jack Kerouac
41. “Being crazy is the least of my worries.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Blues
42. “Some of my most neurotically fierce bitterness is the result of realizing how untrue people have become.” ― Jack Kerouac, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters
43. “America is a lonely crock of shit…” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody
44. “Everything is perfect on the street again, the world is permeated with roses of happiness all the time, but none of us know it. The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler
45. “Sweet life continues in the breeze, in the golden fields.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches
46. “How clear the realization one is going mad — the mind has a silence, nothing happens in the physique, urine gathers in your loins, your ribs contract.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans
47. “I clearly saw the skeleton underneath all this show of personality what is left of a man and all his pride but bones?” ― Jack Kerouac, Scattered Poems
48. “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength. Learning for instance, to eat when he’s hungry and sleep when he’s sleepy.” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler
49. “I feel impossibly sad and like I’ll die, what can we do?” ― Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans
50. “Dreams were so irrational, so gray with a nameless terror… and yet, too, so haunting and beautiful.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Sea is My Brother
Which of these Jack Kerouac quotes is your favorite?
Thomas Wolfe, who Kerouac read avidly, influenced the Town and the City. Kerouac wrote Big Sur, which features his alter ego Jack Delouz, over a ten-day period. It encompasses his stay in Big Sur California. Many of his works were known to be fictionalized autobiographies.
It is clear that Kerouac was the epitome of a troubled artist. He was honorably discharged from the military on psychiatric grounds. He was a lifelong alcoholic who died at 47 years old due to cirrhosis complications. Despite that, or maybe in part because of that, his work was visionary.
What is your favorite novel by Jack Kerouac? Do you have any other favorite Jack Kerouac quotes and sayings to add? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment section below!
November 13, 2020 7:00 AM EST