I Guess it was my Birthday Party
Dreamed early October 1952 by Jack Kerouac
I posted this epic dream for three reasons:
I GUESS IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY PARTY and for some reason like my marriage I was honored by a great gathering of the members of my generation, the scene was in a big one story house which has elements of the Kellostone house on Hildreth when I was 5, and the Gershom Iddyboy house and also elements of Sarah Avenue because of layout with kitchen pointing towards street thru parlor and also the little cottage across the court has Alice Kerrigan qualities but not in the end---
My mother's around, may have arranged the party but wont be in it to interfere (Ah Gaby Jean!)---elements of N.Y. of course keep creeping in---Wine, beer, all kinds of drinks are ready--- Jim Calabrese is coming, and Cody and Evelyn, and groups of Subterraneans but well dressed and cool I dont even know but heard about the party and come, almost hostile to my fame... Watson must be there,and Madeleine is there--- Julien---but the people, the friends are powerful, intimate composites instead of actualities, for the poor brain yearns---
Everybody arrives---it is quiet, polite hubbubs as befits the beginning of a party--- But does everybody recall rny saying "Something that was supposed to happen just didnt happen?"---(I'm a writer, a sad figure)---and without a warning the party begins to crumble---no laughter---bad sign---the Subterraneans just sit embarrassed not talking to anybody---Garden is trying to talk-----Cody is stony silent---there are arrivals and dispersals, not much gayety or drinking---Groups pull out "momentarily" to hit the bar across the street---It starts to snow---The sadness deepens---soon everyone realizes the party is a sad failure-- Sympathetic expressions appear on some faces-- Small groups get in huddles discussing the party anxiously-- Some girls come to me with condolence faces---
Of course I'm not worried because I have already arranged for a small private party in Lionel's pad in a tenement not far in the snow and have already cut in and out of there several times and back to the "official" main party---at Lionel's there's been records, tea, a few girls, Danny Richman, Josephine---but always these heartbreaking composites and not actualities---Cody has been in and out of this side party like when we flew in and out of Deni Bleu's with Lionel and Danny---in fact Deni is there, has just returned from a ship, has bought (undoubtedly) a lot of the wine and beer and is deeply disappointed, as always---
Finally almost no one is left at the party---Such silence and incommunicativeness has existed between the partyists that it's become a heated, shocked topic of the evening among the handfuls of intimate, rapidly-getting-drunk friends left in my parlor---I'm a little worried because all the efforts of my good mother to give me a nice birthday party have gone in vain--- Cody rolls up some tea in the kitchen, leaves Buckle and me 6 sticks each sitting on the table and departs (without much comment, that is, he's not involved in my trouble or with any of the people, and I'm not actually in trouble anyway, just anxious to hear Cody's opinion which will not come because even as a composite he has lost his contact with judgments of this kind)---
I'm standing out in the little court, rnost of them have left, took the drinks with them---in the little open court, snowing on me in the night, I gaze fondly at the little shuttered cottage (like neighbors back of Cody at 1047)---I tell Buckle, who's smoking his tea,"This is the little house of my past---How odd that one of the fruits of my being grown up and successful is to have this little house of eternity in my backyard, ah spectral night! Oh holy snow! These mysteries---my father---what shall we all do?"
I consider smoking that tea to dig my little house better---the neighbors who live in it are not in at present, an "old couple"---but no, I've laid off tea, it alienates my soul from me "as it has done Cody's from himself"---the little house has old gingerbread eaves, brown, a fairytale house of lost infancies in some kingdom of the past--- Sad, I go back to the last drinks, the last guests at my parry--- I have my overcoat on and sit in a chair, glooming--- The piano, someone's at the late, last piano, among empry glasses---Everybody is crushed to realize that people could have made such a disastrous mess of a poor party, not being able to talk or communicate to the point where it embarrassed them to realize... the whole generation afllicted...
Up to me comes the brunette I loved, and still somewhat love-- She's "Jim Calabrese's sister" or maybe even Jim Calabrese but "definitely not Marguerite," more Maggie Cassidy, sexy, sad, intimate---She is also so strongly Madeleine Watson that I shudder to think of these Names;- She says to me, brooding, "Come on, let's go spend the morning somewhere---the party's over, dont be sad-- Comfort me."
"Comfort you?" I say with a dawning joy. "How?"
"Just comfort me---anyway you can think of." Immediately I picture myself eventualiy devouring her in kisses and love--- I'm all heartbroken to love her---and grateful---and hang on---and incidentally hastily reprimand myself; "Her family would have liked you to rnarry her a few years ago---she was in love with you then---You'd have not only her but lots of money now"---"But you let it all go for some chimera about yourself, concerning sadness, and so your party is sad, fool"---
Meanwhile June Ogilvie has been in and out of my party, with the Subterraneans, like a stranger, an onlooker---she talked of other things with them---But my intimate group in which Madeleine is included talks only of sadness and is a fine group---I go out with Madeleine, to the waterfront; there one of her seaman friends is on the corner of a pier, goodlooking, muscles, strange long arms---he grabs her and pushes her against the wall and goes into a deep kiss---her hand reaches out to me, at first I think with horror of this "comfort" of hers but it's for the quart of port wine in my arms---she takes a slug, back to wall, thug to cunt,---I'm amazed---it seems I know this guy, too, and yet of course I'm jealous---A minute later I try to push her against the wall too, for a kiss like that, especially so she'll be soft and out-hipped to me just like she did for him, but she resists, slips out, I end up groping at her cheek for a lost kiss---("Damn your dreams!" says Evelyn---) I'm afraid even to ask what she wants for "comfort" and I have somehow betrayed her request, too,---This is the Maggie Cassidy part---her rich parents was the Marguerite Calabrese part---
Back at the party, itt now another day, the house has changed into a working office, all the people are there working at desks, it must be Monday morning, gray skies press in at the windows, it's like the Hospital ward at Kingsbridge for location (overlooking New York) (in "Albany")---My desk is at north end, like my bed was--- Wallington's desk south of that, where the Negro Johnson was and also the dying Mr. Kaiser---(was)---Elements of the party are still around, but all at work now--- There are brochures, folders,---issues,---now Madeleine is busy, not as dark, working, not as sexy,---mysterious happenings,---Even the Subterraneans come in and out of the West hall with papers--- But Wallington is quietly and steadily talking, or dictating, at his desk and isnt confused at all---I've been confounding at mine--- I hear him say "We've got to work in love or not at all---" These confident words I see also printed on his brochure which I have in my hand---
---in love, AT love---LOVE---he is preaching this strange thing in a solemn businesslike office and's not even embarrassed, I recognize him now suddenly as a great man, a saint, he is steadfast and almost mad in his insistence on this---and particularly because of my party, which gave impetus to his conviction, and everybody knows it---Great Wallington Preaching Love in our midst, from his desk in Our Office---but at the back of our minds we all know the authorities wont listen, Wally is already some sort of crank in his "Love" work---but I am moved, and wake up in the night full of awe and realizations---
Source: page 27-31 of Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac, expanded (2001) edition, City Lights Books.
Date: estimated from sequence.
Title: Kerouac always capitalized a dream's first phrase as a working title. I'd have called it Work In Love.
Paragraph breaks added. The original is one four-page chunk! But that's nearly unreadable on screen--no landmarks. I apologize to purists.
World Dream Bank homepage - Art gallery - New stuff - Introductory sampler, best dreams, best art - On dreamwork - Books
Indexes: Subject - Author - Date - Names - Places - Art media/styles
Titles: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - IJ - KL - M - NO - PQ - R - Sa-Sh - Si-Sz - T - UV - WXYZ
Email: email@example.com - Catalog of art, books, CDs - Behind the Curtain: FAQs, bio, site map - Kindred sites