| Quote #7
"a good-looking teenager with blonde hair who wants to be a sensational new Chet Baker singer and comes on with that tiresome hipster approach that was natural 5 or 10 or even 25 years ago but now in 1960 is a pose, in fact I dug him as a con man conning Dave" (11.10)
Ron Blake is an important character for this reason – he represents the would-be Beat generation that so frustrates Jack. Jack knows that things have changed, in America, in himself, since his younger days.
| Quote #8
"You said in 1957 in the grass drunk on whiskey you were the greatest thinker in the world" -- "That was before I fell asleep and woke up: now I realize I'm no good at all and that makes me feel free" -- "You're not even free being no good, you better stop thinking, that's all'. (30.3)
In seeking enlightenment, Jack has actually driven himself to madness. The knowledge he thought would help him has only tormented him.
| Quote #9
"I wanta go home and die with my cat. " I could be a handsome thin young president in a suit sitting in an oldfashioned rocking chair, no instead I'm just the Phantom of the Opera standing by a drape among dead fish and broken chairs -- Can it be that no one cares who made me or why? (31.4)
In the process of self-examination Jack recognizes his lost potential. He no longer identifies as a writer or even a drunkard. In failing to understand who is he, he finds only what he could have been.