On the Road
Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He spent all his time talking and teaching others. Jane sat at his feet; so did I; so did Dean; and so had Carlo Marx. We’d all learned from him. He was a gray, nondescript-looking fellow you wouldn’t notice on the street, unless you looked closer and saw his mad, bony skull with its strange youthfulness - a Kansas minister with exotic, phenomenal fires and mysteries. He had studied medicine in Vienna; had studied anthropology, read everything; and now he was settling to his life’s work, which was the study of things them-selves.-in the streets of life and the night. He sat in his chair; Jane brought drinks, martinis. The shades by his chair were always drawn, day and night; it was his corner of the house. On his lap were the Mayan Codices and an air gun which he occasionally raised to pop Benzedrine tubes across the room. (II.6.35).
While Sal idolizes Dean, all of the gang puts Bull Lee on a pedestal, including Dean.
"Damn!" said Bull. "I should have known better, I’ve had experience with this before. Oh, when will we ever learn?"
"What do you mean?"
"Big Pop is what I mean. You had a vision, boy, a vision. Only damn fools pay no attention to visions. How do you know your father, who was an old horseplayer, just didn’t momentarily communicate to you that Big Pop was going to win the race? The name brought the feeling up in you, he took advantage of the name to communicate. That’s what I was thinking about when you mentioned it. My cousin in Missouri once bet on a horse that had a name that reminded him of his mother, and it won and paid a big price. The same thing happened this afternoon." He shook his head. "Ah, let’s go. This is the last time I’ll ever play the horses with you around; all these visions drive me to distraction." In the car as we drove back to his old house he said, "Mankind will someday realize that we are actually in contact with the dead and with the other world, whatever it is; right now we could predict, if we only exerted enough mental will, what is going to happen within the next hundred years and be able to take steps to avoid all kinds of catastrophes. When a man dies he undergoes a mutation in his brain that we know nothing about now but which will be very clear someday if scientists get on the ball. The bastards right now are only interested in seeing if they can blow up the world." (II.7.12-II.7.14)
Bull Lee, like Sal, comments at length on America. Bull Lee becomes yet another lens through which we see the country.
They showed me the proper way to get off a moving car; the back foot first and let the train go away from you and come around and place the other foot down. They showed me the refrigerator cars, the ice compartments, good for a ride on any winter night in a string of empties. "Remember what I told you about New Mexico to LA?" cried Dean. "This was the way I hung on . . ." (II.7.18)
Although Dean at first came to Sal to learn how to write, Sal becomes the student as Dean teaches him how to live.