100 Quotes by Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, a literary icon of the Beat Generation, revolutionized American literature with his spontaneous prose and candid exploration of the counterculture movement. Through works like "On the Road," he captured the restless spirit of a generation seeking meaning and authenticity in a world marked by conformity. Kerouac's writing style, characterized by its stream-of-consciousness narrative and raw emotional resonance, not only mirrored the chaotic tempo of his characters' journeys but also challenged conventional norms of storytelling. His contributions extended beyond his literary output, as he inadvertently laid the foundation for a broader cultural shift that embraced individualism and nonconformity. Kerouac's legacy is a reminder that literature can serve as a mirror to societal transformation, while his own tumultuous life reflects the complexities of creative genius.

Jack Kerouac Quotes

Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain

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Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you're already in heaven now.

Maybe that's what life is... a wink of the eye and winking stars.

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.

Put down the pen someone else gave you. No one ever drafted a life worth living on borrowed ink.

I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry.

Everything is ecstasy inside. We just don't know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind it is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever.

He had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars.

What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

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

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

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Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

It's all too much and not enough at the same time.

The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.

The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.

I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.

Night is longer than day for those who dream & day is longer than night for those who make their dreams comes true.

I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.

Contrary to the general belief about photography, you don't need bright sunlight: the best moodiest pictures are taken in the dim light of almost dusk, or of rainy days.

Be in love with your life, every detail of it.

I came to a point where I needed solitude and 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.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.

No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language, and knowledge.

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Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to realize 'The stars are words' and all the innumerable worlds in the Milky Way are words, and so is this world too. And I realize that no matter where I am, whether in a little room full of thought, or in this endless universe of stars and mountains, it’s all in my mind.

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

Something great is about to happen to me: I'm about to love somebody very much.

Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.

All I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country.

Rest and be kind, you don't have to prove anything

Listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot

What's in store for me in the direction I don't take?

I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.

Genius gives birth, talent delivers.

As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, "Pass here and go on, you're on the road to heaven.

I have the right ideas, but my words are too complicated. I need to simplify them, so that people won't get lost in the dark when they see and hear them. I want them to shine like beacons of light in a world of overly complicated darkness. One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

If you tell a true story, you can't be wrong.

I promise I shall never give up, and that I'll die yelling and laughing, and that until then I'll rush around this world I insist is holy and pull at everyone's lapel and make them confess to me and to all.

It's okay, girl, we'll make it till the sun goes down forever. And until then what you got to lose but the losing? We're fallen angels who didn't believe that nothing means nothing.

You can't live in this world but there's nowhere else to go.

I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.

Pain or love or danger makes you real again.

It's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies

While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light

Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.

My eyes were glued on life and they were full of tears.

What does it mean that I am in this endless universe, thinking that I'm a man sitting under the stars on the terrace of the earth, but actually empty and awake throughout the emptiness and awakedness of everything? It means that I'm empty and awake, that I know I'm empty and awake, and that there's no difference between me and anything else.

Don't tell them too much about your soul. They're waiting for just that.

My life is a vast inconsequential epic.

Listen closely: the eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been going on, and will go on and on. This is because the world is nothing but a dream and is just thought of and the everlasting eternity pays no attention to it.

I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.

The fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together.

Some's bastards, some's ain't. That's the score.

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.

The only truth is music.

I feel guilty for being a member of the human race.

I'd rather hop freights around the country and cook my food out of tin cans over wood fires, than be rich and have a home or work.

After all, a homeless man has reason to cry, everything in the world is pointed against him.

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.

My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.

Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.

You aren't ever going to be anything in this world unless you do what you want to do, when you want to do it--don't plan anything, just go out and do it.

All of life is a foreign country.

All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.

Don't drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.

Life must be rich and full of loving--it's no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.

When you start separating people from their rivers, what have you got? Bureaucracy!

Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.

The best teacher is experience and not through someone's distorted point of view

I promise I shall never give up, and that I'll die yelling and laughing.

You'd be surprised how little I knew even up to yesterday

Some of my most neurotically fierce bitterness is the result of realizing how untrue people have become.

Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they're seeing now, what we'll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.

Avoid the world, it's just a lot of dust and drag and means nothing in the end.

I don't know, I don't care, and it doesn't make any difference.

Something that you feel will find its own form.

The first sip of tea is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy.

So therefore I dedicate myself, to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my suffrances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.

And as far as I can see the world is too old for us to talk about it with our new words.

Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.

You are the equal of the idol who has given you your inspiration

I'm not a beatnik. I'm a Catholic.

LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; NY gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.

So long and take it easy, because if you start taking things seriously, it is the end of you.

It’s not that I can’t fall in love. It’s really that I can’t help falling in love with too many things all at once. So, you must understand why I can’t distinguish between what’s platonic and what isn’t, because it’s all too much and not enough at the same time.

Believe in the holy contour of life.

Suppose we suddenly wake up and see that what we thought to be this and that, ain't this and that at all?

The beauty of things must be that they end.

Desolation, desolation, I owe so much to desolation.

Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.

Lying mouth to mouth, kiss to kiss in the pillow dark, loin to loin in unbelievable surrendering sweetness so distant from all our mental fearful abstractions it makes you wonder why men have termed God antisexual somehow (p. 148)

I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it.

I realized either I was crazy or the world was crazy; and I picked on the world. And of course I was right.

I'm right there, swimming the river of hardships but I know how to swim.

This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do.

I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.

One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.

If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.

I'm Catholic and I can't commit suicide, but I plan to drink myself to death.

For life is holy and every moment is precious.

My witness is the empty sky.

There's wisdom in wine.

My aunt once said that the world would never find peace until men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness.

There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.

The road must eventually lead to the whole world.

Goddamn it, FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings.

As far as I'm concerned the only thing to do is sit in a room and get drunk

I want a blaze of light to flame in me forever in a timeless, dear love of everything. And why should I pretend to want anything else?

Who knows, my God, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?

She brooded and bit her rich lips: my soul began its first sink into her, deep, heady, lost; like drowning in a witches' brew, Keltic, sorcerous, starlike.

A sociable smile is nothing but a mouth full of teeth.

Something good will come out of all things yet — And it will be golden and eternal just like that.

If critics say your work stinks it's because they want it to stink and they can make it stink by scaring you into conformity with their comfortable little standards. Standards so low that they can no longer be considered "dangerous" but set in place in their compartmental understandings.

We tiptoed around each other like heartbreaking new friends.

Pretty girls make graves

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.

The silence was an intense roar.

Life is life, and kind is kind.

Writing at least is a silent meditation even though you’re going a hundred miles an hour.

Never mistake talking about writing for actual writing.

I felt free and therefore I was free.

An awful realization that I have been fooling myself all my life thinking there was a next thing to do to keep the show going and actually I'm just a sick clown and so is everybody else

In our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, It is all one vast awakened thing. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It's a dream already ended.

I petted the dogs who didn't argue with me ever. All dogs love God. They're wiser than their masters.

Bein Crazy is the least of my worries.

I see as much as doors will allow, open or shut.

You can't fight City Hall. It keeps changing its name.

Everything I wrote was true because I believed what I saw.

Let nature do the freezing and frightening and isolating in this world. let men work and love and fight it off.

It's hard to explain and best thing to do is not be false.

and nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old

The Four Inevitabilities: 1. Musty Books. 2. Uninteresting Nature. 3. Dull Existence. 4. Blank Nirvana, buy that boy.

Ah, you always go for the ones who don't really want you

I wish the whole world was dead serious about food instead of silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybody's food money to blow their heads off anyway.

"What do you want out of life?" I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls.

There is universal substance which is divine substance because where else can it be?

Houses are full of things that gather dust.

― Jack Kerouac Quotes

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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