Big Sur!

categories: Cocktail Hour


big sur 7When Wendell Berry returned to Kentucky as a young writer he said that one of the challenges was that it was unwritten ground. I always thought Cape Cod was the opposite, over-written ground, where every rock and tree already had a poem or essay written about it. Well, Big Sur, where I spent a couple days last week, gives Cape Cod a run for its money.  As beautiful and wild as the place was, almost everything I saw triggered a literary association, starting with the great sea cliffs I knew until then only through the poetry of Robinson Jeffers….”We must uncenter our minds from ourselves/We must unhumanize our views a little/and become confident/As the rock and ocean we were made from.”

All photos by Deborah Lorenc


Speaking at the Henry Miller library I remembered how much I loved Henry Miller in my twenties, and it occurred to me how much Miller (“I am the happiest man alive”) must have influenced Abbey (“It was the happiest night of my life”),

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My generous host, Chris Lorenc, took me on a drive down the Old Coast Road and quoted Jeffers “Return” as we approached the Big Sur River: “I will touch things and things and no more thoughts/That breed like mouthless May-flies darkening the  sky…”

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Best of all, I got to spend a night in Chris’s cabin, just canyon over from the Ferlinghetti’s, the place where Kerouac lived out the events in Big Sur, my favorite of his books,and one, I think, that in its language play paved the way for some great books of the ’60s (including Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.)

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New friends, Chris, Patrick and Magnus.

New friends, Chris, Patrick and Magnus.

Speaking at the Henry Miller Museum.

Speaking at the Henry Miller Museum.

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  1. Tommy writes:

    Big Sur’s burning right now. About twenty homes gone, so far.

  2. kenneth bass writes:

    thanks for the posting-I want to be there