If Kerouac Had Bitcoin

Preserving the Primal Passion of Artists with Practical Purchasing Power

Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash

Admittedly, Jack Kerouac is not the best role model for a conventionally stable life of security and comfort in America (regardless of the era).

Unless you consider regularly drinking yourself into oblivion, living with your mother well into your 40s, and iterant wanderings as a “stable life,” then you would more than likely behoove yourself not to model his behavior even if you admire the unique and spontaneous prose that sprang from it.

Yet as a big fan of Kerouac since my late teen years (and after recently re-reading The Dharma Bums), I’ve started to ask a philosophical question since going down the Bitcoin rabbit hole once again: what if Kerouac had Bitcoin?

Ignoring the obvious fact that Bitcoin didn’t exist until 2009, or that Kerouac’s rambling adventures may have been a little less colorful with a Ledger Nano S in hand to secure his long term holdings, the question still rings true about how artists can finally preserve the purchasing power that they may receive from their passions instead of being robbed by time (inflation), regulation (bank accounts/political will), and profiteering (lack of royalties/ unscrupulous collectors).

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

- Jack Kerouac

The manuscript of Kerouac’s seminal work, On the Road, was sold in 2001 for $2.4 million to Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts. This is a paltry sum compared to the $1,000 advance that Kerouac received in 1953 for what would become an iconic novel of American literature. Obviously, the market and Irsay still value the passion in Kerouac’s work immensely, and it’s unclear how much has gone to Kerouac’s incredibly disorganized estate over the years and how royalties were set up and distributed.

But does it really matter at this point? Stella Sampas, Kerouac’s third wife when he passed, has been dead since 1990. Jan Kerouac, Jack’s only surviving daughter, passed away in1996. Nobody even marginally related to Jack Kerouac is still alive, yet there are those that continue to profit off of his work and value it in dollars (something that Kerouac, as a strange mystic Buddhist Catholic, was at unease with all of his life) with each passing day. Kerouac’s life like so many other artists, is a tragic tale about what happens when someone creates wonderful art and then is forced to part with it in our current financial system run by bankers, lawyers, and man-made laws.

Take a moment to imagine what Kerouac could have done if some of this wealth derived from pure passion and living was put into Bitcoin and allowed to simply “be” during his many breaks from travel. Even if he(or a trusted custodian) was not an early adopter, Bitcoin is literally the perfect savings vehicle for artists, transients, and outsiders to society. Not only is it the most mobile version of value that has ever been created, but it is also the hardest money the world has seen since gold.

In lieu of dying a tragic and horrible death in 1969 while flat broke, Kerouac and his estate could have had a wholly different fate in which the purchasing power of his passions were preserved. One that instead of being scattered to the wind and in the pockets of lawyers or distantly related kin, would have allowed the energy of true passion and creativity not to flutter away and be dispersed amongst the various vultures of industry.

Locked away safe on the blockchain, Jan Kerouac would have never been shut out of receiving the rightful fruits of her father’s labor and might have lived far longer than the age of 44 and changed her own wayward ways. Nor would the Sampas family be able to confiscate and access money that they were simply related to by coincidence of a shaky marriage that was headed toward divorce. C’est la vie.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to explain to Kerouac that when you invest in Bitcoin, you grow wealthier over time instead of being at the behest of the dollar. He simply didn’t have the option available to him, despite being a perfect candidate as so many artists from the past and future are. For those that buck trends and may have interruptions to their income, Bitcoin is a godsend and tool that we have been waiting for a long time.

For the man who wrote On the Road and loved to be out of doors, it is worth noting that Bitcoin is also the perfect money for those that may also be without housing at some point in the future. No address, driver’s license or bank account? No problem.

You can take your value on the go, and never even have to access it or interact with it until you’re ready. Worried about somebody confiscating your smartphone, hardware wallet, or personal possessions? Memorize a 24-word seed phrase or keep it handy in an inconspicuous way. Feel like you’re being monitored where you are and are worried about a $5 wrench attack? Send the funds to a trusted friend or set up a cold wallet to store the funds.

If you keep contributing wonder to the world that the market values (or simply your adoring fans), then you have the ability to save your rewards without worry. Those who want privileged access to them at a later date (such as direct family) can be given access in multiple secure ways.

For the wanderers and free spirits that still inhabit America (and there are many), you can take away a thing or two from Kerouac’s sad story. One is that passion and artistic labor should never be ignored: don’t think about the thing that you want to do, just fucking do it already. Second, make sure that when you’re taking value out of your passions that you’re investing them in something that pays you equally as well. It’s damned hard work to be creative, especially as a world weary adult, and there’s nothing worse than letting that energy fizzle out and come to nothing but green bills and bad debts.

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

- Jack Kerouac

A creative outlaw with a heart made of Bitcoin. Lover of the Rocky Mountain West, freedom, and freshly ground coffee. LinkedIn → https://tinyurl.com/kt5s42en