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George Herms’ Pure XX poignantly reflects Kerouac’s sensibilities. Utilizing the shape of the cross in combination with an image of the Buddha, it incorporates the mixture of Eastern and Western spirituality indicative of the original Beat. The piece also contains an Austin A40 steering wheel cap, which brings in themes of automobile travel so central to On the Road. Perhaps the most obvious aspect of the piece is the prominent placement of mutilated bottles of Purex bleach that match up well with Kerouac’s focus on simple everyday objects while magnifying the paradox of a dirty cleaning agent. Similarly, Kerouac believed in being holy while not necessarily following the codes of “purity” associated with more traditional spiritual paths.
George Herms, Pure XX, Kerouac, beat poetry
Herms, George, "Pure XX" (1961). ENGL 4310 – Heart Beats Exhibit. 12.