Whole Life Magazine

December 2012/January 2013

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ThirsTing for Meaning Actress Kristen Stewart inds new direction On the Road F By Susan Hornik resh oFF her role as Bella, human turned vampire in the twilight series, actress Kristen stewart takes off on a completely different journey, as the free-spirited marylou in on the road, walter salles' ilm adaptation of Jack Kerouac's biographical novel. the widely read book follows a group of young friends on a spiritual quest for meaning amidst the conformity and conservatism of the 1950s. throughout their crosscountry travels they seek personal fulillment and enlightenment through the juxtaposition of the worldly and the holy: Buddhism, poetry, jazz, sex and drugs. Kerouac's own background was steeped in catholicism. he'd had a vision in a catholic church in lowell, massachusetts in 1954, in which he began to perceive that "beat" really meant "beatiic," as in spiritual transcendence. in on the road, published three years later, he portrayed dean moriarty, modeled on his writer friend neal cassady, as both beat and beatiic, but over the years the secular aspect of his writing has taken precedence over the spiritual. thomas Bierowski, author of Kerouac in ecstasy: shamanic expression in the writings, told bctv.org, "most readers/critics either give short shrift to the serious spiritual content of Kerouac's novels or overlook it altogether because, i don't know, he had a lot of bad habits, or wasn't a good pious person or something. do you gotta be 'good' to be spiritual? would that it were so simple. old Jack was a serious catholic and a serious Buddhist." 30 Finding the Path the re-telling of the "search for meaning" still seems relevant to young people today, stewart told wlt. "i deinitely relate to those characters," she said, "they never stopped pushing themselves and each other to ind the answers they were looking for. i was 15 years old when i read that book, and it changed me." castmate garrett hedlund was a great fan of Kerouac's work too, and thrilled to be cast in the part of dean moriarty. "i was in disbelief that something like this would come my way. most of the things we are in search of, we rarely ind," he said. seekers today incorporate new technology and ind their own unique approaches, yet continue to follow many of the now-well-trod paths of the Beats. they explore spirituality and personal growth, but also dabble in sex, drugs and nonconforming personal appearance. "there are always going to be outsiders who don't feel that way once they ind other outsiders," stewart said. "and there are always going to be people who have differ- wholelifetimesmagazine.com OnTheRoad2.indd 30 11/27/12 3:22 PM

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