Episode 1 - Highway One: Epiphanies in Solitude
The pilot episode explores the writing of three authors, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, and Hunter Thompson. Though they have no personal connection, each one of them has sited their travels as a source of inspiration.
What is it about the road that inspires such a deep and startling self awareness?
Their time away from routine, out in the wild, supplied each of them with the material that inspired some of their most insightful and beautiful work.
THE BIG SUR
It's trough a narrow and winding road that you get to the Big Sur, the area spans 90miles along the American West coast.There are no train stations or airports nearby. Phone reception is limited as it is food and liquor.
Besides all the hostility of it's enormous landscape, once you’re there, your imagination is tempted to run wild at the sight of it and most important, it helps us to free ourselves from the monotonous trance of modern society.
Standing on the edge of one of its cliffs, looking at the mist that covers the mountains of Santa Lucia at dawn, it is possible to understand a little bit more about the human nature and all its fragility.
Perhaps because of such vastness the region has become a source of inspiration for so many artists.
Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller and Hunter Thompson, those were men who “knew” loneliness and wrote about it like no one, they chose Big Sur to isolate themselves from everything that no longer served them, hoping they could create again.
And it was in this process that they wrote some of their best works and above all, it was there where they finally discovered themselves.
Persuaded by the exhaustion caused by the success of his controversial book, Tropic of Cancer, Miller moved to the region in 1944, in search of a place where he could finally write again.
He makes his intention clear in a letter written to his eternal confidant Anaïs Nin, shortly before moving to Big Sur.
"I have a lot of work to finish and I am seeking peace and isolation."
Miller believed that only the individual could save us from the reserved destiny of the masses, something he compared to a living death in which people lived their lives mechanically in obedience to ignorant and inhuman taboos.
For him, the path to individuation came through art, and the role of the artist should be to point the way and serve as an example of how to escape a rigid system and achieve personal freedom.
In the final analysis, the time he lived in the Big Sur was extremely important so that the artist could connect with his surroundings and develop his much desired individuality.
Although always associated with political journalism and Lysergic trips, it was in this small stretch of the California coast that Hunter found inspiration to produce both his first and last work.
He came in search of the same paradise that Miller had found in order to complete his first novel. But unlike Miller, the young writer found in Big Sur a playground of strange characters and utopian landscapes that awoke in him his wildest instincts.
With a cigarette in his mouth and a finger in the trigger, he was always ready for a good adventure. Hunter knew that there was a greater meaning to life, but he believed that we should have fun while searching for it.
The time he spent in the Big Sur helped him build a worldview that is hardly better expressed than in his own words:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
Fall of 1959. Jack moves to Big Sur in search of redemption for the resulting madness of his life on Long Island.
With no fans, phones, energy or friends, the region seemed like the perfect place to isolate himself.
But one thing he did not know, at least not yet, was that if you are lonely when your alone, you’re in bad company.
Alone in his cabin and far from the world he was used to, Jack had to fight with all his demons that used to hide under the shadows of big cities and booze.
Briefly lost between premonitions of madness and alcohol withdrawal, Jack lived in the Big Sur, rare moments of inner peace, to finally understand that:
"No matter where I am, whether in a room full of ideas or in this infinite universe of stars and mountains, it's all in my mind. There is no need for solitude."