In “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac wrote: “The best teacher is experience and not through someone else’s distorted point of view.”
In Gregor Weichbrodt’s book, “On The Road For 17,527 Miles,” the Bible of the beat generation gets a major techno-makeover through the distorted lens of Google Maps.
The result is a guide made to let you experience a 272.26-hour road trip that follows the footprints of protagonist Sal Paradise as he jaunts across North America entwined in the carefree journeys of his friend Dean Moriarty.
“The exact and approximate spots Kerouac traveled and described are taken from [‘On The Road’] and parsed by Google Direction Service API,” Weichbrodt, a student in Germany, writes in the forward to the new book.
The 55-page set of turn-by-turn directions, as written by the search giant’s mapping and direction software, is pretty dense reading and kicks off on West 47th Street in New York.
It is part of an exhibit in Zurich titled “Poetry Will Be Made By All!”.
“To me it’s a concept, an idea. It’s odd in which rational ways we discover, travel the world. If Kerouac had a GPS system, he would have probably felt less free. I find it rather discouraging to go on self-discovery with a bunch of route directions,” Weichbrodt told The Guardian in a recent interview.
Still, some may see the appeal of trying to recreate Kerouac’s legendary road trip now that the directions are available as a way to connect with a writer that inspired so many feelings in them with his words. —Jeff Kish