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The American Experience In Essay, Research Paper

The American Experience In

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Mass Comm and Society

Late November, 2000

? Kesey in la casa grande with the air current up and the sky cloudy, and the Gulp flutter, and the Rat plaster paneled with pages from out of Marvel cartoon strips, with whole scenes of Dr. Strange, Sub Mariner, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Human Torch & # 8211 ; Superheroes, in short. All caputs believe them to be drawn by Methedrine monsters, because of the minute phosphorescent dedication of their custodies. Superheroes! Demigod! ( Tom Woolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, page 288 ) ? .

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid trial by Tom Woolfe is a lovely piece of literary news media cooked up by celebrated paperman Tom Woolfe. Written in 1968, the book ( henceforth referred to as Acid Test ) was a arousal success at supplying the universe at big with a alien than fiction narration of the formative yearss of the early? hippy, ? or? caput? motion. This book contains it all: Hell? s Angels, the formation of the Grateful Dead, Owsely? s Acid, Jack Keuorac, Timothy Leary and more. It centers on an puzzling immature Oregonian? a adult male who could be a husbandman, or your son-in-law? who, for all purposes and intents, co-founded experiments into things psychedelic and the attendant life style that followed. The adult male I am talking of is one Ken Kesey, best-known for authoring One Flew Over the Cookoo? s Nest. This adult male, via mind-altering hallucenogens, transitioned from Stanford University to Everywhere, U.S.A. , picking up other interested parties every which manner. These fellow travellers become the? Merry Pranksters, ? and, on their painted coach dubbed? Furthur, ? they attempt to research the really borders of world and consciousness. And Tom Woolfe writes about it. Some academians ( Of the New York University School of Journalism ) were so impressed by his work that they put it on a ( comparatively ) short list of the 100 best illustrations of American news media for the twentieth century. Is this appellation meriting? I think so. I? m traveling to demo you this instead than stating, but suffice it to state the highest complement that I can pay is that Acid Test is genuinely a non-fiction novel. Pay careful attending to the extracts which follow. Here you will acquire a gustatory sensation of Woolfe? s manner, his effort to gaining control, as he might state, non simply the open facts of his topic but the psychological spirit every bit good.

It would be impossible to give a axial rotation call to Kesey? s set of Merry Pranksters, merely as it would be absurd to portray their narrative in a additive patterned advance. A cardinal component to the overall motive of Acid Test I & # 8230 ; .. ( I? m utilizing a Tom Woolfe-ism here. ) The American Experience. If there is one thing about these Pranksters, these Intrepid Travelers, that makes them of involvement, it is that they seek to see life in a manner that utterly thumbs the olfactory organ at all efforts to fawn at the postulates of history. They don? T privation yesterday. In fact, the whole point is to catch up to the cusp of now.

Let me put the scene for you: psychedelic drugs. In the sixties. They? rhenium everyplace. But as our narrative opens, they? re merely get downing to proliferate. Here is an in-house description of the Power the psychedelic experience battalions, non in doing hallucination but in giving a truer portrayal of World:

? & # 8230 ; These drugs seem to be the key to open these locked doors. How many? -maybe two twelve people in the universe were on to this unbelievable secret! One was Aldous Huxley, who had taken peyote and written about it in The Doors of Perception. He compared the encephalon to a & # 8220 ; cut downing valve. & # 8221 ; In ordinary perceptual experience, the senses send an overpowering inundation of information to the encephalon, which the encephalon so filters down to a drip it can pull off for the intent of endurance in a extremely competitory universe. Man has become so rational so useful, that the drip becomes most pale and thin. It is efficient, for mere endurance, but it screens out the most fantastic portion of adult male & # 8217 ; s possible experience Without his even cognizing it. We & # 8217 ; re shut off from our ain universe. Crude adult male one time experienced the rich and scintillating inundation of the senses to the full. Children experience it for a few months & # 8211 ; until & # 8220 ; normal & # 8217 ; preparation, conditioning, near the doors on this other universe, normally for good. Somehow, Huxley had said, the drugs opened these ancient doors. And through them modern adult male may at last spell, and rediscover his Godhead birthright & # 8230 ; ?

( Acid Test, page 40. All of the mentions contained herin are to Acid Test, unless otherwise noted. )

? But these are merely words, adult male! ? reads the following line in the book. Wordss that were taken in

different ways by different parties involved. One of the best-known parties, from somewhat before Kesey? s epoch, was Timoth Leary. Leary was a founding chap for the League for Spiritual Discovery, a sort of First Church of Acid that worked to supply a? safe topographic point? for? caputs? to hold psychedelic experiences, and, finally, for drugs to be legalized and approved as a holy sacrament. This was a holy campaign for Leary and his like, who had a preference for all things old and eastern. Observe:

? & # 8230 ; an flat with India-print spreads run alonging the walls and sofas on the floor and manus made Indian teapots and cups and three little crystals suspended from the ceiling by about unseeable togss and picking up visible radiations like gems in the air, a topographic point devoid of all the dirt and gadgetry of the modern American plastic life, for, as Leary had said, a place should be a topographic point of pureness that the Gautama Buddha himself could walk into from 485 B.C. and experience at place. For some twenty-four hours grass must turn once more in the streets, in pastoral pureness, for life is crap, a duress of bad karmas, eternal battle against calamity, which is to be warded off eventually merely by purification of the psyche, arrant passiveness in which one becomes nil & # 8230 ; but a vas of the All & # 8230 ; the All-one & # 8230 ; ? ( page 323 )

For Leary, the new experiences and planes of being were best utilised when integrated with the? most ancient pathes? of Buddhism and Hinduism. New vino in the old wineskins & # 8230 ;

? & # 8230 ; as against the Kesey way, which has become the prevalent life manner of Haight-Ashbury & # 8230 ; beyond calamity & # 8230 ; like, picking up on anything that works and moves, every hot wire, every tubing, beam, V, dB, beam, flood lamp and burning of American flag-flying Ne Day-Glo America and weaving it up to some mystical extreme transporting to the western-most border of experience & # 8230 ; ? ( Page 323 ) .

The Merry Pranksters had a preference for engineering. After two commercially successful

novels, Kesey was already naming composing? a thing of the 2-D yesteryear? and was more than willing to welcome telecasting and high-quality sound as the written word? s replacement. ( Historical note: Today, in the present, Kesey has went back to composing? mere? novels, harmonizing to his web site, hypertext transfer protocol: // ) Their coach and their haunts were? wired for sound? , rather literally, and odor and gustatory sensation and sight, to boot! They one time made a great Bus Trip from E to west ( U.S.A. ) and recorded a much of it for the first? Acid Movie. ? And while the League for Spiritual Discovery was chew overing at some shrine, the Pranksters were splicing their movie and unifying it with stroboscope visible radiations, variable-lag playback mikes, music and fume for the really first? multi media? presentations of any kind? the? Acid Tests. ?

And yet, Thursday

ere was nil irreligious about any of this. The Pranksters? looking apprehensiveness of the metaphysical was organizing a faith all its ain ; an American faith. No shrines, no sacraments. Buuuut, as Woolfe began to chew over out loud:

? The experience? that was the word! And it began to fall into topographic point. In fact, none of the great founded faiths, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, none of them began with a philosophical model or even a chief thought. They all began with an overpowering new experience, what Joachim Welch called? the experience of the sanctum, ? and Max Weber, ? ownership of the divinity, ? the sense of being a vas fo the Godhead, of the All-one. ?

Woolfe goes on to state that the? meats? of foundation these faiths came in a flash! of penetration ( or experience ) to their laminitiss. Zoroaster, Guatama Buddha? flash! Their initial experience had nil to make with ethical motives, redemption, or the afterlife, but with experience. What made the Pranksters unsafe, Woolfe mused, was that they realized this and so wouldn? t seek to stabilise and normalise their experience. They would merely seek to be, and go on sing ( & # 8230 ; what? & # 8230 ; ) until they went farther & # 8230 ; down the route, in their coach, Furthur.

Today, in the twenty-first century, the dominant smart philosophie is postmodernism, which ( among many things ) supplants absolute truth claims with meaningful myths, or? metanarratives. ? These are narratives in which we derive lessons for life, or a context for life. The Pranksters found and internalized a uniquely American Myth? that of the amusing book superhero. It is my intuition that both Kesey and Woolfe were devouring amusing book readers. Make see what I mean:

? The Life! A glorious topographic point, a glorious age, I tell you! A really Neon Renaissance & # 8211 ; And the myths that really touched you at that clip & # 8211 ; non Hercules, Orpheus, Ulysses, and Aeneas & # 8211 ; but Superman, Captain Marvel, Batman, the Human Torch, The Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Plastic Man, The Flash & # 8211 ; but of class! On Perry Lane, what did they believe it was & # 8211 ; quaint? & # 8211 ; when he talked about the comic-book Superheroes as the honest American myths? It was a fantasy universe already, this electro-pastel universe of Mom & A ; Dad & A ; Buddy & A ; Sis in the suburbs. There they go, in the household auto, a white Pontiac Bonneville sedan & # 8211 ; the household auto! & # 8211 ; a immense brainsick god-awful-powerful fantasy animal to get down with, 327-horsepower, shaped like 27 darks of lubricious luxury brougham seduction-you & # 8217 ; re already at that place, in Fantasyland, so why non travel off your snug-harbor quilty-bed dead centre and cut loose-go in front and state it -Shazam! -juice it up to what it & # 8217 ; s already hurting to be: 327, ooo HP, a whole expressway long and surging, Shouting on toward & # 8230 ; Edge City, and ultimate phantasies, current and future & # 8230 ; Billy Batson said Shazam! and turned into Captain Marvel. Jay Garrick inhaled an experimental gas in the research lab & # 8230 ; and began going and believing at the velocity of visible radiation as The Flash & # 8230 ; the current fantasy. ? ( Page 38 )

The? current phantasy? was transforming the Pranksters, with their American Religion, into

larger-than-life Superheroes quicker than you could state Shazam! There are over 50 mentions to

superheroes, and amusing books, in Acid Test. Reading and pulling from cartoon strips, code-names were donned:

? Steve Lambrecht was the Zonker. Cassady was Speed Limit. Kesey was Swashbuckler. Babbs was Intrepid Traveler. George Walker was Barely Visible. And Paula Sudsen became & # 8230 ; Gretchin Fetchin the Slime Queen! ? ( Page 69. )

And the name? The Merry Pranksters, ? of class. They had costumes, excessively:

? Mountain Girl has on the violet robe. Babbs has on an changeable brace of bloomerss of many- coloured chevrons, made by Gretch. Kesey appeared in a glowing Yin-yang jacket. It was an changeable jacket with a immense Yin-Yang symbol painted on the dorsum ruddy, white, and blue ( Page165 ) . ?

In this new faith rite did get down to develop, so. The naming of a individual was a form that

they were accepted in the group? that they were? on the coach, ? so to talk. At one point the

Pranksters were in Mexico, fugitives from the jurisprudence. A new miss began coming about, and it was questionable whether or non she was traveling to be accepted. Finally the affair was settled, for? [ Kesey ] had given her a new name, Black Maria. She was & # 8230 ; Black Maria ( 268 ) ? .

With new names replacing old, strobe visible radiations replacing communion tables, and costumes replacing vesture, what replaced Food in their arcane universe? As one could surmise, the hallucenogen, ? Acid? , was the nutrient of the hereafter. But even their attitude toward the old familiar LSD began taking on new dimensions with the Merry Prankster? s American Experience & # 8230 ;

? The [ LSD capsules ] had capricious emblems on them, to bespeak the strength. The most celebrated among the caputs were the? Owsley Blues? & # 8211 ; with a image of Batman on them, 500 mcgs worth of Superhero inside your skull ( 188 ) ? .

Where, you might inquire, make these dare antiheroes travel with their mind-numbing adventures?

Where does their route take them? Well, non to destroy a good thing for you, the reader, but their Trip takes them farther. Agree with them or non, they do research the far reaches of Reality, and Life itself, in effort to make, as Prankster Cassady would set it, now. Not minutes of slowdown clip behind the present minute, but now now now. Futhur. This hunt for the Now, the true American Experience, gets them into problem though. To carry through their naming as superheroes to a Nuclear universe they must be wiling to stand up, heroically, for the way of Right, despite how their popularity with the? caputs, ? the? staight universe? , or anyone would be affected.

? At the midnight hr, Kesey, masked and disguised in a Superhero costume, on the order of Captain America of the Marvel cartoon strips pantheon, will come up on phase and present his vision of the hereafter, of the manner? beyond acid. ? ( Page 328 )

? Beyond acid. They have the trip now, shut the circle, all of them and they either emerge as Superheroes, shuting the door behind them and surging through the hole in the sapling sky, or merely lollygag in the loop-the-loop of the slowdown. Almost clear! Presque vu! & # 8211 ; many good caputs have seen it & # 8211 ; Paul stating the early Christians: hooking down vino for the Holy Spirit & # 8211 ; sooner or later the Blood has got to deluge into you for good & # 8211 ; Zoroaster stating his followings: you can? t maintain taking haoma H2O to see the fires, adult male & # 8211 ; And Dr. Strange and Sub Mariner and the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four and the Human Torch buffoonery about on the Rat walls of La casa grande like stroboscopic maul Cassidys, fons et origo: : : :and it is either do this thing lasting interior of you or forever merely ascent draggled up into the victimizing tower every clip for one short glance of the skyline: : : : ( 290 ) ? .

Lone superhero,

Superhighway Cosmo hero,

Never lies.

Honesty? s the best camouflage

in the bulls and robbers game.

I ain? t Clark Kent.

I ain? t Steve Lamb.

Popeye the Sailor I am what I am ( 309 ) .

? & # 8230 ; the Bay Area? s Superheroes & # 8230 ; ? ( 347 )

Kesey is? & # 8230 ; have oning merely white tightss, a white satin ness tied at the cervix, and a ruddy, white, and bluish sash running across his thorax. It? s & # 8230 ; Captain America! The Flash! Captain Marvel! the Superhero, in a word & # 8230 ; ? ( 352 )