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Ken Kesey (1935-2001) wrote 1 Flew More than the Cuckoo’s Nest and is a topic in The Electric Kool-Help Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. To celebrate his birthday, we’ve unearthed this piece initially published in the May well, 1994 concern of Higher Occasions.


A couple years back, a lady from East Germany came by the farm. She was an definitely wonderful lady, an Olympic pentathlete, about 6’2″. This was right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Apparently, there was a lot of dollars left more than from the Marshall Program that had under no circumstances been utilized.

Lots of people today, who had under no circumstances been capable to travel outdoors of the Iron Curtain, have been capable to get dollars and travel to the United States.

She was traveling across the nation and was really studying the ’60s. She’d been wined and dined the whole way. This was throughout the Gulf War—Desert Storm—and she’d attended all of these conventions and honorary dinners that have been becoming offered for East Germans and ex-Communists.

Mainly because of the war, these functions had been heavily laden with military traffic—a lot of army people today. Also a lot of negative roast beef. She confided to us that there seemed to be a lot of machismo evident at these affairs—that it reminded her of what she’d study about Germany in the 1930s.

Anyway, Ken Babbs and I have been driving her about, displaying her locations about Oregon. I got out a joint, passed it and quickly she mentioned, “Oh, no! Oh, no! I do not do the dope! I do not do the dope!”

I mentioned, “My God! You are more than right here studying the ’60s and you haven’t smoked dope? That is like becoming a downhill skier and hating snow. This is one particular of the points the ’60s ran on.”

She hesitated and mentioned, “Oh, OK.” She was competitive and began taking some very good hits of this stuff.

Progressively, you started to see this stern, grim, Germanic face of hers alter. All the things dropped. You saw worry come into her eyes and her mouth open and go wide.

Immediately after sitting awhile, her face started to return to shape. You could see her mouth pulling up into a smile. Her eyes have been now squinty and merry.

She looked more than at Babbs and me and mentioned, “All more than America I have been. I have observed just about every sort of macho. But I didn’t know there was goofy macho!”

So we had a lot to speak about….

I consider a lot of what we’ve been via this previous year tends to make it far more and far more apparent that the worst of all the drugs is the bullet. The bullet generally depreciates human consciousness. It is produced, in truth, to get rid of human consciousness, whereas psychedelics are produced to raise consciousness.

You appear at the scene in Waco, and you think—goddamn it!—if these guys had run in there, punched holes and sprayed LSD rather of tear gas, the outcome couldn’t have been any worse.

When you get down to it, the gun is just Republican pondering. Make far more jails, purchase far more guns, get far more cops. That is under no circumstances worked and it is not going to operate now.

The only issue that is going to operate in this nation is for us to come to some sort of maturity wherein we treat every other much better than we treat our dogs. We do not kick our dogs as we raise them. We attempt to use a small adore and some understanding. A small humor.

By attempting to manage people today by minimizing their consciousness, all you finish up with is a bunch of imply, negative street dogs—and we’re developing them more quickly and more quickly. We’re really coaching people today in this nation to come to be criminals. All of these youngsters that are becoming sent to jail mainly because of a couple of joints are going to come out a great deal worse people today than when they went in.

A lot of the people today from the ’60s have the purest of thoughts about the human becoming. We think that the human becoming is a very good guy and that it is a benevolent universe. That you can make far more progress with kindness than you ever will with a gun.

That old 1960s consciousness coming out of the beatnik years is the only path I see that is going to get us out of the mess that we’re in. And our gospel is that joint—that joint will not lie to you. 1 joint will give you a unique higher than one more joint, but they’ll be straight with you. Marijuana performs.

The complete notion of that old hippie mystique—the small girl placing the flower down the barrel of the gun—is so simplistic that it is simply attacked. But if you seriously examine points, it is just plain old marijuana consciousness. The consciousness that produced the environmental movement and the benevolence of Martin Luther King’s leadership in the movement for racial equality owe one thing to marijuana enlightenment—the concept that you can do much better with a smile on your face than with a grim frown.

We’ve been laying off of this notion for a extended time mainly because, lately, it hasn’t carried out any very good to speak out for it. But all of the stuff that began back then is nevertheless really significant to us.

When people today utilized to ask me what occurred to the ’60s, I’d answer: “Shit. We all got arrested!” But the truth is, I do not consider the ’60s are more than. I do not consider they will be more than till the fat lady gets higher.

Ideal now we’re just treading water, attempting to remain out of jail, attempting to make it via.

Even so, now we have a president who plays the sax and really inhaled. Assume about it. He had to inhale! You can not play the sax that effectively unless you have smoked at least a small dope. And he’s caught in the identical bind we are. Obtaining to lie about it.

1 of these days we’re going to have to speak to him and say, “Hey, certain this a political bombshell, but as far as undertaking what’s suitable, right here are the statistics. This stuff—tobacco—kills you and we subsidize it. Marijuana has under no circumstances hurt anyone and it is illegal. Something’s haywire!”


Ken Kesey is the author of 1 Flew More than the Cuckoo’s Nest, Occasionally a Good Notion, and Sailor’s Song. The ’60s adventures of Kesey and the Merry Pranksters are documented in The Electric Kool-Help Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.



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