Friday, December 17, 2010

Quotes from the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test

Recently finished reading Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test and it was pretty awesome. His manner of writing, that sort of stream-of-consciousness method really made an impression on me. So I've included some of my favorite passages from it...

While these are not necessarily stances that I fully agree with, I think they're worth taking into consideration.

We begin with Ken Kesey's introduction to psychedelic drugs as a willing test subject in the covert CIA-run Project MKULTRA at Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital, in California.

"And you don't even know, bub... with these drugs your perception is altered enough that you find yourself looking out of completely strange eyeholes. All of us have a great deal of our minds locked shut. We're shut off from our own world. And these drugs seem to be the key to open these locked doors. How many? Maybe two dozen people in the world were on to this incredible secret! One was Aldous Huxley, who had taken mescaline and written about it in The Doors of Perception. He compared the brain to a 'reducing valve'. In ordinary perception, the senses send an overwhelming flood of information to the brain, which the brain then filters down to a trickle it can manage for the purpose of survival in a highly competitive world. Man has become so rational, so utilitarian, that the trickle becomes most pale and thin. It is efficient, for mere survival, but it screens out the most wondrous part of man's potential experience without his even knowing it. We're shut off from our own world. Primitive man once experienced the rich and sparkling flood of the senses fully. Children experience it for a few months - until 'normal' training, conditioning, closes the doors on this other world, usually for good. Somehow, Huxley had said, the drugs opened these ancient doors. And through them modern man may at last let go, and rediscover his divine birthright...

But these are words, man! And you couldn't put it into words... But don't you see? - the visual stuff was just the d├ęcor... The whole thing was... the experience... this certain indescribable feeling... Indescribable, because words can only jog the memory, and if there is no memory of... The experience of the barrier between the subjective and the objective, the personal the impersonal, the I and the not-I disappearing... that feeling!... The very miracle of creation itself and your own dreams... A miracle... an experience..."

And before Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters embark on their cross-country bus trip...

"'Here's what I hope will happen on this trip,' he says. 'What I hope will continue to happen, because it's already starting to happen. All of us are beginning to do our thing, and we're going to keep doing it, right out front, and none of us are going to deny what other people are doing.' 'Bullshit', says Jane Burton... 'That's Jane', he says. 'And she's doing her thing. Bullshit. That's her thing and she's doing it. None of us are going to deny what other people are doing. If saying bullshit is somebody's thing, then he says bullshit. If somebody is an ass-kicker, then that's what he's going to do on this trip, kick asses. He's going to do it right out front and nobody is going to have anything to get pissed off about. He can just say, 'I'm sorry I kicked you in the ass, but I'm not sorry I'm an ass-kicker. That's what I do, I kick people in the ass.' Everybody is going to be what they are, and whatever they are, there's not going to be anything to apologize about. What we are, we're going to wail with on this whole trip.'"

More on the doors of perception...

"[Carl Jung] put forth the hypothesis that the unconscious perceives certain archetypical patterns that elude the conscious mind. These patterns, he suggested, are what unite subjective or psychic events with objective phenomena, the Ego and the Non-Ego, as in psychosomatic medicine or in the microphysical events of modern physics in which the eye of the beholder becomes an integral part of the experiment. Countless philosophers, prophets, early scientists, not to mention alchemists and occultists, had tried to present the same idea in the past... Every phenomenon, and every person, is a microcosm of the whole pattern of the universe, according to this idea. It is as if each man were an atom in a molecule in a fingernail of a giant being. Most men spend their lives trying to understand the workings of the molecule they're born into and all they know for sure are the cause-and-effect workings of the atoms in it. A few brilliant men grasp the structure of the entire fingernail. A few geniuses, like Einstein, may even see that they're all part of a finger of some sort - So space equals time, hmmmmmm... All the while, however, many men get an occasional glimpse of another fingernail from another finger flashing by or even a whole finger or even the surface of the giant being's face and they realize instinctively that this is part of a pattern they're all involved in, although they are totally powerless to explain it by cause and effect. And then - some visionary, through some accident - through some quirk of metabolism, through some drug perhaps, has his doors of perception opened for an instant and he almost sees - presque vu! - the entire being and he knows for the first time that there is a whole... other pattern here... Each moment in his life is only minutely related to the cause-and-effect chain within his little molecular world. Each moment, if he could only analyze it, reveals the entire pattern of the motion of the giant being, and his life is minutely synched in with it..."

Though perhaps a better description of these modes of perception would be windows rather than doors, as it is not something one can pass through or enter, but can only look through temporarily... or is it?

"Beyond acid. They have made the trip now, closed the circle, all of them, and they either emerge as Superheroes, closing the door behind them and soaring through the hole in the sapling sky, or just lollygag in the loop-the-loop of the lag. Almost clear! Preque vu! - many good heads have seen it - Paul telling the early Christians: hooking down wine for the Holy Spirit - sooner or later the Blood has got to flood into you for good - Zoroaster telling his followers: you can't keep taking haoma water to see the flames of Vohu Mano - you've got the become the flames, man - and Dr. Strange and Sub Mariner and the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four and the Human Torch prank about on the Rat walls of la casa grande like stroboscopic sledgehammer Cassadys, fons et origo ::::: and it is either make this thing permanent inside of you or forever just climb draggled up into the conning tower every time for one short glimpse of the horizon :::::"


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  2. Could you cite the page numbers for these quotes? I'd like to find them in context in the novel.