Shanna Be.


Electric Acid Test is like a documentary into the life of Ken Kesey and the Mary Pranksters. By following this group of individuals the author is also able to see where the hippie evolution stands in American culture. In the beginning of the story it was the author’s goal to write a story on Kesey as a novelist fugitive. Instead of entertaining Wolfe with insight into the psychedelic movement and the rebellious lifestyle of a fugitive, Kesey offers another alternative. He forms the idea of the Acid Test, a movement that abandons the psychedelic scene and moves beyond acid. The ideas, plans, and ambitions that Kesey has becomes his current fantasy.
So far the most interesting feature of the book is the story behind Kesey’s experience at Menlo Park and his inspiration for One Flew Over a Cuckoos Nest. It was at Menlo Park where Kesey first experienced the drug LSD. The LSD clinicians at Menlo park were under the impression that they had full control over the people who volunteered for the drug experiments. Ironically the drug opened a doorway to an indescribable feeling of freedom and the ability to fully feel your senses. The experience that Keseys and many others had with LSD sort of parallels with the Norman Mailer’s White Negroe, where the hipster is constantly fighting against the totalitarian conformity of society. Kesey’s expresses this tension in his novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest. The main character Randle McMurphy encourages the manipulated patients to weaken the control and System of the hospital. The system in the hospital could be looked at as the control and conformity in American society where everyone is thought to be mindless. Interestingly, like McMurphy, Kesey uses his current fantasy to encourage people to overstep the control of the system in American society and “move out to Edge City.” It is there where the people are more real and there minds remain untouched by the world.

More often in beat literature and in the beat generation you tend to see a greater representation of men than women. Women tend to only hold significant roles when it comes to symbolizing mother nature, love, and sex. After reading the first part of Dharma Bums, the question that was brought to my attention is if women can fully embrace the religious or spiritual aspects of being beat.
When Buddhism began the form women initially took inferior positions and were unable to contribute little to the practices and rites. Some argue that this is because Buddha was biased against women and was very reluctant to afford them spiritual training. On the other had the inferior positions that women already held in the caste system of Asia could have also been a contributing factor. Fortunately today there seems to be more of a duality of male and females in Buddhism. However even with the progression of women in the Buddhism , the still face the challenge of fully engaging in the texts because they often make references to maleness. In the Dharma Bums Bodhisattva is given a references to maleness. During the yabyum ceremony Princess calls herself a Bodhisattva, but considering tat she is a girl Ray replies that “she was a little of her nut” when she said that. As a women the only way that Princess felt that she could express herself as a Buddhist was through the yabyum ceremony. In this situation we see that she can share in the Buddhist experience but is somewhat limited from the satoris that the other men experience.
Another example of where Princess is excluded from the spiritual experiences is when she asked Japhy if she could also go moutainclimbing. Japhy doesn’t take her request serious and joking replies that they she could come and they could all have sex with her in the mountains. Japhy agreed that Princess was a Bodhisattva, but it didn’t seem genuine because her only significance still remains to be through sex.

What I liked about Kerouac’s Maggie Cassidy is the way in which in the characters were portrayed. The reader could become very familiar with Jack’s friends and was therefore able to understand their close relationship and the strong bonds that they had. I was fond of the most of the character, however as I was reading the book I became increasingly annoyed with Maggie Cassidy’s character. You would think that because Maggie is older than jack that she would be the more mature one in the relationship. It was sort of quite the opposite and Maggie seemed like she was more immature than Jack. She was more immature in the sense that she wanted immediate gratification and material gain from their love. Shortly after they met Maggie began to demand so much from Jack through commitment and marriage. I grew to dislike Maggie because I felt like this demand was unfair to Jack; he was a young school boy and still had a great deal to experience.
I also did not like Maggie’s character because she lacked self ambition, which was one reason why her relationship with Jack was so conflicting. Jack had the dreams and ambitions of going away to school and having a more glamorous life in the city. On the other hand Maggie had the ambitions of just getting married and living a life that is very similar to the lifestyle of her parents. It seemed as if she was just waiting around for Jack to finish growing up so that she could move on with the next step in her life. In a way Maggie also became selfish because she was not in full support of Jack’s dreams. At certain times Jack even became desensitized into to thinking that maybe marriage and the small town lifestyle is what he really wanted instead of his own dreams. Realizing that Jack would probably pursue his dreams while away, Maggie tried to convince Jack not to leave and come back with her to Lowell. In words of encouragement Jack’s mom suggested that if Maggie really loved him that she would help him and support him while he’s away at school. The fact that Maggie tried to drag Jack away from his dreams may indicate that she really didn’t love him, or at least their love was just superficial.

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