Amy Je.


Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test takes a turn for the worse toward the end of the book. Ken Kesey is portrayed to be hero. It seems as if he is untouchable. However, after he flees to Mexico the aura that surrounds him changes. He starts to act paranoid and weak: “WAITING! THEY KNOW THEY’VE GOT YOU, FOOL, HAVE KNOWN FOR WEEKS. BUT THEY’RE CERTAIN YOU’RE CONNECTED WITH ALL THE LSD BEING SMUGGLED UP FROM MEXICO AND THEY WANT TO TAKE IN AS BIG A HAUL AS POSSIBLE WHEN THEY FINALLY SLAM IT” (288). Kesey is under the impression that every car that drives down his road is an undercover cop just waiting to arrest him. He has these thoughts fabricated in his mind. At this point, Kesey has lost his leadership powers and is reduced down to almost nothing. It is his low point. He even takes routine trips into the jungle trying to escape his imaginary law. Black Maria gets annoyed when Kesey pulls this stunt: “That trip again. Well, he’ll come back when he’s ready to, worn out, and things will be cool for a while. Kesey had gotton paranoid as hell, but that wasn’t the only thing. He liked this Fugitive game” (299). Kesey was playing someone else’s game. For once, he did not control his actions. Paranoia got the best of Kesey. He does not receive support until the rest of his gang shows up in Mexico. This proves that Kesey is human and needs others for his survival. He is not invincible.

In Tom Wolfe’s, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” the Merry Pranksters form a tight group whose members join by either being “on the bus or off the bus.” This accepted slogan means that the individuals either believe in the LSD movement or are against it. There is no room for in-betweens. Every member helps to form the puzzle; they each have their own roles. “Everyone had his own thing he was working out, but it all fit into the group thing, which was-“the Unspoken Thing”…(126). For instance: “Whenever there is any driving to be done, Cassady does it. That is Cassidy’s thing, or his thing on one level” (158). This quote exemplifies the fact that Cassady loves to drive and that is “his thing.” However, someone’s role does not necessarily have to be a chore, but it can be something they enjoy doing that is separate from the group.
The Pranksters claim to have no leader of their cult. They identify Kesey as the “non-navigator.” This term replaces the idea of a boss. The Pranksters are side-stepping the reality that Kesey controls the cult. In truth, Kesey plans the trips (both kinds), sets the goals, starts the group therapy, and sets the tone for the entire LSD movement. The Pranksters have the utmost respect for Kesey, and the reader can see the power and authority that Kesey holds. In the end, however, the Pranksters are a pack of loyal friends who stick together through it all: “On the face of it there was just a group of people who had shared an unusual psychological state, the LSD experience” (126). LSD is the center of the Merry Prankster’s mission and cult. Kesey adds his own attitude to skyrocket the movement and make it a nation-wide experience.

In the reporting, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” by Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey makes money by volunteering to try new drugs. Each time he goes to the hospital, he undertakes a new drug and allows the doctors to examine him under the influence. However, Kesey believes that the doctors never fully understand what the patient is going through and the levels of energy that are being used. For example: “The clinicians’ fantasy was that the volunteers were laboratory animals that had to be dealt with objectively, quantitatively” (42). This quote describes how the doctors are not fully interested in the feelings and emotions of the volunteers while they are on the drugs. Instead, the clinicians are more focused on reaction times and numbers. One time, Kesey’s friend, Lovell, starts drawling a giant Buddha on the wall. The doctor who was doing the questioning did not even notice until Lovell says something: “White Smock comes in and doesn’t even look at it, he just starts asking the old questions on the clipboard…” (42). The doctors researching these drugs are too concerned with the basics and routines. They need to allow the volunteers to express themselves and illustrate how their state of mind is while on the drugs. The tests are meaningless. At one point, Kesey is supposed to say when one minute has gone by. He uses the technique of his pulse to nail the question. This affects the results that the doctors build their experiments. Kesey is right in believing that the doctors know nothing. Instead of having a successful experiment, the doctors are creating drug addictions.

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