Zachary Li.


The chapter, A Miracle in Seven Days, Kesey was invited to the annual California Unitarian Church conference. The theme for the conference was, “Shaking the Foundations” (185). Kesey arrives in dramatic fashion on the bus accompanied with by the Pranksters who were dressed in costumes. Kesey managed managed to inject a feeling of uneasiness and annoyance on all the other Unitarians just by his initial appearance at the conference. The theme of the Conference was “Shake the Foundations,” and Kesey was wasting no time. According to Kesey a person cannot experience an emotion until he has experienced both sides of it; so thereafter he takes the flag and steps on it right in the middle of the stage. By this action he has infused a feeling into the crowd of people, making a point of first hand experience. What better way to arouse a feeling of dismay then to take a national symbol and desecrate it openly in public. On the other hand it is just a piece of cloth. Kesey said, “Sometimes we don’t even realize what we really care about, because we get so distracted by the symbols.” (187) People become emotionally attached to certain material possessions without having a genuine feeling towards them; they are at the mercy of different kinds of symbols and games society has created. This incident is an example of how power can disturb authority haphazardly. Kesey and the Pranksters can ultimately control society outside of their social spheres.

In Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, we see a basis of literary and cultural heritage that eventually branches off into new styles and symbols. Kesey challenges his followers by saying, “that it’s time to graduate from what has been going on, to something else.” page 8 Kesey is aware that once you experience a sensation, the initial thrill of doing it the first time progressively stops with habitual usage. By using various chemicals and other psychedelic drugs, it gives you an opening and new insight. But the challenge is to be able to reach the same point later with out using them. They only serve as a gateway opening for the experience. Once it has been experienced you cannot keep going through the same window, but just take what was initially experienced and attempt to emulate it refraining from other substances. Initially people were taken back by change because they were getting into a routine style of living and using. But Kesey still pushed for a new movement away from substance use because after a one time use, the doors were open for. By taking the flag and wearing it for an outer garment, the people come together and show a movement of unity and change. The flag has been reconfigured and from the reconfiguration starts a new attitude of reform. New symbols are now equated with the flag which ultimately loosens the tight grip that the government has around its people. Through this movement we can see how everything becomes symbolic or metaphorical for life.

“The Dharma Bums,” a novel written by Jack Kerouac, is where a main subject that was at times the main focus, comes into play an intricate role in the beginning, this main subject is sex. Japhy would like to look at sex from a different perspective where it is perceived more as ceremonial and a religious holy experience. He refers to the sexual act as yabyum, which is a way to over look the initial thought and what it really means. During a yabyum secession, Ray becomes concerned by the way some are so open with their nakedness when being around other people. But he soon learns that is deals with some peoples up-bringing. Also, when Japhy says “pretty girls make graves,” (Kerouac 29) this quote is a re-affirmation that lust will lead to birth which will only cause suffering and eventually death in the end. So with this in mind, one would think they would be a little more apprehensive when engaging in casual group sex like yabyum. In participating in such acts, one could possibly believe that they could receive good karma by helping one another out in the order to achieve the complete and true yabyum experience. The whole notion is however; one will gain good karma by giving something to someone else regardless of what it is that one has to offer. As long as there is an exchange one will be given good karma. However, Ray Smith also displays deep feelings for Princess, who is engaging in sex with other people. Princess looks at yabyum like there is nothing wrong with it; it is a religious ceremony so it is not a bad act. People sometimes look at religions as a way in order to get around certain acts. This notion shows how yabyum can be looked at as a religious and cultural experience where one gains things from two sides of the spectrum.

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