Fri 5 May 2006
There was a point reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test at which I quite unexpectedly found myself thinking psychedelic drugs actually seemed enticing. When I realized what was happening and logic took over, the thought was quickly dispelled. However, it occurred to me that perhaps this book may actually be advocating drug use, or at least glamorizing it. Being on the bus was the hippest place to be—the way to get there was acid. Not only do drugs have the charm of being what all the “cool” kids are doing in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but the greatest enticement in the book is the promise of opening the mind and becoming inter-connected. The Merry Pranksters achieve an eerie level of synchronicity in the book and are bound together very tightly. LSD created much of their connectedness. It also altered their perceptions, giving them an outlook so different and more interesting than those who were “off the bus.” Granted, the Pranksters did fail at their goal in the end, the time they spent on acid was the closest they were to “opening doors.” Much of the beat literature and culture in general centers on the use of drugs and alcohol. It often seems they are advocating that lifestyle, or at least justifying it as a means to open creativity, escape the strict society of the squares, or simply have a good time. However, it is important to recognize it for what it was. It spurred some fantastic literature and a fascinating subculture, but as a lifestyle it failed.