Tue 9 May 2006
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test has an interesting juxtaposition of the failures of Ken Kesey in his persistent struggle to achieve a greater mental freedom. Initially, Kesey is the All-American collegiate that Mom would be happy to see at the dinner table. His first desire after graduation from University of Oregon is to be a Hollywood movie star. In his first failure, Kesey’s aspirations are crushed and his new urge leads him to Stanford and eventually acid. His initial failure to become the stereotypical movie star led Kesey to a life that made him more of a star than he ever could have been on the big screen. His star achieved legendary status, all this in no small part due to his inability to make it in Hollywood. But, like all stars, his was destined to fade sooner or later, and like the athlete who plays one season too long, Kesey did not “retire” at the top of his game. When something’s going so well, it is difficult to realize when it is time to hang up the cleats for good. Kesey’s realization came too late, and although you cannot categorize his entire Merry Prankster career as a failure, it is difficult to say otherwise about his last attempt to rekindle the magic. When something is going well, it is difficult to reciprocate, especially if it is being forced as Kesey did in their last ceremony.