Quotes for "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"

Tom Wolfe

  • Cassady never stops talking. But that is a bad way to put it. Cassady is a monologuist, only he doesn’t seem to care whether anyone is listening or not. He just goes off on the monologue, by himself if necessary, although anyone is welcome aboard.
  • They mean it. Everything in everybody’s life is … significant. And everybody is alert, watching for the meanings. And the vibrations. There is no end of vibrations.
  • the kid was trying to open an old secrétaire, the kind that opens out into a desktop you can write on, and he pinches his finger in a hinge. Only instead of saying Aw shit or whatever, the whole thing becomes a parable of life, and he says: “That’s typical. You see that? Even the poor cat who designed this thing was playing the game they wanted him to play. You see how this thing is designed, to open out? It’s always out, into, it’s got to be out, into your life, the old bullshit thrust—you know?—they don’t even think about it—you know?—this is just the way they design things and you’re here and they’re there and they’re going to keep coming at you. You see that kitchen table?” There is an old enamel-top kitchen table you can see through a doorway in there. “Now that’s actually better design, it actually is, than all this ornate shit, I mean, I truly dig that kitchen table, because the whole thing is right there—you know?—it’s there to receive, that’s what it’s all about, it’s passive, I mean what the hell is a table anyway? Freud said a table is a symbol of a woman, with her shanks open, balling it, in dreams—you know?—and what is this a symbol of?” He points to the secrétaire. “It’s a symbol of fuck-you, Fuck you, right?”
  • Kesey breaks up … the vibrations.
  • “Don’t say stop being a pioneer and come back here and help these people through the door. If Leary wants to do that, that’s good, it’s a good thing and somebody should do it. But somebody has to be the pioneer and leave the marks for others to follow.” Kesey looks up again, way out into the gloom. “You’ve got to have some faith in what you’re trying to do. It’s easy to have faith as long as it goes along with what you already know. But you’ve got to have faith in us all the way.
  • Dr. Smog looks at his stop watch. “Amazing!” he says, and walks out of the room. You said it, bub, but like a lot of other people, you don’t even know.
  • seeing who was going down to the Railway Express at the railroad station and pick up the shipment, since possession of peyote, although not of LSD, was already illegal in California. There would be these huge goddamned boxes of the stuff, 1,000 buds and roots $70; buds only—slightly higher. If they caught you, you were caught, because there was no excuse possible. There was no other earthly reason to have these goddamned fetid plants except to get high as a coon.
  • Morris Orchids! He wrote several passages of the book under peyote and LSD. He even had someone give him a shock treatment, clandestinely, so he could write a passage in which Chief Broom comes back from “the shock shop.”
  • It was a strange feeling for all these good souls to suddenly realize that right here on woody thatchy little Perry Lane, amid the honeysuckle and dragonflies and boughs and leaves and a thousand little places where the sun peeped through, while straight plodding souls from out of the Stanford eucalyptus tunnel plodded by straight down the fairways on the golf course across the way—this amazing experiment in consciousness was going on, out on a frontier neither they nor anybody else ever heard of before.
  • They just get uneasy. They get the feeling that Kesey was heading out on further, toward a fantasy they didn’t know if they wanted to explore.
  • “I know how long it takes,” says Stone. “And it takes forty-five minutes or an hour, more like an hour at night.” “Listen!” says Babbs, who is laughing and practically shouting into the phone. “The intrepid traveler can make it in thirty minutes! The intrepid traveler can make it with the speed of light!”
  • “The intrepid traveler,” Babbs is shouting. “The intrepid traveler just gets up and walks out and he’s here!”
  • “—like I say, what you need is a good mechanic, and I’m not a good mechanic, but—” And—of course!—the Non-people. The whole freaking world was full of people who were bound to tell you they weren’t qualified to do this or that but they were determined to go ahead and do just that thing anyway. Kesey decided he was the Non-navigator. Babbs was the Non-doctor. The bus trip was already becoming an allegory of life.
  • Nobody can sleep so they keep taking more speed to keep going, psychic energizers like Ritalin, anything, and then smoke more grass to take the goddamn tachycardiac edge off the speed, and acid to make the whole thing turn into something else.
  • And there, amid the peaceful Houston elms on Quenby Road, it dawned on them all that this woman—which one of us even knows her?—had completed her trip. She had gone with the flow. She had gone stark raving mad.
  • Sandy—with this subliminal urge to get off the bus, and yet be on the bus—on that level—and
  • Old Brother John put on a Robin Hood hat and sang a lot of salty songs and got the MDT Award, Most Disgusting Trip.
  • Like with the red rubber balls they were always throwing around when they got out of the bus. The idea of the red rubber balls was that every Prankster should always be ready to catch the ball, even if he wasn’t looking when it came at him. They should always be that alert, always that alive to the moment, always that deep in the whole group thing, and be deadly competent.
  • He felt totally synched with Cassady, however. It was as if, if he were panicked, Cassady would be panicked, panic would rush through the bus like an energy. And yet he never felt panic. It was an abstract thought. He had total faith in Cassady, but it was more than faith. It was as if Cassady, at the wheel, was in a state of satori, as totally into this very moment, Now, as a being can get, and for that moment they all shared it.
  • They could look up at the bus and say those are the bastids who are causing it, all the shit.
  • The shit kickers gave them many resentful looks, which was the Pranksters’ gift to the shit kickers.
  • It was like hail and farewell. Kerouac was the old star. Kesey was the wild new comet from the West heading christ knew where.
  • —which made it all cooler, for a start … In fact, the trip back was a psychic Cadillac, a creamy groove machine,
  • The unquenchable Hagen of the Screw Shack prowls the Stampede for ginch ahoof and comes back to the bus with nice little girl with lips as raunchy as a swig of grape soda, tender in age but ne’mind, ready to go, and she is on the bus, christened Anonymous, down to her bra and panties, which she prefers.
  • Kesey and Babbs score again and again, like the legendary Zen archers, for they no longer play their music at people but inside them.
  • New York intellectuals have always looked for … another country, a fatherland of the mind, where it is all better and more philosophic and purer, gadget-free, and simpler and pedigreed:
  • For Sandy, the bus had stopped but he hadn’t. It was as if the bus had hit a wall and he had shot out the window and was living in the suspended interminable moment before he hit—what? He didn’t know. All he knew was that there would be a crash unless the momentum of the Pranksters suddenly resumed and caught up with him the way the Flash,
  • They made a point of not putting it into words. That in itself was one of the unspoken rules. If you label it this, then it can’t be that …
  • In most cases, according to scriptures and legend, it happened in a flash. Mohammed fasting and meditating on a mountainside near Mecca and—flash!—ecstasy, vast revelation and the beginning of Islam. Zoroaster hauling haoma water along the road and—flash!—he runs into the flaming form of the Archangel Vohu Mano, messenger of Ahura Mazda, and the beginning of Zoroastrianism. Saul of Tarsus walking along the road to Damascus and—flash!—he hears the voice of the Lord and becomes a Christian.
  • I just took their weighty German word for it. Jesus, Mani, Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha—at the very outset the leader did not offer his circle of followers a better state hereafter or an improved social order or any reward other than a certain “psychological state in the here and now,” as Weber put it. I suppose what I never really comprehended was that he was talking about an actual mental experience they all went through, an ecstasy, in short.
  • And following the experience—after I got to know the Pranksters, I went back and read Joachim Wach’s paradigm of the way religions are founded, written in 1944, and it was almost like a piece of occult precognition for me if I played it off against what I knew about the Pranksters: