Ken Kesey quotes

103   4

Ken Kesey

Birthdate: 17. September 1935
Date of death: 10. November 2001
Other names: کن کیسی

Kenneth Elton Kesey was an American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure. He considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.

Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, and grew up in Springfield, Oregon, graduating from the University of Oregon in 1957. He began writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1960 following the completion of a graduate fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University; the novel was an immediate commercial and critical success when published two years later. During this period, Kesey participated in government studies involving hallucinogenic drugs to supplement his income.Following the publication of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, he moved to nearby La Honda, California, and began hosting happenings with former colleagues from Stanford, miscellaneous bohemian and literary figures , and other friends collectively known as the Merry Pranksters; these parties, known as Acid Tests, integrated the consumption of LSD with multimedia performances. He mentored the Grateful Dead throughout their incipience and continued to exert a profound influence upon the group throughout their long career. Sometimes a Great Notion—an epic account of the vicissitudes of an Oregon logging family that aspired to the modernist grandeur of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha saga—was a commercial success that polarized critics and readers upon its release in 1964, although Kesey regarded the novel as his magnum opus.In 1965, following an arrest for marijuana possession and subsequent faked suicide, Kesey was imprisoned for five months. Shortly thereafter, he returned home to the Willamette Valley and settled in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, where he maintained a secluded, family-oriented lifestyle for the rest of his life. In addition to teaching at the University of Oregon—an experience that culminated in Caverns , a collaborative novel written by Kesey and his graduate workshop students under the pseudonym of "O.U. Levon"—he continued to regularly contribute fiction and reportage to such publications as Esquire, Rolling Stone, Oui, Running, and The Whole Earth Catalog; various iterations of these pieces were collected in Kesey's Garage Sale and Demon Box .

Between 1974 and 1980, Kesey published six issues of Spit in the Ocean, a literary magazine that featured excerpts from an unfinished novel and contributions from such luminaries as Margo St. James, Kate Millett, Stewart Brand, Saul-Paul Sirag, Jack Sarfatti, Paul Krassner, and William S. Burroughs. After a third novel was released to lukewarm reviews in 1992, he reunited with the Merry Pranksters and began publishing works on the Internet until ill health curtailed his activities.

Works

„He knew you can't really be strong until you can see a funny side of things.“

—  Ken Kesey, book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Variant: You can't really be strong until you can see a funny side to things.
Source: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

„Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.“

—  Ken Kesey, book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Source: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), Ch. 5
Context: Maybe not you, buddy, but the rest are even scared to open up and laugh. You know, that's the first thing that got me about this place, that there wasn't anybody laughing. I haven't heard a real laugh since I came through that door, do you know that? Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.

„But all of us know that’s not what is supposed to be in that hole.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: When people ask me about LSD, I always make a point of telling them you can have the shit scared out of you with LSD because it exposes something, something hollow. Let’s say you have been getting on your knees and bowing and worshiping; suddenly, you take LSD and you look and there’s just a hole, there’s nothing there. The Catholic Church fills this hole with candles and flowers and litanies and opulence. The Protestant Church fills it with hand-wringing and pumped-up squeezing emotions because they can’t afford the flowers and the candles. The Jews fill this hole with weeping and browbeating and beseeching of the sky: How long, how long are you gonna treat us like this? The Muslims fill it with rigidity and guns and a militant ethos. But all of us know that’s not what is supposed to be in that hole. After I had been at Stanford two years, I was into LSD. I began to see that the books I thought were the true accounting books — my grades, how I’d done in other schools, how I’d performed at jobs, whether I had paid off my car or not — were not at all the true books. There were other books that were being kept, real books. In those real books is the real accounting of your life.

„Lois Learned, Big Nurse, and I thought, Oh my God.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: I was performing The Sea Lion in the Newport Performing Arts Center. Afterwards a white-haired old woman approached me and said, Hey, you remember me? I looked her over, and I knew I remembered her, but had no idea who she was. She said, Lois. It still didn’t click. She said, Lois Learned, Big Nurse, and I thought, Oh my God. She was a volunteer at Newport, long since retired from the nursing business. This was the nurse on the ward I worked on at the Menlo Park hospital. I didn’t know what to think and she didn’t either, but I was glad she came up to me. I felt there was a lesson in it, the same one I had tried to teach Hollywood. She’s not the villain. She might be the minion of the villain, but she’s really just a big old tough ex-army nurse who is trying to do the best she can according to the rules that she has been given. She worked for the villain and believed in the villain, but she ain’t the villain.

„It’s the same old wilderness, just no longer up on that hill or around that bend or in the gully. It’s the fact that there is no more hill or gully, that the hollow is there and you’ve got to explore the hollow with faith.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: It’s the same old wilderness, just no longer up on that hill or around that bend or in the gully. It’s the fact that there is no more hill or gully, that the hollow is there and you’ve got to explore the hollow with faith. If you don’t have faith that there is something down there, pretty soon when you’re in the hollow, you begin to get scared and start shaking. That’s when you stop taking acid and start taking coke and drinking booze and start trying to fill the hollow with depressants and Valium. Real warriors like William Burroughs or Leonard Cohen or Wallace Stevens examine the hollow as well as anybody; they get in there, look far into the dark, and yet come out with poetry.

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„I believe that with the advent of acid, we discovered a new way to think, and it has to do with piecing together new thoughts in your mind.“

—  Ken Kesey

As quoted in the BBC documentary The Beyond Within: The Rise and Fall of LSD (1987)
Context: I believe that with the advent of acid, we discovered a new way to think, and it has to do with piecing together new thoughts in your mind. Why is it that people think it's so evil? What is it about it that scares people so deeply, even the guy that invented it, what is it? Because they're afraid that there's more to reality than they have ever confronted. That there are doors that they're afraid to go in, and they don't want us to go in there either, because if we go in we might learn something that they don't know. And that makes us a little out of their control.

„I'm not going to talk about that because I've never seen it, except in kids doing stuff that I don't know about and I'm not interested in… I've never taken crack and I've never taken ecstasy; none of us has. I don't want to take some strange drug and end up chewing my tongue for 12 hours.“

—  Ken Kesey

Trip of a Lifetime (1999)
Context: A TV crew came over 10 years or so ago, on the anniversary of the discovery of LSD, and those guys were trying to push me towards saying how bad it was. They wanted me to talk about the dark underbelly of the drug culture. And I said, I'm not going to talk about that because I've never seen it, except in kids doing stuff that I don't know about and I'm not interested in... I've never taken crack and I've never taken ecstasy; none of us has. I don't want to take some strange drug and end up chewing my tongue for 12 hours.

„Melville took on the whole world, saw it all in a vision, and risked everything in prose that sings. You have a sense from the very beginning that Melville had a vision in his mind of what this book was going to look like, and he trusted himself to follow it through all the way.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: Kerouac had lots of class — stumbling drunk in the end, but read those last books. He never blames anybody else; he always blames himself. If there is a bad guy, it’s poor old drunk Jack, stumbling around. You never hear him railing at the government or railing at this or that. He likes trains, people, bums, cars. He just paints a wonderful picture of Norman Rockwell’s world. Of course it’s Norman Rockwell on a lot of dope.
Jack London had class. He wasn’t a very good writer, but he had tremendous class. And nobody had more class than Melville. To do what he did in Moby-Dick, to tell a story and to risk putting so much material into it. If you could weigh a book, I don’t know any book that would be more full. It’s more full than War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov. It has Saint Elmo’s fire, and great whales, and grand arguments between heroes, and secret passions. It risks wandering far, far out into the globe. Melville took on the whole world, saw it all in a vision, and risked everything in prose that sings. You have a sense from the very beginning that Melville had a vision in his mind of what this book was going to look like, and he trusted himself to follow it through all the way.

„One of these days you're going to have a visitation.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: One of these days you're going to have a visitation. You're going to be walking down the street and across the street you're going to look and see God standing over there on the street corner motioning to you, saying, "Come to me, come to me." And you will know it's God, there will be no doubt in your mind — he has slitty little eyes like Buddha, and he's got a long nice beard and blood on his hands. He's got a big Charlton Heston jaw like Moses, he's stacked like Venus, and he has a great jeweled scimitar like Mohammed. And God will tell you to come to him and sing his praises. And he will promise that if you do, all of the muses that ever visited Shakespeare will fly in your ear and out of your mouth like golden pennies. It's the job of the writer in America to say, "Fuck you God, fuck you and the Old Testament that you rode in on, fuck you." The job of the writer is to kiss no ass, no matter how big and holy and white and tempting and powerful.

„I got high on psychedelics before I was ever drunk. I never smoked. Then LSD came by. And to me it was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened…“

—  Ken Kesey

Trip of a Lifetime (1999)
Context: I got high on psychedelics before I was ever drunk. I never smoked. Then LSD came by. And to me it was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened... And, of course, the best drugs ever were manufactured by the government.

„Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place — then it won't make a damn.“

—  Ken Kesey

Source: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), Ch. 6 : The Bus
Context: There are going to be times when we can't wait for somebody. Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place — then it won't make a damn.

„When I see bad-looking bikers with black leather studs on their wrists hanging out at the Oregon Country Fair, I take it as a sign of health. No, I don’t want them hanging around, but trying to eliminate them all, arrest them all, legislate against them all — that’s evil.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: When I see bad-looking bikers with black leather studs on their wrists hanging out at the Oregon Country Fair, I take it as a sign of health. No, I don’t want them hanging around, but trying to eliminate them all, arrest them all, legislate against them all — that’s evil. I have asked feminists, If you could, would you eliminate all male chauvinist pigs? If you could come up with some kind of spray to spray in the air and do away with them, would you? Would you do away with all scorpions and rattlesnakes, mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are part of the ecosystem. So are male chauvinist pigs. You’ve got to fight them, but you don’t try to exterminate them. A purifying group or system that would eliminate them all — that would be an evil force. Anytime you have a force that comes along and says, We will eradicate these people, you have evil. Looking back in history, what has seemed the worst turns out not to be the worst.

„Kerouac had lots of class — stumbling drunk in the end, but read those last books. He never blames anybody else; he always blames himself.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: Kerouac had lots of class — stumbling drunk in the end, but read those last books. He never blames anybody else; he always blames himself. If there is a bad guy, it’s poor old drunk Jack, stumbling around. You never hear him railing at the government or railing at this or that. He likes trains, people, bums, cars. He just paints a wonderful picture of Norman Rockwell’s world. Of course it’s Norman Rockwell on a lot of dope.
Jack London had class. He wasn’t a very good writer, but he had tremendous class. And nobody had more class than Melville. To do what he did in Moby-Dick, to tell a story and to risk putting so much material into it. If you could weigh a book, I don’t know any book that would be more full. It’s more full than War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov. It has Saint Elmo’s fire, and great whales, and grand arguments between heroes, and secret passions. It risks wandering far, far out into the globe. Melville took on the whole world, saw it all in a vision, and risked everything in prose that sings. You have a sense from the very beginning that Melville had a vision in his mind of what this book was going to look like, and he trusted himself to follow it through all the way.

„You’ve got to fight them, but you don’t try to exterminate them.“

—  Ken Kesey

The Paris Review interview (1994)
Context: When I see bad-looking bikers with black leather studs on their wrists hanging out at the Oregon Country Fair, I take it as a sign of health. No, I don’t want them hanging around, but trying to eliminate them all, arrest them all, legislate against them all — that’s evil. I have asked feminists, If you could, would you eliminate all male chauvinist pigs? If you could come up with some kind of spray to spray in the air and do away with them, would you? Would you do away with all scorpions and rattlesnakes, mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are part of the ecosystem. So are male chauvinist pigs. You’ve got to fight them, but you don’t try to exterminate them. A purifying group or system that would eliminate them all — that would be an evil force. Anytime you have a force that comes along and says, We will eradicate these people, you have evil. Looking back in history, what has seemed the worst turns out not to be the worst.

„We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past.“

—  Ken Kesey

Source: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), Ch. 11: The Unspoken Thing
Context: We are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

Similar authors

Erich Maria Remarque photo
Erich Maria Remarque63
German novelist
Paulo Coelho photo
Paulo Coelho761
Brazilian lyricist and novelist
F. Scott Fitzgerald photo
F. Scott Fitzgerald408
American novelist and screenwriter
Henry Miller photo
Henry Miller174
American novelist
Cesare Pavese photo
Cesare Pavese137
Italian poet, novelist, literary critic, and translator
Clive Staples Lewis photo
Clive Staples Lewis264
Christian apologist, novelist, and Medievalist
Mario Benedetti photo
Mario Benedetti4
Uruguayan journalist, novelist, and poet
Vladimir Nabokov photo
Vladimir Nabokov193
Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, professor
Haruki Murakami photo
Haruki Murakami653
Japanese author, novelist
Today anniversaries
Emile Zola photo
Emile Zola54
French writer (1840-1902) 1840 - 1902
Ludwig von Mises photo
Ludwig von Mises62
austrian economist 1881 - 1973
Diana Vreeland photo
Diana Vreeland9
American magazine editor 1903 - 1989
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi photo
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi12
Hungarian American psychologist 1934
Another 58 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Erich Maria Remarque photo
Erich Maria Remarque63
German novelist
Paulo Coelho photo
Paulo Coelho761
Brazilian lyricist and novelist
F. Scott Fitzgerald photo
F. Scott Fitzgerald408
American novelist and screenwriter
Henry Miller photo
Henry Miller174
American novelist