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Ken Kesey (1935 – 2001)


American writer, most famous for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and as a cultural icon whom some consider a link between the "beat generation" of the 1950s and the "hippies" of the 1960s as a founding member of the Merry Pranksters.
Ken Kesey
Big Nurse speaks for the fixed pattern, the unbreakable routine, the submission of individual will to mechanical, humourless control. McMurphy speaks an older American language of freedom, unhindered movement, self-reliance, anarchic humour and a trust in the more animal instincts.
Kesey quotes
What we hoped was that we could stop the coming end of the world.
Kesey
It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it's the truth even if it didn't happen.




Kesey Ken quotes
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.
Kesey Ken
You think I wuh-wuh-wuh-want to stay in here? You think I wouldn't like a con-con-vertible and a guh-guh-girl friend? But did you ever have people l-l-laughing at you? No, because you're so b-big and so tough! Well, I'm not big and tough.
Ken Kesey quotes
God... your book is beautiful!
Ken Kesey
Mr. Bibbit, you might warn this Mr. Harding that I'm so crazy I admit to voting for Eisenhower.
Bibbit! You tell Mr. McMurphy I'm so crazy I voted for Eisenhower twice!
And you tell Mr. Harding right back — he puts both hands on the table and leans down, his voice getting low — that I'm so crazy I plan to vote for Eisenhower again this November.
Kesey Ken quotes
"But I tried though," he says. "Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn't I?"
Kesey
"What worries me, Billy," she said — I could hear the change in her voice — "is how your mother is going to take this."
Kesey Ken
Kesey creates finally in McMurphy a modern unhero or anti-hero who expands himself, through a gradual shift in his concern from himself to those around him, into the role of the traditional hero. It is a strange and preposterous role... In the modern world, such a hero, individualistic to the point of disaffiliation but at the same time altruistic to the point of self-sacrifice, is by definition absurd; and all people and actions touched by such heroism are tinted by its absurdity.
Ken Kesey
Kesey practices what has come to be known as gonzo journalism. The reporter, often intoxicated, fails to get the story but delivers instead a stylishly bizarre account that mocks conventional journalism.




Ken Kesey quotes
I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.
Ken Kesey
I'm for mystery, not interpretive answers. ... The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer, but they think they have. So they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.
Kesey quotes
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.
Kesey Ken
I thought for a minute there I saw her whipped. Maybe I did. But I see now that it don't make any difference.... To beat her you don't have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, she's won for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that.
Kesey Ken quotes
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.
Ken Kesey
LSD lets you in on something. When you're tripping, the idea of race disappears; the idea of sex disappears; you don't even know what species you are sometimes. And I don't know of anybody who hasn't come back from that being more humane, more thoughtful, more understanding.
Ken Kesey quotes
While McMurphy laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the cabin top, spreading his laugh out across the water — laughing at the girl, at the guys, at George, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the captain back at the pier... and the Big Nurse and all of it. Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. He knows there's a painful side; he knows my thumb smarts and his girlfriend has a bruised breast and the doctor is losing his glasses, but he won't let the pain blot out the humor no more'n he'll let the humor blot out the pain.
Ken Kesey
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.
Kesey Ken
I watched and tried to figure out what he would have done. I was only sure of one thing: he wouldn't have left something like that sit there in the day room with his name tacked on it for twenty or thirty years so the Big Nurse could use it as an example of what can happen if you buck the system. I was sure of that.


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