Re: [sixties-l] Author Ken Kesey in critical condition, suffering from liver tumor (fwd)

Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 17:22:42 EST

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    Sometimes I Get a Great Notion to Jump In the River and Drown

    I^m not the kind of person who wants or needs heroes. My dad, the military
    officer that he was, was always one who taught his kids, by example and words,
    that humans have to blaze their own trail and carry their own bags, no matter
    how heavy. Sometimes, he would imply, those bags you wind up carrying are
    going to seem as heavy as that cross Jesus had over his shoulder on his way up
    Calvary. So I don^t really have any heroes. Sure, I loved Willie Mays when he
    played and thought Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Seale were men worthy of
    imitation. And Angela Davis was someone who I always looked up to^to have come
    so far and still be true to her people when the oppressor was giving her every
    opportunity to turn her back on them. When I was considering becoming a Jesuit
    priest, it was because of the life of Daniel Berrigan. Hell, he could have
    lived the scholar-poet^s life under the wing of the Catholic Church and ignored
    the slaughter of innocents in Vietnam, but he didn^t. That was an inspiration.
            Aye, there^s the word: inspiration. That^s what Ken Kesey was to me.
    Like his compadre Jerry Garcia and that musician/poet named Bob Dylan, Ken was
    bigger than life to me. His novels and stories were challenges to an authority
    that stunk of the moral swamp it rotted in. His life was even more so.
    Freedom to be, think and act were his watchwords. Randle P. McMurphy (that
    agitator/instigator in Kesey^s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo^s Nest) was every
    one of us who does not want to go along with the program the Combine has
    designed for us. Ken Kesey and his Pranksters were Randle P. McMurphy in real
    life, three-dimensional no-bullshit reality. Man, could we ever use some of
    that now as the machinery steers us all towards the fog of more money, more war
    and who-the-hell-knows-what comes next. As Paul Krassner pointed out in an
    interview that appeared (among other places) in Kesey^s Garage Sale, it was no
    accident that Randle^s initials are RPM. For those of you in the compact disc
    generation, that^s revolutions-per-minutes, something vinyl recordings used to
    lay down the tracks on the plastic that played the songs.
            This is why I always dug what he said, even after the Nineties
    political crusade known as PC labeled Ken a misogynist. They didn^t get it,
    that^s all. Like any code that has what folks like to call parameters, Ken was
    outside them. Or better yet, beyond them. Eventually that hullabaloo went
    away^another tale full of sound and fury that signified nothing. Ken was still
    there. But no more. That reefer he shared with me and some others on the Hog
    Farm bus during the Grateful Dead^s holiday run at the end of 1981 means even
    more to me now. It seems fitting that my second and last time I actually spoke
    with the man was ^on the bus.^
    -ron jacobs
    burlington, vt.

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