Ken Kesey Talks About the Meaning of the Acid Test

1960s: Days of Rage


“For me, there have always been at least three Ken Keseys. First, there was the antiauthoritarian author of the madcap 1962 classic One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Inspired by Kesey’s own work as an orderly at a Menlo Park mental hospital, the author’s voice disappears into that of the narrator, Chief Bromden, and the dialogue of the most memorable ensemble of troubled personalities in twentieth century literature. Then there’s the Kesey of the 1964 Sometimes a Great Notion, a Pacific Northwest epic and the work of a serious novelist pulling American archetypes from rough-hewn Oregon logging country. Finally, there’s Kesey the Merry Prankster, the mad scientist who almost single-handedly invented sixties drug culture with his ‘64 psychedelic bus tour and acid test parties. It’s a little hard to put them all together sometimes. Ken Kesey contained multitudes. The acid test parties began after Kesey’s experience with mind-altering…

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