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ken kesey Quotes

Ken Kesey Quotes

Birth Date: 1935-09-17 (Tuesday, September 17th, 1935)
Date of Death: 2001-11-10 (Saturday, November 10th, 2001)



    • Along the western slopes of the Oregon Coastal Range . . . come look: the hysterical crashing of tributaries as they merge into the Wakonda Auga River . . .
    • The Grateful Dead are faster than light drive.
    • I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Nothing lasts.
    • Once upon a time a young man of American background thought he had discovered the Great Secret, the Skeleton Key to the Cosmos, the Absolute Answer to the Age Old Question asked by every Wizard, and Alchemist and Mystic that ever peered curiously into the Perplexing Heavens, by every Doctor and Scientist and Explorer that ever wondered about the Winding Ways of this world, by every Philosopher and Holyman and Politician that ever listened for the Mysterious Song beneath the beat of the Human Heart... the answer to 'What Makes It All Go?'
    • 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 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.
    • This is just shit. It's happening. No blame. Happening and on the rise it would appear. What can we do to delay it? Probably zilch. To stop it? Likely less. But to survive it? Now that sounds more promising. There is evidence of bad shit having been survived before. Ancient Advice Left in cave by Wise French Caveman: 'When Bigbad Shit come, no run scream hide. Try paint picture of it on wall. Drum to it. Sing to it. Dance to it. This give you handle on it.' So Twister is my try.
    • 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.
    • 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 ans 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.
    • God... your book is beautiful!
    • One flew east, One flew west, One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
    • They're out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.
    • 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.
    • Damn, what a sorry-looking outfit. You boys don't look so crazy to me.
    • He who marches out of line hears another drum.
    • 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.
    • This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It's for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart; something that came in all twisted and different is now a functioning, adjusted component, a credit to the whole outfit and a marvel to behold.
    • I can't help it. I was born a miscarriage. I had so many insults I died. I was born dead. I can't help it.... I'm tired.
    • ...[B]ut 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 if they don't exist, how can a man see them?
    • 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.
    • 'But I tried though,' he says. 'Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn't I?'
    • Later, hiding in the latrine from the black boys, I'd take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was.
    • But just as soon as we got to the pool he said he did wish something mighta been done, though, and dove into the water.
    • Alla you! Quit bugging me, goddammit!
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 'What worries me, Billy,' she said - I could hear the change in her voice - 'is how your mother is going to take this.'
    • He gave a cry. At the last, falling backward, his face appearing to us for a second upside down before he was smothered on the floor by a pile of white uniforms, he let himself cry out: A sound of cornered-animal fear and hate and surrender and defiance, that if you ever trailed coon or cougar or lynx is like the last sound the treed and shot and falling animal makes as the dogs get him, when he finally doesn't care any more about anything but himself and his dying.
    • 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.
    • I been away a long time.
    • 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.
    • You can't trust the quality any more...
    • I have known a lot of people to go down and out - they kill themselves with alcohol or downers. But I've never known anybody to go up and out.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • What I always wanted to be was a magician... My real upbringing when I was a teenager was doing magic shows, all over the state, with my father and brothers. Doing magic, you not only have to be able to do a trick, you have to have a little story line to go with it. And writing is essentially a trick.
    • When people ask me what I think is my best work, it's the bus. There're lots of books, but there's only one bus.
    • The real crazies who are looking for a messiah... after an hour or so they realise I'm not it and go off and look somewhere else.
    • What we hoped was that we could stop the coming end of the world.
    • You can't bomb for a humane reason. What we should do is just Mother Teresa them to death with love. It's that old hippie nonsense but it's still the best stuff there is.
    • 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.
    • 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 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.
    • McMurphy is not merely up against the Big Nurse and her ward, but against all the controlling aspects of society, which molds its conformists into dull mechanical robots for the Combine.
    • LSD is that simple thing in life that allows you to look at things in an alternate perspective. Those who try LSD are expanding their outlook on life, merely understanding life's complexity in a more lucid sense. Generally speaking LSD is spoken negatively among the common person due to the reason it's categorized as a 'drug'. Moreover, life is contingent on the experiences with in one's life; so testing your consciousness with acid simply augments the way in which one exists.
    • People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense.
    • Take what you can use and let the rest go by.
    • The trouble with super heroes is what to do between phone booths.
    • To be just without being mad (and the madder you get the madder you get), to be peaceful without being stupid, to be interested without being compulsive, to be happy without being hysterical. . . . smoke grass.
    • You can't really be strong until you see a funny side to things.
    • You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.
    • You don't plow under the corn because the seed was planted with a neighbor's shovel.
    • Sparks fly upward.
    • ken kesey

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