The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Takin' it to the Streets as Drug-influenced Literature

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Takin' it to the Streets as Drug-influenced Literature

Art influenced by drugs faces a unique challenge from the mainstream: prove its legitimacy despite its "tainted" origins. The established judges of culture tend to look down upon drug-related art and artists, as though it is the drug and not the artist that is doing the creating. This conflict, less intense but still with us today, has its foundations in the 1960s. As the Beatnik, Hippie, and psychedelic movements grew increasing amounts of national attention, the influence of drugs on culture could no longer be ignored by the mainstream. In an age where once-prolific drugs like marijuana and cocaine had become prohibited and sensationalized,
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(Bloom 374-375)

Even something as seemingly harmless as "Puff" invoked this sort of hostile politicized response from mainstream culture; it is not difficult to imagine the vitriol that was directed at more serious (and more blatant) works of drug-influenced art.

Mainstream society's bias against drugs was not unknown to drug-influenced artists by any means. The drug-users used the word "straight" very disparagingly to describe the general close-mindedness of mainstream culture. In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe includes an excerpt from some of Ken Kesey's letters, in which he parodies general public's conception of his career. "What was it," he writes of himself, "that had brought a man so high of promise to so low a state in so short a time? Well, the answer can be found in just one short word, my friends, in just one all-well-used syllable: Dope!" (5). Drug-influenced artists, like Kesey, unquestionably knew what mainstream society thought of them, and in many cases set about trying to alter what they
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