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

1998 Words8 Pages
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, the renewed influence of drugs both old and new sent shockwaves through the culture base. The instinctual response of the non-drug-using majority was to simply write drug-influenced art off as little more than the ramblings of madmen. Some drug-influenced artists tried to ignore this preconception, and others tried to downplay their drug use in the face of negative public scrutiny. For some drug-influenced artists, however, it was imperative to gain popular acceptance by publicly challenging the perception and preconceptions of mainstream America. An article in Newsweek from 1965 included in the anthology Takin' it to the Streets provides a useful indicator of mainstream society's distrust of youth culture in general and drug culture in particular. Citing federal and FCC regulations banning the broadcast of "obscene, indecent, or profane material," the writer of this article appears to be absolutely scandalized by the increasing presence of double entendres in popular music. Here, amid mutterin... ... middle of paper ... ...hanged dramatically since the dawn of the 1960s, granting a sort of semi-legitimacy to drug-influenced art that grows stronger and less self-conscious every year. This pervasiveness of drug imagery in our culture today is no accident-it represents the outgrowth of these artists' introduction of drugs into the popular consciousness. The lingering effects of their efforts to publicize and poetize their altered states of mind can be readily seen in the mainstream culture of America today, which possesses both an awareness of and begrudging respect for the drug experience. Works and Sources Cited Allen, Donald. The New American Poetry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960. Bloom, Alexander and Wini Breines. Takin' it to the Streets. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Bantam Books, 1968.

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

      Open Document