Introduction to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Mr. Bailey Winter 2012. Stereotype vs. Reality. VS. I. 1960’s Counter Culture (AKA Hippies). American Culture. Counter Culture Response. Influx of Disillusioned Affluent Adolescents. Post WWII “Baby Boom”. Vietnam War. Pacifism.
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Counter Culture Response
Influx of Disillusioned Affluent Adolescents
Imagine Living Through Events We Only Read About In History Books!
B. Ken Kesey was profoundly affected by the rise of hallucinogenic drugs.
1. 1959, participates in government-sponsored experiments with people on LSD
2. Experiments took place in a Veteran’s hospital, with often shell-shocked and mentally unstable participants
3. Experiences in this project go on to inspire composition of Cuckoo’s Nest
C. Ken Kesey hosted “acid tests” for friends with “Merry Pranksters”
1. Traveling parties that advocated use of LSD in San Fran area; eventually became common part of hippie scene
2. Kesey believed LSD taught mento think in new ways
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? 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.
LSD is a highly dangerous narcotic that can cause permanent psychosis from even a single use. Mental instability, schizophrenia, and detachment from reality are common effects!
D. Liberal, anti-government, pacifist to the end
E. Continued to experiment with LSD and journey with “Merry Pranksters” even into his 60’s.
F. Profoundly affected by 9/11, and blamed U.S. militaristic conservative government
G. Died from complications related to a liver tumor
D. Title comes from a nursery rhyme Chief Bromden recalls
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest
Cuckoo’s Nest = asylum (which symbolizes society)
To “Fly Over” = escape/depart/differ from
Think about the major works we have read so far this year:
Farm machine: removes grains from the chaff of wheat and other crops.
Harvests what it wants, throws away what doesn’t belong as waste.
Why do you think this device is the primary symbol of a Modernist/Postmodernist work?
Kesey rejects conservative, outdated beliefs about sexuality and sin
Nurse Ratched exemplifies Puritan values
Torment of Billy Bibbet
Kesey believed logic could not explain all of human nature
LSD was means of rejecting logic and exploring subconscious
Closest representation of Kesey’s beliefs
Rich in symbolism
Exploration of imagination and subconscious
Kesey, and most hippies, agreed that life was grim, but refused to accept that it needed to stay that way
Emphasis on hope and change breaks Kesey from Realist tradition
Disjointed, dreamlike writing style is characteristic of postmodern literature
McMurphy and Bromden rebel against a symbolic society
Patients are stripped of their individuality
Kesey’s Cuckoo’s Nest symbolically depicts counterculture opposition to society’s constraints. Highly influenced by 60’s drug culture, Kesey rejects previous literary eras in favor of a new approach to writing about the human experience.