The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

Essay by katib_1980 June 2010

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test broke through conventional forms of journalism that most journalist and reporters adhered to. For that reason alone Tom Wolfe's phenomenal book is sometimes referred to, as the starting point, of the age of 'new journalism,' a term that Wolfe himself coined. This work defined the epoch it was born out of and even transformed it. This was a non-fiction story about the hippie era, namely revolving around the exploits of a psychedelic outlaw and madman named Ken Kesey.

Ken Kesey and his followers, psychedelic provocateurs, were well known for their theatrical antics. This particular group sought a vague idea of 'change'. One of the characteristics of the counter-culture since its beginnings in the 1960s has been its championing of psychedelic or mind-expanding drugs as an instrument of cultural change. Similarly, the Merry Pranksters swayed more towards an anarchical approach and proselytised the use of drugs from their loud and brightly decorated bus.

Their main intention was to influence patterns of the emerging counterculture moments. They went about from town to town giving out drugs to the local youth; indulging in rock music, Day-Glo pain, strobe lights, and uninhibited communal living.

Tom Wolfe's non-fiction revolved around people who wanted to break free of conservation social norms and political conservatism of the previous decade. It was social rebellion against the war that had dominated the lives of the individual. The American society was plagued by extensive anxiety over all kinds of issues. Most of which ended on the problem of the rights of the people i.e. women's rights, racial segregation and the war with Korea were just a handful few. Then fresh cultural identities materialized which focused on radically changing the cultural and societal horizon towards something more experimental;...