Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog 8

At first, I thought that Wolfe would epitomize the type of writing that Breslin talks about.  Wolfe's content can't be too hard to follow, right?  But as I looked back over the readings, I realized Wolfe was the most complicated of the four.  Capote was simple- simply put, simply stated, generally simple to understand.  Breslin and Greene are just as simple as Capote.  They are a little less rigid and more conversational and personal than Capote but still don't really put airs on their writing; when they say something, they say it.  But of these writers, I feel that Greene's writing most portrays what Breslin meant.  This has to do partly with the words he uses but also subject matter.

Breslin writes about death and honor and an emotional time historically that some younger audiences may not understand or be able to relate to.  Capote writes simply but about gruesome death and more intense matter.  Greene writes about a hero, his hero, the chance he gets to meet him, and finds that he is just a man as well.  I think that this is a situation that most people can understand.  His narrative takes on a nostalgic, almost child-like quality with his admiration for Connery.  Even when Connery admits being afraid of needles, I still get the feeling that that doesn't diminish the respect Greene has for him.  The naive reverie that Greene writes about happens to most people and we are able to associate with him as he draws us into that experience- both with his simplistic language and subject matter.

After a second look at Wolfe's writing, subject and style aside, I realized the words he used were not as well known and required a little more leg work to understand what he meant.  "There was no more reason for them to remain in isolation while the ovoid eyes of La Honda suppurated" (172).  There is a much more simple way to put this statement, and the same for this: "The befuddled citizens could only see the outward manifestations of the incredible stuff going on inside their skulls" (176).

Wolfe's subject (a bunch of hippies on a road trip, constantly abusing and using drugs) tricked me into thinking the reading would be simple- the language/vocab would be simple, even if the narrative was harder to follow.  (If it was a bunch of drug-induced memories then how could that really make sense to anyone else?)  But Wolfe keeps the narrative flowing and relative to his readers by making the story (mostly) logical and entertaining.

In a way, Wolfe's writing with elevated vocabulary in such an altered mental state works best.  He keeps the reader guessing and second guessing with the way he weaves the tale and the words- I think I understand what he means but there's always a little bit of me that wonders if that was really the point and if I truly understand.  But in the experiences that Wolfe describes, is there really a way to KNOW?  Can drugged-out people writing about being drugged out KNOW?  By continually second guessing if I really understand what I'm reading, I almost feel connected to the drugs; there's no way to really KNOW, and as long as I'm still flowing and following and trying, I'm getting what I need.

Question: Did anyone else in class have this experience with Wolfe?  I feel that a lot of my feelings in this post were very generalized, especially with Wolfe's writing.  Did anyone else feel that they were following a wild goose throughout the reading, and you do think that's the intended purpose?


  1. Rachel, I think you hit the main point there. Wolfe's writing in the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is, to borrow a term he uses, an allegory. In certain instances the words themselves have no literal meaning, but a meaning that comes out when one stops looking for that literal meaning - a feeling, you might say.

    "Sandy feel his first twinge of-what? Like... there is going to be Authorized Acid only. And like...they are going to be separated into performers and workers, stars and backstage. Like... there is an inner circle and an outer circle."

    We're sort of sure what Sandy is thinking here, but as you say, we're "continually second guessing" and no, "there's no way to really KNOW," but, "as long as I'm still flowing and following and trying, I'm getting what I need." Well put.


    "Back on the bus and off for Phoenix in the slime-euphoric certitude that they and the movie - The Movie! - many allegories of life - that they could not miss now."

    Wolfe's writing takes left turns, along with acid-absorbed thoughts, as if race cars - palindrome! RACECAR-RACECAR, the slime-queen roars!..

    (haha,just kidding..)

    as if race cars keeping perfect synchronicity through tight turns. And I certainly think that was the intended meaning. I wonder, myself, how much, how far Mr. Wolfe was indulging with the pranksters, in order to grok, as it were.

  2. I know what you mean Rachel. I read the book a few years ago, and all 400 pages are written in the same fashion. The positive of this is I knew what he was saying when he would randomly interject key phrases such as "wailing with it" or "on the bus". And another thing I gathered from the book is that the "acid test" was a journey into each individual subconscious and how they contributed to the collective group idea. It is hard to followed the drug induced logic Wolfe gives us an hard to differentiate what is LSD rambling and what is something Wolfe is trying to use as a metaphor for life and that time period.

  3. Rachel:
    I felt like I was spinning out of control while reading this piece. I was interested in the subject matter, but I had the hardest time keeping up! I think the rambling, chaotic nature of his story contributes to an interesting portrayal of the drug-induced subject matter, but I felt like I was constantly saying, "Huh? What?" to myself as I read the piece. While some of the descriptions are fascinatingly illustrative, I found myself begging for Wolfe to use plain style, even if it was in just one paragraph.

  4. I find Wolfe's writing interesting, but not particularly enjoyable. While his style conveys the feeling of being on acid, I don't usually like to read things by people who are on acid.

    I think a "wild goose" is a good metaphor. I'm constantly struggling to find the point in Wolfe's writing, style aside. I often feel like his writing is moving both quickly and painfully slowly. The writing is frenzied and fast, but the physical action of the subjects are doing almost nothing - "zonked" on a bus. That is a frustrating feeling for me, at least.

  5. Personally, I wasn't expecting the comedic element to this story. I laughed out loud (a lot) at the point in which the bus driver is explaining about the brake (that doesn't exist) and the general scene before the cop makes a run for it. I think in addition to the allegory point made by Ben above, this writing takes a form much like the scene of the story, the bus - bouncy and extremely auditory.

  6. Really good point, Casey--"his writing is moving both quickly and painfully slow." He covers multiple pages with text but really only journalistically covers a couple of interactions between the characters in these excerpts.