Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fear and Loathing

I just wanted to reaffirm my love for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, both the book and movie. I was looking at ye olde Myspace profile, and found this little nugget that I stashed for myself at some point, to remind me of why I believe what I do and do the work that I do:

"There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning..."

I want to feel like that some day.

That book gets a bad rap from some people because of the ridiculous and outrageous drug use that fuels most of the action in the plot. While this is true, and I certainly can't just play it off, I always make the argument that Thompson and and Oscar Zeta Acosta (his attorney on his real life trip) knew _exactly_ what they were doing, and the subtitle of the book, "A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream," was more than a glib poke at one our most sacred collective visions. He really was attempting to hunt down the vision of Horatio Alger to see if it still existed - or, even more startlingly, if it _ever_ existed.

To me, Thompson was really after this just as much as he was after the biggest high of his life. He was caught in the giant hangover from the sixties, deep in the quagmire of Vietnam, stuck in the middle of a country trying to figure out exactly what was going on, where it was headed, where it had been, whether its two hundred year old values were still right. So he went on a trip to Vegas for a couple days and he brought a whole trunk load of drugs.

Of course, maybe I'm full of shit. I usually am.

"But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic _possibilities_ of life in this country - but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that."

"The TV news was about the Laos Invasion-a series of horrifying disasters: explosions and twisted wreckage, men fleeing in terror, Pentagon generals babbling insane lies. 'Turn that shit off!' screamed my attorney. 'Lets get out of here!'"

"The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the sixth Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos . . . but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space."

"What was I doing here? What was the meaning of this trip? Was I just roaming around in a drug frenzy of some kind? Or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story? Who are these people, these faces? Where do they come from? They look like caricatures of used car dealers from Dallas, and sweet Jesus, there were a hell of a lot of them at 4:30 on a Sunday morning, still humping the American dream, that vision of the big winner somehow emerging from the last minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino."

"It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world."

"And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave..."

"Reading the front page made me feel a lot better. Against that heinous background, my crimes were pale and meaningless. I was a relatively respectable citizen — a multiple felon, perhaps, but certainly not dangerous. And when the Great Scorer came to write against my name, that would surely make a difference."

"I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger: A man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident."


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Wes said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Wes said...

I know what Horatio Alger's American Dream was:

8 year olds, dude.


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