Ken after he was charged with marijuana possession. Kesey

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado in 1935. He grew to become a star wrestler and football player but at the University of Oregon and was awarded a Fred Lowe Scholarship for his accomplishments in wrestling. He eloped with his high school girlfriend Faye Haxby in 1956, and relocated to California after he won a scholarship to the graduate program in writing at Stanford University. Here he served as an experimental subject as well as an aide in a hospital. This experience later led to his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Kesey had many experiences with drugs such as LSD and hosted many “Acid tests”, experimenting with LSD and associated parties. After finishing Sometimes a Great Notion, he gathered a small group of friends together in a bus and called themselves the “Merry Pranksters”. They then embarked on an expedition calling to a rising generation and introducing the hippy prototype. Kesey also served a six-month prison sentence after he was charged with marijuana possession. Kesey died in Eugene, Oregon at the age of 66 in 2001.After finishing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey believed the key to individual liberation was psychedelic drugs and often wrote under the influence of LSD. He had many experiences with LSD, as it was used as one of the mind-altering drugs in the experiment he participated in. Kesey came to believe that LSD had great positive potential. Since much of the United States was focused on the Space Race and exploring further away, Kesey believed that psychoactive drugs could be essential tools for exploring inwards, learning more about ourselves and others, thus finding new ways to see the world around us. This is what Kesey’s “individual liberation” consisted of. After Kesey moved to California in order to attend Stanford, he volunteered for experiments being conducted at a Veterans Hospital. The experiment which he was a subject in was conducted by the U.S Army where he was given mind-altering drugs and asked to report on their effects. As well as working as an attendant in a hospital’s psychiatric ward, these experiences served as inspiration for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This novel examined the abuses of the system against the individual and posed a social question: are the people in charge less sane than the people following orders? This question was the key to the novel’s success since, for years people had gone along with authority without questioning. However, Over the Cuckoo’s Nest proved that blindly trusting institutions and the government wasn’t always a good idea and set a new social precedent. After researching Ken Kesey, I think he is an unusual individual but a dedicated writer. He had the ability to turn his own experiences into a critically acclaimed novel. Kesey as a person seemed to have a lot of passion for the drugs he took, as he was something like a signpost to the new generation. From what I have read, it seems like he also had this same passion for his writing. After reading his biography and what he experienced before writing the novel, I am interested to read Over the Cuckoo’s Nest since it still has a relevance to today, as people could still ask themselves: is it wise to follow everything the government says?