Counter Culture


 Tom Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: Chapter 6

                              THE BUS

 

I couldn't tell you for sure which of the Merry Pranksters got the idea for the bus, but it had the Babbs touch. It was a superprank, in any case. The original fantasy, here in the spring of 1964, had been that Kesey and four or five others would get a station wagon and drive to New York for the New York World's Fair. On the way they could shoot some film, make some tape, freak out on the Fair and see what happened. They would also be on hand, in New York, for the publication of Kesey's second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, early in July. So went the original fantasy.

    Then somebody--Babbs?--saw a classified ad for a 1939 International Harvester school bus. The bus belonged to a man in Menlo Park. He had a big house and a lot of grounds and a nice set of tweeds and flannels and eleven children. He had rigged out the bus for the children. It had bunks and benches and a refrigerator and a sink for washing dishes and cabinets and shelves and a lot of other nice features for living on the road. Kesey bought it for $1,5O0--in the name of Intrepid Trips, Inc.

   Kesey gave the word and the Pranksters set upon it one afternoon. They started painting it and wiring it for sound and cutting a hole in the roof and fixing up the top of the bus so you could sit up there in the open air and play music, even a set of drums and electric guitars and electric bass and so forth, or just ride. Sandy went to work on the wiring and rigged up a system with which they could broadcast from inside the bus, with tapes or over microphones, and it would blast outside over powerful speakers on top of the bus. There were also microphones outside that would pick up sounds along the road and broadcast them inside the bus. There was also a sound system inside the bus so you could broadcast to one another over the roar of the engine and the road. You could also broadcast over a tape mechanism so that you said something, then heard your own voice a second later in variable lag and could rap off of that if you wanted to. Or you could put on earphones and rap simultaneously off sounds from outside, coming in one ear, and sounds from inside, your own sounds, coming in the other ear. There was going to be no goddamn sound on that whole trip, outside the bus, inside the bus, or inside your own freaking larynx,

that you couldn't tune in on and rap off of.

      The painting job, meanwhile, with everybody pitching in, in a frenzy of primary colors, yellows, oranges, blues, reds, was sloppy as hell, except for the parts Roy Seburn did, which were nice manic mandalas. Well, it was sloppy, but one thing you had to say for it; it was freaking lurid. The manifest, the destination sign in the front, read: “Furthur,” with two u's.

   

They took a test run up into northern California and right away this wild-looking thing with the wild-looking people was great for stirring up consternation and vague befuddling resentment among the citizens. The Pranksters were now out among them, and it was exhilarating--look at the mothers staring!--and there was going to be holy terror in the land. But there would also be people who would look up out of their poor work-a-daddy lives in some town, some old guy, somebody's stenographer, and see this bus and register. . . delight, or just pure open-invitation wonder. Either way, the Intrepid Travelers figured, there was hope for these people. They weren't totally turned off. The bus also had great possibilities for altering the usual order of things.  For example, there were the cops.

      One afternoon the Pranksters were on a test run in the bus going through the woods up north and a forest fire had started.  There was smoke beginning to pour out of the woods and everything. Everybody on the bus had taken acid and they were zonked. The acid was in some orange juice in the refrigerator and you drank a paper cup full of it and you were zonked. Cassady was driving and barreling through the burning woods wrenching the steering wheel this way and that way to his innerwired beat, with a siren wailing and sailing through the rhythm.

      A siren? It's a highway patrolman, which immediately seems like the funniest thing in the history of the world. Smoke is pouring out of the woods and they are all sailing through leaf explosions in the sky, but the cop is bugged about this freaking bus. The cop yanks the bus over to the side and he starts going through a kind of traffic-safety inspection of the big gross bus, while more and more of the smoke is billowing out of the woods. Man, the license plate is on wrong and there's no light over the license plate and this turn signal looks bad and how about the brakes, let's see that hand brake there. Cassady, the driver, is already into a long monologue for the guy, only he is throwing in all kinds of sirs: "Well, yes sir, this is a Hammond bi-valve serrated brake, you understand, sir , had it put on in a truck ro-de-o in Springfield, Oregon, had to back through a slalom course of baby's bottles and yellow nappies, in the existential culmination of Oregon, lots of outhouse freaks up there, you understand, sir, a punctual sort of a stare, sir, yes sir, holds to 28,000 pounds, 28,000 pounds, you just look right here, sir, tested by a pure-blooded Shell Station attendant in Springfield, Oregon, winter of '62, his gumball boots never froze, you understand, sir, 28,000 pounds hold, right here--"Whereupon he yanks back on the hand-brake as if it's attached to something, which it isn't, it is just dangling there, and jams his foot on the regular brake, and the bus shudders as if the hand brake has a hell of a bite, but the cop is thoroughly befuddled now, anyway, because Cassady's monologue has confused him, for one thing, and what the hell are these...people doing. By this time everybody is off the bus rolling in the brown grass by the shoulder, laughing, giggling, yahooing, zonked to the skies on acid, because, mon, the woods are burning, the whole world is on fire, and a Cassady monologue on automotive safety is rising up from out of his throat like weenie smoke, as if the great god Speed were frying in his innards, and the cop, representative of the people of California in this total freaking situation, is all hung up on a hand brake that doesn't exist in the first place. And the cop, all he can see is a bunch of crazies in screaming orange and green costumes, masks, boys and girls, men and women, twelve or fourteen of them, lying in the grass and making hideously crazy sounds--christ almighty, why the hell does he have to contend with ...So he wheels around and says, "What are you, uh--show people?"

      "That's right, officer," Kesey says. 'We're show people. It's been a long row to hoe, I can tell you, and it's gonna be a long row to hoe, but that's the business."

      "Well," says the cop, "you fix up those things and..." He starts backing off toward his car , cutting one last look at the crazies. "...And watch it next time..." And he guns on off.

That was it! How can you give a traffic ticket to a bunch of people rolling in the brown grass wearing Day-Glo masks, practically Greek masques, only with Rat phosphorescent Úlan, giggling, keening in their costumes arid private world while the god Speed sizzles like a short-order French fry in the gut of some guy who doesn't even stop talking to breathe. A traffic ticket? The Pranksters felt more immune than ever. There was no more reason for them to remain in isolation while the ovoid eyes of La Honda supurated. They could go through the face of America muddling people's minds, but it's a momentary high, and the bus would be gone, and all the Fab foam in their heads would settle back down into their brain pans.

 

  So the Hieronymus Bosch bus headed out of Kesey's place with the destination sign in front reading "Furthur" and a sign in the back saying "Caution: Weird Load." It was weird, all right, but it was euphoria on board, barreling through all that warm California sun in July, on the road, and everything they had been working on at Kesey's was on board and heading on Furthur. Besides, the joints were going around, and it was nice and high out here on the road in America. . . .

 

      By the time they hit San Jose, barely 30 miles down the road, a lot of the atmosphere of the trip was already established.  It was nighttime and many souls were high and the bus had broken down. They pulled into a service Station and pretty soon one of the help has his nose down in under the hood looking at the engine while Cassady races the motor and the fluorescent stanchion lights around the station hit the bus in weird phosphorescent splashes, the car lights stream by on the highway, Cassady guns the engine some more, and from out of the bus comes a lot of weird wailing, over the speakers or just out the windows. Paula Sundsten has gotten hold of a microphone with the variable-lag setup and has found out she can make weird radio-spook laughing ghoul sounds with it, wailing like a banshee and screaming “How was your stay-ay-ay-ay...in San Ho-zay-ay-ay-ay-ay,” with the variable lag picking up the ay-ay-ay-ays and doubling them, quadrupling them, octupling them. An endless ricocheting echo--and all the while this weird, slightly hysterical laugh and a desperate little plunking mandolin sail through it all, coming from Hagen's girl friend, who is lying back on a bench inside, plunking a mandolin and laughing--in what way...

      Outside, some character, some local, has come over to the bus, but the trouble is, he is not at all impressed with the bus, he just has to do the American Man thing of when somebody's car is broken down you got to come over and make your diagnosis.

      And he is saying to Kesey and Cassady, "You know what I'd say you need? I'd say you need a good mechanic. Now, I'm not a good mechanic, but I--" And naturally he proceeds to give his diagnosis, while Paula wails, making spook-house effects, and the Beauty Witch keens and goons-and- "--like I say, what you need is a good mechanic, and I'm not a good mechanic, but--"

      And--of course!--the Non-people. The whole freaking world was full of people who were bound to tell you they weren't qualified to do this or that but they were determined to go ahead and do just that thing anyway. Kesey decided he was the Non-navigator. Babbs was the Non-doctor. The bus trip was already becoming an allegory of life.

   

      Before heading east, out across the country, they stopped at Babbs's place in San Juan Capistrano, down below Los Angeles.  Babbs and his wife Anita had a place down there. They pulled the bus into Babbs's garage and sat around for one final big briefing before taking off to the east. Kesey starts talking in the old soft Oregon drawl and everybody is quiet.

      "Here's what I hope will happen on this trip," he says. "What I hope will continue to happen, because it's already starting to happen. All of us are beginning to do our thing, and we're going to keep doing it, right out front, and none of us are going to deny what other people are doing."

      "Bullshit," says Jane Bunon.

      This brings Kesey up short for a moment, but he just rolls with it.

      "That's Jane," he says. " And she's doing her thing. Bullshit. That's her thing and she's doing it."

      "None if us are going to deny what other people are doing. If saying bullshit is somebody's thing, then he says bullshit. If somebody is an ass-kicker, then that's what he's going to do on this trip, kick asses. He's going to do it right out front and nobody is going to have anything to get pissed off about. He can just say, 'I:m sorry I kicked you in the ass, but I'm not sorry I'm an ass-kicker. That's what I do, I kick people in the ass.' Everybody is going to be what they are, and whatever they are, there's not going to be anything to apologize about. What we are, we're going to wail with on this whole trip."

 

      Haul ass, and what we are, out across the Southwest, and all of it on film and on tape. Refrigerator, stove, a sink, bunk racks, blankets, acid, speed, grass--with Hagen handling the movie camera and everybody on microphones and the music blaring out over the roar of the bus, rock 'n' roll, Jimmy Smith. Cassady is revved up like they've never seen him before, with his shirt off, a straw version of a cowboy hat on his head, bouncing up and down on the driver's seat, shifting gears--doubledy-clutch, doubledy-clutch, blamming on the steering wheel and the gearshift box, rapping over the microphone rigged up by his seat like a manic tour guide, describing every car going by,

      "--there's a barber going down the highway cutting his hair at 500 miles an hour, you understand--"

      "So remember those expressions, sacrifice, glorious and in vain!" Babbs says.

      "Food! Food! Food!" Hagen says.

      "Get out the de-glom ointment, sergeant!" says Babbs, rapping at Steve Lambrecht. "The only cure for joint glom, gets the joint off the lip in instant De-Glom-"

      --and so on, because Steve always has a joint glommed onto his lip and, in fact, gets higher than any man alive, on any and all things one throws his way, and picks up the name looker on this trip-

      "--De-Glom for the Zonker!-"

      --and then Babbs parodies Cassady-

      "--and there's a Cadillac with Marie Antoinette--"

      --and the speakers wail, and the mandolin wails and the weird laugh wails, and the variable lag wails-ails-ails-ails-ails-ails, and somebody--who?--hell, everybody wails,

"-we're finally beginning to move, after three fucking days!"

   

On the second day they reached Wikieup, an old Wild West oasis out in the Arizona desert along Route 60. It was all gray-brown desert and sun and this lake, which was like a huge slimy kelp pond, but the air was fantastic. Sandy felt great. Then Kesey held the second briefing. They were going to take their first acid of the trip here and have their first major movie production. He and Babbs and the gorgeous sexy Paula Sundsten were going to take acid-- Wikieup!--and the others were going to record what happened. Hagen and Walker were going to film it, Sandy was going to handle the sound, and Ron Bevirt was going to take photographs.

      Sandy feels 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. This was illogical, because Hagen and Walker, certainly, were closer to Kesey than any other Pranksters besides Babbs, and they were "workers," too, but that was the way he feels. But he doesn't say anything.   Not...out front.

      Kesey and Babbs and Paula hook down some acid orange juice from the refrigerator and wait for the vibrations. Paula is in a hell of a great mood. She has never taken LSD before, but she looks fearless and immune and ready for all, and she hooks down a good slug of it. They wait for the vibrations

    ...and here they come.

      Babbs has a big cane, a walking stick, and he is waving it around in the air, and the three of them, Babbs, Kesey and Paula, go running and kicking and screaming toward the lake and she dives in--and comes up with her head covered in muck and great kelpy strands of green pond slime--and beaming in a way that practically radiates out over the face of the lake and the desert. She has surfaced euphoric--

      "Oooooh! It sparkles!"

      --pulling her long strands of slime-slithering hair outward with her hands and grokking and freaking over it--

      “Ooooooooh! It sparkles!"

      --the beads of water on her slime strands are like diamonds to her, and everybody feels her feeling at once, even Sandy--

      "Oooooooooh! It sparkles!"

      --surfaced euphoric! euphorically garlanded in long greasy garlands of pond slime, the happiest slime freak in the West--

      --and Babbs is euphoric for her-

      "Gretchen Fetchin the Slime Queen"' he yells and waves his cane at the sky.

      “Ooooooooh! It sparkles!"

      “Gretchen Fetchin the Slime Queen!"

      "It sparkles!"

      "Gretchen Fetchin!"

      And it is beautiful. Everybody goes manic and euphoric like a vast contact high, like they have all suddenly taken acid themselves. Kesey is in an athletic romp, tackling the ferns and other slimy greenery in the lake. Babbs and Paula--Gretchen Fetchin!--are yahooing at the sky. Hagen is feverishly filming it all, Sandy has a set of huge cables stretched out to the very edge of the lake, picking up the sound, Ron Bevirt is banging away with his camera. Babbs and Paula--Gretchen Fetchin!--and Kesey keep plunging out into the mucky innards of the lake.

      "Come back! " Hagen the cameraman starts yelling. "You're out of range!"

      But Babbs and Paula and Kesey can't hear him. They are cartwheeling further and further out into the paradise muck--

      "It sparkles!"

      "Gretchen Fetchin--Queen of the Slime!"

      But meanwhile Hagen's Beauty Witch, in the contagion of the moment, has slipped to the refrigerator and taken some acid, and now she is outside of the bus on the desert sand wearing a black snakeskin blouse and a black mantle, with her long black hair coming down over it like in a pre-Raphaelite painting and a cosmic grin on her witch-white face, lying down on the desert, striking poses and declaiming in couplets. She's zonked out of her nut, but it's all in wild manic Elizabethan couplets:

     

            "Methinks you need a gulp of grass

            And so it quickly came to pass

            You fell to earth with eely shrieking,

            Wooing my heart, freely freaking!"

 

      --and so forth. Well, she wins Hagen's manic heart right away, and soon he has wandered off from the Lake of the Slime Euphoria and is in a wide-legged stance over her with the camera as she lies declaiming on the desert floor, camera zeroed in on her like she is Maria Montez in a love scene--and now the Beauty Witch is off on her trip for good...

 

 ....

      At night the goddamn bus still bouncing and the Southwest silvery blue coming in not exactly bouncing but slipping and sliding in shafts, sickly shit, and car beams and long crazy shadows from car beams sliding in weird bends over the inside, over the love bunk. The love bunk'll get you if you don't wash out. One shelf on the bunk has a sleeping bag on it and into this sleeping bag crawl whoever wants to make it, do your thing; bub, and right out front, and wail with it, and Sandy looks over and he can see a human... bobbing up and down in the sleeping bag with the car beams sliding over it and the motor roaring, the fabulous love bunk, and everyone--synch--can see that sleeping bag veritably filling up with sperm, the little devils swimming like mad in there in the muck, oozing into the cheap hairy shit they quilt the bag with, millions billions trillions of them, darting around, crafty little flagellants, looking to score, which is natural, and if any certified virgin on the face of the earth crawled into that sleeping bag for a nap after lunch she would be a hulking knocked-up miracle inside of three minutes--but won't this goddamn bouncing ever stop--

 

      This being a school bus, and not a Greyhound, the springs

and the shock absorbers are terrible and the freaking grinding

straining motor shakes it to pieces and hulking vibrations

synched in to no creature on earth keep batting everybody

around on the benches and the bunks. It is almost impossible

to sleep and the days and nights have their own sickly cycle,

blinding sun all day and the weird car beams and shadows

sliding sick and slow at night and all the time the noise. Jane

Bunon is nauseous practically the whole time. Nobody can

sleep so they keep taking more speed to keep going, psychic

energizers like Ritalin, anything, and then smoke more grass

to take the goddamn tachycardiac edge off the speed, and acid

to make the whole thing turn into something else. Then it

all starts swinging back and fonh between grueling battering

lurching flogging along the highway--and unaccountable de-

lays, stopped, unendurable frustration by the side of the road

in the middle of nowhere while the feeling of no-sleep starts

turning the body and the skull into a dried-out husk inside

with a sour greasy smoke like a tenement fire curdling in the

brainpan. They have to pull into gasoline stations to go to

the bathroom, cop a urination or an egestion-keep regular,

friends-but 12-how many, 14?--did we lose somebody-did

we pick up somebody--climbing out of this bus, which is

weird-looking for a start, but all these weird people are too

much, clambering out-the service station attendant and his

Number One Boy stare at this-Negro music is blaring out

of the speakers and these weird people clamber out, half of

them in costume, lurid shirts with red and white stripes,

some of them with weird paint on their faces, like comic-

book Indians, with huge circles under their eyes, eyes red,

noses not blue, not nearly blue enough, but eyes red-all

trooping out toward the Clean Rest Rooms, already queuing

up practically-

“Wait a minute," the guy says. “What do you think you're

doing?"

“Fill 'er up!" says Kesey, very soft and pleasant. "Yes, sir,

she's a big bus and she takes a lotta gas. Yep."

“I mean what are they doing?"

“Them? I 'spect they're going to the bathroom. Ay-yup,

that big old thing's the worst gas-eater you ever saw"-all the

time motioning to Hagen to go get the movie camera and the

microphone.

“Well, can't all those people use the bathrooms."

      “All they want to do is go to the bathroom”-and now

Kesey takes the microphone and Hagen starts shooting the

film-whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-but all very casual as if, well,

sure, don’t you record it all, every last morsel of friendly

confrontation whenever you stop on the great American

highway to cop a urination or two? or a dozen?

      “Well, now, listen! You ain’t using the bathrooms! You

hear me, now! You see that motel back there? I own that

motel, too, and we got on septic tank here, for here and

there, and you’re not gonna overflow it for me. Now git that

thing out of my face!”

      -Kesey has the microphone in the guy’s face, like this is

all for the six o’clock news, and then he brings the micro-

phone back to his face, just like the TV interview shows, and

says,

      “You see that bus out there? Ever time we stop to fill ‘er

up we have to lay a whole lot of money on somebody, and

we’d like it to be you, on account of your hospitality.”

      “It’s an unaccountable adventure in consumer spending,”

says Babbs.

      “Bet those cameras and microphones out of here,” the guy

says. “I’m not afraid of you!”

      “I should hope not,” says Kesey, still talking soft and down-

home. “All that money that big baby’s gonna drink up.

Whew!”

      Sheerooooooo-all this time the toilets are flushing, this

side and that side and the noise of it roars and gurgles right

through the cinder block walls until it sounds like there’s

nothing in the whole wide open U.S. of A. except for Clean

Rest Room toilets and Day-Glo crazies and cameras and

microphones from out of nowhere, and the guy just caves in

under it.  He can’t fit it into his movie of Doughty American

Entrepreneur-not no kind of way-

      “Well, they better make it fast or there’s going to be

trouble around here.” And he goes out to fill ‘er up, this

goddamn country is going down the drain.

      But they don’t speed it up.  Walker is over to the coin

telephone putting in a call to Faye back in La Honda.  Babbs

is clowning around out on the concrete apron of the gas

station with Gretchen Fetchin.  Jane Burton feels bilious—

the idea is to go to New York, isn’t it? even on a 1939 school

bus it could be done better than this. What are we waiting

waiting, waiting, waiting for, playing gameS with old crocks at

gas stations. Well, we're waiting for Sandy, for one thing.

Where in the hell is Sandy. But Sandy-he hasn't slept in

days and he has an unspecific urge to get off the bus-but

not to sleep, just to get off-for-what?-before:::::what?

And Sandy is back over at the morel, inspecting this electro-

pink slab out in the middle of nowhere-somebody finally finds

him and brings him back. Sandy is given the name Dis-

mount in the great movie.

      "There are going to be times," says Kesey, "when we can't

wait for somebody. Now, you're either on the bus or of

the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then

you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place-

then it won't make a damn." And nobody had to have

it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical,

understood by the group mind, and especially this: "You're

either on the bus...or off the bus."

 

 

      Except for Hagen's girl, the Beauty Witch. It seems like

she never even gets off the bus to cop a urination. She's sit-

ting back in the back of the bus with nothing on, just a

blanket over her lap and her legs wedged back into the cor-

ner, her and her little bare breasts, silent, looking exceedingly

witch-like. Is she on the bus or off the bus? She has taken to

wearing nothing but the blanket and she sheds that when she

feels like it. Maybe that is her thing and she is doing her

thing and wailing with it and the bus barrels on off, heading

for Houston, Texas, and she becomes Stark Naked in the

great movie, one moment all conked out, but with her eyes

open, staring, the next laughing and coming on, a lively Stark

Naked, and they are an trying to just snap their fingers to it

but now she is getting looks that have nothing to do with the

fact that she has not a thing on. hell, big deal, but she is now

waxing extremely freaking ESP. She keeps coming up to

somebody who isn't saying a goddamn thing and looking into

his eyes with the all-embracing look of total acid under-

standing, our brains are one brain, so let's visit, you and I, and

she says: "Ooooooooh, you really think that, I know what

you mean, but do you-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-ueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

-finishing off in a sailing tremulo laugh as if she has just read

your brain and it is the weirdest of me weird shit ever, your

brain eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee--

 

 

                  STARK-NAKED

           

            in a black blanket-

                  Reaching out for herself,

            she woke up one morning to

            find herself accosted on all

            sides by       LARGE

                    MEN 

            surrounding her threatening her

            with their voices, their presence, their always

            desire reaching inside herself

            and touching her obscenely upon her

            desire and causing her to laugh

            and

                  LAUGH

                              with the utter

                              ridiculousness

                              of it...

 

-but no one denied her a moment of it, neither the conked-

out bug-eyed paranoia nor the manic keening coming on,

nobody denied her, and she could wail, nobody tried to cool

that inflamed brain that was now seeping out Stark Naked

into the bouncing goddamn-stop it!--currents of the bus

throgging and roaring 70 miles an hour into Texas, for it was

like it had been ordained, by Kesey himself, back in San Juan

Capistrano, like there was to be a reaction scale in here, from

negative to positive, and no one was to rise up negative about

anything, one was to go positive with everything-go with

the flow-everyone's cool was to be tested, and to shout No,

no matter what happened, was to fail. And hadn't Kesey

assed the test first of all? Hadn't Babbs taken Gretchen

Fetchin, and did he come back at either one of them up-

tight over that? And wasn't it Walker who was calling La

Honda from the Servicenters of America? All true, and go

with the flow. And they went with the flow, the whole

goddamn flow of America. The bus barrels into the super-

highway ton stations and the microphones on top of the bus

pick up an the clacking and ringing and the mumbling by

the toll-station attendant and the brakes squeaking and the

gears shifting, all the sounds of the true America that are

screened out everywhere else, it all came amplified back

inside the bus, while Hagen's camera picked up the faces, the

faces in Phoenix, the cops, the service-station owners, the

stragglers and the strugglers of America, all laboring in their

movie, and it was all captured and kept, piling up, inside the

bus. Barreling across America with the microphones picking

it all up, the whole roar, and microphone up top gets eerie

in a great rush and then skakkkkkkkkkkkkkk it is ripping and

roaring over asphalt and thok it's gone, no sound at all. The

microphone has somehow ripped loose on top of the bus and

hit the roadway and dragged along until it snapped off en-

tirely-and Sandy can't believe it. He keeps waiting for

somebody to ten Cassady to stop and go back and get the

microphone, because this was something Sandy had rigged

up with great love and time, it was his thing, his part of

the power-but instead they are all rapping and grokking

over the sound it made--"Wowwwwwwwww! Did you-

wowwwwwww"--as if they had synched into a never-before-

heard thing, a unique thing, the sound of an object, a micro-

phone, hitting the American asphalt, the open road at 70 miles

an hour, like if it was all there on tape they would have the

instant, the moment, of anything, anyone ripped out of the

flow and hitting the Great Superhighway at 70 miles an hour

--and they had it on tape--and played it back in variable

lag skakkkkkk-akkk-akkkk-akkkoooooooooooo.

   oooooooooooooooooooooooo-Stark Naked waxing weirder

and weirder, huddled in the black blanket shivering, then out,

bobbing wraith, her little deep red aureola bobbing in the

crazed vibrations--finally they pull into Houston and head

for Larry McMurtry's house. They pun up to McMurtry's

house, in the suburbs, and the door of the house opens and

out comes McMurtry, a slight, slightly wan, kindly-looking

shy-looking guy, ambling out, with his little boy, his son,

and Cassady opens the door of the bus so everybody can get

off, and suddenly Stark Naked shrieks out: "Frankie!

Frankie! Frankie! Frankie!"-this being the name of her own

divorced-off little boy-and she whips off the blanket and

leaps off the bus and out into the suburbs of Houston, Texas,

stark naked, and rushes up to McMurtry's little boy and

scoops him up and presses him to her skinny breast, crying

shrieking, "Frankie! oh Frankie! my little Frankie! oh!

oh! oh"--while McMurtry doesn't know what in the name

of hell to do, reaching tentatively toward her stark-naked

shoulder and saying, "Ma'am! Ma'am! Just a minute, ma'am!"--

--while the Pranksters, spilling out of the bus--stop. The

bus is stopped. No roar, no crazed bounce or vibrations, no

crazed car beams, no tapes, no microphones. Only Stark

Naked, with somebody else's little boy in her arms, is bounc-

ing and vibrating.

   And there, amid the peaceful Houston elms on Quenby

Road, it dawned on them all that this woman--which one of

us even knows her?--had completed her trip. She had gone

with the Flow. She had gone stark raving mad.

 


82 THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN

 

Saturday, April 8, 1962

 

In our conversations, don Juan consistently used or

referred to the phrase "man of knowledge," but never

explained what he meant by it. I asked him about it.

      "A man of knowledge is one who bas followed truth-

fully the hardships of learning," he said. "A man who

has, without rushing or without faltering, gone as far as

he can in unraveling the secrets of power and knowl-

edge."

      "Can anyone be a man of knowledge?"

      "No, not anyone."

      "Then what must a man do to become a man of

knowledge?"

      "He must challenge and defeat his four natural ene-

mies."

      "Will he be a man of knowledge after defeating these

four enemies?",

      "Yes. A man can call himself a man of knowledge

only if he is capable of defeating an four of them."

      “Then, can anybody who defeats these enemies be a

man of knowledge?"

      "Anybody who defeats them becomes a man of

knowledge."

      "But are there any special requirements a man must

fulfill before fighting with these enemies?"

      "No. Anyone can try to become a man of knowl-

edge; very few men actually succeed, but that is only

 

83

 

natural. The enemies a man encounters on the path of

learning to become a man of knowledge are truly for-

midable; most men succumb to them."

      “What kind of enemies are they, don Juan?"

      He refused to talk about the enemies. He said it

would be a long time before the subject would make

any sense to me. I tried to keep the topic alive and

asked him if he thought I could become a man of

knowledge. He said no man could possibly tell that for

sure. But I insisted on knowing if there were any clues

he could use to determine whether or not I had a chance

of becoming a man of knowledge. He said it would

depend on my battle against the four enemies--whether

I could defeat them or would be defeated by them-

but it was impossible to foretell the outcome of that

fight.

      I asked him if he could use witchcraft or divination to

see the outcome of the battle. He flatly stated that the

results of the struggle could not be foreseen by any

means, because becoming a man of knowledge was a

temporary thing. When I asked him to explain this

point, he replied:

      "To be a man of knowledge has no permanence. One

is never a man of knowledge, not really. Rather, one

becomes a man of knowledge for a very brief instant,

after defeating the four natural enemies."

      “You must ten me, don Juan, what kind of enemies

they are."

      He did not answer. I insisted again, but he dropped

the subject and started to talk about something else.

 

 

Sunday, April 15, 1962

As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to ask him

once more about the enemies of a man of knowledge.

I argued that I could not return for some time, and it

would be a good idea to write down what he had to say

and then think about it while I was away.

      He hesitated for a while, but then began to talk.

      “When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about

his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague.

 

90 THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN

 

      "He is just a protector and a teacher. He is a power."

      "Is he a power within ourselves1"

      “No. Mescalito has nothing to do with ourselves. He

is outside us."

      "Then everyone who takes Mescalito must see him

in the same form."

      "No, not at all. He is not the same for everybody."

 

Thursday, April 12, 1962

 

Why don't you tell me more about Mescalito, don

Juan?"

      “There is nothing to tell."

      "There must be thousands of things I should know

before I encounter him again."

      "No. Perhaps for you there is nothing you have to

know. As I have already told you, he is not the same

for everyone."

      "I know, but still I'd like to know how others feel

about him."

      "The opinion of those who care to talk about him

is not worth much. You will see. You will probably

talk about him up to a certain point, and from then

on you will never discuss him."

      “Can you tell me about your own first experiences1"

      "What for?"

      "Then I'll know how to behave with Mescalito."

      "You already know more than I do. You actually

played with him. Someday you will see how kind the

protector was with you. That first time I am sure he

told you many, many things, but you were deaf and

blind."

 

Sunday, April 14, 1962

      "Does Mescalito take any form when he shows him-

self?"

      “Yes, any form."

      "Then, which are the most common forms you

know?"

      "There are no common forms."

91

      "Do you mean, don Juan, that he appears in any

form, even to men who know him well?" ,

      "No. He appears in any form to those who know him

only a little, but to those who know him well, he is

always constant."

      "How is he constant?"

      "He appears to them sometimes as a man, like us, or

as a light. Just a light."

      "Does Mescalito ever change his permanent form with

those who know him well?"

      "Not to my knowledge."

 

Friday, Jury 6, 1962

 

Don Juan and I started on a trip late in the afternoon

of Saturday, June 23. He said we were going to look

for honguitos (mushrooms) in the state of Chihuahua.

He said it was going to be a long, hard trip. He was

right. We arrived in a little mining town in northern

Chihuahua at 10:00 P.M. On Wednesday, June 27. We

walked from the place I had parked the car at the out-

skirts of town, to the house of his friends, a Tara-

humara Indian and his wife. We slept there.

      The next morning the man woke us ip around five.

He brought us gruel and beans. He sat and talked to

don Juan while we ate, but he said nothing concerning

our trip.

      After breakfast the man put water into my canteen,

and two sweet rolls into my knapsack. Don Juan handed

me the canteen, fixed the knapsack with a cord over

his shoulders, thanked the man for his courtesies, and

turning to me, said, "'It is time to go."

      We walked on the dirt road for about a mile. From

there we cut through the fields and in two hours we

were at the foot of the hills south of town. We climbed

the gentle slopes in a southwesterly direction. When we

reached the steeper inclines, don Juan changed direc-

tions and we followed a high valley to the east. Despite

his advanced age, don Juan kept up a pace so in-

 

92

credibly fast that by midday I was completely exhausted.

We sat down and he opened the bread sack.

      “You can eat all of it, if you want," he said.

      “How about you?"

      “I am not hungry, and we won't need this food later

on."

      I was very tired and hungry and took him up on his

offer. I felt this was a good time to talk about the pur-

pose of our trip, and quite casually I asked, "Do you

think we are going to stay here for a long time?”

      "We are here to gather some Mescalito. We will

stay until tomorrow."

      “Where is Mescalito"

      “All around us."

      Cacti of many species were growing in profusion all

through the area, but I could not distinguish peyote

among them.

      We started to hike again and by three o'clock we

came to a long, narrow valley with steep side hills. I

felt strangely excited at the idea of finding peyote, which

I had never seen in its natural environment. We entered

the valley and must have walked about four hundred

feet when suddenly I spotted three unmistakable peyote

plants. They were in a cluster a few inches above the

ground in front of me, to the left of the path. They

looked like round, pulpy, green roses. I ran toward

them, pointing them out to don Juan.

      He ignored me and deliberately kept his back turned

as he walked away. I knew I had done the wrong

thing, and for the rest of the afternoon we walked in

silence, moving slowly on the flat valley floor, which was

covered with small, sharp-edged rocks. We moved

among the cacti, disturbing crowds of lizards and at

times a solitary bird. And I passed scores of peyote

plants without saying a word.

      At six o'clock we were at the bottom of the mountains

that marked the end of the valley. We climbed to a

ledge. Don Juan dropped his sack and sat down.

I was hungry again, but we had no food left; I sug-

gested that we pick up the Mescalito and head back

 

93

 

for town. He looked annoyed and made a smacking

sound with his lips. He said we were going to spend

the night there.

      We sat quietly. There was a rock wall to the left, and

to the right was the valley we had just crossed. It

extended for quite a distance and seemed to be wider

than, and not so flat as, I had thought. Viewed from

the spot where I sat, it was full of small hills and

protuberances.

      "Tomorrow we will start walking back," don Juan

said without looking at me, and pointing to the valley.

“We will work 'our way back and pick him as we cross

the field. That is, we will pick him only when be is in

our way. He will find us and not the other way around.

He will find us-if he wants to."

      Don Juan rested his back against the rock wall and,

with his head turned to his side, continued talking as

though another person were there besides myself. "One

more thing. Only I can pick him. You will perhaps

carry the bag, or walk ahead of me-I don't know yet.

But tomorrow you will not point at him as you did

today!"

      "I am sorry, don Juan."

      "It is alright. You didn't know."

      "Did your benefactor teach you all this about

Mescalito?"

      "No! Nobody has taught me about him. It was the

protector himself who was my teacher."

      "Then Mescalito is like a person to whom you can

talk?"

      "No, he isn't."

      "How does he teach, then?"

      He remained silent for a while.

      "Remember the time when you played with him?

You understood what he meant, didn't you?"

      "I did!"

      “That is the way he teaches. You did not know it

then, but if you had paid attention to him, he would

have talked to you."

      “When?"

94

      "When you saw him for the first time."

      He seemed to be very annoyed by my questioning.

I told him I had to ask all these questions because I

wanted to find out all I could.

      "Don't ask me!" He smiled maliciously. "Ask him.

The next time you see him, ask him everything you

want to know."

      "Then Mescalito is like a person you can talk..."

He did not let me finish. He turned away, picked up

the canteen, stepped down from the ledge, and disap-

peared around the rock. I did not want to be alone

there, and even though he had not asked me to go

along, I followed him. We walked for about five hun-

dred feet to a small creek. He washed his hands and

face and filled up the canteen. He swished water around

in his mouth, but did not drink it. I scooped up some

water in my hands and drank, but he stopped me and

said it was unnecessary to drink.

      He handed me the canteen and started to walk back

to the ledge. When we got there we sat again facing the

valley with our backs to the rock wall. I asked if we

could build a fire. He reacted as if it was inconceivable

to ask such a thing. He said that for that night we were

Mescalito's guests and he was going to keep us warm.

      It was already dusk. Don Juan pulled two thin, cot-

ton blankets from his sacks, threw one into my lap, and I

sat cross-legged with the other one over his shoulders.

Below us the valley was dark, with its edges already

diffused in the evening mist.

      Don Juan sat motionless facing the peyote field. A

steady wind blew on my face.

      "The twilight is the crack between the worlds," he

said softly, without turning to me.

      I didn't ask what he meant. My eyes became tired.

Suddenly I felt elated; I had a strange, overpowering

desire to weep!

      I lay on my stomach; the rock floor was hard and un-

comfortable, and I had to change my position every

few minutes. Finally I sat up and crossed my legs, put-

ting the blanket over my shoulders. To my amazement

 

95

 

this position was supremely comfortable, and I fell

asleep.

      When I woke up, I beard don Juan talking to me. It

was very dark. I could not see him well. I did not

understand what he said, but I followed him when he

started to go down from the ledge. We moved care-

fully, or at least I did, because of the darkness. We

stopped at the bottom of the rock wall. Don Juan sat

down and signaled me to sit at his left. He opened up

his shirt and took out a leather sack, which he opened

and placed on the ground in front of him. It contained

a number of dried peyote buttons.

      After a long pause he picked up one of the buttons.

He held it in his right hand, rubbing it several times

between the thumb and the first finger as he chanted

softly. Suddenly he let out a tremendous cry.

      “Ahiiii!"

      It was weird, unexpected. It terrified me. Vaguely I

saw him place the peyote button in his mouth and begin

to chew it. After a moment he picked up the whole

sack, leaned toward me, and told me in a whisper to

take the sack. pick out one mescalito, put the sack in

front of us again, and then do exactly as he did.

      I picked a peyote button and rubbed it as he had

done. Meanwhile he chanted, swaying back and forth. I

tried to put the button into my mouth several times, but

I felt embarrassed to cry out. Then, as in a dream, an

unbelievable shriek came out of me: Ahiiii! For a

moment I thought it was someone else. Again' felt the

effects of nervous shock in my stomach. I was falling

backward. I was fainting. I put the peyote button into

my mouth and chewed it. After a while Don Juan

picked up another from the sack. I was relieved to see

that he put it into his mouth after a short chant. He

passed the sack to me, and I placed it in front of us

again after taking one button. This cycle went on five

times before I noticed any thirst. I picked up the can-

teen to drink, but don Juan told me just to wash my

mouth, and not to drink or I would vomit.

I swished the water around mouth repeatedly.

 

96

 

At a certain moment drinking was a formidable tempta-

tion, and I swallowed a bit of water. Immediately my

stomach began to convulse. I expected to have painless

and effortless flowing of liquid from my mouth, its had

happened during my first experience with peyote, but to

my surprise I had only the ordinary sensation of vomit-

ing. It did not last long, however.

      Don Juan picked up another button and banded me

the sack, and the cycle was renewed and repeated until

I had chewed fourteen buttons. By this time all my

early sensations of thirst, cold, and discomfort had

disappeared. In their place I felt an unfamiliar sense of

warmth and excitation. I took the canteen to freshen

my mouth, but it was empty.

      “Can we go to the creek, don Juan?"

      The sound of my voice did not project out, but hit

the roof of my palate, bounced back in to my throat,

and echoed to and fro between them. The echo was soft

and musical, and seemed to have wings that flapped in-

side my throat. Its touch s(;'1othed me. I followed its

back-and-forth movements until it had vanished.

      I repeated the question. My voice sounded as though

I was talking inside a vault.

      Don Juan did not answer. I got up and turned in

the direction of the creek. I looked at him to see if he

was coming, but he seemed to be listening attentively

to something.

      He made an imperative sign with his hand to be

quiet.

      “Abuhtol[?] is already here!" he said.

      I had never heard that word before, and I was won-

dering whether to ask him about it when I detected a

noise that seemed to be a buzzing inside my ears. The

sound became louder by degrees until it was like the

vibration caused by an enormous bull-roarer. It blasted

for a brief moment and subsided gradually until every-

thing was quiet again. The violence and the intensity

of the noise terrified me. I was shaking so much that

I could hardly remain standing, yet I was perfectly

rational. If I had been drowsy a few minutes before,

 

97

 

this feeling ~ad totally vanished, giving way to a state

of extreme lucidity. The noise reminded me of a science

fiction movie in which a gigantic bee buzzed its wings

coming out of an atomic radiation area. I laughed at

the thought. I saw don Juan slumping back into his

relaxed position. And suddenly the image of a gigantic

bee accosted me again. It was more real than ordinary

thoughts. It stood alone surrounded by an extraordinary

clarity. Everything else was driven from my mind. This

state of mental clearness, which had no precedents in

my life, produced another moment of terror.

      I began to perspire. I leaned toward don Juan to

tell him I was afraid. His face was a few inches from

mine. He was looking at me, but his eyes were the eyes

of a bee. They looked like round glasses that had a

light of their own in the darkness. His lips were pushed

out, and from them came a pattering noise: “Pehtuh-

peh-tuh-pet-tuh." I jumped backward, nearly crashing

into the rock wall. For a seemingly endless time I ex-

perienced an unbearable fear. I was panting and whin-

ing. The perspiration had frozen on my skin, giving me

an awkward rigidity. Then I heard don Juan's voice

saying, “Get up! Move around! Get up!"

      The image vanished and again I could see his familiar

face.

      "I'11 get some water," I said after another endless

moment. My voice cracked. I could hardly articulate

the words. Don Juan nodded yes. As I walked away

I realized that my fear had gone as fast and as mys-

teriously as it had come.

      Upon approaching the creek I noticed that I could

see every object in the way. I remembered I bad just

seen don Juan clearly, whereas earlier I could hardly

distinguish the outlines of his figure. I stopped and

looked into the distance, and I could even see across

the valley. Some boulders on the other side became -

perfectly visible. I thought it must be early morning,

but it occurred to me that I might have lost track of

time. I looked at my watch. It was ten of twelve! I

checked the watch to see if it was working. It couldn't

 

98

 

be midday; it had to be midnight! I intended to make a

dash for the water and come back to the rocks, but I

saw don Juan coming down and I waited for him. I told

him I could see in the dark.

      He stared at me for a long time without saying a

word; if he did speak, perhaps I did not hear him, for I

was concentrating on my new. unique ability to see in

the dark. I could distinguish the very minute pebbles in

the sand. At moments everything was so clear it seemed

to be early morning, or dusk. Then it would get dark;

then it would clear again. Soon I realized that the

brightness corresponded to my heart's diastole, and the

darkness to its systole. The world changed from bright

to dark to bright again with every beat of my heart.

      I was absorbed in this discovery when the same

strange sound that I had heard before became audible

again. My muscles stiffened.

      "Anuhctal [as I heard the word this time] is here,"

don Juan said. I fancied the roar so thunderous, so

overwhelming, that nothing else mattered. When it had

subsided, I perceived a sudden increase in the volume

of water. The creek, which a minute before had been

less than a foot wide, expanded until it was an enormous

lake. Light that seemed to come from above it touched

the surface as though shining through thick foliage.

From time to time the water would glitter for a second

-gold and black. Then it would remain dark, lightless,

almost out of sight, and yet strangely present.

      I don't recall how long I stayed there just watching,

squatting on the shore of the black lake. The roar must

have subsided in the meantime, because what jolted me

back (to reality?) was again a terrifying buzzing. I

turned around to look for don Juan. I saw him climb-

ing up and disappearing behind the rock ledge. Yet the

feeling of being alone did not bother me at all; I

squatted there in a state of absolute confidence and

abandonment. The roar again became audible; it was

very intense, like the noise made by a high wind. Listen-

ing to it as carefully as I could, I was able to detect a

definite melody. It was a composite of high-pitched

 

99

 

sounds like human voices, accompanied by a deep bass

drum. I focused all my attention on the melody, and

again noticed that the systole and diastole of my heart

coincided with the sound of the bass drum, and with

the pattern of the music.

      I stood up and the melody stopped. I tried to listen to

my heartbeat, but it was not detectable. I squatted

again, thinking that perhaps the position of my body

had caused or induced the sounds! But nothing hap-

pened Not a sound! Not even my heart! I thought I had

had enough, but as I stood up to leave, I felt a tremor

of the earth. The ground under my feet was shaking. I

was losing my balance. I fell backward and remained

on my back while the earth shook violently. I tried to

grab a rock or a plant, but something was sliding under

me. I jumped up, stood for a moment, and fell down

again. The ground on which I sat was moving, sliding

into the water like a raft. I remained motionless,

stunned by a terror that was, like everything else,

unique, uninterrupted, and absolute.

      I moved through the water of the black lake perched

on a piece of soil that looked like an earthen log. I had

the feeling I was going in a southerly direction, trans-

ported by the current. I could see the water moving

and swirling around. It felt cold, and oddly heavy, to

the touch. I fancied it alive.

      There were no distinguishable shores or landmarks,

and I can't recall the thoughts or the feelings that must

have come to me during this trip. After what seemed

like hours of drifting, my raft made a right-angle turn

to the left, the east. It continued to slide on the water

for a very short distance, and unexpectedly rammed

against something. The impact threw me forward. I

closed my eyes and felt a sharp pain as my knees and

my outstretched arms hit the ground. After a moment

I looked up. I was lying on the dirt. It was as though

my earthen log had merged with the land. I sat up and

I turned around. The water was receding! It moved back-

ward, like a wave in reverse, until it disappeared.

      I sat there for a long time, trying' to collect my

 

100

 

I thoughts and resolve all that had happened into a co-

herent unit. My entire body ached. My throat felt like

an open sore; I had bitten my lips when I “landed."

I stood up. The wind made me realize I was cold. My

clothes were wet. My hands and jaws and knees shook

so violently that I had to lie down again. Drops of

perspiration slid into my eyes and burned them until I

yelled with pain.

   After a while I regained a measure of stability and

stood up. In the dark twilight, the scene was very clear.

I took a couple of steps. A distinct sound of many

human voices came to me. They seemed to be talking

loudly. I followed the sound; I walked for about fifty

yards and came to a sudden stop. I had reached a dead

end. The place where I stood was a corral formed by

enormous boulders. I could distinguish another row,

and then another, and another, until they merged into

the sheer mountain. From among them came the most

exquisite music. It was a fluid, uninterrupted, eerie flow

of sounds.

   At the foot of one boulder I saw a man sitting on the

ground, his face turned almost in profile. I approached

him until I was perhaps ten feet away; then he turned

his head and looked at me. I stopped-his eyes were

the water I had just seen! They had the same enormous

volume, the sparkling of gold and black. His head was

pointed like a strawberry; his skin was green, dotted

with innumerable warts. Except for the pointed shape,

his head was exactly like the surface of the peyote

plant. I stood in front of him, staring; I couldn't take

my eyes away from him. I felt he was deliberately

pressing on my chest with the weight of his eyes. I

was choking. I lost my balance and fell to the ground.

His eyes turned away. I heard him talking to me. At

first his voice was like the soft rustle of a light breeze.

Then I heard it as music-as a melody of voices-and

I “knew" it was saying, "What do you want?"

  I knelt before him and talked about my life, then

wept. He looked at me again. I felt his eyes pulling me

away, and I thought that moment would be the moment

 

101

 

of my death. He signaled me to come closer. I vacillated

for an instant before I took a step forward. As I

came closer he turned his eyes away from me and

showed me the back of his hand. The melody said,

"Look!" There was a round hole in the middle of his

band. “Look!" said the melody again. I looked into the

hole and I saw myself. I was very old and feeble and

was running stooped over, with bright sparks flying

all around me. Then three of the sparks hit me, two in

the head and one in the left shoulder. My figure, in the

hole, stood up for a moment until it was fully vertical,

and then disappeared together with the hole.

   Mescalito turned his eyes to me again. They were

so close to me that I "heard" them rumble softly with

that peculiar sound I had heard many times that night.

They became peaceful by degrees until they were like

a quiet pond rippled by gold and black flashes.

   He turned his eyes away once more and hopped like

a cricket for perhaps fifty yards. He hopped again and

again, and was gone.

   The next thing I remember is that I began to walk.

Very rationally I tried to recognize landmarks, such as

mountains in the distance, in order to orient myself. I

had been obsessed by cardinal points throughout the

whole experience, and I believed that north had to be to

my left. I walked in that direction for quite a while

before I realized that it was daytime, and that I was no

longer using my "night vision." I remembered I had a

watch and looked at the time. It was eight o'clock.

   It was about ten o'clock when I got to the ledge

where I had been the night before. Don Juan was lying

on the ground asleep.

   “Where have you been?" he asked.

   I sat down to catch my breath.

   After a long silence he asked, “Did you see him?"

I began to narrate to him the sequence of my experi-

ences from the beginning, but he interrupted me saying

that all that mattered was whether I had seen him or

not. He asked how close to me Mescalito was. I told

him I had nearly touched him.

 

102

 

The part of my story interested him. He listened

attentively to every detail without comment, interrupt-

ing only to ask questions about the form of the entity

I had seen, its disposition, and other details about it.

It was about noon when don Juan seemed to have had

enough of my story. He stood up and strapped a canvas

bag to my chest; he told me to walk behind him and

said he was going to cut Mescalito loose and I had to

receive him in my hands and place him inside the bag

gently.

   We drank some water and started to walk. When we

reached the edge of the valley he seemed to hesitate

for a moment before deciding which direction to take.

Once he bad made his choice we walked in a straight

line.

   Every time we came to a peyote plant, he squatted

in front of it and very gently cut off the top with his

short, serrated knife. He made an incision level with

the ground, and sprinkled the “wound," as he called it,

with pure sulphur powder which he carried in a leather

sack. He held the fresh button in his left hand and

spread the powder with his right hand. Then he stood

up and handed me the button, which I received with

both hands, as he had prescribed, and placed inside the

bag. "Stand erect and don't let the bag touch the

ground or the bushes or anything else," he said re-

peatedly, as though he thought I would forget.

   We collected sixty-five buttons. When the bag was

completely filled, he put it on my back and strapped

a new one to my chest. By the time we had crossed the

plateau we had two full sacks, containing one hundred

and ten peyote buttons. The bags were so heavy and

bulky that I could hardly walk under the weight and

volume.

  Don Juan whispered to me that the bags were heavy

because Mescalito wanted to return to the ground. He

said it was the sadness of leaving his abode which made

Mescalito heavy; my real chore was not to let the

bags touch the ground, because if I did Mescalito would

never allow me to take him again.

 

103

 

  At one particular moment the pressure of the straps

on my shoulders became unbearable. Something was

exerting tremendous force in order to pull me down. I

felt very apprehensive. I noticed that I had started to

walk faster, almost at a run; I was in a way trotting

behind don Juan.

  Suddenly the weight on my back and chest dimin-

ished. The load became spongy and light. I ran freely

to catch up with don Juan, who was ahead of me. I

told him I did not feel the weight any longer. He ex-

plained that we had already left Mescalito's abode.

 

Tuesday, July 3, 1962

 

"I think Mcscalito has almost accepted you," don Juan

said.

  "Why do you say he has almost accepted me, don

Juan?"

  "He did not kill you, or even harm you. He gave you

a good fright, but not a really bad one. If he had not

accepted you at all, he would have appeared to you

as monstrous and full of wrath. Some people have

learned the meaning of horror upon encountering him

and not being accepted by him."

  "If be is so terrible, why didn't you tell me about it

before you took me to the field?"

  "You do not have the courage to seek him deliber-

ately. I thought it would be better if you did not know."

  "But I might have died, don Juan!"

  "Yes, you might have. But I was certain it was going

to be alright for you. He played with you once. He

did not harm you. I thought he would also have com-

passion for you this time."

  I asked him if be really thought Mescalito had had

compassion for me. The experience had been terrify-

ing; I felt that I had already died of fright.

  He said Mescalito had been most kind to me; he

had showed me a scene that was an answer to a ques-

tion. Don Juan said Mescalito had given me a lesson.

I asked him what the lesson was and what it meant.


FRONT LINES - Gary Snyder.   from Turtle Island.

 

The edge of the cancer

Swells against the hill--we feel

              a foul breeze--

And it sinks back down.

The deer winter here

A chainsaw growls in the gorge.

 

Ten wet days and the log trucks stop,

The trees breathe.

Sunday the 4-wheel jeep of the

Realty Company brings in

Landseekers, lookers, they say

To the land,

Spread your legs.

 

The jets crack sound overhead, it's OK here;

Every pulse of the rot at the heart

In the sick fat veins of Amerika

Pushes the edge up closer--

 

A bulldozer grinding and slobbering

Sideslipping and belching on top of

The skinned-up bodies of still-live bushes

In the pay of a man

From town.

 

Behind is a forest that goes to the Arctic

And a desert that still belongs to the Piute

And here we must draw

Our line.


Gary Snyder from Turtle Island.

 

THE CALL OF THE WILD

 

The heavy old man in his bed at night

Hears the Coyote singing

               in the back meadow.

All the years he ranched and mined and logged.

A Catholic.

A native Californian.

    and the Coyotes howl in his

Eightieth year.

He will call the Government

Trapper

Who uses iron leg-traps on Coyotes,

Tomorrow.

My sons will lose this

Music they have just started

To love.

 

The ex acid-heads from the cities

Converted to Guru or Swami,

Do penance with shiny

Dopey eyes, and quit eating meat.

In the forests of  North America,

The land of Coyote and Eagle,

They dream of India, of

    forever blissful sexless highs.

And sleep in oil-heated

Geodesic domes, that

Were stuck like warts

In the woods.

 

And the Coyote singing

    is shut away

    for they fear

    the call

    of the wild.

 

And they sold their virgin cedar trees,

    the tallest trees in miles,

To a logger

Who told them,

 

"Trees are full of bugs."

 

The Government finally decided

To wage the war    all-out. Defeat

     is Un-American.

And they took to the air,

Their women beside them

     in bouffant hairdos

     putting nail-polish on the

     gunship cannon-buttons.

And they never came down,

     for they found,

     the ground

is pro-Communist. And dirty.

And the insects side with the Viet Cong.

 

So they bomb and they bomb

Day after day, across the planet

    blinding sparrows

    breaking the ear-drums of owls

    splintering trunks of cherries

    twining and looping

    deer intestines

    in the shaken, dusty, rocks.

 

All these Americans up in special cities in the sky

Dumping poisons and explosives

Across Asia first,

And next North America,

 

A war against earth.

When it's done there'll be

     no place

 

A Coyote could hide.

 

 

                                    envoy

  

                                    I would like to say

                                    Coyote is forever

                                    Inside you.

 

                                    But it's not true.


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