A Bad Trip

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (2000)

did you ever consider that lsd and color tv arrived for our consumption about the same time? here comes all this explorative color pounding, and what do we do? we outlaw one and fuck up the other. t.v., of course, is useless in present hands; there’s not much of a hell of an argument here. and I read where in a recent raid it was alleged that an agent caught a container of acid in the face, hurled by alleged manufacturer of a hallucinogenic drug. this is also kind of a waste. there are some basic grounds for outlawing lsd, dmt, stp – it can take a man permanently out of his mind – but so can picking beets, or turning bolts for GM, or washing dishes or teaching English I at one of the local universities. if we outlawed everything that drove men mad, the whole social structure would drop out – marriage, the war, bus service, slaughterhouses, beekeeping, surgery, anything you can name. anything can drive men mad because society is built on false stilts. until we knock the whole bottom out and rebuild, the madhouses will remain overlooked. and cuts in madhouse budgets by our good governor are taken by me to indirectly imply that those driven mad by society are not fit to be supported and cured by society, especially in an inflationary and tax-mad age. such money could be better used to build roads or to be sprinkled ever-so-lightly upon the Negro to keep him from burning down our cities. and I have a splendid thought: why not assassinate the insane? think of the money we could save.  even a madman eats too much and needs a place to sleep, and the bastards are disgusting – the way they scream and smear their shit on the walls, all that. all we’d need is a small medical board to make the decisions and a couple of good-looking nurses (male or female) to keep the psychiatrists’ extracurricular sexual activities satisfied.

so let’s get back, more or less, to lsd. as it is true that the less you get the more you chance – say beet-picking – it is also true that the more you get the more you chance. any explorative complexity – painting, writing poetry, robbing banks, being a dictator and so forth, takes you to that place where danger and miracle are rather like Siamese twins. you seldom go wire to wire, but while you’re going the living is fairly interesting. it’s good enough to sleep with another man’s wife but someday you know you are going to be caught with your pants down. this only makes the act more pleasurable. our sins are manufactured in heaven to create our own hell, which we evidently need. get good enough at anything and you will create your own enemies. champions get the razzberry; the crowd aches to see them get knocked off in order to bring them down to their own bowl of shit. not many damn fools get assassinated; a winner can be brought down by a mail-order rifle (so the fable says) or by his own shotgun in a small town like Ketchum, or like Adolph and his whore as Berlin split its sides in the last page of their history.

lsd can flake you too because it is not an arena for loyal shipping clerks. granted bad acid like bad whores can take you out. bathtub gin, bootleg liquor had its day too. the law creates its own disease in poisonous black markets, but, basically, most bad trips are caused by the individual being trained and poisoned beforehand by society itself. if a man is worried about rent, car payments, time clocks, a college education for his child, a 12-dollar dinner for his girlfriend, the opinion of his neighbor, standing up for the flag or what is going to happen to Brenda Starr, an lsd tablet will most probably drive him mad because, in a sense, he is already insane and only borne along on social tides by the outward bars and dull hammers that render him insensible to any individualistic thinking. a trip calls for a man who has not yet been caged, who has not yet been fucked by the big fear that makes all society go. unfortunately, most men overestimate their worthiness as basic and free individuals, and it is the mistake of the hippie generation not to trust anybody over 30. 30 doesn’t mean a damn thing. most beings are captured and trained, totally, by the age of 7 or 8. many of the young LOOK free but this is only a chemical thing of body and energy and not a realistic thing of spirit. I have met free men in the strangest of places and at ALL ages – as janitors, car thieves, car washers, and some free women too – mostly as nurses or waitresses, and at ALL ages. the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.

an lsd trip will show you things which no rules cover. it will show you things not in textbooks and things which you cannot protest to your city councilman about. grass only makes present society more bearable; lsd is another society within itself. if you are socially orientated, you can probably mark lsd off as a “hallucinogenic drug,” which is an easy way of getting off and forgetting the whole thing. but hallucination, the definition of it, depends upon which pole you are operating from. whatever is happening to you at the time it is happening does become the reality – it can be a movie, a dream, sexual intercourse, murder, being murdered or eating ice cream. lies are only imposed later; what happens, happens. hallucination is only a dictionary word and a social stilt. when a man is dying to him it is very real; to others, it is only bad luck or something to be disposed of. Forest Lawn takes care of everything. when the world begins to admit that ALL the parts fit the whole, then we may begin to have a chance. whatever a man sees is real. it was not brought there by an outside force, it was there before he was born. don’t blame him because he sees it now, and don’t blame him for going mad because the educational and spiritual forces of society were not wise enough to tell him that exploration never ends, and that we must all be little shits boxed in with our a, b, c’s and nothing else. it is not lsd that causes the bad trip – it was your mother, your president, the little girl next door, the ice cream man with dirty hands, a course in algebra or Spanish superimposed, it was the stench of a crapper in 1926, it was a man with a nose too long when you were told long noses were ugly; it was laxative, it was the Abraham Lincoln brigade, it was tootsie rolls and Toots and Casper, it was the face of FDR, it was lemon drops, it was working in a factory for ten years and getting fired because you were five minutes late, it was that old bag who taught you American history in the 6th grade, it was your dog run over and nobody to properly draw you the map afterwards, it was a list 30 pages long and 3 miles tall.

a bad trip? this whole country, this whole world is on a bad trip, friend. but they’ll arrest you for swallowing a tablet.

I’m still on the beer because basically, at 47, they’ve got a lot of hooks in me. I’d be a real damn fool to think that I’ve escaped all their nets. I think Jeffers said it pretty well when he said, more or less, look out for the traps, friend, there are plenty of them, they say even God got trapped when He once walked on earth. of course, now some of us are not so sure it was god, but whoever he was, he had some fairly good tricks but it seemed he talked too much. anybody can talk too much. even Leary. or me.

it’s a cold Saturday now and the sun’s going down. what do you do with an evening? if I were Liza I’d comb my hair but I’m not Liza. well, I’ve got this old National Geographic and the pages shine like something’s really happening. of course, it’s not. all around in this building they are drunk. a whole honeycove of drunks for the end. the ladies walk by my window. I emit, I hiss a rather tired and gentle word like “shit,” then tear this page from the machine. it’s yours.

Charles Bukowski
A Bad Trip (1968)
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972)

Painting by Damien Hirst: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (2000)

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