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Going Furthur

In 1964 a newly published writer Ken Kesey, along with a band of psychedelic enthusiasts the Merry Pranksters, set off on a road trip in an overthrown school bus. The bus had ‘Furthur’ written on it’s destination placard, a name given to it by Roy Sebern who intended for it to be a one word poem that inspires it’s passengers to keep going whenever the bus might have broken down. It has also been said that ‘Further’ was also the name given to the end goal of the Merry Pranksters – a destination that could only be obtained through the expansion of one’s own perceptions of reality – usually by taking copious amounts of marijuana, amphetamines and LSD.

The bus toured across America from the west to the east, reversing the historic American westward movement of the centuries in an effort to see what would happen when hallucinogenic-inspired spontaneity interjected the everyday actions of American society.

Many renowned counter-cultural figures passed through the bus’ passenger list on it’s few main journeys including, Neal Cassady (major figure of the Beat Generation), Ken Babbs, Wavy Gravy, Paul Krassner and Stewart Brand. Tom Wolfe also spent time travelling on the bus and wrote his “Non-Fiction Novel” The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test based on his experiences.

Ken Kesey’s relationship with hallucinogenic drugs began in 1959 when he took part as a test subject in a CIA financed study of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, cocaine, AMT and DMT. This experience, along with a short stint working in a veterans hospital inspired Kesey to write One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, a novel which was published and then later turned into a film of the same name. Having earned enough money from his novel being published, Kesey moved to La Honda, California where he frequently entertained guests in a series of parties known as Acid Tests. Guests would injest LSD, sometimes without their knowledge and with Kessey’s belief that one’s personal fears should be tested under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, they would endure the rest of the night. The forest surrounding Kessey’s property would become the testing grounds, with trees painted in day glow colours and music piping out of hidden speakers.

Ken Kessey, the Acid Tests and the bus Furthur have all been regarded as the key link between the Beat Generation and the Hippy Movement, with Kessey’s attitude and Acid Tests being regarded as the initial inspiration behind the 1960s counter-cultural psychedelic attitude.

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