57 pages 1 hour read

Tom Wolfe

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1968

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Themes

Intersubjectivity

A key idea running through The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s quest for intersubjective consciousness, which can entail a loss of individuality and can be described as a shared perception of reality among two or more people. In Chapter 5, Tom Wolfe describes intersubjectivity as the consciousnesses of two or more people opening up and flowing together (61). Throughout the book, the terms group mind, mutual consciousness, and synchronicity are also used, either synonymously with or in conjunction with intersubjectivity.

The first appearance of the idea is in Chapters 2 and 3, when Wolfe describes how the weird and weirdly intense atmosphere at the Warehouse begins to affect his own consciousness. “I am suddenly experiencing their feeling,” he marvels (27). Another mention of intersubjectivity comes in Chapter 5, when Wolfe describes a moment when Sandy Lehmann-Haupt and George Walker used acid in La Honda while sitting in a tree and suddenly Sandy “knows precisely what Walker is thinking” (60).

Another example, one suggesting a more sinister aspect, comes in Chapter 6 when Wolfe describes Stark Naked just before

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