"Further", the Prankster's shamanic time travel machine ...
My buddy Morley recently did some reno work on artists Jim Christy and Virginia Dixon's nearby farmhouse. Christy loaned Morley the 2011 movie MAGIC TRIP: KEN KESEY'S SEARCH FOR A KOOL PLACE. So last Saturday nite Morley and I sat in front of his astounding 46 inch, surround-sound monster TV and indulged in this 107 minute trip down memory lane.
I'm writing this review after being chased home from ZenRiver by a major thunder storm, a glass or two of chiraz at hand, incense burning, and of course the Grateful Dead in the background. Couldn't find AMERICAN BEAUTY, so had to settle for A TOUCH OF GREY.
Loved the movie! So who should watch it? Anyone who was a hippie in the 1960s. anyone who wasn't. Any being with a brain. My first comment to Morley during the movie was, "They're so straight-looking!" A teen me wore those same surfer-striped candy-coloured teeshirts in the early 1960s. The guys all have short hair - Kesey wears a curled-brim cowboy hat (to hide his prematurely thinning hair at age 29?). One Merry Prankster sports a scruffy beard, and that's it. As Kesey says in the flick, 'We're too old to be beatniks, and too young to be hippies'.
And the Merry Pranksters? They were only a handful - can't remember the exact count on their bus tour across the US of A to the 1964 World's Fair. Most of the film is original footage shot by them ... then left forgotten for decades. The seeming daunting impossibility of making something coherent from the mis-matched film and sound recordings was one problem. And then there is the quintessential issue all explorers of the psychedelic and shamanic realms face - how to portray this inner journey and vision in an outward, comprehensible and artistic manner?
For me, the best sequence was the stop by a murky waterhole for the seminal, now psychedelic mandatory hippie-skinny-dip. We watched this in the movie Easy Rider, later in Woodstock.
But somehow the producers managed to capture the magic, the essence, of one female Prankster's merging with the primordial slime creatures in the pond. This is the shamanic and Buddhist awareness which most psychedelic trippers experience, and which is so hard to communicate. Several days later, reflecting over the movie, this scene remains one of the strongest.
By contrast, last year I finally viewed AVATAR. What a letdown : ( I experienced no resonance at all after the film. And no 'flashback' images or sense of the film whatsoever in the days and weeks which followed. Hollow!
Whereas MAGIC TRIP is the real thing. Pretty close to ground zero for the psychedelic sixties! It has long been my contention that it is the writers, especially poets, who initiate a new age, the major shifts in culture. Then the musicians and film makers etc. come along and flesh out the poets' visions - give it a holographic presence.
Another aspect of MT is the importance of individual documentation. In this internet age of blogs and online videos, each of us, at least each person with some artistic chops, can document and validate our personal experiences. No longer can historians and academics distort our experiences for their personal causes.
Again, highly recommended (pun intended!)