F&LILV Question #14-Stoned, ripped, twisted..Good people

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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F&LILV Question #14-Stoned, ripped, twisted..Good people

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:31 am

The amount of drugs the characters ingest in the story would probably kill five people. What do you think is the purpose of the drug frenzy? Is it a metaphor, is it a purposeful exaggeration, or something else?
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Unread postby Raven » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:02 pm

all I can add is another question, is it another way to shock? be outrageous? be an outlaw??

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:22 pm

Raven, I think that might be one aspect of it. I know that we are supposed to be talking about just the book, but I think it is relevant that Terry Gilliam said something to the affect that his purpose as the director was to shock us. This can be found in the extras; but I can't remember exactly where and don't remember the exact quote.
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Unread postby suec » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:24 pm

I think it relates directly to the Dr Johnson quotation used at the front: "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man". That is referred to again on p8 when RD asks "Had we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts?" and Gonzo declares a bit later on the same page "we'll have to arm ourselves". Also later in the book when RD takes the adenochrome. Well, on a few occasions. So yes, I think it is a metaphor and a comment on reality, that they find the need for the drugs. Extreme measures for an extreme situation.
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Re: F&LILV Question #14-Stoned, ripped, twisted..Good pe

Unread postby QueenofKings » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:57 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:The amount of drugs the characters ingest in the story would probably kill five people. What do you think is the purpose of the drug frenzy? Is it a metaphor, is it a purposeful exaggeration, or something else?


On the one hand, I think it relates back to that quote (and sorry, but I am at work on my lunch break, so I don't have the exact quote) about not being able to know the Edge unless you've gone over it. A kind of 'how far out can we get before it's impossible to reel ourselves back in'?

On the other hand, I can remember a time with a certain group of people where that amount of intoxicants would be about the going rate for an extreme long weekend. In fact, half a salt-shaker of coke would have not been enough.
Was it enough to have killed five people? Well, yes. Some of the people I used to know ARE dead.
Was there some amount of self-medication going on to dull the harsh light of reality? Yes, I think there was some of that.
Was there 'purposeful exaggeration'? Yeah, I think there was some of that. I think there is a certain amount of 'shock value.' But I know the shopping list of intoxicants is fairly down to earth, and not exaggerated. I think about all the chances people took -- they could have been caught by the authorities; they could have taken the old dirt-nap. That's the chance you take when you mess around with this.
Apparently it was perferred to facing reality.

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Unread postby Endora » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:09 pm

The purpose of it? I think it's to show that they could go to whatever excesses they chose, because they hadn't come to terms with the idea that freedom has to be treated cautiously, with a sense of responsibility, or the things that start out as pleasant diversions become harmful, fearful, ugly. It's almost a child in a sweetshop mentality. I'm again thinking of the PJ O'Rourke idea of if you allow something to move freely, you have to accept the consequences of it acting stupidly (although he was talking about economies). Perhaps HST was thinking of how Vietnam made the US look to its responsibilities towards its own people and the countries it got involved in. I often think the Vietnam references are more important than they appear.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:22 pm

Endora wrote:The purpose of it? I think it's to show that they could go to whatever excesses they chose, because they hadn't come to terms with the idea that freedom has to be treated cautiously, with a sense of responsibility, or the things that start out as pleasant diversions become harmful, fearful, ugly. It's almost a child in a sweetshop mentality. I'm again thinking of the PJ O'Rourke idea of if you allow something to move freely, you have to accept the consequences of it acting stupidly (although he was talking about economies). Perhaps HST was thinking of how Vietnam made the US look to its responsibilities towards its own people and the countries it got involved in. I often think the Vietnam references are more important than they appear.


I think you are spot-on about those Vietnam references being more important than they appear. You are correct that they aren't talking pleasant diversions. They are talking about how far out you can get. There's no responsible way to do that. It's entirely irresponsible.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:08 pm

I have absolutely no knowledge of nor insight into the drug world so, for me, the way he piled on the drugs with craziness and hilarity and paranoia gave me a glimpse into the drug world that I wouldn't have had if the book weren't written with such genius. I could relate to the humor if not the drug-induced situations. So I just assumed HST exaggerated (I HOPE he was exaggerating!) to make the book interesting.
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Unread postby CarrieKY » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:38 pm

My first viewing of the movie was pretty much one of me with my mouth hanging open! The only words I could mumble were: "what the f**k?" I found the constant use of drugs very disturbing.

As a nurse who worked psych/detox for years, I don't find drug use of any kind (drugs or alcohol) funny. In fact, I find it to be very sad. I have tried to watch the movie 3 times now, and find myself constantly FF through much of it. I LOVE Johnny's performance, I just hate the material.

With that said, I DO love Hunter, and his writing for the most part.

I also feel Hunter's excessive use of drugs in the book and movie, is a metaphor for the excessiveness of the times. Hopefully, Hunter didn't actually use drugs to that extent!

Just my very unintelligent :twocents:

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Unread postby ThirdArm » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:58 pm

I think he exaggerates the amount of drugs in the context of the book and for the story's purposes. I also think that he must have taken an impressive amount of them in reality.

That's the one aspect I'm not comfortable with in HST's writings and that's the drugs. It's almost like he's proud of the excesses.

Another piece I'd like to comment on and that's Vietnam. I agree with those who have said that those references are more important than they appear. Vietnam is probably the most divisive war this country has ever had and that includes the Civil War. My brother was a medic in VN and he wrote home one time that a large part of his work was dealing with drug problems; and this was on the battlefield. He felt that sometimes he was taken away from the business of trying to save lives after a battle because he was trying to salvage someone from a drug overdose. The drugs just added another layer of problems to an already horrible experience.
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Unread postby Sands » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:34 pm

Well I agree with Queenof Kings that it doesn't sound as over the top and ridiculous to me as it might to some people. I guess it just depends what circles you've mixed in. And FALILV was originally published in Rolling Stone, most of whose readers in the early 70's would have considered this kind of drug scenario fairly normal. In the context of the time and place it was published and the expected readership I don't think the drug-use in itself would have been an issue, though it would have added to the humour in a kind of 'shared joke' way. The point of the story was the reality of Las Vegas and by extension America and the 'normal' world, and the drugs just enhanced, or rather exaggerated that reality. I think it's kind of weird that the book has since become a piece of mainstream literature read by people who don't have the shared experience and reference frame. In a way it's a bit like the cops at the conference trying to understand 'marijuana addicts' and just not getting it.

On the other hand people have often said that Hunter himself was a very responsible drug-taker, which doesn't really go with the portrayal in the book, so he may be exaggerating his own use to make his point as he so often does.

I know some people think there's no such thing as a responsible drug-taker, but I beg to differ, though these things are all relative. I've known plenty of people who would just take anything they were given without asking questions, and who took them for mainly negative reasons (escaping from reality) or at least pointless reasons (just for kicks). It's their choice, but I'd call that irresponsible, and that's how the book strikes me. I've also known many people (myself included) who only took certain drugs that they had informed themselves as well as possible about, and took them in conducive circumstances for positive reasons (for personal growth, spiritual reasons, or to discover more about reality). Now either way involves a certain amount of risk (what doesn't?), but I would call that a more responsible approach, whether or not you agree with it.

And I don't really see any difference between joking about drug use and joking about getting drunk on alcohol (a drug I never touch), which we often do on this forum. Being stoned or drunk can be very funny, although it can also have serious consequences. And a lot of humour is about serious subjects, it's one way of dealing with them.
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Unread postby CarrieKY » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:59 pm

Sands wrote:

And I don't really see any difference between joking about drug use and joking about getting drunk on alcohol (a drug I never touch), which we often do on this forum. Being stoned or drunk can be very funny, although it can also have serious consequences. And a lot of humour is about serious subjects, it's one way of dealing with them.


I agree. I also disagree to a point. Having a few drinks at home is totally different than being on an alcoholic binge. The recreational use of illegal drugs is another subject....I'll leave it at that.

The drunks I've helped through detox (which fails 95% of the time BTW) had lost most everything dear in their lives. Jobs, family, homes, etc. were gone. I found the movie troubling in that respect, it seemed to glamorize drug use.
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Unread postby Veronica » Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:03 pm

Is it a metaphor, is it a purposeful exaggeration, or something else?


I think it is used as a metaphor and also exaggerated for humor.

I like suec example with the quote
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man"

I hadnt paid much attention to it and now comparing it to the drug use in the book it stands out to me now.

For some people that is what their purpose is to "party til you puke" when I was growing up it was funny to see someone that got that stoned. Remember Cheech and Chong? I find Fear & Loathing funny because they arent harming anyone but themselves until the end. they "found the Edge" Gonzo went over it but fortunately no one was harmed. I think that the drug use was exagerated in the story but not as much as we think. I think that Hunter had a high tolerence for it. As he has said

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:11 pm

I have been reading all your answers and the different takes on it are very interesting. When I first saw the movie I thought it did condone drug use but I don't anymore. I think the drugs are a reflection of the culture at the time and they use them to excess just as Vegas uses reality to excess. And of course they make an interesting counterbalance to the existence of the DA's conference. I don't want to get into a discussion about whether drug use is good or bad, I think any drug, legal or illegal, that causes you physical, emotional, social or economic distress is a problem and people will have different definitions of a "problem" as well. I think there may be some exaggeration but then again Johnny said in the Rolling Stone interview that after reading all Hunter's original notes that he felt Hunter toned the adventure down for the book. So how much is literary license, we won't ever relly know.
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Wow! What a ride!

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Re: F&LILV Question #14-Stoned, ripped, twisted..Good pe

Unread postby DeppLovesBananahs » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:35 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:The amount of drugs the characters ingest in the story would probably kill five people. What do you think is the purpose of the drug frenzy? Is it a metaphor, is it a purposeful exaggeration, or something else?


I think its a bit of all those points. Its a metaphor, based on that quote in the begining, can't quote it exactly, its the "He who makes a beast of himself..." I think this quote explains the many drug ingestions because it shows how they sort of had a method to the madness as it were. (My brain isn't working too well, that last part might not have made sense.) It's a purposeful exaggeration because it shows how far people are willing to go, how far someone could push the button. In many ways, the purpose of the drug frenzy was to show how control needs to handle things in the sense that, well sometimes your friend might be "high" in a bathtub and listening to the radio. It's like, you gotta be prepared for these things.....they happen.

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