December 1, 2009

"You're either on the bus or off the bus."

It's an old hippie saying that sprang to mind when I looked at this photo (taken a week ago in Madison).

DSC05580

What exactly did it mean? From Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test":
[Ken] Kesey's explicit teachings were all cryptic, metaphorical; parables, aphorisms: "You're either on the bus or off the bus." "Feed the hungry bee," "Nothing lasts," "See with your ears and hear with your eyes," "Put your good where it will do the most," "What did the mirror say? It's done with people."... The world was simply and sheerly divided into "the aware," those who had the experience of being vessels of the divine, and a great mass of "the unaware," "the unmusical," "the unattuned." Or: you're either on the bus or off the bus. Consciously, the Aware were never snobbish toward the Unaware, but in fact most of that great jellyfish blob of straight souls looked like hopeless cases...

30 comments:

traditionalguy said...

It always meant an openness tuned into the LSD experience as a sacrament that contained no traditional boundaries in the spirit world, in the mind, or in the body's expressions.That released great creativity and open love, but along with those good things it also released great human evil that was now unrestained( See, Chas. Manson family). If you set any boundaries for spirit, mind , or body protection, then you were off the bus to hell.

chickenlittle said...

Totally OT but nobody told me about Betty Page cheesecake in the new Bob Dylan CD: Link.

You go Bob!

chickenlittle said...

A person could do much worse than being a Neal Cassady.

Just sayin'

blake said...

These days you're either on the bus or under the bus.

Will Cate said...

There's an orange VW microbus that drives up and down the rural road on which I live... both it, and the driver, look like they have some very interesting stories to tell. I'd follow it, but I don't want to look like some sort of stalker...

vbspurs said...

Consciously, the Aware were never snobbish toward the Unaware, but in fact most of that great jellyfish blob of straight souls looked like hopeless cases...

The hell they weren't. Some of the most dismissive, judgemental, snobby people ever were hippies.

vbspurs said...

LOL Blake!

EnigmatiCore said...

"The world was simply and sheerly divided into "the aware," those who had the experience of being vessels of the divine, and a great mass of "the unaware," "the unmusical," "the unattuned." Or: you're either on the bus or off the bus. Consciously, the Aware were never snobbish toward the Unaware, but in fact most of that great jellyfish blob of straight souls looked like hopeless cases..."

So it was a new religion, pretty much down to the core.

AllenS said...

It means: Far out, man.

WV: emoment

When you first open an email.

Ron said...

Did not Firesign Theatre remind us that We're All Bozos On This Bus?


Very True, Socrates said...

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff with one 'f' said...

I'm reminded of an anecdote from some history of punk in the UK (ca. 1976-77): a punk was the last to board a very crowded bus in London when a hippie pushed up the steps to board; the punk turned, planted his boot in the hippies face and yelled "no room for you, hippie!" and then sent him sprawling on the ground.

Bissage said...

(1) I was just a little kid back in those days. The challenge was to see that hippies were the same as Jesus.

(2) It’s funny how you remember stuff. It was 1985 and I was home for a rare visit and by pure coincidence I chatted very briefly with a neighbor over the fence. Ever since I was in kindergarten he had been one grade higher than me but we almost never spoke to one another. Neither of us had anything against the other. It just sort of worked out that way.

Anyway, we were both at the time struggling to find gainful employment and feeling depressed and frustrated about our prospects.

Out of nowhere, he says to me: “Where did we ever get the idea that it’s bad to make money?”

He wasn't expecting an answer.

I knew exactly where he was coming from.

The moment was profoundly weird.

Maybe you had to be there.

LarryTheOlder said...

I was going to post exactly what Blake posted. Beat me to it, again. Rats!

I hate hippies! Both Cartman and I hate hippies. Stinky hippies!

Pogo said...

"off the bus."

Democrats still see themselves as "on the bus", and the great masses they lead are not.

They are the elite, Plato's philosopher-kings.

Karl Popper:
""What a monument of human smallness is this idea of the philosopher king. What a contrast between it and the simplicity of humaneness of Socrates, who warned the statesmen against the danger of being dazzled by his own power, excellence, and wisdom, and who tried to teach him what matters most - that we are all frail human beings. What a decline from this world of irony and reason and truthfulness down to Plato's kingdom of the sage whose magical powers raise him high above ordinary men; although not quite high enough to forgo the use of lies, or to neglect the sorry trade of every shaman - the selling of spells, of breeding spells, in exchange for power over his fellow-men.""

bearing said...

I think I get what "You're either on the bus of off the bus" means.

What the hell is "Feed the hungry bee?"

Bissage said...

What the hell is "Feed the hungry bee?"

I take that to mean the same thing as “find your bliss.”

The bee is in your head.

I could be completely wrong about that.

J said...

"Consciously, the Aware were never snobbish toward the Unaware, but in fact most of that great jellyfish blob of straight souls looked like hopeless cases"

Some things never change.

"What the hell is "Feed the hungry bee?"

It means "drop out of society and become a sanctimonous, acid dropping parasite. Then go into politics and put that experience to use".

"the punk turned, planted his boot in the hippies face and yelled "no room for you, hippie!"

I always thought "Kill the Hippies" was The Flesheaters' best song.

WV: sessamas - the holiday celebrating the birth of Sessa.

Pogo said...

You say things like "Feed the hungry bee" only when you're on drugs.

And you think it really really means something important, other than the equivalent phrase: "Man, I am soooo wasted".

Jimmy said...

Escapin' through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That's when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land

"That's It For The Other One," Garcia, Weir, Kreutzmann, 1968

Fred4Pres said...

Kesey makes a lot more sense if you are really really stoned.

Ann Althouse said...

Have you ever really looked at a bee?

ricpic said...

The problem is that without genius all this hippie wisdom is so much tripe. Kerouac had it, genius, and so despite the "thought" in his work, which is unbearable, there are still passages that live. Kesey, a cut rate Kerouac, is completely dated.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Kerouac hated the hippies:

http://noirnicole.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/collective-memory-kerouac-hated-hippies/

former law student said...

I could never figure out how much of Wolfe's early books were true and how much was Wolfe's own POV.

Kesey's bus was an old school bus, Furthur. With fame he bought a farm near Eugene, Oregon (where he was widely viewed as an asshole) where he parked Furthur in a swamp.

Tony O. said...

Well, at least you are not stereotyping!

jgm said...

IIRC, "Feed the hungry bee" was about assuaging the ego-needs of fellow hippies. There's a scene in Acid Test where someone is having a bad trip and is brought out of it by Total Attention--feed the hungry bee.

Freeman Hunt said...

I know someone who was on that bus. Now he says it was misguided and that there is no chemical shortcut to communing with the divine.

p.t. fogger said...

No -- now that you mention it, I never have looked at a bee. But, man, I'm looking at my hand right now, and it's soooo fascinating!!

callmattpikenow said...

The sayings are so cryptic and abstract because in truth the human brain is a puny thing. Kesey's perceptions where his own and other's in their time, and thus subject to their evironment's interpretations. Circumstances modern day are different, but the things we see are ultimately the same.