Ken Kesey on the writer’s paradigm

As I’ve often told Allen Ginsberg, you can’t blame the president for the state of the country; it’s always the poets’ fault. You can’t expect politicians to come up with a vision, they don’t have it in them. Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold.

What’s the job of a writer in contemporary America right now? I’m not sure. But here’s an example. We started off with what not to do.

You’re going to be walking along on the street one of these days, and suddenly there’s going to be a light over there. You’re going to look across the street, and on the corner over there, God is going to be standing right there, and you’re going to know it’s God because he’s going to have huge curly hair that sticks through his halo like Jesus, and he’s got little slitty eyes like buddha, and he’s got a lot of swords in his belt like Mohammed.

And he’s saying, “Come to me. Oh, come to me, I will have muses say in your ear that you will be the greatest writer ever, you will be better than Shakespeare. Come to me, they will have melon breasts and little blackberry nipples. Come to me, all you have to do is sing my praises.”

Your job is to say, “Fuck you, God! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!”

Because nobody else is going to say it. Our politicians aren’t going to say it. Nobody but the writer is going to say it. There’s a time in history when it’s time to praise God, but now is not the time.

Now is the time to say, “Fuck you, God, and the Old Testament you rode in on. I don’t care who your daddy was. Fuck you!”

And get back to your job of writing. The job of the writer is to kiss no ass, no matter how  big and holy and tempting and powerful.

Ken Kesey’s words, published in the 19 December 2011 issue of The Nation magazine, in the article “Adventures With Kesey” by Paul Krassner.

Ken Kesey was a practicing Christian.


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