‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ (Of Drugs And Such)

On what he considered the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement, Hunter S. Thompson wrote, ‘He [Timothy Leary, who advocated psychedelic drugs like LSD to be with potential for psychiatric therapy] crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… [Scene: TV screening images of wars and unrest.] All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force — is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.’

Substances carelessly (ab)used without real understanding, what more, just for illusory and fleeting highs, will only distract from facing and resolving the suffering of real life. With each crash down from each high, there is only more suffering, thus tempting users to get high again. With more to heal, nothing is really healed. Such ‘expanding’ of the mind is not truly spiritual or sustainable, just a literal trip, weirdly mind-boggling as it is. More colourfully disturbing than peaceful, there is no enlightenment bought with a snort or pop. Intoxicating as they are, with craving to get higher and higher, the harder the fall, the likelier is deadly overdose. Yes, there is no higher being guiding on such trips to an ultimate goal.

Ironically, Thompson himself had years of alcohol and cocaine abuse, contributing to depression, that led to suicide by gunshot. In his suicide note, he wrote, ‘No More Games [i.e. football season]. No More Bombs [from war]. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your age. Relax — This won’t hurt [which is untrue as suicide is very painful].’ He wanted more fun, some form of high (again), though wanting ‘peace’ too. He was more tired of life than content. Sadly, he was nihilistic, attached to ‘nothingness’, to snubbing out his life. Yet, due to the law of conservation of (mental) energy and the force of karma, rebirth goes on. Such is how breaking of the Fifth Precept (to avoid intoxicants) can lead to breaking of the First Precept (to avoid killing). With skilful living to become more sober, to further awaken, may there be no fear or loathing of life itself.

Related Review:
What ‘Nuggets’ Are You Hooked On?

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