Can You Pass The Acid Test?
WRITTEN BY TOM WOLFE – 1967
Anybody who could take LSD for the first time and go through all that without freaking out… Leary and Alpert preached ‘set and setting.’ Everything in taking LSD, in having a fruitful, freak-out free LSD experience, depended on set and setting.
You should take it in some serene and attractive setting, a house or apartment decorated with objects of the honest sort, Turkoman tapestries, Greek goatskin rugs, Cost Plus blue jugs, soft light – not Japanese paper globe light, however, but untasselated Chinese textile shades – in short, an Uptown Bohemian country retreat of $60,000-a-year sort, ideally, with Mozart’s Requiem issuing with liturgical solemnity from the hi-fi.
The ‘set’ was the set of your mind. You should prepare for the experience by meditating upon the state of your being and deciding g what you hope to discover or achieve on this voyage into the self. You should also have a guide who has taken LSD himself and is familiar with the various stages of the experience and whom you know and trust… and Fuck that! That only clamped the constipation of the past, the eternal lags, on something that should happen Now. Let the setting be as unserene and lurid as the Prankster arts can make it and let your set be only what is on your… brain, man, and let your guide, your trusty hand-holding, head-swaddling guide, be a bunch of Day-Glo crazies who have as one of their mottoes: ‘Never trust a Prankster.’
The Acid Tests would be like the [Hells] Angels’ party plus all the ideas that had gone into the Dome fantasy. Everybody would take acid, any time they wanted, six hour before the Test began or the moment they got there, at whatever point in the trip they wanted to enter the new planet. In any event, they would be on a new planet.
The mysteries of the of the synch! Very strange… the Acid Tests turned out, in fact, to be an art form foreseen in that strange book, Childhood’s End, a form called ‘total identification’: ‘The history of the cinema gave the clue to their actions. First, sound, then colour, then stereoscopy, then Cinemrama, had made the old “moving pictures” more and more like reality itself. Where was the end of the story? Surely, the final stage would be reached when the audience forgot it was an audience, and because part of the action. To achieve this would involve stimulation of all the sense, and perhaps hypnosis as well… When the goal was attained, there would be an enormous enrichment of human experience. A man could become – for a while, at least, – any other person, and could take part in any conceivable adventure, real or imaginary… And when the “program” was over, he would have acquired a memory as vivid as any experience in his actual life – indeed, indistinguishable from reality itself.’
Too freaking true!