BOOKS

Neal Cassady – Letter from Jail

NEAL CASSADY LETTER gonzo 2 larger scan (06-09-15-05-55-49)A Letter from Neal Cassady, written October 23, 1944, to his friend Justin W. Brierly requests that his tabs be covered while he is in jail.  This letter hangs in downtown Denver’s oldest bar.

Neal Cassady – fervent and wild for adventure – had always been a heady inspiration among the beat writers of the 1960’s.  Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road were both inspired by Cassady’s character and movements during the beat era.  He lived with fierce speed and taught those around him to love life.  He was also the “Further” Bus Driver for Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ LSD experiments  during the 60’s countercultural turn.

He frequented the downtown locale in Colorado then known as Paul’s Place.  The bar is now known as My Brothers Bar and was first named Highland House.  It has been in operation since 1873.

GonzoYesterdaze w/ Ralph Steadman: Drawing Vegas

I received an email from Ralph accompanied by this photo. We’ve been back and forth at each other since he sent me a bunch of gibberish making fun of my grandfather’s school bus. – Clayton Luce, editor-in-chief

Dear Clayton,
I wrote this shortly after returning to the UK after meeting and working with Hunter for the 2nd time. You may already have read it somewhere though I don’t recall where or when……..and the first time Hunter was sounding excited and enthusiastic……GONZO YESTERDAZE……

OK
RALPH Continue reading

Hunter S. Thompson on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life

In April 1958, American journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote a letter on finding the purpose of life when asked by his friend Hume Logan for advice. Thompson was only 22.

What his friend didn’t know at the time was that Thompson would later become one of the most esteemed and prolific writers of the 20th century.

Here is the full content of the letter, as documented in the book Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience


April 22, 1958

57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal— to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect— between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer— and, in a sense, the tragedy of life— is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

 

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