Ken Kesey on Exploring The Wilderness

“What I explore in all my work is wilderness. I like that saying of Thoreau’s that ‘in wildness is the preservation of the world.’ Settlers on this continent from the beginning have been seeking that wilderness and its wildness. The explorers and pioneers were out on the edge, seeking that wildness because they could sense that in Europe everything had become locked tight with things. The things were owned by all the same people and all of the roads went in the same direction forever. When we got here there was a sense of possibility and new direction, and it had to do with wildness. Throughout the work of James Fenimore Cooper there is what I call the American terror. It’s very important to our literature and it’s important to who we are: the terror of the Hurons out there, the terror of the bear, the avalanche, the tornado – whatever may be over the next horizon. It could be the biggest, most awful thing in the world. As we came to the end of the continent, we manufactured our terror. We put together the bomb. Now even that bomb is betraying us. We don’t have the bomb hanging over our heads to terrify us and give us reason to dress up in manly deerskin and go forth to battle it. There’s something we’re afraid of, but it doesn’t have the clear delineation of the terror the Hurons gave us or the hydrogen bomb in the cold war. It’s fuzzy, and it’s fuzzy because the people who are in control don’t want you to draw a bead on the real danger,
the real terror in this country.”