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Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Essay

Rolling Stone Magazine said Thompson “peers into the best and worst mysteries of the American heart” and that Thompson “sought to understand how the American dream had turned a gun on itself”.

Furthermore that “the fear and loathing Thompson was writing about — a dread of both interior demons and the psychic landscape of the nation around him — wasn’t merely his own; he was also giving voice to the mind-set of a generation that had held high ideals and was now crashing hard against the walls of American reality” (Gilmore, 2005) The American dream was integral to the dominant ideology of America, in the 1950s and 60s, built around the ideas of capitalism, materialism, Christianity, and a conservative approach.

The notional concept of the American dream is rooted in the works of Horatio Alger, who wrote about the capitalist virtues, ambition and hard work. 1950s America could be described as a decade of conformity and consent, whereas the 1960s with its anti-war protests Vietnam civil rights protests and the hippy free love and drugs movement, was a decade of social and civil disobedience, and growth of individualism. A counterculture is a subculture whose values, norms and behaviors differentiate from mainstream culture.

Universal features of a counterculture is being non-conformist to the dominant ideology, expressing individualism and being experimental. Thompson explores many of these features within his text. Thompson wrote his novel Fear and loathing in Las Vegas in 1971, retrospectively at the end of the 1960s US counterculture. Originally commissioned by sports illustrated, to write captions for a photo essay of the Cult Mint 400 rally, in Las

Vegas, the article developed as described in the narrative of the text Rolling Stone Magazine employee him to cover and his alter ego Raoul Duke to cover The District Attorney’s convention on narcotics. This is an example of his authorial voice and point of view which is apparent throughout the book. As illustrated by the quote “If the Pigs were gathering in Vegas for a top-level Drug Conference, we felt the drug culture should be represented. ” (Thompson, 1971) (p. 110) This shows his feeling towards police officers, and authority, by using derogatory slag “Pigs”.

Hunter S Thompson’s subtitle to his novel Fear and loathing in Las Vegas is ‘A savage journey to the heart of the American dream’. From the offset Thompson is critiquing the dominant ideology, similarly throughout the book he simultaneously explores and critiques the counter culture, through methods such as his characters, his use of language, and alter ego. Thompson credited as one of the founders of Gonzo journalism. A style of journalism where a journalist submerges themselves with in the story they are covering giving an insider’s and of the moment view. I found myself imposing an essentially fictional framework on what began as a piece of straight/crazy journalism” (Thompson , 2011) Fear and Loathing written in the form of a Roman a clef, carefully using obfuscation to blur the lines between the author and the main character who writes in the first-person narrative, namely Raoul Duke.

There is an overlap suggesting Thompson is playing with the reader and authorities. “This telegram just came for you,” he said. “But actually it isn’t for you. It’s for somebody named Thompson, but it says ‘care of Raoul Duke’; does that make sense? (p. 76) Duke is a device employed enabling, Thompson artistic license, through which Thompsons authorial voice is strongly heard. This device facilitates the author to write without restraint or rear of repercussions. This literary device has been used by many notable writers including Jack Kerouac, a predominant Beat writer of the 1960’s. In chapter nine, the authorial voice is represented again, through other characters as bitter and disappointed, namely the Attorney, a waitress and a cook to air his grievance.

Atty “We’re looking for the American Dream, and we were told it was somewhere in this area. … Well, we’re here looking for it, ’cause they sent us out here all the way from San Francisco to look for it. That’s why they gave us this white Cadillac, they figure that we could catch up with it in that … Waitress: Hey Lou, you know where the American Dream is? Atty (to Duke): She’s asking the cook if he knows where the American Dream is. Waitress: Five tacos, one taco burger. Do you know where the American Dream is? Lou: What’s that? What is it? (p. 64) The chapter is prefaced with an editor’s note, that it is transcribed. The reader is unsure if this is another literary device or an accurate account. This is an example of where Thompson can be considered an unreliable narrator. If taken as truth than the text is described, then it alludes to Duke’s mania. In contrast to the syntax representing Duke’s previous excitement of his adventure and journey throughout the book, which is written as an erratic, chaotic stream of consciousness, which is apparent in the hyperbole and syntax of previous chapters.

In addition, he explains to the servers at a roadside taco stand that he is looking for the American dream, and that he has come all the way from “San Francisco”“. However, he had set off from Los Angeles, is this a deliberate mistake or a reference to Counterculture as San Francisco, particularly the Haight-Ashbury area, was an important area to the birth of 1960’s hippy culture. He references the culture elsewhere “San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of.

Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run … ut no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. … ” (p. 66) Violence is a strong theme throughout the book, both physical and verbally, Some of which Thomson obscures behind satire and dark humour. Violence towards women is deemed acceptable, forewarned and celebrated in the chapter 11 heading “A brutal connection with Alice from Linen service” (p. 177)

Describing The Attorney “clamping his hands on her throat while she babbled pitifully: “Please … lease … I’m only the maid, I didn’t mean nothin’… ” I was out of bed in a flash, grabbing my wallet and waving the gold Policemen’s Benevolent Assn. press badge in front of her face. “You’re under arrest! ” I shouted. ” (p. 181) Corruptly, irony is used to realise the characters from trouble. They relied on their attendance at the Attorney general’s conference hiding behind respectably, to explain their actions and excuse their violence towards her, stupefying her and mocking her by ‘recruiting her as an insider source. The old woman’s face had changed markedly. She no longer seemed disturbed to find herself chatting with two naked men, one of whom had tried to strangle her just a few moments earlier. ” (p. 183)

The treatment of Lucy in chapter 3 “She’s perfect for this gig,” | said. “These cops will go fifty bucks a head to beat her into submission and then gang-fuck her. We can set her up in one of these back-street motels, hang pictures of Jesus all over the room, then turn these pigs loose on her” (p. 14) Is a further notable female character, who is also degraded by Duke and his attorney. She like Alice is portrayed as a second-class character, this fits with the dominant ideology of the 1960’s. The American feminist movement had been part of the Counterculture. The movement had piggy backed the civil rights act 1964, although this was a momentous moment in American legislation it had still not given true equality to women, as illustrated by Thompson with these two female characters.

He excellently portrays Alice’s subservient attitude and willingness to accept male power and dominance as was expected in the dominant ideology, but at the same time mocks it for her stupidity. Aggression is prevalent in the book as in chapter eight. In this chapter the reader is guided by one Ralph Steadman’s illustrations. Steadman’s illustrations are synonymous with Thompson’s articles, journals and books, it is another fingerprint alludes to this in his text “drugs killed 160 American Gl’s last year —40 of them in Vietnam” (p. 73).

Steadman’s illustrations of Thompsons hallucinogenic visons, further represent the counterculture. With surreal and grotesque imagery. In summary, the book is a conflict between Duke/Thompson represented through a fourth wall style of writing, his character depicted as a protagonist for counterculture and other characters in the book being the antagonist, representatives of dominant ideology, authorities such as the American Government and Church. However, as a critique of the dominant ideology the text, is it a contradiction, Thompson through his alter ego is a hypocrite.

He is happy to critique the dominant ideology, Horatio Alger’s capitalism and counterculture: women’s rights and the drugs movement. But is complicit taking advantage of the expense account given to him. “expenses be damned—and then he sends me over to some office in Beverly Hills where another total stranger gives me $300 raw cash for no reason at all … I tell you, my man, this is the American Dream in action! ” (p. 11). Throughout the book, he allows his alter ego to fit in with dominant ideology, using violence and aggression towards women.

But adopts countercultural views towards ‘Okies’ and his consume vast consumption of drugs, however it could be argued though the surreal and frightening illustrations he is warning against the effects of the drugs. Thompson, in his Savage journey to the heart of the American dream is sitting on the fence criticizing both the dominant ideology of the era and subsequent counterculture. of his authorial voice, such as Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake and AA Milne and E. H. Shepard. On page 147 the illustration seems to predate the text, it is parallel with “answered.

I glanced over, very briefly, and saw four middle-American faces frozen with shock, staring straight ahead. ” (p. 151) The narrative goes on to harass the people in the other car inciting violence. Describing them to the reader as “Okies” a derogatory slag term for people from Oklahoma, another chip away at the dominant ideology throwing counterculture slurs at them “while my attorney kept screaming at them: “Shoot! Fuck! Scag! Blood! Heroin! Rape! Cheap! Communist! Jab it right into your fucking eyeballs! ” (p. 52) This is not the only incident in the book about ‘middle Americans’ at the start of the book Duke and his Attorney stop to give a hitchhiker a lift. “My attorney saw the hitchhiker long before I did. “Let’s give this boy a lift,” he said, and before I could mount any argument he was stopped and this poor Okie kid was running up to the car with a big grin on his face, saying, “Hot damn! I never rode in a convertible before! ” (p. 5) Steadman also illustrates this young man, his in his drawing of him he portrays the boy as looking simple and slightly demented.

The boy exits the car at his first opportunity when Duke and his Attorney indulge in various drugs. Thompson uses the incidents between the two sets of ‘Okies’ to highlight the although there has been a countercultural revolution, it has not changed much in the traditional, conservative views points of many Americans does this through his characters shocking and showing off the drug counterculture and by narrating the response of the ‘Okies’ who represent the dominant ideology.

His point of view and frustrations are clear. The drug counterculture is historically perceived to have been a habit of the hippy movement, with LSD being prominent, however there was a culture of drugs funded by the US Government, dishing out pills to serving soldiers in Vietnam, described by British philosopher Nick Land as “a decisive point of intersection between pharmacology and the technology of violence. ” (Kamienski, 2016) Thompson

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