The Mad Artist: Psychonautic Adventures in the 1970s
A novelistic memoir, glimpsing into the more rarefied realms of alternative life in 1970s Britain, written within the trip-lit tradition that includes The Doors of Perception, The Hasheesh Eater, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Naked Lunch. It gives a user’s-eye perspective of mind-expanded states with very intricate, detailed descriptions. Most contemporary drug memoirs are stories of mishap, recovery and rehab; but this one eschews that formula to concentrate on the wider existential impact of substance use, together with all the weird, wonderful, funny and scary headspaces you can get into, and how they transform your larger view of life.
‘…a significant addition to the canon of psychedelic literature.’ — Leaf Fielding, author of To Live Outside the Law
‘The whole story is a delight from beginning to end.’ — William J Booker, author of Trippers
‘I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in psychedelics, good writing and the human condition.’ — Rob Dickins, Editor in Chief The Psychedelic Press UK
‘…one of the best UK drug memoirs, highly recommended.’ — Professor Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University
‘…a dazzling, intelligent and ambitious quest to cut through conventional ways of looking at the world that ultimately yields impressive and potentially life-changing results.’ — Noel Megahey, Digital Fix Reviewer
In the 1970s Roger Keen was a young art student, heavily under the influence of the surrealist painters Dali, Ernst and Magritte, the Beat writers Kerouac and Burroughs, and the wisdom of the East — in particular Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Into the mix came LSD, cannabis, magic mushrooms and other drugs, which were seen as enablers in the pursuit of creativity and higher knowledge, fuelling a ‘Quest for the Ultimate' that pushed out the boundaries of experience to extremes.
Progressively, new factors entered the equation, such as the works of Carlos Castaneda, R. Gordon Wasson and other anthropologists, which demonstrated the roles hallucinogens have played in shamanic practices and the formulation of religions and philosophies, going back to the dawn of civilisation. All this added further momentum to the Quest, putting the trips of today into a much more meaningful context.
This memoir examines those ‘psychonautic adventures’ in fascinating detail, and along the way also tells a more familiar story of youthful excess and exuberance, all set against a colourful background of hippy student life in the West Country, the South of England and London. There are glimpses of the Stonehenge Festival in its heyday and visits to exotic locations in Greece and Spain, including Cadaques, home village of Salvador Dali.
In the tradition of Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Mad Artist not only explores a fascination with drugs but also the awesome and sometimes frightening inner metaphysical landscapes through which the user journeys.
Interview with Roger Keen
Find out more about the creation of The Mad Artist and Roger's thoughts on other psychedelic literature in an interview with Rob Dickins of The Psychedelic Press UK.
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