Ken Kesey (1935 – 2001) was an American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure.
He considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.
The inspiration for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came while working on the night shift at the Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital.
There, Kesey often spent time talking to the patients, sometimes under the influence of the hallucinogenic drugs he had volunteered to experiment with.
Kesey did not believe that these patients were insane, but rather that society had pushed them out because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and behave.
Published in 1962, the novel was an immediate success; in 1963, it was adapted into a successful stage play by Dale Wasserman, and in 1975, Miloš Forman directed a screen adaptation, which won the „Big Five“ Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Forman) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman).
The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.
If you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.
Mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn’t it?
The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf is the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn’t challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?
You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself.
Look… Reality is greater than the sum of its parts, also a damn sight holier. And the lives of such stuff as dreams are made of may be rounded with a sleep but they are not tied neatly with a red bow. Truth doesn’t run on time like a commuter train, though time may run on truth. And the Scenes Gone By and the Scenes to Come flow blending together in the sea-green deep while Now spreads in circles on the surface. So don’t sweat it. For focus simply move a few inches back or forward. And once more… look.
We can count how many seeds are in the apple, but not how many apples are in the seed.
For there is always a sanctuary more, a door that can never be forced, a last inviolable stronghold that can never be taken, whatever the attack; your vote can be taken, you name, you innards, or even your life, but that last stronghold can only be surrendered. And to surrender it for any reason other than love is to surrender love.
Man is certain of nothing but his ability to fail.
Society is what decides who’s sane and who isn’t, so you got to measure up.
You can’t really be strong until you can see a funny side to things
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest