Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Study Guide

Hunter S. Thompson

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Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 Sep. 2017. Web. 17 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/>.

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Course Hero, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide," September 26, 2017, accessed July 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 1, Chapter 8 : "Genius 'Round the World Stands Hand in Hand, and One Shock of Recognition Runs the Whole Circle 'Round" -Art Linkletter | Summary

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Summary

Duke has problems sleeping because he lives in the country and isn't used to city noise. He braces the bathroom door with a chair and leaves Dr. Gonzo inside to come down from all the drugs. Duke remembers visiting his neighbor a Dr.____, "former acid guru" who took the "chemical frenzy to preternatural consciousness." Duke wants to know about LSD, but the doctor only hums and works in his garden, refusing to interrupt his higher consciousness to talk to Duke.

Duke gives up on acid until he moves to San Francisco six months later. He tries acid at the Fillmore Auditorium. On another night he goes to a club called The Matrix where a guy comes in and cooks LSD in the back office. Duke eats part of his share in the men's room and spills the rest on his sleeve. A musician comes in and sucks the LSD off Duke's sleeve. Duke imagines a "stockbroker type" walking in on the scene. Duke hopes it would ruin the man's life, "forever thinking that just behind some narrow door in all his favorite bars, men in red Pendleton shirts and getting incredible kicks from things he'll never know."

Duke remembers the possibilities of life in San Francisco in those days, going out, driving fast across the Bay Bridge into Oakland and Berkeley, how "you could strike sparks anywhere." He believes they all had a sense of right and goodness prevailing "over the forces of Old and Evil" by virtue of their positive energy. This sense of right was like a wave and if you "go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West ... you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Analysis

Dr. Gonzo in Part 1, Chapter 7, offers one version of the 1960s counterculture learning to cope with the reactionary climate that follows. He delves deeper into drug use and refuses to engage with objective reality on any meaningful level. Duke compares Dr. Gonzo to the unnamed doctor who refused to engage with him in the garden. Dr. _____ occupies his own world, which he doesn't want reality intruding upon. His methods, humming and gardening, seem more serene than Dr. Gonzo's violent rants, but the end result is the same.

Duke's poetic reflections on his life in San Francisco in the 1960s provide a counterpoint to the bitter resistance hiding in the bathtub on the other side of a barricaded door. Duke enjoys the LSD he eats in San Francisco, but it doesn't seem to dominate his life. For Duke, the fun in LSD is the idea that straight-laced types can't know or understand the freedom he experiences through drug use. Moreover, he fantasizes how those straight-laced types might be forever ruined by knowing about these experiences they cannot fully understand and are too afraid to try for themselves.

Unlike Dr. Gonzo, Duke understands the freedom and possibility of the 1960s counterculture are over and unlikely to make a resurgence. He is not happy about this, but he accepts it. He likens the counterculture movement to a wave, and the high-water mark's visibility from Las Vegas shows how the conservative underlying culture of Las Vegas has supplanted it. In fact, the high-water mark of the cresting wave of California counterculture is distant enough from Las Vegas to indicate the culture never came close to touching Las Vegas at all. It is a sad and wistful commentary on the counterculture's relationship to America. While they were wrapped up in the experience, the San Francisco hippies and their friends believed in infinite potential and possibility. In truth, their great wave of positive energy didn't reach a lot of America. Like Las Vegas, those traditions remain mostly untouched by the counterculture wave.

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