If Dave Besseling had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him. How else would we know the current state of the discipline in what we might call head-craft, the art of getting blown and going where no consciousness has ever gone before From that stratospheric binge-eden come down fragments of drawings, memories, conversations and vignettes, what Besseling perceptively calls the Pictures, followed predictably by the Fear. In the end times, being a hippie is a dangerous occupation, unless you can package it and get paid by the paragraph, in which case you become a cultural icon famous for being right up there with the Calvin Klein boy bands and the Goa rave scene. In the pursuit of the right tropical locale to make his doomed love affair work again (and tennis balls of hash), Besseling&rsquos inner eye is opened to the transcendental truth that everyone, bar none, is in the business of bullshit. From the tree-living baba to McDonald&rsquos and the Israeli disheyes newly escaped from military service, this cast of characters get together like the cover of the psychedelic album of your choice to collectively beat up Western middle class sensibilities.
Stoned reviewers will probably compare this book to Hunter S. Thompson, thereby doing grave injustice to the old man. Predictably, the only Thompson title that Besseling thinks is worthwhile is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The rest of HST&rsquos books don&rsquot talk so much about drugs, only about uncool stuff like racism and gang violence. Yes, there&rsquos racism and gang violence in Besseling too, but at one remove, and nothing that can&rsquot be salved by a shared toke and a bottle of champagne served by a hot waitress. In these armageddopocalyptic times (his word, not mine) even sectarian violence is a conversation piece. And India How does India, that great souk of enlightenment, that sewer of satva, produce in the receptive and chemically prompted mind the correct psychic gaze upon the wreck of the human race Simple, by staring. The stare, accompanied by the crotch scratch, administered like harsh medicine to the Western ego by countless polyester-clad roadside Indian males, is the true killer app of the Indian spiritual experience. Slainté.