Reflections on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Part 2
The story that ends the chapter in which a PSP user pulls his own eyes out serves as a memento mori for Thompson and his attorney. Eventually neither of them will maintain the pace they set for themselves during this trip. Perhaps that reflects back on their search for the American Dream and how they wanted to maintain a high speed in the convertible toward it? Sounds about right. Also note that Thompson doesn’t acknowledge this story with speech. Only the silent printed word bears the weight well.
The distortion of speaker’s voice mirrors the falsity of their info. Also it’s important to note the lagging sound system and the way in which the voice or information becomes disconnected from the speaker further hinting at instability. That lines up pretty well with the consciousness alteration Thompson and his attorney participate in, but at least they make their own choices about what to believe rather than existing in an authoritarian hierarchy as the police around them do.
“The glazed look in her [the waitress’s] eyes said her throat had been cut. She was still in the grip of paralysis when we left” (160)
The cutting of the phone’s wire a page before this mirrors this image. This fits nicely with my Foucauldian reading of expression as power which I implemented earlier. Also on display in this scene (the one where the attorney slips their waitress a napkin with “Back Door Beauty?” (159) written on it and an altercation ensues) is outrage at the idea of the waitress being associated with a minority discourse that participates in anal sex. However, and more likely the waitress takes offense at being asked for sex. Whether she was a hooker as Thompson suggests or not doesn’t matter. The fact that she’s then put with the minority discourse of sex workers angers her which again all goes back to Foucault.
Also note that the napkin’s message remains unspoken throughout the entire conflict reinforcing the idea of expression as power. Taboo’s like anal sex or positive ideas on recreational drug use freak the majority discourse out whenever they’re expressed non-verbally, much less if they were actually spoken.
“What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole lifestyle that he helped to create…a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acide Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody–or at least some force--is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel” (178-9).
Right. Imposing a hierarchy of understanding on a culture that spawned out of an emphasis on individual experience and perception betrays the whole thing.