The passing of Kesey

Thoughts about, and from, Ken Kesey


Kesey’s belly was hurting and the docs did a scan and found a black spot on his liver. It was cancerous but encapsulated which meant there was no cancer anywhere else. They decided to cut it out and the surgery went okay. He had sixty percent of his liver left to carry the load but in one of those dirty tricks the body can play on you everything else went to hell and this morning at 3:45 AM his heart stopped beating.

A great good friend and great husband and father and grand dad, he will be sorely missed but if there is one thing he would want us to do it would be to carry on his life’s work. Namely to treat others with kindness and if anyone does you dirt forgive that person right away. This goes beyond the art, the writing, the performances, even the bus. Right down to the bone.

— Ken Babbs

From the Edge, a transcript from 1989:


What’s the job of the writer in contemporary America? I’m not sure. But here’s an example…..

You’re going to be walking along on the street one of these days and suddenly there’s going to be a light over there. You’re going to look across the street, and on the corner over there, God is going to be standing right there and you’re going to know it’s God because he’s going to have huge curly hair that sticks up through his halo like Jesus, and he’s got little slitty eyes like Buddha, and he’s got a lot of swords in his belt like Mohammed.

And he’s saying

“Come to me.”

“Come across the street to me.”

“O, come to me; I will have muses say in your ear you will be the greatest writer ever; you will be better than Shakespeare.”

“Come to me, they will have melon breasts and little blackberry nipples.”

“Come to me, all you have to do is sing my praises.”

Your job is to say

“Fuck you, God!”

“Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!”

Because nobody else is going to say it. Our politicians aren’t going to say it. Nobody but the writer is going to say it. There’s time in history when it’s time to praise God, but now is not the time.

Now is the time for us to say

“Fuck you!

I don’t care who your daddy was.

Fuck you!”

And get back to our job of writing.