He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.“
– Samuel Johnson
This quote appears in the preface of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Life in modern day America is depressing, and after a while, it begins to take a toll on you. I don’t know of anyone who can stand up, face the harsh realities of American life directly in the eyes, and still come out with a smile on their face. Hell, you’d be lucky to come out at all. Spend one year of your life traveling around this godforsaken country, closely following the campaigns of a dozen or so “politicians” and you will realize why Americans chose to stay so busy.
If everyone knew what was actually happening in this country on a day to day basis most of us would go insane. Americans need distractions to keep from gauging their own eyes out. That’s why we have celebrities, reality television, and fashion… all products of the corporate consumerist country we call America, put here to “entertain” us while the politicians and corporate greed heads run amok with all of our money and nearly limitless power. I, however, have chosen for myself a different distraction, drugs. I don’t know how any right-minded person in my line of work could live without them.
The greatly exaggerated drug use of Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is intended to render him a complete mess, in order to help him deal with the truth behind American life, and the death of the American dream. He willingly and intentionally “makes a beast of himself.” His use of drugs is not meant to mimic the mind-expansion theories set in place by Timothy Leary. Raoul Duke is the symbol of a generation, one that is misunderstood and misrepresented… one of “permanent cripples, failed seekers.”