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Published: 2012/01/21
by Brian Robbins

Kesey, Cassady, Meatspace, and the Fourth World: Checking In With Ken Babbs

BR: In the years since Ken’s passing, you’ve gone ahead with the Skypilot Club and made good use of the internet with your website, your Facebook page, and YouTube videos you’ve posted. Do you have a goal? Are you trying to stay in touch with the existing pool or are you still trying to expand the tribe?

KB: Well, there’s meatspace – that’s the material world. And then there’s cyberspace where people can meet and exchange information. You have to do both; each has a function. The computer’s a tool, just like a drill or a hammer. In today’s world, the cordless drill and the nail gun have become like magic things that revolutionized the world of the do-it-yourselfer – just like the computer has revolutionized the way we can meet in cyberspace.

But the problem is, now you have people who are addicted to things like Facebook … you gotta control your addictions, you know. It’s like you can’t start drinking during the day anymore – I can’t anyway … it fucks you up. Wait ‘til 5 o’clock. (laughter)

Same thing with the computer: too much of that and your brain’s fried and you’re stumbling around – can’t even tell where the couch is anymore. That’s bad!

BR: It’s a balance, isn’t it – between the way it makes the world bigger and smaller at the same time?

KB: That’s right.

Why are we here? It’s a material world and we’re material beings – we’re here to work and if we don’t do that, we’re trying to be something else; we’re trying be some sort of ethereal beings – but that will come in time. (laughs)

That’s something that’s become clear to me: embrace the material world. It’s hard; it’s tough; it hurts – it’s a problem all the time that has to be solved: how we deal with this material world? But I think that once we do that; once we learn to get over it, keep happy thoughts, and don’t let it get us down and don’t get discouraged, then … eventually perhaps comes this limited thing called grace.

BR: So … you believe there’s hope, then.

KB: Oh, sure – that’s all we’ve got to live with.

I mean, every day you wake up in the morning and you’re clean. You can’t have baggage from yesterday with you or hell, man – you can’t get out of bed. (laughter)

BR: What do you see for this old world in the year ahead?

KB: Oh, I see some tremendous, wonderful things happening. I just love all the shit that’s going on. The Occupy movement has really been something.

That spirit caught on here in Eugene – the people woke up in the Occupy camps and said, “We can’t just be occupying and holding signs; we have to do something positive.” What they’re doing now is taking in the homeless: they’re running the kitchens; running the health centers for alcohol and drug abuse; they’re trying to keep the fights and all that down.

I’m hearing that the crime is dropping in town at the same time because these people have a place to go and something to do – they’re not out there having to steal to support themselves.

But you know how it works: we’re all renters here – nobody really owns anything. (laughs) The point is, hopefully the city will realize what the Occupy movement is trying to do and they’ll find a place where this kind of a camp can exist; where these people – who are actually volunteer people who are out of work and don’t have anything else to do – can use all their talent and skills for the good.

This is where I see things are going to happen in this world. There’s always going to be the assholes that try to run things and get the most money they can, but underneath that is what I call the Fourth World nation. America has an emerging Fourth World nation that’s never been seen before.

In the Fourth World nation, there will be all these levels of society but the people who are really hip won’t care. They’ll be perfectly happy living without trying to be at the top of the heap or make more money or have the biggest palace or the biggest car or any of that shit.

BR: And I guess that’s where you have to hope the change comes out of things like this. I mean, we need to be realistic: they’re not going to throw the windows open on Wall Street and yell out, “We give up! We know we’ve been lying, cheating crooks!”

KB: Oh no – that’s never going to happen; banks are always going to be the same. But it was great what happened here when they said, “Take your money out of Bank of America and put it in your local credit union.” People were lined up at the doors of the credit unions here in Eugene.

BR: Maybe what it comes down to is simply making enough noise – enough of a scene – to get people’s attention and make them think.

KB: That’s right – people have to know that they need to work together; they need to form co-operatives and groups to make all this work.

BR: And the upcoming elections?

KB: Who cares, really? (pauses; laughs) It’s always going to be the same. I mean, look at poor Obama: he came in there with so much promise, but the moment he hit that quagmire in Washington, he was stuck up to his eyeballs in muck!

BR: Oh, I know. I wish that one person could change it all …

KB: It’s got to be all people getting involved and working together to change things – and they have to change it from the bottom up.

The real key to the whole thing is education; people have to be smart enough to recognize the bullshit and not contribute to it. They need to recognize what’s good and pure and true and look for that. Overcoming problems is part of the material world. The smarter we are; the better we are at problem solving; the better things get.

This whole deal of taking the money away from education and making the class sizes such that the teachers aren’t able to do their jobs properly is all part of the same plot: to create this nation where there are overlords and serfs. The overlords need the serfs to do all the dirty work while they suck up the stuff.

Kesey always said, “We have to remember that there are more dumb people than smart people.” (laughter) The smart people will always be in the minority, but it doesn’t matter: even a minority can do a lot of real good for the world.

He always said, too, that “our mission is walking the earth and saving the world” – and more and more people are realizing that. If we’re not saving the world, then all the money and all the riches won’t do anyone any good … unless they can buy their way to Mars.

BR: And then they’ll screw that up.

KB: Right! (laughter) But I really would love to live another 50 years and see this all happen. I think it’s going to be tremendous.

The challenges are so great; but the possibilities are, as well.

BR: Well, if you want to live another 50 years, then I think you should, Ken.

KB: Well, all right, then – maybe I will!

I’ll need a lot of firewood, though. (laughter)

BR: I’ll let you go so you can work on that, then. Take care and thank you, Ken.

KB: Well, thank you, Brian. Good talking with you.

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