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The Mad Artist: Psychonautic Adventures in the 1970s Paperback – 25 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu.com (25 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0557136547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0557136544
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,004,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As an autobiographical writer, I've been very influenced by the works of Jack Kerouac, which I read from my late teens onwards. The colourful, freewheeling lifestyle they described, together with the immersement in alternative culture and Eastern mysticism, paralleled my own experiences, and when I started to try my hand at writing, during my time at art college, I referenced those experiences, using Jack's methods.

After college I pursued a career in television, whilst continuing to write. I dabbled in many areas--literary and experimental fiction; fantasy, horror and crime; writing articles and reviewing films and books. More recently I returned to my youthful literary endeavours and used them to create the memoir, The Mad Artist, which takes an overview of my four years at art college, making the writing part of the story.

It depicts a crazy and volatile period in my life, detailing my various pharmo-picaresque adventures and showing both the cosmic and the scary sides to psychedelic drug experience, leading onto how it fuelled a quest to find answers in both artistic and larger metaphysical realms.

Product Description

Review

"The Mad Artist is everything a memoir should be for the reader; a glimpse into the emotional, spiritual and social growth of an individual and yet not alienating through whimsy and self-indulgence. Keen uses the psychedelic experience as a beautiful craft through which the elements of his life have been magnified and threaded. It is a textual empathogen, wherein flashes of thought and circumstance entrench you in the text."
-- The Psychedelic Press UK

About the Author

Roger Keen is a writer, filmmaker and film critic. He has contributed to many award-winning programmes for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and his articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in many magazines and webzines.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I should mention upfront that Roger Keen is a friend - at least in the Facebook sense if not of the "inner circle" type that he refers to in his book - and I have met him a couple of times. This is not as an excuse for giving his book a favourable review, which it richly deserves on its own merits (I purchased it myself and did not receive it as a gift or with the expectation of a review), but to point out that Roger, as anyone who knows him or has perhaps even read one of his film reviews on the internet will testify, is every inch the perfect gentleman. Quiet, polite, soft-spoken, gracious and congenial with an intelligent and positive outlook, reluctant to criticise when there are favourable points that can be made - Roger is nothing, in other words, like the paranoid, LSD-tripping, dope-smoking, alcohol-fuelled aggressive, surrealist, hippy dopehead artist of the 1970s that he writes about in The Mad Artist, a fictionalised memoir of a past that I suspect few people outside of his inner circle would ever imagine as being a formative part of his background.

On the other hand, the clear lucidity of the writing, taking an open objective stance even when describing the most subjective of experiences, is certainly a characteristic of Roger's personality and writing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Liz S on 10 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Loved living a dissolute youth vicariously, yet safely tucked up in bed, through its pages. His description of altered states is the best I've read. I was there; I was euphoric, confident, more fascinated by the world... and I was terrified at times too. It made me realise that given the chance back then I would have taken most of these drugs and most likely have made myself ill. So it was good to experience it at last and put to bed that demon regret of not having had a misspent youth, but then neither have I had the "enlightenment" which would seem to have been an absolute positive throughout the rest of his life. I admired his honesty about himself as he didn't always come over as 'very nice'. Incongruously this made me trust him; trust the book.

If you've ever wondered what taking drugs is really like read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill B on 2 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
If, like me, you like to make reading a book a journey of discovery, you won't want a detailed map of the terrain so I'll just give you an idea of the pharmacy to come and a few appetising vignettes and indications.

Rather than painting the sweep of its four and a bit years in broad strokes, Roger Keen paints this never-leave-a-turn-unstoned saga in intricate detail. He describes what is going on in his life alongside his trains of thought as he attempts to understand his LSD, cannabis, opium, cocaine and psilocybin experiences, often comparing them with other psychonauts' travellers' tales. If you're interested in 'man + psychedelics (entheogens) = ?' then you should read this.

Right at the beginning Roger tells us his first acid trip was a much anticipated milestone in his life. The Mad Artist opens on 'a dull Sunday afternoon in December 1975' when, after a phone call from his best friend, Henry, arranging to meet up for their first acid trip, Roger already begins to feel he 'was now a stranger in [his] own front room.'

This trip was a mixture of wonder, awe and paranoia - and interestingly, his acid visions often inspired his art college projects: 'Suddenly the trip jumped in intensity... [...] The whole wood around me was no longer composed of trees, branches and leaves, but one composed of ...letters. Letters of the alphabet.' (p26) Later, Roger creates art out of these images. Like an explosion in a type foundry, alphabetti spaghetti recurs in other psychedelic episodes throughout the book.

At times The Mad Artist reads like a novel, at others it is very much a memoir and at yet other times it is a thoroughly absorbing blend of the two. At its best it brings Roger's experiences vividly to life.
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