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The outcast, the expatriate and the outlaw: Thoreau, Pound and Thompson's America.

Throughout their works, authors like Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson define "America" as they perceive it during their individual literary periods and through their own literary perspectives. However, Tim Cresswell's theories defining "place," described in Place: A Short Introduction particularly the concepts of "Location," "Locale" and "Sense of Place" are a useful lens to show that, while virtually every American artist identifies "America" through the perspectives presented in their works, these three authors assume an identity (or role) where they exist outside the conventional and contemporary constructs of American society by putting into practice the views that these authors present in their writings. Therefore, their lifestyles and texts afford insight to the nature of the conflicts between the writer's self-imposed outsider perspectives, be it "Outcast," "Expatriate" or "Outlaw," and the construct of "America" which the authors initially separated themselves from. Taking Lewis Hyde's definition of "trickster" also into consideration, this article explores the ways in which how Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson as American further define the outsider perspectives present as a result of each author's interactions with conventional American society. In order to define further the Trickster in American literature, this study will simultaneously observe how these Tricksters react to America, and conversely, how America reacts to these Tricksters, based on the concepts of America as a "place" in terms of Location, Locale and Sense of Place, and how the definition of these concepts of America defines the nature of each author's works and lifestyle.

In Trickster Makes the World, Lewis Hyde proposes that "trickster" is a boundary-crosser, where every group has its borders, its clearly defined structures, and components. The trickster is always there, defying the "internal boundaries" by which groups articulate their social life:
   we constantly distinguish--right and wrong, sacred and profane,
   clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and
   dead--and in every case trickster will cross the line and confuse
   the distinction.... Where someone's sense of honorable behavior has
   left him unable to act, trickster will appear to suggest an amoral
   action, something right/ wrong that will get life going again. (7)


The connection between Hyde's definition of "trickster" and the individual personalities of these three particular authors should not go unnoticed. By analyzing the self-imposed "Trickster" roles that Thoreau, Pound and Thompson create for themselves, we can further classify the idea of the American Tricksters in literature with the models of "Outcast," "Expatriate," and "Outlaw." Furthermore, by interpreting each author's literary works and individual lifestyle, we see how, through their distinctive voices, the Outcast, the Expatriate and the Outlaw define "America" as an ideal, a structure, a construct and a concrete geographical location; in short, each author creates an "America" that represents a culture, an "America" that represents the actual "American" continent and how these authors conduct themselves, in both lifestyle and literature, according to their definition of "America," which in turn defines the Trickster that they adapt.

As Cresswell notes, "place is not just a thing in the world but a way of understanding the world ... a way of seeing" (11), and I argue that Thoreau, Pound and Thompson, by simultaneously defining themselves and the construct of "America," in their writings they ultimately oppose, achieve a perspective outside conventional middle class values and beliefs that defines "America" into concepts other than the universal definition based on the geographic landscape of America, such as the authors' views of contemporary "American" society, the author's definitions of "American" culture, and ultimately, "America" as a system that all three authors, in their respective Trickster roles, seek to undermine and challenge. In these three cases, because of the collision between the author and the system which they ultimately oppose, close reading and analysis of the authors' respective works, in comparison with the praxis of those works, re-enforce the roles that Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson, as Outcast, Expatriate and Outlaw, respectively assume during their corresponding historical periods.

Part I: The Outcast

To say that Henry David Thoreau is one of the most important writers to emerge in America is a fair assessment of the influence he has had on not just America, but throughout all of Western and Eastern culture. However, his influence on figures like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Leo Tolstoy, as Lewis Hyde postulates in "Henry Thoreau, John Brown and the Problematic of Prophetic Action," seems to have given contemporary audiences the notion that "Thoreau ... was an advocate of nonviolent resistance." Nevertheless, as Hyde also points out, "'Civil Disobedience' contains hints of Thoreau's more aggressive side, one that would become patently evident a few years [after its original publication date]" (129). While Hyde's assessment of Thoreau's character does acknowledge Thoreau's aggressive side, Hyde seems to underestimate the aggressive nature inherent in Thoreau's earlier writings. Furthermore, when viewed in contrast with the Trickster in traditional Western culture, Thoreau's aggressiveness can be more specifically highlighted across his writings in order to demonstrate how the author separates himself from specific constructs of "America" and redefines the American system as a direct result of a confrontation between the system and its Outcast.

Thoreau was arrested in 1849 due to non-payment of taxes for the amount of nine shillings which he denied owing, having argued that there was no reason he should pay the tax (as he had lived in Walden Pond and his contact with society, while admittedly accessible, was minimal). Given the significant shift in how Thoreau writes about "nature" (i.e. the "American" landscape) as opposed to constructs like "government," "taxes," and "currency" (as can be seen throughout the entirety of Walden), these attitudes could be considered as precursors to the dominating ideas Thoreau would later develop in "Civil Disobedience." It could also be argued that the conflict that lands Thoreau in jail brings about a vindication and re-enforcement of the beliefs and views practiced in Walden. Keeping the definition of Trickster in mind, "Civil Disobedience" then becomes the "right/ wrong" choice that Thoreau presents, simultaneously aggressive and passive, created as a direct attack against the system from which he had originally exiled himself from. Furthermore, it can be discerned that "Civil Disobedience" acts as a medium between the praxis of Thoreau's actions and the conflicts that this praxis creates with the contemporary social constructs and structures it was designed against. In short, while "Civil Disobedience" is Thoreau's reaction as a Trickster to his arrest, it should be noted that the fact that the arrest happened in the first place is what prompts him to respond, as the arrest itself comes as a direct challenge to the lifestyle Thoreau had presented and maintained in Walden.

In accordance with Hyde's definition of "Prophetic Action," where Hyde elaborates about the prophet--"not that he engages in any literal predicting of the future.... Rather, the prophet speaks of things that will be true in the future because they are true in all time" (130)--we see then that Thoreau's "prophecies" or "knowledge" are derived from experiences in Walden Pond, and that the "prophetic action" presented in Walden is how to escape from the constructs of contemporary society and survive in "Nature," which is what the author had effectively done while writing this work. To this extent, as Alan Fox describes in "Guarding What is Essential: Critiques of Material Culture in Thoreau and Yang Zhu," Walden becomes an "experiment designed to determine what is essential in life ... to distinguish between what people want and what they need," in order to argue that Thoreau's "analysis includes a critique of the excesses of material culture, concluding ... the most important concerns for human beings" (362). Both Fox and Hyde seem to agree that Thoreau is ultimately criticizing "American culture" and material standards and commodities throughout his works. Consequently, it can be also discerned that Thoreau acts as a Trickster through both Walden and "Civil Disobedience" by not only establishing an independent system outside the established constructs of his contemporary society in Walden, but also by presenting this "amoral action" to society as praxis instead of theory. Thoreau, it could be discerned, ensures that the distinction between his system and the "American" system is not only clear, but made evident throughout his works which can be argued to be the praxis of his "prophetic vision." Consequently, Thoreau's Trickster role of Outcast, when considering the idea of his prophetic vision, seems to imply the image of Thoreau living alone in the woods co-existing with nature instead of society, and pointing out the natural flaws in the systems that society employs in order to undermine society and return to nature.

However, when Cresswell's ideas on "place" as "a meaningful location" are applied to how Thoreau places himself within the constructs of "America," we see that, while defining the author's ideas of "America" in terms of Location, Locale and Sense of Place, Thoreau's self-imposed role as Outcast becomes more evident, especially when one considers how both Walden and "Civil Disobedience" present positive and negative definitions for "America" as landscape, culture, society and system through his Outcast point of view.

If the Trickster is a being that interacts with the system in order to question, undermine, or directly challenge it, then it could be proposed that the Outcast, in turn, would be a specific type of Trickster that exists within a culture, watching the system operate, and opposing the system while maintaining a safe distance from the structures that, as a Trickster, the Outcast seeks to challenge.

Taking into consideration Thoreau's role in his contemporary period, it is important to demonstrate how he emplaces himself through his role as Outcast. By John A. Agnew's definition, in Place and Politics, discussed by Cresswell, "Location" refers to position in the actual geographic landscape. In Thoreau's case, his Location would be Concord, Massachusetts, where he spent the majority of his life. "Locale," on the other hand, refers to the conditions of one's surroundings. In Thoreau's case, while his Location is still Concord, Massachusetts, his Locale is not amidst the city itself. Instead, Thoreau's Locale could be accurately described as Walden Pond rather than Concord, as he lives in the former, free from constructs such as currency and government, whereas the latter is run by these structures. The third of Agnew's categories, "Sense of Place," establishes the distinction between Location and Locale. If one considers that Thoreau's Sense of Place (that is to say, where he forms a "meaningful connection" to a specific area, thereby defining it as a "place" as opposed to "space") is in nature, not in society. By acknowledging that the beauty and freedom found in nature (themes that dominate most of Walden) ultimately define how Thoreau creates a "place" for himself in Walden Pond from which he views society, it can be argued that where Walden seeks to define Thoreau's Sense of Place, "Civil Disobedience" seeks to defend it.

In opposition to Hyde's assumption in stating that "Civil Disobedience" only "hints" at Thoreau's aggressive side, we see how this speech highlights the simultaneously aggressive and passive tone that distinguishes Thoreau's writing. The incendiary opening lines "I heartily accept the motto: That government is best which governs least" offers a distinguishable air of rebellion, not uncommon in Thoreau's writings up to this point in his career. Thoreau begins the essay by allowing the idea that government should not be so authoritative as it had been up to that point was to come from an outside source, in order effectively to deliver the statement "I believe--'That government is best which governs not at all'; and when men are prepared for it, that is the kind of government which they will have" ("Civil Disobedience" 1). The juxtaposition of these ideas at the beginning of the essay serves to show not only the aggressive, if not altogether hostile critique that Thoreau plans to deliver in "Civil Disobedience," but also, in Trickster fashion, the presentation of an alternative to the established system which, though realistically improbable, serves to put into question the necessity of the original system. Thoreau admits that society was not ready for a government that "governs not at all," but proposes that this type of government will be available someday, thereby implying that there is essentially no need for the government to possess the amount of power that it wielded, other than the fact that society had allowed it to become so powerful. By this logic, the Outcast is a Trickster who has seen how this system works, and therefore, cannot function within the confines of normal society because of this. By this logic, "Civil Disobedience" serves as an example of Thoreau defending his Sense of Place, that is to say, his livelihood in Walden Pond, against the oppressive impositions of "American" governments and economic systems (Thoreau's crime being Non-Payment of Taxes), which, as can be discerned from the literary content and praxis behind both Walden and "Civil Disobedience," are the main factors which prompted Thoreau's self-exile into the woods of Walden Pond.

Part II: The Expatriate

While many Modernist American poets left the United States for Europe after the First World War, Ezra Pound seems not only to accept his role as Expatriate, but appears to revel in it through most of his literary career. Having decided to leave for Europe as the result of "the lack of culture" in America, and declaring that there "was no one else [he] wished to study under, except Yeats" (Tytell 42) early into his academic career, it is of no surprise that for the majority (if not the entirety) of his life, Ezra Pound was surrounded by scandal and controversy every time he returned to the United States after officially leaving in 1908 for London, and exponentially so after he was charged with High Treason against the United States, for crimes committed during the Second World War in 1943, and subsequently arrested in 1945.

It should be noted that while extremely controversial in both context and lifestyle, Ezra Pound's position as one of the icons of the American Modernist Movement remains unchallenged. Furthermore, his relationships to other poets and writers of the era, including T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, is noteworthy not only in the sense that Pound shared personal friendships with these contemporary writers, but that he also edited and aided them both poetically and critically throughout their literary careers. Consequently, Pound's attitudes, particularly his anti-Semitism, Fascism, and overall brashness in character, could be argued to cause the majority, if not all, of Pound's conflicts, as David Barnes suggests in his article "Fascist Aesthetics: Ezra Pound's Cultural Negotiations in 1930s Italy." Barnes asserts that "Pound's avant-garde aesthetics and neo-platonic philosophy colored the way he engaged with the cultural projects of the regime, making his Fascism a mixture of spirituality, modernism and totalitarianism" (21), while elaborating the role and ideals Pound displayed during the Second World War. However, it should be noted that many of the qualities and examples that Barnes focuses on in order to establish how much of a Fascist Ezra Pound was throughout the 1930s can actually be considered as by-products of Pound's adopting the role of Expatriate earlier in his career. If the Trickster is supposed to challenge, change, or undermine a structure or construct, then it can be seen that, by his own volition as Expatriate, Pound becomes not just someone who simply resides in a culture outside of his own, but, as can be seen in selections from his writings and notable events of conflict between Pound and the United States, someone who completely accepts foreign influences while contemptuously rejecting the culture he originally came from. The attitudes and beliefs that make Pound leave America in the first place not only evolve from an original state of mocking contempt into direct military actions against the United States, but can also be interpreted as the underlying reasons for Pound's constant geographical movement across Europe, his penchant for joining prominent writers and artists to form poetic trends (only to leave them shortly afterwards in order to form other artistic movements), and the breadth of influences Pound utilizes in his poetry as well. In short, Ezra Pound, as a Trickster, can be argued to create the conflicts throughout the majority of his life as result of the direct challenges he posed to established norms. Consequently, if Pound is considered as Expatriate as well as a Trickster, then it can be discerned that Pound's challenges are generally directed against previously established values and traditions from which Pound emancipates himself throughout his lifetime.

As Trickster, Pound seems almost nihilistic in his approaches to certain topics, particularly poetry and literature. Critical works like "A Retrospect," and the poem "A Pact," seem to emphasize attitudes which not only break from traditional norms by blatantly insulting or disregarding them altogether, but also seek to create a new "amoral action" that is based on the original structure, but serves only to challenge its existence contemptuously.

The poem "A Pact," written in first person, is notable because it showcases the poet's attitude towards "American" poetry, particularly his "Make It New" mentality, which can be understood as the "amoral action" proposed. By addressing the poet Walt Whitman in the first stanzas "I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman-/ I have detested you long enough" (1-2) in order to show how the speaker esteems the (at that time) long-dead Whitman, and how, despite his personal feelings, he is willing to put them aside, if only momentarily, Pound asserts his own position with the line "I have come to you as a grown child" (3), meaning that he comes to Whitman as an equal as poet, and follows with the lines "Who has had a pig-headed father;/ I am old enough now to make friends" (4-5) in order not only to reiterate his loathing of Whitman, but also to show how he (Pound) is able to overcome his distaste of the dead transcendentalist in order to "Let there be commerce between us" (9). The commerce Pound refers to is poetry, where he admits that Whitman "broke the new wood," (6) as a reference to free-verse poetry, which Whitman revolutionized during his career. The following line "Now is a time for carving" implies that, though Whitman developed free-verse, Pound believed that its true potential was still untapped. Hence the following stanza: "We have one sapling and one root-" (8), which serves to show Pound's belief that both poets have something to offer which has the potential to grow, which is why Pound has put his personal feelings aside in order to make this pact, take free-verse and "Make it New." However, it should not be ignored that, aside from the obvious insults to Whitman, though Pound proposes this pact to Walt Whitman, the only one who truly benefits from this "amoral action" is, in Trickster fashion, Ezra Pound.

Like Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound separates himself from the constructs and structures that he finds in "America." However, Pound's separation differs from Thoreau's in the sense that, while the latter rejects "American" culture while remaining on the American continent, Pound's prejudices against "America" prompt him to leave the American continent for Europe as soon as he finds himself able to. Furthermore, Pound's actions and attitudes vary greatly from Thoreau's own actions within the same classification of Trickster.

Where Henry David Thoreau could be compared to the Anansi Trickster myth, in the sense that after succeeding in their respective challenges through the use of Trickster "amoral actions," both the Outcast and the spider god Anansi, are generally regarded in a positive light, and are considered archetypically "good" or "moral" characters, with great contributions to society to their credit. Anansi gains stories from the Sky God Nyame after using trickery to capture the python, the leopard, the hornets and the dwarf, while Thoreau's writing of both Walden and "Civil Disobedience" as reactions to the structures and regulations imposed upon him by "American" culture, and their subsequent reception and influence can be argued to serve the same purpose of a means to an end that challenges the previously established system through "amoral actions." Consequently, if Thoreau is esteemed in the same fashion as Anansi, Pound, conversely, is regarded akin to the trickster Loki of the Norse traditions (particularly the Loki depicted in Snorri Sturluson's translation of the Prose Edda). Both Loki and Ezra Pound, aside from their main offences (Loki's multiple murders and crimes, along with Pound's treason against the United States), share attitudes especially notable because of their directly insulting and challenging authority figures (like Loki's insulting of Bragi and Pound's demoralizing messages against the Allied Forces) throughout the entire conflict until the moment of their capture. Though both Loki and Pound do end up punished for their crimes, coincidentally, both are somehow spared the full extent of punishment (Loki's wife, Sigyn, holds a bowl over his eyes to keep the venom dripping from a giant snake's fangs from spilling into his eyes, while Pound was declared unfit to stand trial due to reason of insanity, spared the death penalty, and institutionalized in St. Elizabeth's hospital shortly thereafter). Ultimately, like all Tricksters, they undermine the system before their death (Pound lived the last years of his life in Italy, after being released in 1958 from St. Elizabeth's hospital with a full pardon, and Loki, according to the myth, will be liberated during Ragnarok, where he will slay the god Heimdallr). Taking the comparison of how Thoreau and Pound are esteemed in American society the way that Anansi and Loki work within their own respective cultures, the role of the Expatriate, how it reacts to its original culture and how its culture, in turn, reacts to the Expatriate, because of the contrast to how Sturlurson's Prose Edda depicts Loki in the "Lokasenna," (or "Binding of Loki") drastically clarifies the position the Expatriate holds in "American" society.

The tendency to challenge previously established norms and beliefs across literary communities seems to drive Pound in his role as Expatriate, pushing him to step outside the normal boundaries of poetry and literature and into politics in the 1930s, when he officially joined the Fascist Party. While there is no denying that Pound was highly active during the Second World War as a member of Mussolini's Fascist Party, it can also be considered his ultimate act of expatriatism, where not only is he rejecting his parent culture, but openly embracing another culture whose fundamental values, actions and allegiances have made an enemy of Pound's home country. This act is what separates Ezra Pound from most Modernist Expatriate Poets, since no other poet acted so zealously against the United States during the war as Pound did while broadcasting demoralizing messages against allied troops until his capture in 1945. However, even in captivity, Pound would continue to challenge the system and generate controversy and scandal thanks to the praxis between his writings and lifestyle.

After a controversial move to St. Elizabeth's hospital, because of having been charged for treason, Pound's career would continue to cause controversy and strife in most literary and academic circles. As Lem Coley narrates in his article "'A conspiracy of friendliness': T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Allen Tate, and the Bollingen Controversy," "[i]n 1948, the fellows of American letters of the Library of Congress announced the creation of a new prize for poetry: one thousand dollars for the best book published by an American citizen during the previous year" (809). The prize, named after the foundation that had funded the money, was awarded in 1949 to Ezra Pound for his Pisan Cantos. Coley explains that:
   the first Bollingen Award owed its existence to Allen Tate[,]
   [who] had established the Fellows in American Letters at the
   Library of Congress the jury for the award-and nominated the
   members. He created the prize, raised the money, and spent
   1949 as the floor manager of what would be a grand controversy.
   (812)


It caused controversy because, as Coley bluntly points out, "Tate and Pound disliked each other" (812). Even after his capture, Pound was still considered controversial, particularly due to his anti-Semitic views and having been previously tried for treason, which was the argument Tate held against the awarding of the prize. While there are notable rumors and speculations as to how Pound was awarded the prize in the first place, there are theorists that speculate that the entire Bollingen affair, from its conception to its conclusion, was actually a ruse devised by T.S. Eliot, and carried out along with several other members of the award committee in order to create a precedent for the case to liberate Pound from his institutionalization in St. Elizabeth's hospital. Though he was allowed to keep the prize money, Pound would remain in St. Elizabeth's hospital until 1958. When he was released he spent the remainder of his life in Italy, living notably in isolation, depression and making few, if any, public appearances until his death in 1972.

When considering the definition of "Location," Pound, as the Expatriate, was, as can be expected, highly nomadic, moving from the United States to London in 1908, and staying until 1920 when he moved to Paris until 1924, where he then settled in Italy until 1945. However, it should be noted that in 1945, Pound was brought back against his will to the United States, in order to face charges of High Treason for crimes committed during the Second World War. Therefore, it is necessary to sub-divide Ezra Pound's Location into two categories of geographical Location: Voluntary and Involuntary. In Voluntary Locations, Pound traversed most of Europe before he was brought to the United States, which can be easily identified as Pound's Involuntary Location. Therefore, if the idea of Location has to be divided into both Voluntary and Involuntary Locations, it can be understood that the idea of Locale will also have to be sub-divided, as the distinction between Voluntary and Involuntary Locales implies that Pound's interactions during his childhood vacations and adult life in London, Paris and Italy would be much less limited than his upbringing in Haley Idaho, his education at Hamilton College and the University of Pennsylvania (which included a highly notorious and scandalous period as a teacher at the latter until his release from contract in 1920), and his incarceration and admittance into St. Elizabeth's Hospital in 1945, the only periods where Pound found himself staying in the geographical landscape of America for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, it can be discerned that the main difference between Pound's interactions inside his Involuntary and Voluntary Locales is that during his stay in Voluntary Locales, he seems to thrive in creating new poetic movements and adopting new cultures to integrate into his own works, while still maintaining the Trickster role of Expatriate that targets the cultures from which he separated himself, challenging institutions and structures formed in these cultures (notably parodying American and English poets Walt Whitman and Lord Alfred Tennyson in this manner). However, while in the Involuntary Locale, Pound can be seen as volatile, if not outright rebellious during his confinement, challenging every element of the confining structure in efforts to undermine, overthrow or gain control of the system.

Consequently, Pound's Sense of Place as Expatriate is also difficult to pinpoint. Given his propensity for moving across Europe and accepting a myriad of influences in his writing, his attitudes and actions during the Second World War and his subsequent incarceration and institutionalization and release in 1958, when he settled in Italy it seemed to diminish any sense of belonging within a culture that Pound, as Expatriate, might have felt. However, it should be noted that during his time as a free citizen before his institutionalization, Pound was most commonly known for associating within the higher circles of multicultural academic and artistic communities, and therefore, it can be concluded that within this social group Pound finds some semblance of community, if not belonging. Despite still maintaining a prominent (though highly tarnished) status after his release, Pound was notably depressed since 1959, outliving W.B. Yeats, William Carlos Williams (whom he had known since their time together in Hamilton College), and T.S. Eliot (whom he had personally mentored) who had died in 1965. Seldom seen as publicly active as before his imprisonment, the Expatriate died in his sleep in 1972 two days after his 87th birthday.

Part III: The Outlaw

In the same manner that Henry David Thoreau and Ezra Pound can be considered American Tricksters because of the praxis of the attitudes they display in their writings and lifestyles, challenging "America" as Outcast and Expatriate respectively, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, in like manner embodies the role of the Outlaw not only in American literature, but also, in "American" politics and throughout the majority, if not the entirety of his literary career. In "American Highways: Recurring Images and Themes of the Road Genre," Brian Ireland proposes that:
   the 'road' genre is a microcosm of America itself. The journeys
   undertaken in these stories frequently are associated with the
   search for the elusive 'American Dream,' and the obstacles (or
   roadblocks) hindering the search for the Dream--racism, class
   division, government or police oppression, gender discrimination,
   and cultural differences, for example--are obstacles that America
   as a whole has yet to overcome. (99)


With this in mind, it can be argued that as a journalist, Thompson seeks to expose the truth as his way of combating Ireland's "roadblocks." Furthermore, as Trickster, Thompson undermines, mocks, argues and tests the practicality of the systems that create these "roadblocks" which he opposes in his writings, akin to Thoreau and Pound, but as Outlaw, proposes an "amoral" action which is usually found outside of the defined structure of law, rather than outside of the culture (like Thoreau) or the continent (like Pound) of America.

Arguably Hunter S. Thompson's greatest literary contribution is the creation of "Gonzo" journalism. It should be noted that it began with the publication of the article "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" in 1970 and the subsequent publication of the 1972 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However, it is of equal importance to note that prior to these two texts, Thompson had been a vivid activist during the decade of the sixties, having won particular fame for his work Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, an account of the two years in which he rode with the titular motorcycle gang. In 1970, prior to writing "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," Thompson ran for sheriff of Denver County, as a move not only to motivate his contemporary counterculture voters (or as Thompson called them, the "freak" vote), but also to question the nature of many of the constructs and structures that surround the ideas of law, government and order. Furthermore, after writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas under the alias "Raoul Duke," Thompson was tasked to cover the Nixon campaign of 1972, which is hailed by many scholars as Thompson's prime in writing due to the outlandish nature of his reports (some of which actually doomed the careers of various political candidates). All of these events seek to demonstrate how Thompson, as a journalist, throughout the interactions, ideas, beliefs and struggles depicted with and about "America" in his writings, can be observed becoming the Outlaw in American Literature as he explores American culture as a Trickster through the praxis of the ideals he upholds throughout his writings.

In order to fully appreciate how Hunter S. Thompson operates as both Trickster and Outlaw, we must first discern how Thompson works within the confines of "American" culture. Contrary to both Thoreau and Pound, Thompson remains within both "American" society and the "American" continent by his own volition. Furthermore, his role as Trickster within "American" society, particularly from 1965 through 1974, is characterized by Thompson's relentless attacks on those he considered to be his enemies, yet attacking in such a way that, though he writes in an extremely biographical tone, as Thompson points out in an interview presented in Gonzo: The Life and Works of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson it "shouldn't be taken seriously in the first place" (Gonzo). Keeping the doctor's advice in mind, Thompson, particularly in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, often presents transcriptions of voice recordings (also presented in the documentary). These transcribed recordings lend credibility to the narrative presented in this writing style, though it should be specified that, despite the veracity of some of the parts presented in Thompson's works, the author's own advice on taking things seriously should still be kept in consideration. The recordings from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, for example, consist of Thompson (identified as Raoul Duke) and his accomplice Dr. Gonzo, ("[his] Samoan attorney" in reality Oscar Zeta Acosta, a Chicano activist and attorney who was highly influential in the Ruben Salazar hearings), interviewing Las Vegas locals, asking them "Where can we find the American Dream? Is it in Las Vegas?" (Fear and Loathing 76). Interestingly enough, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as explained by Thompson in the preface to later editions of the novel, was intended to be an experiment in "Gonzo" journalism. Ideally, as Thompson explains, he planned to write without editing or proof-reading until he achieved a final product. Nevertheless, after three revisions of a 200-page manuscript that was originally intended to be just "a 5,000 word article on the Mint 500 Motorcycle Race" (Thompson 3), Thompson admits that the experiment resulted in failure, though, ironically, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas came to be considered by many to be Thompson's greatest literary success.

Taking these facts into consideration, and considering that throughout the entire narrative of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the author finds himself continuously running from debt, evading hotel bills and capture by a combination of what can only be described as sheer luck, grim determinism and wit, along with a scathingly tenacious attitude and a suitcase full of drugs. Consequently, it could be discerned that, as Outlaw, Thompson is constantly on the run, simultaneously living within "American" society and culture, but placing himself through his actions and writings in a position where his personal existence in "American" society is in constant conflict with the system's structures, and "roadblocks" that he opposes. Rather than escape society like the Outcast or escape the continent like the Expatriate, the Outlaw lives within the system while simultaneously functioning outside of conventional norms, constantly at odds when the system and the Trickster come into contact with one another. Thompson's writing is constantly paranoid, the idea that at some moment the author might get caught is constantly present in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and it can easily be argued that the acts Thompson narrates across the novel, both inside and outside the established parameters of law are either too wild to ignore as fiction, or too real to prove otherwise. Therefore, Thompson, as a Trickster and narrator, creates for himself a role outside of contemporary social constructs that defined his literary period. This, in turn, created a writing style that was simultaneously fictional and biographical: a hybrid confessional narrative/dream vision that takes the idea of "The American Dream" as what it could have been, and what it ultimately became, and pushed it to its farthest applicable logical point. Additionally, when the ideas of Location, Locale and Sense of Place are then applied to the Outlaw model, the relationship that Thompson holds with America comes into clearer perspective across his writings.

Due to the volatile nature of his lifestyle, Thompson's Location is often erratically nomadic across narratives. Though he remains within the "American" continent, often, as is the case in The Great Shark Hunt: Gonzo Papers Vol. 1, he might go through as many as four US States before the narrative settles down to finish. In terms of Locale, on the other hand, Thompson is often, as is also the case in "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, determined in terms of Locale for the majority of his actions, as the company he finds himself in dictates how he acts. In the case of "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," for example, the contrast between how Thompson treats the unnamed man at the bar in the beginning of the article (convincing him that "Helter Skelter"--the race war between the whites and blacks that Charles Manson prophesied--was going to manifest itself at the Kentucky Derby) and how he later befriends Ralph Steadman (despite first giving Steadman his first taste of mescaline and later macing him before throwing Steadman out of a moving car outside of the Kentucky Derby, towards the end of the article) serves to highlight the relationship that Thompson, as Outlaw, holds with "American" culture, where he is more than willing simultaneously to torment the obnoxiously ignorant while protecting those he considers his acquaintances (to a unspecified extent). This kind of behavior can also be seen in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Raoul Duke registers at the Tropicana hotel, befriending the hotel clerk while simultaneously undermining the people waiting to checked-in to the hotel, the majority of them narcotic enforcement officers from different states, attending the same conference as Thompson. These two examples serve to highlight that Thompson's Sense of Place, as Outlaw, is the "American" landscape among "American" society, working within the "American" counter-culture, constantly undermining the systems with which he comes into contact. Through the use of the narratives within his writings, as Outcast, Thompson identifies a morality based not on the constructs of legal and illegal, but, as his campaign for office of Sheriff in Denver County attempted to demonstrate, on the ideas of a communal greater good based on the ideologies of free-love, expression, and empowerment developed in the sixties.

If Thoreau can be considered similar in esteem to the trickster Anansi, and Pound can also be compared to Loki, then it could also be argued that Thompson, as Outlaw, is held in the same regard as the trickster Coyote found in many Native American stories. Throughout most of the tales that involve Coyote, much like the majority of the articles present in The Great Shark Hunt, the protagonists question a tenement of society and, through their own interaction of the system in question, seek to improve the structure and the system, despite the system's reluctance. It can be seen then, that both Coyote and Thompson as Outlaw exist within the system to challenge the applicability, practicality and merit of the systems and structures imposed on them by contemporary American society, proposing an alternative based, not on the structure in question, but created from the Trickster's own interpretation of the previous system, without the flaws that it finds from the original system.

Part IV: Conclusion

Throughout their works and lifestyle, it can be noted that Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson, through praxis of self-imposed outside perspectives, define and subsequently challenge the American structures, constructs and systems they oppose, presenting an "amoral action" that serves as an alternative that, though not always achievable (or in some cases, practical), serves to question the validity of the system it seeks to dispute. Consequently, it can also be observed that by applying Tim Cresswell's ideas of "place" in terms of "Location," "Locale" and "Sense of Place," in regards to how each author individually views the concept of "America," Thoreau, Pound and Thompson can be more clearly identified as Tricksters in American culture, and subsequently, American Literature. We see that, given the praxis of the ideals that these three authors, as Outcast, Expatriate and Outlaw display across their literary works and lifestyles, and also taking into consideration not only how these authors interact with (and ultimately change) American society, but also how these interactions bear a strikingly coincidental resemblance to Trickster lore found across different cultures. It can be concluded that Thoreau, Pound and Thompson as Tricksters in American culture openly challenge and eventually impact their respective societies through their writings and the praxis of the attitudes that inspired these writings in the first place.

Though easily classifiable as American Tricksters, Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson deserve individual recognition for the way each author develops his own voice when addressing America, be it as its Outcast, its Expatriate, or its Outlaw. Consequently, it can be observed throughout their works that each author confronts the structures and systems that contest their lifestyles. In "Civil Disobedience," originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government," it can be observed how the fact that Thoreau's imprisonment directly challenges his lifestyle as Outcast sparks the opinions and statements which constitute the driving forces behind the 1848 speech. Conversely, Pound's poem "A Pact," as well as his involvement in the Second World War display not just his opinions and attitudes towards "American" culture (the reason that fueled Pound's desire to move to Europe), but also detail the abrasive extent to which the poet challenges "American" traditions, the United States government, "American" politics and ultimately "American" society. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," however, display the author directly challenging the systems that drive him to become an Outlaw, and how, ideally, "American" society and "American" culture would be better without them.

It can be discerned from the "amoral actions" that each author presents, namely, the praxis of the views and ideas presented in their works (which has been observed throughout each author's literary career and individual lifestyle) and the self-imposed roles of Tricksters in their respective American societies that Henry David Thoreau, Ezra Pound and Hunter S. Thompson embody their titles of Outcast, Expatriate and Outlaw. These three authors should be considered, both in literary and historical perspectives, as not only American authors, but as the quintessential American Outcast, Expatriate and Outlaw in American studies.

Works Cited and Consulted

Agnew, John, A. Place and Politics. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1987. Web.

Barnes, David. "Fascist Aesthetics: Ezra Pound's Cultural Negotiations in 1930s Italy." Journal of Modern Literature 34.1 (2005):19-35. ProQuest. Web. 25 October 2011.

Coley, Lem. "'A conspiracy of friendliness': T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Allen Tate, and the BollingenControversy." The Southern Review 38.2 (2002):809-826. ProQuest. Web. 27 October 2011.

Cresswell, Tim. Place: A Short Introduction. Cornwall: MPG Books, 2004. Print.

Emerson, Lori. "A Hyperspace Poetics, or, Words in Space: Digital Poetry Through Ezra Pound's Vorticism." Configurations 17.1 (2009): 161193. ProQuest. Web. 26 October 2011.

Fox, Alan. "Guarding What Is Essential: Critiques of Material Culture in Thoreau and Yang Zhu." Philosophy East & West. 58.3 (2008): 358371. Web. 26 October 2011.

Jenco, Leigh Kathryn "Thoreau's Critique of Democracy" The Review of Politics 65.3 (2003): 355-382. ProQuest. Web. 27 October 2011.

Hoover, Steven. "Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo Journalism: A Guide to the Research." Reference Services Review37.3 (2009): 326-339. ProQuest. Web.25 October 2011.

Pound, Ezra. Selected Poems of Ezra Pound. Ed. James Laughlin. New York: New Directions, 1957. Print.

Thompson, Hunter S. The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales From a Strange Time. New York: Random House, 1979. Print.

--. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. New York: Vintage, 1972. Print

Thoreau, Henry David. Civil Disobedience. New York: Classic Books America, 2008. Print.

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Tytell, John. Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Print.

Fernando J. Rodriguez

University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

Puerto Rico
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Title Annotation:Essays/Ensayos
Author:Rodriguez, Fernando J.
Publication:Atenea
Date:Jan 1, 2012
Words:7258
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