The Unknown: The Red Line.
  DIRK: It’s an okay topic, but don’t read any Timothy Leary.

STUDENT: Why not?

DIRK: I don’t consider him a credible source.

STUDENT: Are you kidding? He’s a Harvard psychologist.

DIRK: He was a flake. He did too much research. It ruined him. Here’s a reading list I wrote up. Read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Acid Dreams. Do some research into the CIA’s LSD testing. You could write an argumentative essay with the claim that, as with the cocaine explosion in the 1980’s, the CIA was responsible for LSD’s introduction to the public in the 1960’s.

STUDENT: Does it have to be an argumentative essay? Can’t it just be informative?

DIRK: Well you could, you could, if you wanted to go that route but at this point, what I find, listen, what I find, in terms of writing about acid, that is, when you are on it, afterwards, what you should write, is first, a statement, a statement of some kind, about how the experience affected the way you experience the world in general. So yes, you can be informative. But don’t get me wrong, this is English 101, you can’t write poetry.

STUDENT: Why not?

DIRK: Why not, indeed? Because when you’re coming down, it—you’re not a poet, yet, that’s why.

STUDENT: You’re a poet.

DIRK: I am, I am indeed, but there’s a lot to it, son. There’s a lot to it, to writing poetry of any kind, particularly about acid. But research is tremendously important.

STUDENT: Where do I do the research?

DIRK: Oh, the library, of course, of course the library, and then there is primary source research.

STUDENT: What’s that? Isn’t that what happens before an election?

DIRK: No. Primary source research is direct experiences documented. Like if you knew somebody in your dorm had done acid, and you taped an interview with them. The trick is to get in the boots of the experience as it were and then, of course, do a little revision after the research is done.

STUDENT: What if my mother had a boyfriend named Owsley in 1967?

DIRK: Nifty. Look kid, what I’m trying to say is: Don’t trip while you’re writing the final draft. Just the early drafts.

STUDENT: Trip? What do you mean? Go on vacation?

DIRK: Yeah. Listen: this is a topic that is very important to me. As a professional academic, I rely heavily on stealing research from my students. If you want to expand your topic to include psilocybin and mescaline, that’s okay.

STUDENT: Huh? Are those drugs?

DIRK: Just make sure you cite your sources. In other words, prepare a proper works cited page, and staple to it samples of all the drugs you took while writing the paper.

STUDENT: I don’t take drugs.

DIRK: Oh. That’s not what I meant.

STUDENT: What did you mean?

DIRK: It’s important to verify your research, so when you talk to whoever you interview who is actually on the acid, you’ll need to get a sample of whatever they are on and attach it to the essay. It’s just that simple. There is argument, and there is information, and then there is evidence. Research. Verifiability. You see?

STUDENT: I’ll try harder, Professor Stratton.

DIRK: That’s good. That’s good. That’s real good.

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.