Edition #266 // Zoned in, Tuned up and Drugged OUT
90 minutes of cynical Psychedelic relics from the 60’s flower power era, exploring counter-cultural tensions between the pursuit of a life free of conformity and restriction, a spiritual and meaningful existence... and a political consciousness focused on dismantling capitalism, racism and mass industrialised warfare.
Authenticity vs responsibility, freedom vs licence, illuminated by dialogue fragments and historical ephemera.
The seeds of the Age of Aquarius, of Flower Power, germinated within the super affluent (predominately white) society of early 1960’s America but would spread across most of the western world. College and university enrolment was standard for most in the middle classes and as Marx has observed and written, a prevalence of affluence meant that there was no need to struggle. Widespread security and stability meant free time and leisure to engage in alternative ideas.
The Counterculture ‘movements’ represented not only activism about national issues, but it also inspired rejection of social norms - two very distinct approaches. One centred in Berkeley and various large student campus across the country – doing politics to change politics (Civil Rights struggles, the Vietnam War, capitalism and militarism); and the other in San Francisco springing from the psychedelic drug cultures around Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey who were using hallucinogens to explore the nature of reality. The flower children, the ’hippie’ youth wanted to avoid politics in their traditional form, instead pursuing a personal journey celebrating sexual freedom, spirituality, psychedelia, rock music and the transformation of consciousness. This generation redefined the conventions of public and private life through political protest, new forms of self-expression, and experiments in lifestyle.
The new Acid Rock redefined popular music, simultaneously exploring and popularising the new culture of radical politics and its outward symbols; tie dye, long hair, repurposed clothes, love beads, and a new hip vocabulary of sayings and slogans. The movement was built on a kind of de-centralised anarchist philosophy - in opposition to what they saw as the apathy of the era - expressed through the formation of new institutions like underground newspapers, radical theatre groups, urban and rural communes, head shops, free health centres and food co-ops.
Though loudly denouncing the uptight, conformist living of their parents generation, the counterculture bred its own reactionary attitudes. In many communities and spaces, gender roles mirrored those of mainstream society, and aggressive male sexuality inhibited feminist spins on the sexual revolution. With the explosion of the music scene, and its dispersal through an exploding new global media, entrepreneurs and corporate America refashioned the counterculture aesthetic into a marketable commodity. Still the counterculture proved the basis of authentic new lives for many who found themselves drawn to it.
The innocence and enthusiasm for these unfettered modes of living, pushing through all types of restriction and restraint - dropping out - to somehow travel beyond all limitations would ultimately generate some negative, violent and dangerous spaces in the culture. The hippies were exploring, on a mass scale, the reformation of fundamental aspects of societal living, but were often not prepared for the outcomes of the excess and privation which these new modes of life would demand. Living lives of total freedom was often extremely hard: food was scarce, commune living was fraught with psychological conflicts, drug use and its impacts was endemic, political groups became beset with schisms and infighting. The diverse music scene dramatised and related many of these darker realities from the underbelly of a utopia plagued with paranoia, drug addiction, broken idealism, struggles with free love and, increasingly as the decade drew to a close, dis-satisfaction with how readily their revolutionary consciousness was co-opted and commercialised by mainstream capitalist culture and sold back to a whole new generation, drained of its politics and purpose.
Slivers and segments of history and historicisms. Zoned in, Tuned up and Drugged OUT
≈Ω HuussH Ω≈17:00 - 18:30