The Troubles: A Jaundiced Glance Back at the Movement of the Sixties

By Joseph Conlin | Go to book overview

I n one of his many shrewd perceptions of the Counterculture, Theodore Roszak commented on the single-mindedness with which hippies fixed on the pharmacopoeia. Scanning the October 1967 issue of the Oracle, he sadly listed its contents: an interview with Timothy Leary, an account of an LSD trip with a Bay Area seer, a rock star's true confession about "How I Get High," tips on decorating flower child living quarters so as to convey the ecstasy of drug use, and a health column on avoiding hepatitis infection. The Oracle's literary editor discussed some books about the expansion of consciousness through drugs and, for something a little different, the graphic feature of the week depicted a couple "doing it" beneath psychedelic letters spelling out "L-O-V-E."

"There was a word we have," Roszak wrote, "to describe such fastidious immersion in a single small idea and all its trivial ramifications, such precious efforts to make the marginal part stand for the whole of culture. The word is 'decadence.' And that, unhappily, is the direction in which a substantial part of our youth culture is currently weakening."

Because he insisted on seeing the Counterculture as something more than immersion in drugs, Roszak was able to sustain the hopeful tenor of his book to the last page. Because he wrote his book so early -- 1969 (and it is remarkable that he was as perceptive as he was at that date) -- he did not know how quickly the far-out new world would dissolve, an Atlantis of one season. He did not see that the new way of looking at the world was just another in a series of fads and fashions such as Roszak, and all late-century Americans have seen come and go in their lives as capriciously as housecats.

Fads are an aspect of advanced decadence for they are serial immersions in single small ideas and all their trivial ramifications, no single episode having more than a glancing impact on their participants, like the "graze" wounds heroes sustain with such tedious regularity in cheap western movies.

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The Troubles: A Jaundiced Glance Back at the Movement of the Sixties
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface 1
  • Chapter One - FLASHBACKS 13
  • Chapter Three - WE THE PEOPLE OF THIS GENERATION 67
  • Chapter Four - FREE SPEECH, FREE CAMPUS, FREE KIDS 105
  • Chapter Five - BLACK MISCHIEF, WHITE SKIN PRIVILEGE 141
  • Chapter Six - WAR IS HELL ON THE HOMEFRONT, TOO 191
  • Chapter Seven - O FAR-OUT NEW WORLD 223
  • Chapter Eight - DENOUEMENT 269
  • PL AND SDS 271
  • CHAPTER NINE - LA TRAHISON DES CLECS 304
  • Chapter Ten - WHATEVER HAPPEND TO...? 349
  • Index 405
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