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The Sixties…

Posted by lahar9jhadav on March 26, 2007

flammarion wood cut coloured

 

STORMING HEAVEN
LSD & The American Dream
Jay Stevens
1988

“Inside the small building at 5 Divinity Avenue it was like watching a science fiction novel unfold before your eyes. The plot went something like this: good solid scientists embark upon interesting research program involving native drugs. Come back babbling about love and ecstasy and insisting you haven’t understood anything until you’ve been there, to the Other World, beyond the Door. It was a little like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a cult movie favorite of the Fifties, in the sense that every day the crowd in Leary’s shoebox office grew larger, graduate students and junior faculty members, all with these soft intense voices and glowing eyes, talking about the death of the mind, the birth of the uncensored cortex … . And it had all started out so innocuously—what research project doesn’t? ”

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HALLUCOGENS AND CULTURE
Peter T. Furst
1976

“It is hoped that the following pages will demonstrate something of the essential interplay between nature and culture—between chemistry, mind set, and social and historical setting—in the use of hallucinogenic plants and other psychoactive substances by different peoples the world over. Obviously, many significant areas of research in psychopharmacology and ethnobotany, as well as some interesting and as yet little-understood nonchemical “techniques of ecstasy” have had to be slighted, in favor of in-depth treatment of some others of more general interest. Besides, this is an ongoing story: “new” botanical hallucinogens and other naturally occurring psychoactive substances—some perhaps never culturally exploited, others long forgotten by the people who formerly used them, and yet others successfully concealed for centuries from the prying eyes of outsiders—are even now being discovered and scientifically described and tested. Still more await botanical and pharmacological identification beyond the native terms under which they appear in the ethnohistorical literature or reports of travelers and ethnographers. Even for Indian Mexico or Amazonia, whose extensive psychoactive pharmacopoeia has been relatively well studied, we still do not know the identity of every species used in native ritual, prehistorically or at present, nor do we as yet fully understand the pharmacological or cultural role of additives to plants of known or suspected psychoactivity. Indeed, in the opinion of such authorities as Richard Evans Schultes, Director of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, it is precisely the function of these additives to the botanical hallucinogens that presents one of the most exciting challenges to the modern investigator of the psychedelic phenomenon in indigenous societies. Clearly, then, there is a world yet to be discovered. The concerned reader is urged to keep up with the more specialized ethnobotanical publications and the rapidly growing literature on brain biochemistry and scientific and humanistic explorations into the uses and abuses of alternate states of consciousness. ”

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THE VARIETIES OF PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE
R.E.L. Masters & Jean Houston, Ph.D.
1966

“The once impenetrable mysteries of matter have begun to unfold and to point to consequences still incomprehensible to thought and beyond the farthest reaches of vision. Unlocked by such keys as the work of Einstein and Heisenberg the gates of the physical universe open upon possibilities that already have resulted in the drastic transformation of man’s position not only with respect to his own planet, but also to the measureless vastness around it.

Now, as research advances, the psychedelic (mind-manifesting) drugs give promise of providing access to another of the great and hitherto largely impenetrable realms—the vast, intricate, and awesome regions we call mind. Our own research, which will be described here, like all other research in this area, can be no more than an early, tentative exploration. Even so, we hope to make entirely credible our belief that the psychedelic drugs afford the best access yet to the contents and processes of the human mind. ”

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THE BOOK OF GRASS
An Anthology on Indian Hemp
George Andrews
1967

“This book presents a wide variety of personal accounts of experiences induced by Indian hemp. Writers of different cultural traditions and historical periods have left descriptions of this herb. The many points of view which find expression in these pages should help to bring the subject into its proper perspective. ”

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GROWING UP UNDERGROUND
Jane Alpert
1991

“Squeezed in a corner of the dilapidated sofa, my feet tucked under me, I kept staring surreptitiously at the earnest radicals crowded into the storefront office. The time was early September 1968, almost four years since President Johnson’s bombings of Vietnam had transformed the New Left into “the movement”—a hodgepodge of politicos, working people, students, hippies, and drug-and-rock freaks united by their opposition to the war. The dingy storefront on Tiemann Place—a street between the Upper West Side of New York, where I lived, and black and Spanish Harlem—was festooned with the by-now-familiar symbols: posters of Huey Newton, Mao Tse-tung, and Ché Guevara; bookshelves crammed with Revolution in the Revolution? and White Skin, Black Masks; stacks of Monthly Review, the Guardian, and Liberation. Half the men and women around me (all of them white) wore tiny NLF flag pins or Black Panther buttons. All wore the movement uniform of faded work shirt, jeans, and sneakers or lace-up boots. I felt out of place.”

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THE BROTHERHOOD OF ETERNAL LOVE
Stewart Tendler and David May
1984

“The illicit drug World is the largest and most profitable of all criminal enterprises, making substantial but secretive contributions to the economies of Third World countries, turning individuals in the West from paupers to millionaires in a matter of years, and spurring greater international police co-operation than any other activity. No other criminal problem draws an annual individual message from the President of the United States or a biennial United Nations report. The amount of money generated by illicit drugs makes their trafficking, manufacture and sale one of the great industries of the world in the late twentieth century.

It was with these facts in mind that this book first began as an idea in 1978, spawned during one of the world’s largest LSD trials then taking place in Britain. The original intention was an exploration of drugs, guiding the reader through the secret passages of supply and mapping their extent. But in the course of the trial, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love was mentioned. Created in 1966 in California, it was credited with having generated $200 million through an estimated membership of 750 people, and was held responsible for widely distributing LSD and marijuana in the United States. The police described it as a “hippie mafia” and the counter-culture talked softly of a secretive, mystical band whose motives were idealistic. Despite its size and the tantalizing mystery surrounding it, no book had looked at the Brotherhood in any detail. Our project turned from a general study into a concentrated examination of one particular group. ”

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WOODSTOCK CENSUS
The Nationwide Survey Of The Sixties Generation
Rex Weiner & Deanne Stillman
1979

Once upon a time there was a decade of wide-eyed idealism and youthful dreams called the Sixties, which suffered an abrupt reversal, becoming a sadder but much wiser decade called the Seventies (which, as some people tell it, was actually a return to a wasteland called the Fifties).

Right?

“We have heard this version of recent history so often that it seems almost to be the truth. We read in a popular national magazine, for example, a writer’s parenthetical remark about the counter-culture of the Sixties, “whose only two enduring contributions appear to be blue jeans and marijuana.” Or a book reviewer makes an offhand comment on “the shocking slide of the Seventies when our values changed faster than a bargain basement markdown sale.” And one of those celebrity magazines, under the heading “Where Have All the Radicals Gone?” gives the soothing answer that all the wild idealists of the Sixties are now safely parked in offices, peddling insurance. Veterans of the Sixties react variously to this picture. To some, mention of the Sixties brings a faraway look to the eyes, a trembling to the lips. Others smile with cynical tolerance, as though hearing a bad joke. And there are those unreconstructed types who can still barely muster a “Far Out!” But we liked the Sixties and we still do, not as a flowery fantasy or an LSD flashback, but as an exciting and important time in history, which shaped our lives and the lives of an entire generation.

And that’s really why we wrote this book. In the post-Sixties period, people have increasingly come to view the events of recent times less as history than as a matter of mood, as if America were alternately greening and browning according to whim. The effect has been to place a dead weight of indecisiveness on the present and to hobble the future with chic cynicism.”

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THE SUMMER OF LOVE
Haight-Ashbury At Its Highest
Gene Anthony
1980

“On reflection, my Haight-Ashbury experience was one of witnessing a twentieth-century Children’s Crusade, a search by young people for consciousness and enlightenment. Certainly that mid-‘sixties period was a psychic revolution with strong spiritual overtones. This book is a celebration of some of the events that occurred in and around the Haight-Ashbury, with new background information concerning the beginnings. This story is what I witnessed, the people I met and what I perceived to be happening. I emphasize that my story is only a small part of a larger history that covered many years. These are my recollections of key events that I feel started it all—a fifteen-month gestation period, November 1965 to mid-January 1967. I have tried to check my memory with the people who are part of this volume. I have focused on circumstance and people that I feel shaped that period that has been tagged “The Summer of Love” in the Haight-Ashbury, a movement that was like a fragile butterfly testing its wings for flight. ”

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THE HAIGHT-ASHBURY
A History
Charles Perry
1984

“Have you ever been in a riot?” asks a former marijuana dealer named Roger. “You could be standing there minding your own business and all of a sudden this thing, this feeling or magnetic force from the crowd, just engulfs you and you actually start participating in the riot. There’s an opposite end of the spectrum. If everybody goes around with the love and brotherhood thing that they had in the Haight, when you walk into it you can be engulfed by it.

“That’s why so many people walked into that thing and within two hours had their heads so turned around they took off their wingtips and put ’em down on the sidewalk and walked off into some commune. That kind of thing happened hundreds of times a day. You got into that feeling and it was just like the whole world was revolving around this thing that was growing and you could see it grow.”

The Haight-Ashbury explosion of 1965-67 was perhaps the most written-about and least understood event of the sixties. The reporters who descended on the neighborhood in the summer of 1967 found it frightening or amusing, but in any case insane. They could not conceive how it happened because they didn’t realize that it had a history—this thing that was growing and you could see it grow.

Its history was what made it the apparent madhouse that it was. For some time the Haight had been shaped by events that came from all sorts of surprising quarters, but were obviously part of a single’ event. These events seemed at the same time unexpected and inevitable—the essence of drama. Life in the Haight had the exaltation of a play.

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THE HUMAN BE-IN
Helen Perry
1970

“For almost a year, from October, 1966 until September, 1967, most of my waking hours were focused on the flower children in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Periodically I would tear myself away from this absorption and perform other tasks that were formally required of me. But the other tasks came to be only a backdrop for an ongoing sorting of my own values and of how they were changing under the influence of the flower children, or the “young seekers” as Allen Ginsberg has called them. In the end, I could only come to one conclusion: I, too, was a “hippie.” I did not like the word any more than many of the young people in the Haight-Ashbury; but when I was asked to stand up and be counted, then I had to say that I was a hippie and had always been one, although somewhere I had lost my way so that I wore the protective coloration of a middle-aged, respectable, middle-class American. In that eleven-month period, I had undergone a transformation that affected almost every area of my life, so that it was becoming more and more difficult for me to feel comfortable in the square world. ”

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NEW AGE BLUES
On The Politics Of Consciousness
Michael Rossman
1979

” One day when I was thirty I met my guru, by the side of a road in the California mountains. He was an old quack doctor, a natureopath; I had passed his faded road sign for years on the way up to the ranch where I went to recover from the crazy strain of a political life in Berkeley during the 1960s. Now it was 1971. Ever since the Kent State murders I’d been reading obituaries for the Movement, and the market for used 1960s radicals had already bottomed out. Our commune had fizzled, our work collective had exploded, only my marriage was intact, and I didn’t know what to do next with myself or my life. I was searching for a sign as I knocked timidly at his door on the way back from a hike.

I was almost too late. He lay dying on a brass bed in a gloomy room, he could hardly see or hear me. As his granddaughter flirted with me, his daughter shouted at him, trying to explain what this dusty, hairy young man wanted. Whatever I said hardly made sense even to me. Finally she gave up. “He wants to learn from you!” she yelled. His huge hands floated up like phosphorescent fish in the room’s dark water, played with strange life around my ears as I leaned over the crumbling rock of his body to catch his words. “Rub … your … feet … ” he croaked, and fell silent, his hands collapsing. The women hustled me out. By the time I came again, he was dead.

I went home and rubbed my feet, like Aladdin with his lamp, expecting nothing. A genie came forth, who opened for me the secret doors of mystery and power. I rubbed my feet some more, I rubbed my head. A second genie came forth, to my mind greater than the first, swelling quickly from a vapor to a smoke cloud to a turbulent thunder-storm. He asked not my wishes but straightway leaped upon me, locking me in mortal struggle. Ever since I have grappled with him, and the issue is still in doubt. Nor is he my private dream and nightmare only. He is loose in the world, we have all conspired to set him free and must answer to his demands. ”

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DIANA
The Making of a Terrorist
Thomas Powers
1971

” Diana Oughton was a young woman of uncommon character and seriousness, independent in her thinking and strong in her commitments. She was nevertheless a victim of history in which she had played no part, and which she probably knew about only vaguely.

In the spring of 1968, while Diana was running an experimental school for first and second graders in Ann Arbor, Michigan, students at Columbia turned the American student movement toward revolution. That movement, which had flickered into life during the first half of 1960, reached its highest point on May 1, 1968, the day after New York police removed nearly 1,000 young activists from five buildings on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus. The uncertain leadership of the university’s president, Grayson Kirk, the broad popular appeal of the issues involved in the week-long occupation, and the violence of the police together created a situation in which the students might have won sweeping reforms that inevitably would have affected every other campus in the country.

Instead, the 20 or 30 activists in the Columbia chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who had largely created that situation insisted that nothing had changed, that the discrediting of the administration was of no significance, that the support of formerly neutral students and faculty was meaningless if it were not total, and, most important, that the reforms which had become possible ought to be sacrificed in a gamble to create a still larger upheaval which would spread out into the world beyond the limits of the university. The passionate core of SDS at Columbia, little noticed until the crisis, had moved in their minds far beyond the reformist discontents of students who opposed the war in Vietnam, did not like the way schools were run and favored extension of the American dream to black people in the United States.

As members of a national organization which met four times a year to argue radical politics, the leaders of SDS had long since lost their enchantment with the American dream. They had become revolutionaries, quixotically at first, because even they had no illusions about their ability to bring on a revolution in the world’s most developed nation. During the Columbia insurrection, however, they watched a routine demonstration on April 23 blossom into a determined building takeover and then spread to include the heart of the university, horrify officialdom and capture the imagination of students across the country. For a few brief days before the police arrived, they allowed themselves to believe that a revolutionary crisis was developing, that 1917 had finally arrived in the United States. ”

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COMING APART
An Informal History Of America In The 1960’s
William O’Neill
1971

“On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower closed the old era with his Farewell Address; three days later President Kennedy opened the new one at his inaugural. The two speeches, like the men and their times, could not have been more different. Each perfectly reflected its author. Eisenhower’s ponderous language eased the shock of his warning against the military-industrial complex. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist … . The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money … is gravely to be regarded.” Kennedy sounded better: “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom … . Now the trumpet summons us again” to “forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance.” His affection for verbal tricks, though, was never more pronounced; “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich …Let us never negotiate out of fear, let us never fear to negotiate … . Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” ”

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MAKING PEACE WITH THE SIXTIES
David Burner
1996

‘ “The Sixties” is among the most evocative of American historical labels. The decimal system cues the public to remember occurrences by the convenience of decades in spite of the obvious truth that events flow with little consideration for the count often. But in the case of the 1960s events conspired with that mental habit. President John F. Kennedy was elected in the numerically neat year 1960 and inaugurated in 1961, the first year of the decade. Kennedy’s taking of the presidency, along with sit-ins against segregated public accommodations that spread across the South, wheeled the country at a hard angle into a new era. The military frustrations and the moral outcry against President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in 1970 made clear that the other great issue of the times was going to be resolved: the United States had to get out of Vietnam as expeditiously as possible. From 1961 to 1970 came a ferocity of debate, a challenging of conventions, and a testing of visionary hopes that memory now sums under the phrase “the sixties.”

This book examines forces of the era that might have been allies but succeeded in becoming enemies: a civil rights movement that severed into integrationist and black-separatist; a social left and a mainline liberalism that lost a common vocabulary even for arguing with each other; an antiwar activism that divided between advocates of peace and advocates of a totalitarian Hanoi. These were but a few of the rupturings. A period with any life and energy, of course, is going to breed conflicts, which in turn sharpen and further invigorate ideas. But by the end of the sixties conflict turned into mutual destruction. A good reference point for defining the clashing movements of the 1960s is liberalism, which had held latent within itself many, perhaps all, of the antagonistic politics and ideological possibilities. Besides, liberalism in this country has had to do much of the work that in other nations is carried by an articulate, sustained social democratic party. A willingness on the part of liberals more studiously to undertake that task would have made for a more satisfying politics than this country has enjoyed in recent years. Also, much of what today, as a heritage of the sixties, passes for the left wing of liberalism is an encouragement to self-preoccupation at odds with the traditional democratic left. The fortunes of liberalism, then, must be a recurrent subject of this book. ‘

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THE SIXTIES: FROM MEMORY TO HISTORY
David Farber
1994

” Americans cannot seem to let the sixties go gently into the night. While the 1970s disappeared before they even ended and the 1950s succumbed to a nostalgic fog, the 1960s stay hot. We make politicians take a decades-old drug test and scrutinize their position on the Vietnam War—though few of us are sure what makes for a passing grade in either case. We wonder if black power marked the end of a great man’s dream of a color-blind nation or the beginning of a multicultural society. And of less profound importance, but harder to miss, songs and images of the sixties flood the mass media and the marketplace—in homage to that pig in the demographic python, the baby boomers.

To a large extent, memories of the sixties shadow both the public realm and the private lives of tens of millions of Americans. So far, many of the most popular books and movies about the 1960s—Oliver Stone’s JFK, Todd Gitlin’s The Sixties, Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie—have been powerful acts of memory wrestling with history in an effort to bring some order to the rush of still vivid experiences. The history of America in the 1960s has admirably resisted becoming just another dry-as-dust subject of scholarly inquiry. Yet, hard as it is for a generation that still sees itself as “the young people” to admit, the 1960s were a long time ago: it is many more than twenty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper and his friends taught America how to play.

The original essays in this book represent, I believe, some of the most exciting ways in which historians are beginning to paint those times onto the larger canvas of American history. In this collection we, the essayists, ask fundamental questions about how much America changed in the 1960s and why it changed. Our answers center on two related concepts: cultural authority and political legitimacy. The separate chapters analyze the ways in which the great issues of the sixties—the war in Vietnam, race relations, the role of the federal government, youth culture, the status of women, the private enterprise system, the fabric of the good life—are shaped and contested through the changing nature of cultural authority and political legitimacy. We argue (as historians tend to do) that the set of events and problems we call the sixties can be understood only in the context of the larger history of Americans in the post-World War II decades. ”

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THE TIMES WERE A CHANGING
The Sixties Reader
Editors: Irwin Unger, Debi Unger
1998

The Sixties resound in our historical memory as do few other eras. It was a time when events went into overdrive, and the postwar social trajectory was deflected off line. Life blueprints were rejected; people struck out on new courses. The air resounded with harsh voices demanding, raging, denouncing, promising, accusing, cajoling. Few who reached adulthood between 1961 and 1971 remained unmarked by the events of those years. For the first time, a generation of American college students contended with real-world politics, where significant gains and losses were at stake. Young men and women just reaching sexual maturity faced novelty, uncertainty, and opportunity as had no previous generation. Nor were the young the only ones whose lives were recast. The attack on authority and hierarchy and the exaltation of the self freed some adults to reconnoiter their options as never before. New careers, new loves, new connections, and new interests and attitudes could now be sampled and indulged.

And beyond the personal, there was the whole society. The Sixties delegitimized all sources of authority—governments, universities, parents, critics, experts, employers, the police, families, the military. In this decade’s wake, all hierarchical structures became more pliant, all judgments and critical evaluations and “canons” less definitive and acceptable. The decade also witnessed the “liberation” of whole categories of people who had previously been penalized for their race, age, physical fitness, gender, or sexual preference.

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THE YEAR THE DREAM DIED
Revisiting 1968 In America
Jules Witcover
1997

“It was one of those extraordinary benchmark years: it seemed to signify that the country, under the ferocious pressure of rapid technological change (most particularly, the nightly delivery of televised news into each home), the growing pain of an unwinnable war in a distant Asian society, plus bitter, increasingly explosive racial division, was on the verge of a national nervous breakdown. The year had begun with the stunning North Vietnamese assault upon American forces in Vietnam at the time of Tet, an assault that robbed an already embattled administration of its little surviving credibility and the validity of its pronouncements that victory was just around the corner. It speeded up immediately with two challenges to the sitting president by two members of his own party, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy, challenges that put in play a children’s army of student dissenters, and that turned the Democratic primaries into a de facto referendum on the war. If in the past American political divisions had been primarily based on region and class and ethnicity, a new ingredient had now been added, profound generational differences, not just region by region, but remarkably and often quite painfully, house by house. Those who had suffered through the Depression and fought in World War II and who tended to accept the word of the existing leadership were on one side, their children, raised in a more affluent and more iconoclastic age, were on the other.

Nineteen sixty-eight was the year in which politics seemed to begin with violent events in a small country 12,000 miles away, to go into the streets at home, and finally to reach the conventions themselves. It was a year marked by two shattering assassinations, the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. In that year, one sometimes had a sense that violence begat violence. All kinds of different forces were at work: the year marked a collision of the politics of the old, for better and for worse, with the politics of the new, for better and for worse. It came a little more than a decade into the full era of politics by television, the entire nation sitting at home watching the news in its living rooms on a medium that seemed to need and demand ever more action, for television news loved action, because action provided film. Nothing had done more to expedite the jarring domestic political events of 1968 than the jarring nightly reports from Vietnam, what the writer Michael Arlen eventually called The Living Room War. In a way the events of 1968 reflect the culmination of an age; the dissenters kept going into the street, until at the central moment of the political year, the Democratic convention in Chicago, the most important events were outside the convention hall in the streets rather than inside on the podium.”

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