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For Mailer, the 1960s were not only notable for the volume of his published writing, but for the extent of his political engagement and participation. Though Mailer wrote and spoke about American politics until the end of his life, he was arguably most directly involved in political protest during the Vietnam War era. During this time, he spoke out frequently against the war, and in 1967 published the stylistically innovative Why Are We In Vietnam?, often read as an allegorical criticism of the national mindset that led to America’s involvement in the unwinnable war. Most notably, Mailer participated in the March on the Pentagon in October of 1967, which provided the foundation for his Pulitzer Prize winning work Armies of the Night (1968), a seminal work of New Journalism that to this day is considered one of the best pieces covering the event.
In September 1968, regular British Vogue columnist Polly Devlin returned from a year working for the magazine’s sister publication in New York, and published a long article commenting on how, in her absence, the mood had changed.
This chapter examines the role of surrealism in a network of underground publications produced in the United States, England, and France during the 1960s, including: The Rebel Worker (Chicago, 1964–66), Resurgence (New York City, 1964–7), Black Mask (New York City, 1966–8), and Surrealist Insurrection (Chicago, 1968–72). By moving beyond aesthetic, literary, commercial, and institutional legacies of surrealism in the postwar period, and investigating the reclamation of surrealism by radical factions of the American and British ultraleft during the 1960s, it becomes apparent that surrealism was not entirely absorbed by the process of academic musealization that assailed most of the early twentieth century avant-gardes. The broad assortment of subcultural mimeographed and printed journals, broadsides, and leaflets that emerged during the era of the student movement and the counterculture reveal that surrealism influenced and was actively incorporated into leftist and activist struggles for civil rights, free speech, anti-war, anti-statist and anti-capitalist efforts.
“The Entheogenic Landscape” examines the development of the idea that dissolving one’s ego provides access to a primary sense of identity with one’s ecosystem. This notion formed the backbone of two experiments in “consciousness expansion” that dominated the American counterculture of the 1960s: psychedelic drug tests and neoprimitivism. These fads dovetailed in ecological meditations such as Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard (1978), which foregrounds the extent to which both traditions drew on the same psychoanalytic source material. A number of predominantly white gurus employed a shaky psychoanalytic vocabulary to claim that, like infants, Indigenous peoples lack advanced symbol systems, and that by evaporating linguistic faculties, psychedelic substances might serve as a threshold into an expansive psychic condition that Indigenous communities ostensibly enjoyed. Native American writers such as Simon Ortiz have long argued that such narratives obscure native peoples’ lived sociopolitical and environmental conditions. Ortiz’s Woven Stone (1992) argues instead that language and narrative construct and enrich ecological affiliations rather than obscure them.
In After the End, John Berger notes that “since the Second World War, a variety of ‘unspeakables’ have seldom been silent, although their utterances have often been disguised or symptomatic.” Berger refers to the traumatizing catastrophes of the Holocaust and the atomic bomb, while Morris Dickstein in Gates of Eden adds “the cold war…, the draft, and Vietnam” to the list of crises that signaled end times. This chapter discusses destruction and regeneration as envisioned in literary and popular writing across the political spectrum in the post-World War II decades: during the era of Cold War consensus, Nobel Laureate William Faulkner enjoyed his literary brethren to “forget” the bomb, and leading white male authors indeed wrote narratives of “personal apocalypse” that bracketed world concerns. African American canonical writers of the period were rarely so sanguine; their anti-apocalyptic writings directly targeted the nuclear threat as intensifying racial oppression at home and/or as urgently pointing white America toward national and international brotherhood. By the late 1960s, as fears of the bomb subsided, establishment writers wrote in the apocalyptic shadow of Charles Manson and the generation of frustrated, radicalized youth thought to follow in his wake.
Children are the future. Or so we like to tell ourselves. In the wake of the Second World War, Americans took this notion to heart. Confronted by both unprecedented risks and unprecedented opportunities, they elevated and perhaps exaggerated the significance of children for the survival of the human race. Razing Kids analyzes the relationship between the postwar demographic explosion and the birth of postwar ecology. In the American West, especially, workers, policymakers, and reformers interwove hopes for youth, environment, and the future. They linked their anxieties over children to their fears of environmental risk as they debated the architecture of wartime playgrounds, planned housing developments and the impact of radioactive particles released from distant hinterlands. They obsessed over how riot-riddled cities, War on Poverty era rural work camps and pesticide-laden agricultural valleys would affect children. Nervous about the world they were making, their hopes and fears reshaped postwar debates about what constituted the social and environmental good.
This concluding chapter, which focuses on the work of Thomas Pynchon, returns us to the history of credit across the long twentieth century told in the book’s opening chapter. It argues that Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz functions as a recurring trope for the futility of the quest to discover what lies behind the money form in Pynchon’s work. The first section reads Gravity’s Rainbow and argues that it uses Dorothy from Victor Fleming’s 1939 film as a symbol of a compensatory fantasy. She embodies the false hope that one can return home, a hope that is associated in the novel with Tyrone Slothrop’s discovery that home is itself connected to the state’s violent complicity with the privatisation of money. Against the Day reprises this narrative but turns, instead, to the Dorothy of Baum’s 1900 novella as it seeks to uncover the alternative histories that Fleming’s cinematic adaptation obscures. Dorothy reappears as the daughters of the Traverse and Webb families in a complex narrative that allows Pynchon, finally, to critically explore the gendered language of both money and the gift that run throughout this work as a whole.
When vacationing, Norwegians would pursue contact with pristine environments as a reaction to the rapid modernization of the country. Vacationing in remnants of old mountain homes or fjord farms was the ideal because it suggested a life lost and spoke to the way of life of the peasants and fishermen that the vacationers had replaced. For the growing counterculture, these peasants and fishermen would gradually come to represent both the origin of and future for Norway. At the same time these imagined lifestyles served as a contrast to the unhealthy and polluted life in the cities, especially Oslo, which was believed to be corrupted by material lifestyle and lack of direct contact with clean environments. Scholars in the field of archeology and anthropology were prime movers in setting the stage for the reimagining of Norwegian identity, including Thor Heyerdahl, Helge Ingstad, and Fredrik Barth. Their explorations and research into life on the Pacific island of Fatu-Hiva, hunter-gatherer living in North-America, Viking settlements in Newfoundland, and the ecological order of the people of Swat in Pakistan allowed a larger reflection about what one could learn from the Norwegian heritage.
This chapter examines how the unprecedented popularity and symbolic power of the Beatles forced politicians in Britain to attend to popular music in the 1960s. It begins by showing that parliamentarians were ill-equipped to comprehend not only the Beatles but also the new social forces with which they were associated. They reacted with a mixture of jocularity, partisan point-scoring and earnest debates over art, class, youth and the state. Their general bewilderment testified to how social and cultural change in sixties Britain exceeded the limits of the knowable and actionable in Westminster. The revolutionary left displayed more interest in and understanding of the Beatles than did Westminster politicians owing to the band members' class origins, youth appeal, anti-authoritarianism and support of certain radical causes. More broadly, left-wing writers and publications were instrumental in establishing pop music as a legitimate subject of analysis. Yet irrespective of their affiliations, most Marxists and anarchists adjudged the Beatles to be politically unsound. This was a correct analysis within its own terms, but testified to the difficulties encountered by revolutionary left organisations in accommodating countercultural values and attracting mass support among the young.
This chapter examines public reactions to the Beatles’ mounting transgressions of social norms in the second half of their recording career. It argues that, although their popularity as a band remained undiminished, they became increasingly alienated and alienating figures within British society in four respects. First, they made little attempt to attain universal popularity. Their retirement from live performance meant no foreign tours, next to no collective press conferences, fewer photo opportunities and the shrinking of Beatlemania to a gaggle of Apple Scruffs. Second, their fabled transformational abilities often failed them, meaning that they were paradoxically at their most marginal when at their most socially engaged. Third, they associated themselves with strikingly unpopular causes. Anyone hostile to drugs, hippies, obscenity, infidelity, permissiveness, law-breaking, social protest, the rich, the far left, avant garde art, miscegenation, Americans, Indians or the Japanese had a reason to dislike the Beatles in the late 1960s. Fourth, they were no longer indulged by the popular press, which discarded the moptop caricature in favour of an equally simplistic image of them as conceited and out of touch. The chapter concludes by exploring how sex and drugs became polarising issues and provides prime examples of how the Beatles in the late sixties had gone too far.
The Introduction establishes the subject of this book, Irish Protestant nationalists, and argues that they constituted an important counterculture in the period. It links the historiography of Protestant nationalists with the competing ‘modernist’ and ‘perennialist’ perspectives on the origins of nationalism, and will argue that Ireland constitutes an important outlier, where both classically modernist and perennialist features co-existed, by reference to Irish history since the Tudor conquest. It argues that although parallels with the central European experience can be discerned, it is difficult to meaningfully place Protestant nationalists within frameworks put forward by scholars of continental Europe. The literature on Protestant nationalists is reviewed, and it is suggested that the way forward for historiography is to follow up the implications of the circles that have been reconstructed by biographers, and produce a collective biography that seeks to reconstruct the entire Protestant nationalist experience. The sources used in this book are discussed, and prosopography, the primary methodology which will be employed, is described and justified. The Introduction closes with a brief statistical summary of the Irish Protestant community in 1901.
Popular music subcultures have acknowledged, engaged with, or rejected digital platforms to varying degrees; their relationship to it is often made fraught, ambivalent and ironic by projections of the Internet as inauthentic or impersonal and their inheritance of Romantic-influenced countercultural aesthetics. The genre vaporwave offers a key example of this, especially given that it emerged and exists almost exclusively on digital platforms. Vaporwave addresses its own digital nature and historicity in sound and image, as recent scholarship on it has observed. Its life online represents not an abandonment of traditional formulations of the relationship between culture, technology and authenticity, but a new arena in which to negotiate them.
A vibrant countercultural and dissident movement developed in Romania between 1965 and 1975. Young Romanians combined elements of the global youth movement with local cultural and political practices. Thus, Romanian counterculture and dissent shared the era's hippie aesthetic and anti-authoritarianism, but was highly isolationist, vehemently antisocialist and heavily couched in the language of the nation and nationalism. Furthermore, during this early Ceauşescu period, the socialist regime attracted some level of nonconformist support through a program of reform, opposition to Soviet interference, and nationalist rhetoric. These conclusions demonstrate that the rubric of 1960s counterculture needs to be extended to include a variety of ideological and cultural positions beyond the New Left that scholars generally emphasize. Furthermore, scholarly avoidance of Ceauşescu's early period has obscured the existence of an alternative culture, and has led to an un-nuanced interpretation of Romania's postwar history.
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