HomeNewsHippie Digest: Counterculture: Norman Mailer – Protest and Rock n’ Roll – WHAT THE HIPPIES TAUGHT AMERICA

Sounding Off Between New Age And Counterculture: Norman Mailer – by Peter Byrne,swans.com –  In 1998 Norman Mailer was seventy-five and it had been fifty years since the publication of The Naked and the Dead, the novel that set his career in motion. An anthology of his work, The Time of Our Time, marked the double anniversary. The 1,286 pages came from work done until 1997. The author’s inimitable vision informs the project: it is cockeyed. To the second page of his Foreword, which lays out the logic behind the two-and-a-half-inch-thick volume, Mailer adds a footnote saying that said logic had to be scuttled.

His intention, he wrote, had been to sequence the selections according to the years they dealt with and not in the order they were written. So the first selection, about Hemingway, is dated 1929, when Mailer was six, though it was written fifty years later. Muddle was inevitable. Where was he going to put the excerpt from his novel of 1997 about Jesus? He stuck it at page 1,240.

Tongue in furrowed cheek, Mailer justified his methodology. By highlighting subject matter and events he would avoid fixing on himself, ergo, avoid egotism. Pause for a long horselaugh by readers, shared up his sleeve by Mailer himself. Accusations of ego-bloat had assailed him early. He shrewdly took them aboard and made clownish megalomania his trademark. It was like Groucho’s cigar or Jimmy Durante’s nose. Advertisements For Myself dates way back to 1959. Mailer knew of course that any productive writer is fueled by self-regard and that, save money, there is no other propellant so strong. He differed from his colleagues only in that they pussyfooted around their absorption in themselves while, like a boor, he exaggerated his.

The organization of the anthology matters. It was Mailer’s way of creating a summary image of himself, the definitive ad, so to say. He would be the well-balanced elder statesman of the nation’s belles lettres who had put his finger into all the significant American pies of his lifetime. His long journey, his story went, had been down Main Street with only playful, adolescent detours into counterculture dead-ends and New-Age flakiness. This pretty fiction, like so many from his pen, while cogent and rhetorically neat, is spurious. What The Time of Our Time does lay before us is yet another scenario of an American liberal losing his way: Young writer begins in riotous opposition, finds success that entangles him in the commercial system he opposed, and soon settles into the comfortable stance of gadfly or court jester, what the British call “Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.” Blathering about “karma” in Partisan Review in 1975, Mailer says of 1953, “I was an atheist and a socialist in those days.” Read more…

Protest and Rock n’ Roll During the Vietnam War

By ALEXANDER E. HOPKINS,studentpulse.com –

n the 1960s, several now-influential artists appealed to the disaffected counterculture’s emphasis on peace and love, especially with the sliding approval rates of the Vietnam War. As public approval of the Vietnam War dwindled in the latter half of the 1960s, popular music artists began to record songs that reflected this disapproval and ultimately became a new method of protest.

To begin, the highly-influential folk musician Bob Dylan recorded the song “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Written in 1963, just before the public began to disapprove of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the song features a simple melody played by Dylan’s acoustic guitar and harmonica. The lines “There’s a battle outside/and it’s ragin’/it’ll soon shake your windows/rattle your walls” are an obvious reference to the Vietnam War. Dylan goes further and sings the lines, “Come mothers and fathers/throughout the land/and don’t criticize/what you can’t understand/your sons and daughters are beyond your command.” While at first glance Dylan could be pleading with the public to stop trying to understand the war, Dylan is in fact trying to tell us something else. In poetic terms, he shows the mass confusion, frustration, and anger at how many parents’ sons and daughters were sent off to war. More…

They refused to play the government’s game and in doing so, they created the greatest counter-cultural movement in history.
The Hippies were a group of stoners who spent the 1960s hallucinating on LSD and magic mushrooms while throwing up peace signs and placing flowers in their matted hair. And while that might not seem very beneficial today, the Hippies might very well be America’s last hope for freedom.

Today, in the year 2012, America is quickly falling into a state of greed, war, apathy, and tyranny, and the only way to stop it this with a Hippie-like counter-cultural response. But it’s not enough to become like the Hippies. After all, a group of dirty, stinky men and women standing in a corn field listening to Jimi Hendrix play “The Star Spangled Banner” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, it is time to focus on their political struggles and what they did to fight against “The Man.”

In a time when the American war machine was “destroying communism” in Vietnam, they burnt their draft cards and refused to be pawns in the military’s game of chess. Many of them even turned against the norms of society running from their comfortable homes in suburbia to create communes where the laws of the American slave holder no longer mattered. When the news anchors and those in power spoke of America as a beacon of light, they turned off their televisions and refused to become apathetic zombies. Of course drugs and free love turned them into zombies of a different sort. But the key is that they refused to play the government’s game and in doing so, they created the greatest counter-cultural movement in history. Today, that’s something America desperately needs. More…


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