January 16, 2011

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

DeGroot's "Sixties Unplugged": a surprisingly conventional constellation of characters and narratives weaved into something less conventional by sardonic insights and interesting juxtapositions. But despite his remarks, and some seriously welcome attempts to promote things like the Cultural Revolution to iconic Sixties status, this is a very US-centric history.

The sixties on this reading were — in the West — despite all the group and universalist rhetoric, all about the explosion of self-absorption and selfishness. I always think that the signature middle-class Californian trait is ostentatiously-public self-absorption (and the promotion of public self-absorption to something like a sacrament) combined with an almost willful avoidance of self-knowledge (usually in the name of some form of Therapy or self-realisation). It's always struck me as pretty evident that it came from the sixties, the hippies, the Yippies, the SDS, Berkeley — all the usual suspects and targets of right-wing scorn and hate. DeGroot seems to agree, but it's a little difficult to tell from this book.

The sixties were when the West's rich kids changed from searching for the world to searching for themselves; the 70's are what happens when the average person calls the bluff of the 60's and tries to universalize (where the word "universal" usually means "American", but never mind) the sixties rich kid experience. It wasn't just the 70's that were the "me decade"; the 60's were just a little more elitist about the spread of "me"ness.

I pine for a similar sort of light, snarky, easily-read analysis for the seventies.

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