Thursday, July 22, 2004

long time passing

The CBC Archives has a collection of television clips from the 60's documenting hippie culture. They've got Joni Mitchell in her pre-fame era and a bunch of people in robes talking about how groovy the future is going to be. Paraphrasing Lou Gottlieb:
We're going to have what you may call 'compulsory leisure'... the hippies constitute the first wave of the technologically unemployable... those people who have had jobs, and a voice has come to them and said 'this job can be better done by a machine'. When this happens to you, you're in the process of dropping out whether you know it or not, because the soul is withering...

Little did they know that the withering of the soul would become compulsory and people would become the new machines...

Before you sink back into your cubicle-coma, check out John and Yoko's Montreal Bed-In.



Blogger krishna said...

My knowledge of Hippie culture is coloured by the popular perceptions in my country: Hippies were considered to be a bad influence on local youth as they indulged in drugs etc. These perceptions may not be correct but I have little or no sympathy with people who run away from the pressures of life, and try to create an illusionary world for themselves, with some liberal help from stimulants.
Machines have reduced man's drudgery and he has more time for creative, emotional and intellectual pursuits. But, if the "compulsory" leisure is used to lead a life of a couch-potato, then, man becomes a prey to lifestyle diseases. Men have to learn the art of making a gainful use of their leisure.
I do not agree that the man has become the new machine or his soul has withered. That would be a pessimistic view of things. The crux is for each individual to identify an activity/work that gives him pleasure and satisfaction. Some people may be happy slogging in the work place; Some people may like to lead a life uncluttered by goals/ ambitions/ deadlines. Each unto their own.

Blogger Foobario said...

I have hippie tendencies myself... not the drugs or the 'leisure' aspect, but the idea that people can and should treat each other and the earth better, and that I can help make that happen through my own actions. But I've never fully identified with the hippie *culture*, because there are some logical inconsistencies that have always bugged me.

"Tune in, turn on, drop out". Ok... so they've decided they're not going to get a normal job - but they don't have any problem asking people who do have jobs for spare change. To me that implies they still buy into the system... they just want to be on the other side of the coin from the 'suits'. For all of the talk of cosmic consciousness and such, the 'Age of Aquarius' can't happen, because if it did there wouldn't be anyone who was still working and could still give spare change to the hippies.

Drugs have become almost compulsory in hippie culture... I don't smoke pot, and it's been a real social handicap in certain crowds ever since the US government declared its 'war on drugs'... if you don't smoke, people think you might be a narc. There's a lot of talk about getting back to nature, but in practice they're just getting back to this one plant.

All of that said, I admire the ones who *really* want to drop out, who find a piece of land somewhere and grow their own food and get off the grid, though it's something that gets harder and harder to do as populations rise. But in our neighborhood we've got community gardens, volunteer organizations, recycling programs... there are ways to live a more 'natural' and conscious and waste-free life even in the city.

They had/have their faults, but the hippie 'live and let live' attitude is something I admire and think Americans could use a hell of a lot more of right now.

It's like the great saint Elvis Costello said:

    "What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?"

Peace :)

Blogger krishna said...

....who find a piece of land somewhere and grow their own food and get off the grid,..."

On the lines of Auroville? My ex-boss told me of a place in North Karnataka, where a group of men and women have made a cozy, self-sufficient place for themselves. They grow their own food and manage to do most of their chores themselves though sometimes, they take the help of local artisans.
I would love to live in such a place.
(A sociological aside: Haven't most human habitations started this way, initially with a small group of like minded people? But, as they developed, the communities had to put some structure in place to ensure peaceful co-habitation. Rules had to laid out. Then, as populations grew, hitherto unforeseen problems came up and more rules had to be invented. Soon, one had dispute resolution mechanisms in place. (The scenario recalls to mind, the novel, "One hundred years of solitude"). No matter where you are or however like-minded your companions are, you are always in a grid albeit, a smaller one. )

"there are ways to live a more 'natural' and conscious and waste-free life even in the city. "
I agree . In my childhood, women used to come to our house to make products of wasteful items. i.e. They used to make dust collectors( tray like things to collect dust) out of used talcum powder tins. Recycling was not a matter for the State or big business. It used to be done at local levels.
Now, with the all pervading plastic, such practices have died a natural death. We had separate outlets for bath water and those used to be led out into the garden.( Soap was not used; Instead, We used bengal gram powder. It was, therefore, good for the plants.).
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