Re: Drugs and Social Reality

In a message dated 7/1/03 10:01:39 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
radicalchic68@xxxxxxxxx writes:
> the '60's were an escalating trajectory of a
> counter-culture revolution that was more underground
> in the 1950's but nonetheless existed as a reaction
> against the prevailing sterile 'leave-it-to-beaver'
> status quo of the post WWII years.

This is quite accurate. It happened way before "Viet Nam." It was not
a political revolution, but a cultural revolution. To say it was a reaction to
"power" is a vast oversimplification. Human beings exist prior to discourse
and culture (whatever Foucault may believe). There was a deeper, inner
discontent (the book CATCHER IN THE RYE conveys some of the feeling-tone). There was a
depth lacking in American life. Everything was presented as if being so
clear, simple and pure. There were many repressed impulses, desires and thoughts
lurking below the surface. There was a longing for something deeper.

the primary > countercultures that were thriving prior to the
> sixties were rock and roll (on a large scale)

Rock 'n' roll wasn't yet a "culture" in the Fifties. It was mostly
music (dancing). It wasn't like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis were trying to
"say something." They were expressing themselves. What they expressed did
eventually have ramifications.

and the> beat generation(on a smaller and probably more potent
> scale).

Yes, the hippie revolution descended from the beatniks; there was a
direct lineage. Alan Ginsberg was the crucial figure.

i should imagine that it possibly had at
> least a little to do with figures like bob dylan
> cohorting with beat writers--some of whom were huge
> fans of mysticism and marijuana/drug use-- and then
> bringing that culture to a group of young people via
> popular music (although, granted dylan's music didn't
> receive quite the mass audience in those early years
> that it later did)

Bob Dylan was hugely influential right from the beginning. It was not
exactly that he was "bringing something," as if he was separate from what was
already occurring. He grew out of and articulated what was coming into being.
Others were beginning to have different kinds of ideas or thoughts. He picked
upon and crystallized a new mode of being or consciousness.

and, if you want to continue the > lineage, i believe that the beat writers
> were largely inspired by jazz culture in which it is well known
> drug use, particularly marijuana, was prevalent.

Yes, the jazz culture was antecedent to everything that later
occurred. At one point this was the "only game in town," Charley Parker (yeh), etc.
Jack Kerouac was influenced by jazz, as were the beatniks, and gradually a
certain impulse spread and expanded. It is the expansion of this impulse that
requires psychological explanation. There was a certain "dominant discourse" (which
doesn't tell you that much, since we are speaking about the entire field
forcee of American society), however there also was a LONGING for something else,
something more. The longing is not explained by "discourse."

> eventually, of course, the vietnam war rallied many
> people into the counterculture

Yes, this came toward the end of the beginning of the cultural

but i think the seeds > were planted long before--even by white boys who
> shook
> their hips and made 'immoral' music.

Correct once again. The "Elvis impulse" was the source of a great deal
that was to follow. I discussed this in a talk I gave at the INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON ELVIS PRESLEY. You can read a bit about this at:

Britney Spears continues the "discourse" that was established by
Elvis Presley: The idea that gyrating one's hips is the key toward

With regards,

Richard K.

Richard A. Koenigsberg, Ph. D.
Library of Social Science

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