There are those who would like us to forget the Sixties, because they have not forgotten it, and the memory frightens them. It was a time of rebellion, defiance of authority, acting out hopes and dreams. It was a time of reconsidering the way we lived, the way we behaved toward people in this country and abroad. (Zinn in Morgan, ix)
Sixties movements were grounded in a democratic vision that is as compelling today as it was then: a belief that all people should be full members of society, that individuals become empowered through meaningful social participation, and that politics ought to be grounded on respect and compassion for the individual person. Sixties politics were infused with a quest for community – the sense of place, belonging, and purpose gained from engagement with others. (Morgan xi)
Of all the phenomenon of the Sixties, few were more widely feared and loathed by mainstream America than the counterculture. Longhairs, “mod” Edwardian costumes, public nudity, uninhibited sexuality, passing the joint, flower children, shabby dress, dropping acid, the Love Generation, communes, rock festivals, Eastern mysticism, group marriage, street theater, light shows, open form poetry, be-ins, underground papers, speed freaks, bumming around the country, acid rock, free clinics, and cooperatives – all were manifestations of a distinct culture that emerged from the creative, prefigurative politics of the young and retreated from a violent American society that seemed beyond redemption. (Morgan169)
The Doors think of themselves -- as their name signifies -- as the means or channel through which their audience passes from ignorance to knowledge, from ordinary consciousness to ecstasy, from control and inhibition to revolt and freedom. (Goldman 361)
Magnetized by the crowd, impelled by the relentless pounding beat of the music, one is then drawn in out on the floor. Here there is a feeling of total immersion: one is inside the mob, inside the skull, inside the music, which comes from all sides, buffeting the dancers like a powerful surf. Strangest of all, in the midst of this frantic activity one feels supremely alone; and this aloneness produces a giddy sense of freedom, even of exultation. (Goldman 344).
It was not the draft alone that spawned the unrest that would change the way America behaved at home -- and the United States behaved abroad -- not only in 1968, but also for twenty years afterward. It was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and marijuana and LSD and a thousand other things besides our vulnerability to the war that gave us that fleeting sense of ourselves as a generation apart, a generation with a mission. Certainly our opposition to the war was rooted in self-interest – or, more precisely, self-preservation – but it was the best example of enlightened self-interest in our time. (Kaiser, xxv)
Her incredible rise signaled America’s move away from the rigid categories of postwar culture, but it also, and above all testified to her extraordinary talent…In a nation coming out of the fifties, Janis’s unapologetic sexuality proved irresistible, especially to the reporte’s whom she supplied an endless stream of outrageous copy. Janis likened performance to orgasm, swore like a sailor, and dressed like a psychedelicized hooker. Forget beachheads – Janis was like an invading army, seizing that rock ‘n’ roll land of desires in a way that no white woman ever had. (Echols xvi)
Getting Janis clean – of drugs, booze, and self-inflicted pain – could only be achieved by dislodging her feeling of being deeply unloved and unlovable. Methadone and a month’s worth of counseling wouldn’t have done it -- only great discipline, support, and self-reflection would have. The world she moved in encouraged her addictions, with its commitment to living on the edge and beyond limits -- its dedication to recklessness as a matter of principle. (Echols, 302)
Copyright (c) 2001 Jessica Roche, Graduate Student at Lehigh University.
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