Thursday, July 19, 2007

Turn off, Tune out, Drop in...

Funny how this simple reversal of Timothy Leary's catch-phrase resonates so well today. How incredible to think that 40 years ago, the predominant youth sentiment was literally to opt-out of society, to refuse the age-old patterns in the quest for something better and truer. Was that generation ultimately misguided and lazy? Yes, to an extent. But still, their idealism and risks stand as milestones in an important (and often glazed over) debate: Just what are humans meant to do with their 80-odd years on this planet?

Psychedelia got a bum rap because people soured on the "trippiness" of it, the blaring superficial deepness, the drugs, and the obvious escapism of it all. But what was important about 60s psychedelia is precisely that it was a kind of self-inflicted mass dizziness - a heartfelt layman's attempt to stir up the stagnating consciousness of the day, using crude alterations in percetption and hypno-kinetic designs to get the ball rolling again. In order to let go of the existing order, people knew instinctively that they had to invite a sort of jostling amoebic disorder into their lives. Just as Dorothy needed a tornado to get her to Oz, so did we summon forth our most swirly state. Unfortunately, as consumer cultures are wont to do, the trend was identified, infantalized, marketed, and extinguished, long before any of psychedelia's ungluing effects could be put to good use.


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