Hi folks, here’s a podcast I’ve been wanting to finish and share for quite awhile – part one of two about the way our sloppy mythologizing about the sixties has obscured notes of genuine promise, and also damaged our approach to legitimate protest ever since.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that when I finally started writing, I found myself with too much material for one single episode. That’s why this time I’m bringing Timothy Leary along to anchor my story. The next episode will go back even further to the roots of new age thinking, and I could think of no one better to invoke for that upcoming sequel episode than the unique “sincere scoundrel” Alan Watts.
There is one important thing about psychedelic culture and all forms of risky self-tempering that I didn’t manage to put into today’s episode – something which is really not said often enough.
Lots of people don’t need to break out of a mental trap. Enlightenment really isn’t for everyone.
The only way to get something from a struggle is to need it in just the right way – not because you want other people to think you’re cool, not because you want to seem something more than you are.
You can’t ever make someone else become enlightened, no matter how much you care or badger. You can’t become enlightened unless conditions inside you are adequate to support growing things.
Anyone who tries to shame you for choosing to decline is proving they haven’t learned the key compassion lessons from it themselves. Their scorn has no weight, since their stance is fraudulent.
Finally, as an enjoyably feisty local writer (Tara Henley) put it quite brilliantly in a recently piece, “Someone has to leave the drumming circle early and put the kids to bed.”
People who think their enlightenment comes before their duty to others are vain irresponsible fools.
Just because tens of millions of people think a thing – that doesn’t make it right. Ask their kids.
Note: The cutaway music in this episode comes from a sweet and trippy improvisation back in 1987 with my dear and much missed friends saxophonist Maury Coles and guitarist Rick Whitehead.
And now I want to link you to a few brilliant voices of the time who speak to it with special eloquence.
This piece from Mark Rudd, one of the founders of the Weather Underground is truly extraordinary, truthful, inspiring and sobering to an unusual degree. A must-read for any serious change agent.
And as for the point about the high spirits and then sudden desertion of the masses, I know of no one who can convey the dramatic and exciting feelings of the times with more verve and personality than Danny Sugerman did, in this truly brilliant clip about Jim Morrison. (bit of ‘language’ – but essential)
And for a sign that the old left is still alive and kicking there is no better spot to look than Scheerpost.
Robert Scheer was a writer for and editor of the revolutionary magazine Ramparts all the way back in the sixties, and though he has been much battered by the industry since, he has not stayed down.
Instead he has built a site which gathers many principled and intelligent outcasts like himself so that their contrarian, but ever so important messages, can work together and give us many helpful clues.
Caitlin Johnstone is perhaps the best political columnist writing today – better still, she has the sort of deep spirit and principles which genuine rebels will recognize at once and find hugely heartening.
Finally, for an example of left and right cooperating to get useful work done, you really should check out Breaking Points – Krystal and Sagar produce a sharp political news show, three times weekly.
And though they say plenty with which I disagree, they are both smart and funny. Very helpful stuff.
I’ll get back to on that…;)