Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Vicissitudes of Cultural History

Originally posted on November 17, 2015

Forty years later a culture blossoming may become re-interpreted popularly in ways that are very different from the currents involved at the time of that phenomenon. I was on the outskirts of the hippie revolution in San Francisco in the late 1960s, for example. The other night our group had a hippie-theme square dance, though most participants never went through that movement. They were either too young or lived in a far more conservative middle American sub-cultures. I felt a bit smug, I confess. Many of the icons, the tie-died-t-shirts, the peace-signs, were of materials that didn’t exist then. There were faux hair-dos and Afros that emerged more when the era was declining—subtle anachronisms everywhere. But it was fun.

The idealism was good—I confess also to still harboring many of the sentiments, while having gone through several levels of mild disillusionment. But I was never very caught up in the illusions of the era, not in many of them. Others have grown, matured, become part of my emerging philosophy.

All this reminded me again that there have been a number of cultural streams around me that I’ve enjoyed, but I realized that the enjoyment is confined to those who lived through them, not the younger generation that didn’t know the thick cultural matrix from which these experiences arose.

I’m aware that on occasion this or that fashion in thought or dress or other style may enjoy a renewal, but it won’t be the same. Anyway, some of the things I ally my self with, things I savor and enjoy, may be time-limited. For example, I think of the relative cheapness of college and medical school in the 50s and 60s. I feel that I’ve lived through marvelous times and somehow “got away with” their being affordable and fun.

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