Youth: The Hippies

  • Share
  • Read Later

(5 of 10)

on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.

As a result, there are hippies of every stripe: city and suburban hippies, who can do their thing only in urban environments; beach hippies and mountain hippies, Indian hippies and neoPolynesian hippies, desert hippies and river hippies, musical and poetical and light and sound hippies, all doing their thing as they see it to be done, some alone and some in "tribes" of like-minded thing-doers.

A swelling sense of utopianism pervades the hippie philosophy. It has little in common with the authoritarian city-state envisioned in Plato's Republic, or Sir Thomas More's Utopia, which was a bustling agricultural collective where everyone worked six hours each day. Hippie millenniarism is purely Arcadian: pastoral and primordial, emphasizing oneness with physical and psychic nature. The University of Toronto's Northrop Frye, a professor of English and a disciple of Communications Philosopher Marshall McLuhan, sees the hippies as inheritors of the "outlawed and furtive social ideal known as the 'Land of Cockaigne,' the fairyland where all desires can be instantly gratified."*

No Wants. The hippie philosophy also borrows heavily from Henry David Thoreau,* particularly in the West Coast rural communes, where denizens try to live the Waldenesque good life on the bare essentials—a diet of turnips and brown rice, fish and bean curd —thus refuting the consumerism of "complicating wants" essential to the U.S. economy. Historically, the hippies go all the way back to the days of Diogenes and the Cynics (curiously, no rock combo has yet taken the name), who were also bearded, dirty and unimpressed with conventional logic.

The hippies like to relate to such ancient figures as Hillel, the 1st century B.C. Jewish prophet of modesty and peace, and of course to Christ ("a groovy cat"). Buddha, they recall proudly, was a dropout from a royal family who later came back to the palace and turned on his father, the king, with nothing more than sincerity and a mendicant's bowl. St. Francis of Assisi, who left a rich Italian merchant family to live in poverty among the birds and beasts, is another hero, along with Gandhi (for his patient nonviolence), Aldous Huxley (for his praise of hallucinogens in Doors of Perception), and J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbits (with their quirky gentleness and hairy toes).

The key ethical element in the hippie movement is love—indiscriminate and all-embracing, fluid and changeable, directed at friend and foe alike. SUPERZAP THEM ALL WITH LOVE! prOclaims a sign in Los Angeles' Sans Souci Temple, a hippie commune. Manhattan hippies whose skulls were zapped by police billies during a Memorial Day "bein" in New York's East Village are now trying to arrange a picnic for the cops' kids, as well as a Mantovani record concert for the officers them selves. Charges against the hippies were dismissed last week by Criminal Court Judge Herman Weinkrantz, who said: "This court will not deny the equal protection of the law to the unwashed, unshod, unkempt and uninhibited."

Black & White. The immediate progenitors of the hippies were the beats of the 1950s, but there has been a startling transformation in bohemia. Many of the same elements were present in the Beat Generation: scorn for

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10