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Pornography may be ho-hum, and the Pope may wear a coat and tie
The changed atmosphere will affect the arts as well, which may become ephemeral, instant, faddish and ultimately disposable. There will be a veritable explosion of mixed-media experimentsconceivably to greatest effect in opera. Nudity onstage and on the screen, perhaps even outright pornography, will be taken for granted; the new frontier of shock probably will be violence and cruelty.
In spite of this, the most significant trend of the '70s may well be a religious revival. This does not necessarily mean that there will be a massive return to existing institutional churches, although they will continue to modernize in form and structure (by the end of the decade, it is muttered in Rome, even the Pope may appear publicly in coat and tie rather than ecclesiastical garb). In reaction against the trend toward secularization, there may well be a sweeping revival of fundamentalism, particularly in its fervent, Pentecostal variety. The decade will also see the proliferation of small, home-centered worship groups with their own rituals, perhaps even their own theologies. Many people will reject traditional Western religions, finding inspiration and solace in the mystery cults of the East or in eclectic spiritual systems of their own devising. Religious impulses will find expression as well in interpersonal "T-groups," like those spawned by California's Esalen Institute, and in the occult. For many, astrology, numerology and phrenology will become no longer fads but ways of life.
Even as generals are better at fighting the last war than the next one, so prophets are better at extrapolating from the past than anticipating surprises. Could all these trends that seem to lead from the '60s to the '70s be reversed? Certainly. After all, the heady air of freedom in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I was suddenly stifled by the Puritan Revolution in England, and staid Victorian laws followed the carefree boisterous spirit of the Regency. It may be that the early '70s will see a period of repressive reaction against the Dionysian tendencies of the young. There may also be a purely spontaneous swing back to discretion and suggestion. "Writers and film makers," predicts Arthur Koestler, "will discover again that pubic hair is less poetic than Gretchen's braids." It is possible, too, that a decline in the work ethic or a weakening of demand for material goods may disrupt the foundation of a hedonist civilizationthe economy.
Perhaps, eventually, people will grow tired of the "late sensate" society and once again want a hardworking, hard-value nation, an "ideational culture" (to use another of Sorokin's terms). Pop Critic Richard Goldstein pictures a future in which college students, rebelling against the rebels of the '60s, might be decidedly placid and prim. "What if students opt out of the scenarios we have devised?" he asks. "What if the goals of our rebellion seem suddenly uncool? After all, every movement carries its own antithesis." What, in short, if the '70s are not sensate but square? Possiblebut not likely, for