Its tempting to envision the collective cultural movement of the long 1960s as a chaotically emergent, fundamentally optimistic attempt to launch America into an infinity of limitless potential on some sort of psychedelic rocket. After all, this was the era of civil rights, of protest, of possibility, political and otherwise. An era with a voice that spoke through revolutions in music, art, and literature, all at the same time, fed by the sense of freedom that’s created as the restrictions with which one was once bound begin to loosen. The sense of suddenly being wild and free for the first time! Hippies proclaimed world peace was imminent, we just had to want it! This vision of a whole world of people living peacefully together, wild and free, must have looked real enough to be pretty scary to some people.
Yeah, so a major drawback to this dramatic but cloying and overly simplistic “psychedelic rocket of culture” interpretation is that it suggests that a few decades further, the American trajectory demonstrates a failure to reach escape velocity, and indicates the direction in which the American arc has always bent. What if our history was never to be that of a rocket, but instead that of a missile, ensnared by the pull of a past we ultimately proved unable, or unwilling, to leave behind?
Screw that. We should keep building psychedelic rockets. Be weird, be curious, question everything. Do the work. Love unconditionally. We must stretch our metaphors as far as we stretch our superlatives! To their limits! We’ll plummet plenty of times more, but we’ll eventually break free. Maybe that’s just the process. Outer space looks awesome. ✌️