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Question

Ch 1: A summary of the academic discourse concerning Youth, Music and the Sixties (the main approaches to your subject) according to some obligatory articles. It should also deal with the topic of your paper (what has been written about your subject – you should mention some books and articles that refer to the subject and analyze their main ideas).
My topic is art in the 60’s : pop art, psychedelic art, how drugs influenced the art, rock concert posters… I will attach the obligatory articles.

Answer

Title: Art in the Sixties

The academic discourse on youth, music, and art relates in a significant way to issues of pop art, psychedelic art, influence of drugs on art, and rock concert posters. The aim of this paper is to provide a summary of academic discourse on art in the sixties. The paper analyzes the main ideas expressed by various books and articles on the subject of art during the 1960s.

One of the scholars who have explored the state of art during this time is Farrell (1997). Farrell (1997) points out that during the sixties, some people were vehemently opposed to instrumental politics of resistance and revolution. They were keen on setting up alternative institutions in various American cities. The young insurgents who held this view were commonly being referred to as “hippies” (Farrell, 1997). Farrell (1997) points out that this counterculture continued growing gradually until 1967. The main tendencies of hippies included abandoning of cultural expectations, personal expression, sexual freedom, and heightened consciousness (Farrell, 1997).

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In this chapter, Farrell explores the issue of youth, music and the sixties in detail. Communities were united by avant-garde art, Beat perspectives were applied to everyday problems, and with this, the counterculture continued mushrooming (Farrell, 1997). However, no consensus has emerged regarding the nature of counterculture during the sixties; varied interpretations have continued to emerge. Nevertheless, all of these interpretations reveal many things about the life of drugs, sex, and rock music among “hippies”. According to Farrell (1997) the most important thing to note is that the counterculture came out as an embodiment of personalist perspectives. This means that people were inherently focused on the values of individual persons, and they were always keen to distance themselves from the capitalist economy and an authoritarian state.

Farrell (1997) also delves deeply into the issue personalist psychology. In this regard, insights are drawn from the various concerns of the American people during the sixties. Some of these concerns included nuclear weapons, impoverishment of a section of the American population, and the cultural foundation of the country’s economy. This led to the emergence of the view that the emerging culture put more emphasis on abstractions at the expense of people’s real-life needs. In addressing the issue of human fulfillment, the counterculture emphasized on psychological aspects of counterculture as opposed to religious aspects.

The psychological perspective is important because it brings into perspective the role of drugs in inducing certain psychedelic experiences. They promoted aspects of cosmic consciousness that were largely drug-induced. This prompted psychology scholars to start experimenting with drugs such as psilocybin to determine if they could predictably lead to certain peak experiences. Psilocybin was one of the drugs that people used to confront subconscious realities. Farrell (1997) points out that throughout the sixties, drugs played a critical role in reinforcing critiques of religion, rationality, and nature from a countercultural perspective. Some of the drugs that were commonly used to break down the barriers of repressiveness include Marijuana, methedrine, and LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). In 1966, the use of LSD became so prevalent the state of California criminalized it.

In contrast, Grossberg (1984) brings in a different perspective by investigating the nature of the rock and roll culture, particularly in the context of young people’s lifestyles. According to Grossberg (1984), rock and roll was a crucial source of “pleasure-building” mechanism among young people during the sixties. The issue that Grossberg (1984) sets out to address more or less relates to the cultural history of this music genre. In this discussion, two features of rock and roll emerge: affectivity and heterogeneity. The elements of heterogeneity arise from the fact that different fans listen to this music in different ways for different purposes. The affective dimension arises from the role of rock and roll as a source of pleasure for listeners.

According to Grossberg (1984), rock and roll creates new sub-cultural category that is characterized by a unique mix of middle class, urban-street, working class, and suburban cultures. In coming together under the banner of rock and roll fans during the sixties, the people who make up this sub-culture seemed to be creating imaginary solutions to various social problems such as class divisions and inequality. To many people, rock and roll emerged as the only genre that could enable people to make sense of life both politically and aesthetically.

MacDonald (2005) also brings in a unique perspective by referring to the sixties as a special era in which the Western world experienced a rejuvenation of optimism within the youth culture. According to MacDonald (2005), the best way to illustrate this is to examine the music of The Beatles. The achievements of The Beatles were so phenomenal that few people can question them.

However, MacDonald (2005) also revisits the issue raised by Farrell (1997), that of the countercultural revolt and social upheaval of the sixties. This view is also shared by Lipsitz (1994), who revisits the social crises of an era that was dominated by perceived notions of “generational gap”. The pop culture was this era would be incomplete without “horrid hippies” and LSD-accelerated minds (MacDonald, 2005). This, again, relates closely to the point Farrell (1997) sets out to make in his work on counterculture and the personalism-based rebellious nature of  young people during the sixties. From MacDonald’s (2005) analysis, it is evident that drugs influenced the art and rock concert culture in a very significant way. The hippies who had their minds blown apart by LSD, were influenced by pop artists to disregard formal education and technical training, instead preferring to be preoccupied with notions of “self-knowledge”.

 

References

Farrell, J. (1997). “Countercultural personalism”, in J Farrell, (Ed.) The spirit of the sixties: Making postwar radicalism (pp. 203-231). London: Psychology Press.

Grossberg, L. (1984). Another boring day in paradise: Rock and roll and the empowerment of everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lipsitz, J. (1994). “Who’ll stop the rain”, In D Farber, (Ed.) The Sixties: From memory to history. Charlotte: University of North Carolina Press.

MacDonald, I. (2005). Revolution in the Head: the Beatles’ Records and the Sixties. New York: Random House.

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