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Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Counterculture Through the Ages", fun & wild trip to the "other side"

COUNTERCULTURE THROUGH THE AGES. From Abraham to Acid House - Ken Goffman (aka R.U. Sirius) and Dan Joy

"Outsiders" of the world, get together! That's what this peculiar book says to the reader. Authors Ken Goffman and Dan Joy had an amazing premise, but also a titanic goal to accomplish. Define counterculture while showing us that, all through history, there have been people and collectives that didn't fit into mainstream culture, therefore  fighting and rebelling against the majority of society, and conforming groups and subcultures that leaves a mark on it. Quoting the LSD and counterculture enfant terrible Timothy Leary, author of the book's preface: “The mark of counterculture is not a particular social form or structure, but rather the evanescence of forms and structures, the dazzling rapidity and flexibility with which they appear, mutate, and morph into one and another and disappear.” Intrigued? You should.

Welcome iconoclasts, rebels, transgressors, the ones proposing alternatives."Counterculture Through the Ages" traces an unexpected and absorbing storyline of the "other side". Because one has to have a lot of braveness and self-confidence in their theory in order to qualify Abraham as the first (with Prometheus) countercultural icon. But once you read that chapter, you'll probably will find that link as amusing (in a much needed subversive way) as plausible. And from there, Mr. R.U. Sirius (his countercultural techno-ciberpunk name), builds the book through Sufis to Zen Buddhists, to the Enlightment classic references to (my beloved) beatniks, hippies, black panthers, weathermens, acid house visionaries and digital culture addicts of modern times. Hundreds of references and names to a book that invites you, provokes you to an almost infinite list of further readings.

Sure, the task of documenting every counterculture the world has seen is impossible, and to me there were chapters that I found way more attractive than others. But I believe the purpose of this book, in its choices, is trying to show a common, recognisable path throughout history, where influences can be easily (sometimes) identified. These attempt to offer an insightful and comprehensive study, in principle, could sound boring and pedantic. Luckily, Goffman doesn't take himself that seriously, making the book an insightful work as well as a rewarding entertainment. An irresistible combination.

From the Bob Dylan fan to the social networker, from the radical environmentalist to an open-minded Christian, to the indie music lover to a computer freak, "Counterculture" could appeal you. To the ones, as Sam Shepard said, who consider that "the place to be is just in the middle of the contradiction", this book is definitely a must read. And to anyone interested in social change, something urgently needed today, this is a wonderful recommendation.

Revolution starts in the mind

SCORE: 8,25/10

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