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Thematic Images for the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack:


"Romantic 'Total Revolution'

& The Sixties Second American Revolution"

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"The Dance of Albion" or "The Glad Day"

William Blake's color engraving (ca. 1793) of the dancing youth Albion ("Eternal Man" or "Fallen Man") symbolizes not only  a revolutionary "politically awakened England" but also "spiritual rebirth."

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William Blake & Friedrich Schiller: Poet-Comrades In Arms

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"Thus Arm in Arm with thee I dare defy my century into the lists." ~Friedrich Schiller

William Blake (11/28/1757 - 8/12/1827)  in England and Friedrich Schiller 11/10/ 1759 - 5/9/1805) in Germany were contemporaries and had a common vision of the fundamental role of "Art" (and aesthetics) in society and its revolutionary potential for absolute human emancipation.  Blake and Schiller were representative of the 18th- and 19th-century Romantic generation of poets, artist and writers who saw the French Revolution heralding of a "new age" of liberty and peace. Yet, with the dashing of this hope with its failure, they sought to reframe the political idea of revolution into a deeper ideal, which Schiller called "total revolution."   

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Ralph Waldo Emerson & Walt Whitman: American Romantic visionaries of democracy, with their imaginal 19th-century "Party of Idealists," which in the 1960s became the imaginal "Party of Eros." 

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“No one,” Emerson wrote in 1840, “can converse much with the different classes of society in New England without remarking the process of revolution” even as “the spirit of the time is felt by every individual with some difference." Prof. Cornel West has depicted Emerson as founding a radically new philosophical tradition that “evades” all strains of antebellum philosophy. Lawrence Buell, one of Emerson's most influential interpreters, has argued for the transnational revolutionist as the crucial framework in which Emerson's genius can be most fully appreciated: “Emerson is almost always at his most interesting when striving to free his mind from parochial entanglements of whatever sort.”

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Romanticizing Revolution?

​The Gypsy Scholar anticipates—just by the very title of his musical essay series: "Romantic Total Revolution" (based upon the literary idiom "Romantic Revolution”)—that he will probably be accused of "romanticizing" the idea of revolution (the term "romanticizing" used in its negative sense to mean idealized or unrealistic; making it seem better or more appealing than it really is).

Therefore, the GS offers the following excerpts from a lecture series, "The Great Revolutions of Modern History," in support of his musical essay series.

 

"The Romantic Idealization of a Revolution" (Lynne Ann Hartnett, Villanova University)

Revolutions, in the words of the British historian Christopher Hill, turn the world upside down. They challenge the fabric of society and people’s most basic assumptions. The radical energy of the 1960s and early 1970s signalled the spirit of a generation determined to transform the world. It defined an era.

Defining Societies, Cultures, and Nations

 

Revolutions offer the rare opportunity to see the hopes and priorities of the political underclass emerge from the shadow of powerful elites. We loudly hear the voices of those who are usually consigned to silence. We bear witness to the hopes and fears of women and men who might otherwise leave little, or no, historical record. By looking at revolutions, we find differences that help to define societies, cultures, and nations. But we also find commonalities of humanity and experience. Revolutions systemically alter the dynamic between the state, authorities, elites and the people; they attempt to fundamentally transform power relationships..... Revolutions are predicated on the idea that when the state is unresponsive, dismissive, or exploitative, the citizenry can exercise its agency through extra-legal means.

 

Romanticizing Revolutions
 

In revolutions, people refuse to be silent; they refuse to accept the status quo; they step outside traditional parameters to imagine new social, political, economic, and cultural structures. And they try to realize them.

People, therefore, are central characters in the drama of revolutions. However, some of the most turbulent and repressive revolutions are those in which ‘the people’ are simply invoked rather than directly involved.

It’s easy to get swept up in a romantic idealization of revolution. Revolutionaries want us to romanticize. In order to legitimize turning the world upside down, [note here the GS's recurring theme from his musical essay series on "May Day"] from   revolutionary actors need to convince their peers and posterity that disorder, upheaval, bloodshed and even death—all of which come with revolution—are worth the sacrifice.

We see this romanticization of revolutions in a 19th century painting by the French artist Eugène Delacroix depicting the revolution that overthrew King Charles X. "Liberty Leading the People" from 1830 literally paints revolution as an inspiring, sanctified event.

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Thematic Images for Romantic "Total Revolution"

& 1960s "Second American Revolution"

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The Second American Revolution

 

Successive waves of radical descent — from the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement to the popular uprisings of the Progressive Era to the labor militancy of the 1930s to the sweeping social and cultural transformation of the 1960s and ‘70s that we are calling the second American Revolution — would keep the unfinished work of US democracy alive….

 

The civil rights movement — which won its greatest victories in the first half of the 1960s — ignited the second American Revolution. Inspired by civil rights and Black Power activism, a string of other liberation movements caught flame that decade and the next – including the Vietnam antiwar struggle, the United Farm Workers union, the American Indian Movement, women's liberation, and the gay and lesbian uprising. Together these upheavals — which were often linked by mutually supportive activists and shared goals — forged the nation’s most daring interpretation of freedom and justice since the first American Revolution.

 

This second revolution forced the country to change its assumptions about race, war and peace, gender, sexual orientation, reproductive rights, labor justice, consumer responsibility, and environmental protection. Almost all these movements grounded their claims at one time or another in the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — compelling America to be true to its stated ideals in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

 

~David and Margaret Talbot (2021)

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The Counterculture as Sixties "Carnivalesque" Revolution

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"A Gathering Of The Tribes For A Human Be-In" poster (1967)

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Original 1967 "Summer of Love" poster (Bob Schnepf)

The prelude to the "Summer of Love" was a celebration known as the "A Gathering Of The Tribes For A Human Be-In" at Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967. It featured "All S. F. Rock Groups," which included The Grateful Dead, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Country Joe & The Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service as well as Counterculture luminaries Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Dick Gregory and Jerry Rubin.

 

The poster features a psychedelic photo image of a mystic guru with a third eye. It was at this event that Timothy Leary voiced his motto, "turn on, tune in, drop out." This motto helped shape the entire hippie Counterculture, as it voiced the key ideas of 1960s rebellion. These ideas included questioning authority, dropping out of the system, communal living (especially living on the land), and political decentralization. The event that gathered together 30,000 people was announced by the Haight-Ashbury's hippie newspaper, the San Francisco Oracle: "A new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind."

The "Summer of Love" was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer (June) of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting hippie fashions of dress and behavior, converged in San Francisco's neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. It encompassed the music, hallucinogenic drugs, anti-war, and free love scene throughout the West Coast. Hippies, sometimes called "flower children," were an eclectic group. (The name derived from "hip," a term applied to the Beats of the 1950s, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who were generally considered to be the precursors of hippies. Although the hippie movement arose in part as opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, hippies were often not directly engaged in politics, as opposed to their activist counterparts known as "Yippies," the Youth International Party). Generally speaking, they rejected the conformist and materialist values of modern society and there was an emphasis on sharing and community. Many of them were suspicious of the governmentrejected materialism and the consumerist values of mainstream American society. They generally opposed the Vietnam War and some were seriously interested in politics. However, most of them were more concerned with art (music, painting, poetry in particular) or spiritual and meditative practices. These came in search of transcendence—to “expand their minds” by means of free love, alternative religions, psychedelic rock music, and drugs (particularly hallucinogens, such as LSD). The musical denizens of “the Haight" included the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jefferson Airplane. 

 

The reason the Gypsy Scholar has focused here on these two "Be-Ins" is  because the term “Be-In” meant public gatherings—part music festivals, sometimes protests, often simply excuses for celebrations of life—that were an important part of the hippie Counterculture. As such, the GS sees these Be-Ins as the 20th-century successors of the May Day type festivals of the premodern period (as presented in his "Beltane/May Day" and "May Day Carnivalesque" musical essays series), as these summer celebrations of life increasingly began to take  on a political edge and eventually became staging grounds for popular rebellion. Thus, the 60s Be-Ins were paradigmatic of the situational ambiguity involved in later gatherings of this type; i.e., were young people attending a political rally or a rock concert?   

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“Revolutions, according to British historian Christopher Hill, turn the world upside down. They challenge the fabric of society and people’s most basic assumptions. The radical energy of the 1960s and early 1970s signaled the spirit of a generation determined, with the help of countercultural music, to transform the world. Revolution then defined an era.” ~ Lynne Ann Hartnett

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"The “Festival of Life" is a prime example of what the Gypsy Scholar sees as the unique carnivalesque phenomenon of a hybrid countercultural festival and a political protest rally.

 

It stands out as a prime example because it was held during the infamous "police riot" at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This Counterculture celebration and protest festival in Lincoln Park was organized by the Youth International Party, whose members were called "Yippies." It was founded on Dec 31, 1967 as a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s, although their agenda and approach were quite different from traditional American political parties. (The Yippies put the "party" back in party politics.) Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and others active in the movement to stop the war in Vietnam coined the name as a twist on “hippie,” a largely derisive term used at the time to describe young people who had embraced the Counterculture. 

 

The Yippies were very savvy when it came to using the media to their advantage, staging theatrical events to highlight the failings of the dominant social order in America. One of the first Yippie events staged that August of 1968 was a Loop rally at which Pigasus, a live pig, was nominated for president. (Pegasus/"When pigs fly" was used as a symbolic leader.) This kind of outrageous political theater used by the Yippies is classical carnivalesque (a mode that "subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor, the grotesque, and chaos"). Thus, the carnivalesque political theater staged during the Democratic Convention was to nominate a 66-kg domestic pig for President of the United States.

The "Festival of Life" in Lincoln Park was organized in opposition to what Hoffman called the "convention of death" on the other side of town. The Yippies invited thousands of young people from across the country to the festival. Participants planned to camp overnight despite Mayor Richard J. Daley’s mandate to close the park at 11:00 p.m. each night. At 11:00 p.m. on August 25, 1968, police began clearing Lincoln Park. With batons and tear gas, they pushed the crowds of students and activists into the adjacent neighborhood. For the next four days, police and antiwar protesters clashed in Grant and Lincoln Parks and in the city’s streets.

To access the section "Carnivalesque Happenings in the Sixties and post-Sixties

Rock Music World" on the May Day Carnivalesque webpage, click button below.

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Ken Kesey and the bus Furthur

(According to Kesey, people don't understand that the name of the bus is actually a "philosophical concept.")

Romantic Revolution, "Beautiful Losers" & "Divine Losers"

At the end of the documentary, Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place, Ken Kesey reflects on his  experience about his famous 1964 psychedelic bus trip across America with the Merry Pranksters. TheGypsy Scholar is pleased as (acid) punch to quote Kesey here because it fits perfectly within the theme of his "Romantic Total Revolution & The Sixties Second American Revolution" musical essay series. To reiterate from the Introduction to the series. 

 

Ordinarily, "Romantic Revolution" is a term used by literary critics to denote a radical change in cultural tastes during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Europe; changes in poetry, letters, philosophy, and aesthetic canons of the period following the Enlightenment.... Therefore, in these dark times of crisis and despair, this musical essay attempts, by picking up the fallen standard of the historical lost cause of the Romantics—those "Beautiful Losers"....  As the preeminent historian of the 60's, Theodore Roszak, observes: "To discuss Romanticism in this way is to take up one of the great lost causes in history."  

Now, the term "Beautiful Losers," is the title of Leonard Cohen's 1966 surrealistic novel (which, by the way, according to LC himself, was written under the influence of LSD under Hydra's blazing sun. Mr Kesey, does this pass your "Acid Test"?).  Furthermore, Book I of the novel is entitled "The History of Them All." I mention this because it indicates that LC is alluding to the oft-quoted dictum: "History is written by the victors." Thus, the GS interprets the concept of "Beautiful Losers" as almost mythological when History is seen in these terms (a periodic pattern). And, of course, the term itself carries a sense that there's something wonderfully beautiful in the tragedy of their ultimate failure (whether it be the earth-based Titans losing out to the Olympian sky-gods, the Roman rebels under Spartacus defeated by the Roman Empire, the Irish nationals defeated in their Easter  rebellion to the British Empire--or the failure of the young generation of the Sixties in changing the American Empire). 

 

And, on that note, I bring you what Kesey had to say about all this (in sychronicity with the timing of this musical essay series):

"There's something about what we’re doing is that we’re meant to lose— every time. You make these for forays, you write these books, and you perform this music, but the big juggernaut of civilization continues, and you get kind of brushed to the side. But I think all through history there’s been these kind of Divine Losers that just take a deep breath and go ahead, knowing that society's not going to understand it and not even caring, ‘cause they’re having a good time.

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Rock Posters, Rock Artworks, & Album Covers

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