Robert Stone on the 1960s and A New Disruption in Culture By Robert Stone


Seaman’s papers, 1960

“The word that I associate with the 60s is Disruption. There was, for example, technical disruption, just as there had been around the invention of the printing press. The computer, which had started the decade sitting in a corner looking like your mom’s refrigerator, climbed down off itself and became freakishly empowered tiny chips of silicon that would end up littering the surface of the very moon. Other technical disruptions followed. In Trumansberg, New York, Robert Moog had been working on his synthesizer, and we would get to hear it a lot. And I remember as a toddler in the early 40s being led into a newspaper office full of typewriters, smoke, profanity, and fedoras. The newspaper office of 1960 looked very much the same. But the newspaper office of the late 70s looked very different. I think newspapermen stopped wearing hats and smoking cigarettes because they couldn’t be balanced on word processors. The word Happening gathered an uncanny sensory force. This was an era that kept insistently defining itself as a process, demanding to be experienced self-consciously as an event in time. Any decade that would look back at itself through sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll was bound to be following its own moves hyperconsciously. Never did a decade cry out so brazenly to be witnessed by its inhabitants, its victims, its personnel. And as disruption continued, everything got stranger. Beckett’s haunting line from Endgame seemed weirdly relevant. ‘Something is taking its course.’ What was taking its course was ineffable but peculiar. Certainly strange things were happening. Sometimes they simply happened, but we were doing some of them. We lived in Manhattan, on East 4th Street between First and Second. A few blocks away a follower of Ayn Rand opened an espresso café. We knew him as a follower of Ayn Rand by the dollar sign that hung outside his window. He had a sideline selling hallucinogenic peyote cacti ordered from a cactus ranch in southern Texas. One evening a friend of mine, myself, and my fiancée—three of us—rode a motorcycle off the street and into the café, jumping the curb, over the sidewalk, through the door, passing among the tables alive with deluded merriment, into the sad autumnal garden. Months later Baron, the Randite proprietor, died, mysteriously or not. Dealers are very often called ‘Baron’ for some reason. Before the 60s, though, one saw few individuals like Baron, the fiscally conservative Peyote Man. …”
Vanity Fair
NY Times: Stone’s Diaries

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, Happenings, Ken Kesey, LSD, Marijuana, Newspaper and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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