Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The counterculture

This morning I woke up to a magnificent Marc Maron rant inspired by this lazy and vicious Weekly Standard article by Stephen Schwartz, titled The End of the Counter-Culture: Hunter S. Thompson, 1939 - 2005.

First of all, the word is counterculture. No hyphen. I googled it to be sure, and in doing so came across a beautiful and evocative website under the umbrella of the Smithsonian, full of Lisa Law photos from the late sixties and early seventies documenting life in the counterculture. That is to say, the counterculture as it actually existed in the real world rather than the form it is twisted into in Schwartz's mind.

Stephen Schwartz:
    "Counter" it was, as an expression of defiance toward everything normal and reliable in society. "Culture" it was not, any more than Thompson's incoherent scribblings constituted, as they were so often indulgently described, a form of journalism.
Morning Sedition:
    In addition to calling Thompson "indulgent" and "overrated," Schwartz was more than happy to proclaim "the end of the counter-culture." Why does the right have so much contempt for the pursuit of cultural growth and individualism? In our eyes, the right is more appropriately "the counter culture." They are "counter" to everything that encourages personal advancement and social progress outside of narrowly constructed moral norms. So, it naturally behooves them to strike down any vaunted member of the anti-establishment and deride unconventional thought as juvenile rabble rousing.

    Do not let them take away your icons. Do not forget your influences, the people and things that make you feel unique. Do not let physical death equal the death of independent spirit.
Oh, and P.S.:

Stephen Schwartz:
    Thompson had much in common with Burroughs and Ginsberg. First, their products were mainly noise. Their books were reissued but now sit inertly on bookstore shelves, incapable of inspiring younger readers, or even nostalgic baby boomers, to purchase them.
Real Life: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson is currently number 19 on the Amazon best sellers list.

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