Re: Go Ask Alice, Drugs, & the culture of the Sixties
Mon, 09 Jun 97 11:47:15 PST

To all sixties people:

Several different questions have arisen stemming from the original
post regarding the validity of the book, Go Ask Alice.

1. Is the book Go Ask Alice a fair and appropriate description of the
sixties drug culture? I don't know. Haven't read the book.

2. Related to #1, in general was the drug culture of the sixties
benign (maybe even beneficial)?

This is a very complex and difficult question, and my response to it
would necessarily be personal. Certainly, I do not think drug use any
worse than the widespread alcohol and nicotine abuse current before,
during and after the sixties. But I became a casualty of the drug
culture. I would also tend to question whether widespread drug use is
ever socially beneficial, however useful it may have been to selected
individuals. Most of what I saw of the drug culture could be summed up
in the Rolling Stones' phrase on the meaning of life as ", drugs
and rock 'n roll." To the extent that phrase may accurately represent
the mind set of a generation, it would seem juvenile and shallow, at
best. For every Huxley concerned with the doors of perception, there
were thousands of young people "just partying," getting stoned, getting
laid, and digging the sounds.

Mainly, I think drugs were more dangerous than we then perceived,
that they gave the false impression that enlightenment was just the
drop of a tab of acid away, and that we had the right to expect to
always be "up" and never "down."

On the other hand, drugs changed my life (in ways other than alluded
to above) and broke my ideological and cultural mold allowing me to
see myself and my culture from a totally different perspective.

Probably, the question would be were the benefits worth the cost?
Could the same benefits have been obtained differently? (Your
response might depend on how long it has been since your car or house
has been burgled by an addict--or whether or not you still use drugs.
Would your ex-spouse have had a different evaluation of your drug
use? How about your children? Can "Free Huey" now?)

3. On balance was the culture of the sixties good, beneficent? How does
one judge a culture? Are we any better off now than then? Is it better
to have computers or not? We have more freedom now but the divorce rate
is sky high.

The sixties were FUN! Not only for sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, but
because we had the sense that great things were in the offing, that we
were living in the midst of a historic moment.

The sixties were about freedom, however imperfectly actualized.

The sixties were about interracial, intercultural rapprochement.

The sixties were about the personal against the bureaucratically

The sixties were Zen Buddhist instead of Calvinist.

The sixties were about youth over age; innocence over cynicism.

The sixties held up ideals over personal greed.


The revolution did not come, or somehow I missed it.

How many of the idealists of the sixties are still idealists?

Are the questions today as simple as they seemed then?

My stay in the army was extremely valuable because it taught me how to
deal with bureaucracies, the dominant form of life in the 90s.

Were not much of the sixties' ideals based on illusions?

Perhaps we should say that it was the best of times, it was the worst of
times (to crib a line).

Karl Slinkard