[csaa-forum] the sixties
john.tebbutt at latrobe.edu.au
Mon Jun 4 09:18:58 CST 2007
Recently finished reading Norman Mailer¹s Armies of the night¹. This
October marks the 40th anniversary of the march and occupation of the
Pentagon that Mailer documents and novelises¹.
I¹m interested in representation and symbolic protests/demonstrations¹ and
would like to work on that as a topic area. Lots of contemporary resonances:
from David Marr¹s death of the demo¹ coda to the Quarterly Essay excerpt in
The Age on Saturday, to the use of symbolism around Hicks in Guantanamo Bay
(Nigel Jamieson¹s Honour Bound¹ as one example). The occupation of the
Pentagon by protestors also opens up lines for contemporary
Mailer¹s role as a celebrity intellectual¹ which he discusses in Armies of
the night¹ certainly has relevance as an antidote to romantic notions of
protest in the 60s (he and his intellectual mates connive to get arrested,
processed and released as earlier possible so they can get back to their
respective parties in New York... In the end it doesn¹t work like that). The
text too is rich with potential as part satire, part reportage, part
argument with history.
On 4/6/07 9:18 AM, "Stephen Muecke" <Stephen.Muecke at uts.edu.au> wrote:
> The Sixties Revisited
> There are many reasons for a renewed interest in the sixties. The worst reason
> is, of course, for superannuated baby-boomers to indulge in nostalgia, the
> best is for people born, say in the eighties, to analyse a period where there
> were real and effective languages of political contestation, which could be
> taken even to a national scale (Mai '68, the Cultural Revolution in China,
> student movements toppling the governments of Sth Korea and Thailand, national
> liberation movements against colonialism).
> In terms of culture there were radical forms of experimentation in everyday
> life, the birth of ecological movements, homosexuality was legalised, a
> stunning new visual style emerged in in iconography, fashion, fine arts and
> cinema. Popular music came of age in the USA and the UK, and there was a new
> cosmopolitanism of youth movements. In science and industry plastics emerged,
> the transistor made electronics portable, Man walked on the Moon, nuclear met
> Today, in repudiation of the sixties, the world seems engulfed by a
> neo-liberal market-driven culture which has narrowed the language of political
> analysis. Conservative opinion-makers are busy characterising the sixties as a
> time of looney left excess, a smokescreen perhaps for the excesses of global
> corporate capitalism today.
> Are the current forms of political and cultural activism derived from the
> sixties? Community-based localist or micro-activisms, autonomists, hackers and
> bloggers, ferals and sub-cultural communities?
> Serious research should determine how cultural and political analysis of this
> four-decade-old history can sort out continuities and discontinuities. Most
> world leaders grew up in the sixties, so the period still has a hold on their
> unconscious: Can they let it go? Can people in their twenties and thirties
> teach them to look at the present more clearly?
> The question I¹d like to put to the List, perhaps with a view to a seminar, is
> who in Australia is working on the sixties (really the late 50s to the early
> 70s)? Who is prepared to work up a topic? There is the potential for
> interesting Asian linkssee Inter-Asia Cultural Studies issue of December last
> year, The Asian Sixties¹.
> Stephen Muecke
> Director, Transforming Cultures Centre
> Humanities and Social Sciences
> University of Technology, Sydney
> Box 123 BROADWAY NSW 2007 Australia
> Ph: +61 2 9514 1960
> Fx: +612 9514 4344
> mb 042 5261 232
> discussion list of the cultural studies association of australasia
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