Monday, August 17, 2009

Synchronicity with 1967

A bit of Sychronicity with Friday's interview with Douglas Rushkoff and our conversation on Common Threads about setting up alternate economies and community-based organization "off the grid":

Lorenzo Hagarty just released through his Psychedelic Salon podcast a recorded conversation called "The Houseboat Summit" between Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and others, all about the interpretation of Leary's famous "Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out" motto.

The media and government interpretation of this phrase was frequently heard as a "lack of communicating community", as one speaker put it, which is quite the opposite of the point. Alan Watts characterizes this problem as essentially spiritual: the Western tradition revolves around the universe having a boss, whereas other cultures (he refers to the Chinese) have a sense that order arises from mutual agreements between the constituent parts. Given that human beings are essentially creatures of social coordination -- incontrovertible support given by prehistorical research and evolutionary biology -- the idea of falling to total bedlam without the cosmic boss (God, president, CEO, whatever) should be seen as fundamentally absurd.

The conversation revolves around practical movement to alternative community. What do people need to give up? What are the realities of turning away from modern technologies, which is often necessary when turning away from the popular mega-economy? Why have some communities succeeded and many more failed?

The year that this conversation took place -- 1967 -- and the sense of urgency with which this topic is discussed among these great thinkers, "elders of the hippies" as Hagarty puts it, puts our current sense of urgency for answers to problems created by over-reliance on distant industry and over-abstraction of human values into economic and political values here in 2009, in eerie recapitulating perspective.

"Every healthy culture provides for there being non-joiners." --Alan Watts


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