I haven’t been much of a late-night DJ lately, speaking out across the airwaves, broadcasting via trance-script. Sarah and I have been hard at work. Time to relax, clink glasses, admire a mason jar filled with roses and azaleas picked from our garden. But work calls and the baby calls, placing demands upon our time. A student shares with me Allen Ginsberg’s plea to the Hell’s Angels, a piece the poet read at San Jose State College, asking the Angels not to violently disrupt a peace protest. Why did the Angels refuse Ginsberg’s plea? Was there a flaw in the poet’s telling of the difference between poetry and rhetoric? It’s the same difference Audre Lorde struggles to master in her poem “Power.” How does one ease the Other’s fears so as to prevent further violence? Gene Youngblood says leave the culture without leaving the country. Secede from the broadcast. Build the worlds that will be the destinations and destinies of those who walk away. Use these worlds for meditation and transform oneself. “You’re either leaving,” Gene notes, “or you’re not.” Invite alterity into one’s media universe. Gene calls the current era “The Build,” as we detach from the corporate-state broadcast into that which comes next.
The baby and I read a trippy “opposites primer” version of Sense & Sensibility beside the window in the room above the garage. Afterwards I join a conversation on Gene Youngblood. Listen in, that is — and read along. Erik Davis leads the way through “Part Three: Toward Cosmic Consciousness” from Youngblood’s classic “post-McLuhan philosophical probe,” Expanded Cinema. Youngblood begins Part Three with a reference to Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier’s French mindbender The Morning of the Magicians. Mind of the observer transformed by science, he says, “We move now in sidereal time” (135). Meaning what, exactly? Time measured according to the stars rather than the sun? Youngblood replies with a quote from John Cage: “A measurement measures measuring means.” Time to venture into invisible worlds — the worlds of the electronic nervous system. Consciousness, omni-operative, pervades every atom, every molecule, right down to the quanta. Youngblood strikes me as a bit of an accelerationist. Worlds evolve, he suggests, rendering other worlds obsolete. Authors seed and cede ground to star children, human/plant/machine hybrids moved by a marriage of reason and intuition. In place of obsolescence I prefer cosmologies that support shared ongoing being.
I wish there was time to fit radical media theorist Gene Youngblood’s book Expanded Cinema into my course on Hippie Modernism. Youngblood’s work shares in the cosmic consciousness whipped up by the two big events of the Summer of ’69, Woodstock and the moon launch. For Abbie Hoffman, remember, Woodstock served as a mind-blowing demonstration of “Functional anarchy, primitive tribalism, gathering of the tribes.” Youngblood’s book examined the role participatory media events and media revolution might play in this project. The main prerequisites to demonstrate the human capacity for psychedelic beloved community were all present at Woodstock: willingness to live side by side in harmony, feeding and caring for one another, with no expectation of profit. Another version of the utopian hippie modernist Woodstock Nation of the future can be glimpsed in Ant Farm’s Cowboy Nomad manifesto from 1969. One can imagine dozens of Woodstocks scaling up into Ant Farm’s Truckstop Network, tribes traveling in caravans of camper vans and VW buses.