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Friday, June 6, 2008


I finished High School in 1971. I was aware of the world during the later 60's. The Hippie sub-culture peaked in around 1968, to my recollection, and many of those who were pioneers of that movement left the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in subsequent years.

Some wandered North. I think many had dreams of Canada, which had been the refuge of many draft-dodgers escaping an unwanted obligation to fight a war in distant Viet Nam. A number of them settled in Ashland, Oregon. That is where I lived.

I know that my parents were a bit troubled by some elements of this counter culture. I found it exciting. I still believe that the common beliefs of the American people needed challenging at that time. Though there were troubles in those times, many important changes were brought about as a result of things that were said and done in that decade.

So, I finished my growing up in part influenced by the Hippie sub-culture. I adopted some aspects of the culture, enjoying the love of personal freedom that was at the heart of the era of love. I saw much that was beautiful in the movement.

I also saw things break down. Over time a tavern downtown acquired a clutch of Hippies wearing western style clothing and sitting drunk on the benches out front. The liberal attitude toward such things as personal hygiene did not always prove endearing. The proliferation of drug use was not very often positive.

My life moved on, and I experienced other sub-cultures. As a soldier in a foreign land, I experienced something called a third-culture. That is when a large number of people from one culture live in a different culture, raising their children in this environment. These children form a third culture, with distinct characteristics. My particular experience was in Germany in the early 1970's.

Later came Disco culture. I was not at all involved in this culture. I was aware of it largely through television and movies. Then New Wave, which was a reaction to the Hippie movement and a shift in musical and artistic styles. Punk was a less commercialized movement of the same era, and may have been a precursor to the New Wave.

Subsequent movements included the Goths. I recall reading some writing on the Internet by a Goth writer who was very critical of the Hippie generation for failing on the promise of a new world of freedom and peace. The Punks and Goths seemed reactive to me, but I thought there were some interesting creative elements to their sub-cultures to the degree I was able to observe them.

Sub-cultures challenge the status quo. The encourage thinking that is outside of and contrary to the main stream of culture. They raise issues that might otherwise be overlooked by the comfortable and complacent. They tend to be radically creative.

Often they are intentionally offensive. Much of their creativity as a body and movement can be focused on intentionally challenging established values and beliefs. I believe that this is often a good thing, since what is offensive is often noticed, and it stands in stark contrast to what is acceptable and accepted. This challenge at least requires an examination of accepted beliefs, and can sometimes lead to beneficial change.

I enjoy the creativity and energy of emerging sub-cultures. Some, such as Gangsta' sub-culture, seems to have no redeeming value. I will not condemn the sub-culture outright, but I do not anticipate much that is positive from that front. However, like the Anarchists they serve to point out flaws in our mainstream culture that need some attention.

Some sub-cultures are just plain fun. Not necessarily innocent fun, but fun none the less. An example of this is the Lolita sub-culture that seems to be an off-shoot of Goth. This can be a fun and creative sub-culture, as exhibited by Lolita fashion. The dark side is the undercurrent of adult/child sexual involvement that is the literary origin of the movement.

Most Lolita fashion and culture is distant from this dark origin. It can often be fresh, exciting and creative. Like the Goth movement from which it originated, it can be practiced by degrees.

I value the fun, energy and creativity that sub-cultures represent. I respect the challenge to the status quo that is inherent in sub-cultures. I value the questions these challenges bring. I cannot accept or support every sub-culture that arises within my own culture, but I can strive to assess them with respectful consideration.

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