Although typically defining themselves in opposition to dominant cultures--hence the name--countercultures through history have more in common with each other than previously supposed. In fact, argues this book, breaking with tradition is itself a longstanding tradition, distinguished by Promethean antiauthority impulses, often accompanied by some sort of libertine humanism and individualism (although often conflicted about the merits of technology). Less a history of movements than of moments, Goffman's narrative hits Socrates and Sufism, among select others, en route to a more detailed parsing of the various countercultural moments of the twentieth century; at times, it reads reminiscent of an old-fashioned intellectual history, mapping influences catalyzed in heady Paris or Haight-Ashbury. Yet Goffman steers clear of overtheorizing, keeps readers hooked with hip contemporary comparisons (declaring Calvin Coolidge the Reagan of the early 1900s, for example), and, for decorum's sake, keeps his evident zeal for certain figures (Timothy Leary, for example, a posthumous contributor to this book) more or less in check. Always engaging, often inspiring, and certainly not just for nostalgic boomers. Brendan Driscoll
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“In an age of corporate cool-hunting and target-marketed faux rebellion, along comes an inspirational work of scholarship to remind us of just how beyond ‘cool’ true rebels really are, and have always been. I am forever grateful to Ken Goffman for serving as my first guide through the starlit mire of countercultural thought and activity. Read this book, by all means. He knows his way around.”
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–DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, author of Cyberia, Media Virus, Ecstasy Club, and Nothing Sacred
“I read Ken Goffman’s least musings with utterly focused, indeed almost reverent attention.”
–BRUCE STERLING, author of The Zenith Angle and Tomorrow Now
“Being of the same energy field myself, I now throw a sack full of gold dust into the arena and dare anyone to be either funnier or smarter than this R. U. Sirius.”
“This is a brilliant book. R. U. Sirius lived and created the cyberpunk culture in the 1980s. Now he and coauthor Dan Joy have written a sweeping history of countercultures through the ages, starting with the myth that still helps define our relationship with technology, that of the fire-snatching hacker Prometheus. Defying authority with creative edge has been a powerful force throughout history, and R. U. Sirius captures the magic with the authentic insight of someone who's been a rider on that wave.”
-Walter Isaacson, former chairman and ceo of CNN, author of Benjamin Franklin: an American Life
"Edge-thinker and media rabble-rouser Ken Goffman has done us all a great service with his entertaining and enlightening book Counterculture Through the Ages. With passion and wry humor, Goffman unfurls a secret history of rebels, ranters, mystics, and bohos united by their distrust of authority. By placing more recent social struggles in this juicy (and sometimes hilarious) context, Goffman and coauthor Dan Joy reveal the deeper dimensions of our current quest for freedom and fun in a shrinking world of surveillance and control."
-Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information
From the Hardcover edition.