- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Villard; Reprint edition (September 13, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812974751
- ISBN-13: 978-0812974751
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,174,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House Reprint Edition
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“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.”
–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.
From the Inside Flap
As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. At times it moves deep below the surface of things, a stealth mode of being all but invisible to the dominant paradigm; at other times it's in plain sight, challenging the status quo; and at still other times it erupts in a fiery burst of creative-or destructive-energy to change the world forever.
But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history's great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.
Countercultural pundit and cyberguru R. U. Sirius brilliantly sets the record straight in this colorful, anecdotal, and wide-ranging study based on ideas developed by the late Timothy Leary with Dan Joy. With a distinctive mix of scholarly erudition and gonzo passion, Sirius and Joy identify the distinguishing characteristics of countercultures, delving into history and myth to establish beyond doubt that, for all their surface differences, countercultures share important underlying principles: individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and a belief in the possibility of personal and social transformation.
Ranging from the Socratic counterculture of ancient Athens and the outsider movements of Judaism, which left indelible marks on Western culture, to the Taoist, Sufi, and Zen Buddhist countercultures, which were equally influential in the East, to the famous countercultural moments of the last century-Paris in the twenties, Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, Tropicalismo, women's liberation, punk rock-to the cutting-edge countercultures of the twenty-first century, which combine science, art, music, technology, politics, and religion in astonishing (and sometimes disturbing) new ways, "Counterculture Through the Ages is an indispensable guidebook to where we've been . . . and where we're going.
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What a fun gallop throughout time, weaving through history common threads of anti-authoritarianism and poignant pranksterism.
I'd give this one star off for not being super-duper-utterly comprehensive (what about reggae?? what about tantra and the yogis?? deeper still, what about the yoginis??) ... but I enjoyed the book too much to dis it even a little bit. Definitely a favorite! My copy, new when I started, is now well-worn and dog-eared like mad :-)
The authors start with ancient times, looking to Prometheus and Abraham as examples of early rebels, then go on to look at Taoists, Sufis, Zen masters and medieval troubadours (who are credited with providing a blueprint for our modern ideas about love and romance). This book is not, however, a mere cataloging of countercultural movements. It contains quite a bit of useful analysis, such as the internal contradictions that exist within many countercultures --for example, the authoritarian impulses that often arise within movements that are supposedly against authority; the rather puritanical tendencies of transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson; the ever-present danger of "selling out" or having the movement absorbed by mainstream society.
R.U. Sirius has been at the center of the counterculture himself for the last few decades, especially the cyberpunk/futurist wing of it. Here he contrasts the Promethean vs. anti-Promethean strains that exist within countercultures. This debate, over whether technology is primarily a liberating or enslaving influence, is an example of how complex and theoretical this topic can get. I think that the authors of this work do a very good job at getting beyond the dogmas that often weigh down alternative thinkers and point the way towards a truly freer way to look at life.