November 2, 2004
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. Serius 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, Serius 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 combined 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.
Ken Goffman, a. k. a. R. U. Serius, is a well-known cultural commentator and co-founder of Mondo 2000, the iconoclastic magazine that defined the digital culture of the early nineties. He is an author or editor of seven books, including Mondo 2000: A User’s Guide to the New Edge and The Revolution, and he co-wrote Timothy Leary’s last book, Design for Dying. He was a columnist for Artforum International and the San Francisco Examiner. He lectures internationally on subjects ranging from the implications of new technology to alternative politics. He lives in Mill Valley, California.
Dan Joy is a writer, editor, and inadvertent performance artist from San Francisco.