For review of the OG's:
There are four main parts to this material in the following order.
Traditionalism against which Romanticism revolted:
1. Puritanism 2. Work Ethic 3. Gender traditionalism
Major points are in gray/black boxes
The Romantic revolt comes under 3 headings:
Authenticity Part One: INTUITION: Discover one's true self
Major points are in green boxes
Authenticity Part Two: EXPRESSIVISM: Express your true self
Major Points are in red boxes
Authenticity Part 3: INTEGRITY Have the integrity to maintain your
true self
Major points are in blue boxes:
1. Discover one’s nature
• Listen to the still small voice
• Ignore conventional wisdom
2. Express one’s nature:
•be nonconformist
•Develop one’s inborn abilities
3. Have the integrity to resist coercion
out of one’s authentic life and seduction
back into a conventional life.
Difficulties in authenticity
& integrity
• It takes strength of character.
• Freedom is frightening: fear may make one run back
to the closet
• The outcome is unknown, the future uncertain
• Conventional society will attempt to
punish you.
Nations, like families, have great men only in
spite of themselves. They do everything in their
power not to have any. And therefore, the great
man, in order to exist, must possess a force of
attack which is greater than the force of
resistance developed by millions of people.
--Charles Baudelaire
Freedom is frightening because no
one can tell you the way
• There are no road maps, no well-trodden
paths to follow, no scripts.
• One has to make it up as one goes, with only
one’s instincts to follow
• No one will be able to give you advice.
• You will be uncertain and anxious without
others like you to give you reassurance
For more on this, go to the Taylor lecture and
see the part on Existentialism
Calvin wants to avoid the still small voice; it makes him nervous
Rebel Without a Cause illustrates the
severe anxiety that can result when one
knows that the old ways don’t suit one,
but hasn’t figured out a new way yet and
doesn’t even know where to look.
Rebellion even in
doesn’t come
The kids need
permission from Bud
To turn the juke box
back on after the
town council has
decreed that no one
shall listen to
that kind of music
anymore. They are
used to obeying
the authorities and
their instinct is to do
so again
According to Mademoiselle in 1986:
Dating was probably never fun, But it wasn’t navigating
Shark-infested waters, either. . .. If you wanted sex,
You got married: society required it--it was not optional.
Men pursued women ardently and openly; women pursued
Men ardently and covertly. The game was clear to all players.”
Even if the rules were stifling, it seems, at least we knew
What they were--and the consequences of breaking them.
-Beth Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat
The editors of Mademoiselle are exhibiting a fear
Of freedom: give us rules, even oppressive ones.
It’s too hard to have to make our own choices.
• Vast numbers of American women and men during
the early years of the cold war--more than ever
before or since--got married, moved to the suburbs,
and had babies. If they felt frustrated with their lot,
the women were more likely to turn to tranquilizers,
and the men to Playboy magazine, for escape. But
few were willing to give up the rewards of
conforming for the risks of resisting the domestic
--Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound:American
Families in the Cold War Era
• the young Republican, though often seeming
to hold up Babbitt as his culture hero, is
neither vulgar nor materialistic, as Babbitt
was. He conforms because he believes it Is
socially practical, not necessarily virtuous.
Both positions, however, are the result of
more or less the same conviction -- namely
that the valueless abyss of modern life is
--John Clellon Holmes, author of “Go” the first
Beat novel
By virtue of this inevitable nature, private will is
overpowered, and, maugre our efforts or our
imperfections, your genius will speak from you,
and mine from me. That which we are, we shall
teach, not voluntarily, but involuntarily. Thoughts
come into our minds by avenues which we never left
open, and thoughts go out of our minds through
avenues which we never voluntarily opened.
Yet here we see a different view
For the ease and pleasure of treading the old road,
accepting the fashions, the education, the religion
of society, he takes the cross of making his own,
and, of course, the self-accusation, the faint heart,
the frequent uncertainty and loss of time, which are
the nettles and tangling vines in the way of the
self-relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual
hostility in which he seems to stand to society,
and especially to educated society. For all this loss
and scorn, what offset? He is to find consolation in
exercising the highest functions of human nature.
The old ways will reassert themselves
and must be resisted
Some of the rebels in Pleasantville become
• afraid of their new selves
• ashamed of themselves for no longer being “normal”
one’s old conscience will not disappear overnight:
--Betty will suffer pangs of guilt for leaving her
husband and children and committing adultery with Bill.
--those kids who had pre-marital sex will not lose their
conventional morality so easily: they will feel guilty too.
Conformity suppresses what is natural in us.
Fear of being different can lead us right back into the closet.
Bill tries to make deals about what colors he will use
In order to be able to paint while still remaining respectably within the norms.
The kids in the malt shop give in to their traditional
Respect for authority after the Town Fathers have put
Forth the Code of Decency banning rock ‘n roll.
One must have courage to endure
the punishments the conventional world
will inflict upon those who rebel against it.
For nonconformity, the world
whips you with its displeasure.
i sing of olaf
i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or
his wellbelovéd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
Noncoms (first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments-Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"
straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)
but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat-Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"
our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died--Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see; and Olaf, too
preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was more brave
than me: more blond than you.
One may suffer
• Unpopularity
• Ridicule
• Loss of career
• Loss of friends
• Social oppression
• Poverty
• Even death
America is no place for an artist: to be an artist is to be a
moral leper, an economic misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed
hog enjoys a better life than a creative writer, painter, or
musician.-Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare p. 16
America is not so much a nightmare
as a non-dream. The American non-dream is precisely
a move to wipe the dream out of existence. The dream
is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous
to a control system set up by the non-dreamers.
--William Burroughs, “Beat” author.
In the real 50’s world
• Mary Sue would have been ostracized
for sleeping with Skip
• Betty would have lost all her friends for
leaving her family--she would have
been openly snubbed.
• Bill would have had to run off to
Greenwich Village
The judges of normality are present everywhere.
We are in the society of the teacher-judge,
the doctor-judge, the educator- judge, the
“social worker”-judge.
Michel Foucault
Discipline and Punish, (1975).
The judges of normality
Our society is engaged in much the same conflict today.
People are ostracized, attacked, and even prosecuted
because they read books and magazines society doesn't
approve of; or they put chemicals into their bodies society
doesn't approve of; or they have romantic relationships with
people society doesn't approve of. It matters not that these
are peaceful people who are just trying to pursue happiness.
Society refuses to accept lifestyles that don't fit some
preconceived notion of normalcy. Pleasantville has a happy
ending, as the society accepts that these differences are not
simply aberrant behaviors exhibited by lawless people, but t
he natural expression of hopes and dreams which are inside
every one of us.
---Jonathan Richter
Girls who violated the sexual conventions by “putting out”
or “going all the way” often suffered
a cruel fate: scorn if they were lucky--worse if they weren’t.
In 1949, Bergman met Italian director Roberto
Rossellini. She fell in love with him while
performing in his film Stromboli (1950).
Bergman left her husband, Dr. Aron Petter
Lindström and their daughter, Pia Lindström, for
Rossellini.They married on 24 May 1950,. The
affair caused a scandal; Bergman, who was
pregnant at the time of the marriage, was
branded as "Hollywood's apostle of
degradation" and forced to leave the States.
Anger over her private life continued unabated,
with Ed Sullivan at one point infamously polling
his TV show audience as to whether she should
be forgiven.
Lenny Bruce:
for use of
language in
his nightclub
• In the mid-90’s there was a spate of
hate crime:
• Matthew Shepard tied to a fence and
beaten to death because he was gay.
• Teena Brandon raped and murdered
because she was a man in a woman’s
body and tried to pass as a man.
"in the name of property values, Hermosa Beach
was then [1980] in the midst of clearing out the
last remnants of its hippie culture, and the town
fathers were apparently intent on preventing
bohemian youth culture from ever blighting their
fair city again. The police showed up at the party
and almost literally told Black Flag to be out of
town by sundown."
Michael Azerad,
Our Band Could Be Your Life, p. 20
Pleasantville illustrates two kinds
of reaction to nonconformity
• immediate, vigilante and emotional
• official, thought-out, long term
Burning books
Destroying the malt shop
Destroying Bill’s “offensive” “obscene” art
Attempting to rape Betty
was illegal for more than two homosexuals to
congregate in California during the 1950s
Harsh repression and widespread institutionalized homophobia followed
quickly in the wake of wartime, when
gay and lesbian communities had flourished. As anti-communist
crusades launched investigations to root out
“perverts” in the government, homosexuality itself became a
mark of potential subversive activity, grounds for dismissal
from jobs, and justification for official and unofficial persecution. To
escape the status of pariah, many gay men and lesbians locked
themselves in the stifling closet of conformity, hiding their sexual
identities and passing as heterosexuals. As one lesbian recalled, “It has
never been easy to be a lesbian in this country, but the 1950’s was
surely the worst decade in which to love your own sex.”
--Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound
It’s all too easy to chuckle at Harry Hay when you see him in Before Stonewall, this
effeminate old man with his flamboyant clothing, but it took an enormous amount of
courage to be out as a gay man in the 50’s, to publish a magazine and found an
organization for gays. If gay men like Matthew Shephard are still being harassed, even
killed, in our own, supposedly more liberated times, imagine what threats Harry Hay faced
in the fifties. Even that supposedly most anti-bourgeois radical organization, the
Communist Party, forbade gays to be members.
citizens! we must not sleep.
our sons are running like seasons to nature.
man the tower and trestle tenderfoot soldiers.
daughters! be awake at the wake
be you rigid and immobile and in guard
citizens! resurrect your sons
from this sad spot of decay.
Patti Smith, from “Suite” p. 84
Of Early Work 1970-79
Then the official reaction
The Pleasantville city fathers
struck back against the kids’ rebellion
By banning rock n’ roll, imposing
Curfews . . .
1. They close down the library
2. The schools are to teach the “non-changist”
view of history
3. They ban umbrellas and any other devices
to protect against rain (“head in the sand”)
4. They ban all music but Johnny Mathis and
other “temperate and pleasant” music I.e.
no rock ‘n roll or jazz
5. The only permissible paint colors are black,
white and gray
6. They close down Lovers’ Lane and ban big
beds--no more marital or other sexuality
The first two illustrate the Romantic
view that traditional knowledge will
ignore or suppress anything that
contradicts or challenges it as well
as the conventional attempt to
prevent change
The next four illlustrate the traditional
attempt to suppress nature:
• Rock n’ roll appeals to
– Sexuality
– irrationality
– emotions
• Lovers’ Lane/big beds are banned to
suppress sexuality
• Colors are banned to suppress the ability to
express oneself in untraditional ways.
• HAY’S UNEASY relationship with the gay movement — he
reviled what he saw as the movement’s propensity for selling
out its fringe members for easy, and often illusory, respectability
— didn’t develop later in life. It was there from the start. In
1950, when Hay formed the Mattachine Society — technically a
"homophile group," since the more aggressive idea of gay
rights had yet to be conceived — his radical vision was
captured in a manifesto he wrote stating boldly that gay people
were not like heterosexuals. Indeed, Hay insisted, homosexuals
formed a unique culture from which heterosexuals might learn a
great deal. This notion was at decisive odds with the view put
forth by many other Mattachine members: that homosexuals
should not be discriminated against because gay people were
just like straight people. By 1954, the group essentially ousted
– Michael Brosky
• In 1956 Beat poet and owner of City Lights Books
Lawrence Ferlinghetti published "Howl" in his new
Pocket Poets series. Because of the strong content
of the poetry, United States Customs officers and the
San Francisco police seized the books, banned their
sale, and charged Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg with
publishing obscene material.
• A lengthy court battle ensued, culminating in the
decision that "Howl" was not without redeeming
social importance, and the obscenity charges
I have never been able to accept the two
great laws of humanity—that you’re always
being suppressed if you’re inspired and
always being pushed into the corner if
you’re exceptional. I won’t be cornered and
I won’t stay suppressed.
Margaret Anderson
My Thirty Years’ War, ch. 1 (1930).
The enquiry . . . is not whether a man has
talents & genius, but whether he is passive &
polite & a virtuous ass & obedient to
noblemen’s opinions in art & science. If he is,
he is a good man. If not, he must be starved.
--William Blake (1757-1827), British poet, painter, engraver and as complete a
Romantic as ever was.
One must resist the temptation
to “sell out.”
An indie filmmaker may find himself facing a tempting
offer from a big studio. She’ll get much more money,
studio backing for publicity and distribution . . .
And she’ll have to let the suits have a say in the kinds
of films she makes.
One must be smart enough to avoid
ersatz kinds of nonconformity:
•Buying cool stuff that you think will make you a
•Conforming to the other nonconformists around you,
Exchanging one kind of conformity for another.
The square
world will
attempt to
to sell it
to those who
want to be hip
“Patti Smith-inspired clothing”
Break the rules. Stand apart.
Keep your head.
Go with your heart.
TV commercial for Vanderbilt perfume 1994
The “prejudice” was the
long-standing belief
that it was not
feminine to smoke.
Smoke these and you
can be the kind
of free-spirited woman
who rides a dirt bike
with the man on the
Contrast 11
Romantics: Be true to oneself at all costs
Practical people: Be sensible: sometimes you have to go
along to get along. Don’t make waves. Be a team player.
Cynics: Everybody has a price. Don’t be a sucker.
Fatalists: There’s nothing one person can do to change
anything, so why try?
Moralists: One has a duty to others; one can’t just run off and
do as one pleases.