Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Sex in the Sixties

I’m taking advantage of my AWESOME NLT power to move the Sixties discussion with Carl, Ralph, Kate, Steve, and many others from the thread below to here.

1. Carl asked: Why did I say Marx would have predicted the "effectual truth" of the sexual/women’s liberation of the sixties? The good news: Women become free individuals just like men. The bad: Women are more or less compelled to become wage slaves just like men. The competitive logic of the market enters into every facet of relations between the sexes. Sex itself is commodified; the body becomes yet a natural resource to be used at will. The libertarian logic of "preferences" enters sexual life; sex is separated from biological imperatives, including what Marx called the "halos" that come from the illusions of love.

2. The best Sixties theorists, like Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse, loved to talk up "polymorphous perversity" as the alternative to "genital tyranny." Sex, freed from the imperatives of reproduction, could flourish as never before. Does that mean that we’ll we all about easygoing recreational rutting in all sorts of ways, that our whole bodies will so be AROUSED we won’t be able to calculate or consent? Or does that mean that our erotic instinct will mix with unfettered imagination to produce a new "art of life" (Marcuse) with unprecented flourishing of music, art, philosophy and the other features of high civilization? Like Marx himself, our New Lefties really thought that the conquest of scarcity by technology could free us from work and for joy. And like Marx himself, they were pretty confused about what that freedom will be like.

3. The Sixties also aimed to free sex from the constraints of love, while simultaneously teaching that love is all you need. How can love be separated from sex? Drugs!

4. On Sixties drugs: Doesn’t it seem that every work of art they inspired was curiously unerotic--nothing like the mechanical rutting of rock ’n roll criticized by Bloom? (Think the Beatles first--lots of that stuff really is beautiful and finely crafted.) LSD in particular seems to have produced a mixture of an incredibly inflated sense of oneself and a sort of loving pantheistic oneness. Drugs really are required to free the imagination from necessity and the obsessions of self-consciousness, and especially to separate good moods from the whims of other people.

5. Mood-altering drugs are bound to have a big place in our biotechnological future. More than we want to think, the soft drugs of the Sixties were the most effective feature of their liberationist utopianism.

Discussions - 39 Comments

I have no power on NLT but Kate asked me what Hegel would say about the sixties..."It plunges therefore into life and indulges to the full the pure individuality in which it appears. It does not so much make its own happiness as straightway take it and enjoy it. The shadowy existence of science, laws and principles, which alone stand between it and its own reality, vanishes like a lifeless mist which cannot compare with the certainty of its own reality. It takes hold of life much as a ripe fruit is plucked, which readily offers itself to the hand that takes it."

"The heart-throb for the welfare of humanity therefore passes into the ravings of an insane self-conceit, into the fury of consciousness to preserve itself the perversion which it is itself, and by stiving to look on it and express it as something else. It therefore speaks of the universal order as a perversion which it is itself, and by striving to look on it and express it as something else."

By various turns this mentality runs up against what Hegel calls the "way of the world"...

In the end Hegel predicts that people will come to wish to forget the 60's(in so far as this time period coresponds to the the Actualization of Self-Consciousness). "The fatuousness of this rhetoric seems, too, in an unconscious way to have come to be a certainty for the culture of our time, since all interest in the whole mass of such rhetoric, and the way it is used to boost one's ego, has vanished--a loss of interest which is expressed in the fact that it produces a feeling of boredom."

Thank you, John Lewis, for invoking what power you do have on NLT and bringing Hegel to such sympathetic life for me.

As to Peter Lawler's post, what he does not include, and should, in his discussion of drugs and sex in that era, is the effect of the birth control pill on sexuality. By separating procreation and sex, even women could be as egotistical as men in their sexuality, changing the nature of their gender. When those drugs were not as completely fool-proof as hoped, abortion could be made available as a back-up measure.

Love can be fleeting when there is no aftereffect.

So libertarianism today,despite being explicitly anti Marxist, ends up preserving and even making respectable much of what is quintissentially Marxist....Brooks BoBo is a good depiction of the type that gets produced,the one who combines Lockean labor and Marxist self fullfillment, or a peculiar kind of existentialist bourgeois

Kate, Sure, contraception plus the celebration of various forms of sexual activity that have no reproductive potential. On the convergence of libertarianism and Marxism, see the celebration of the sixties in the Brink Lindsey book. John, I'm tempted to ask what you're smoking when you're reading Hegel, but actually Hegel can have that kind of mesmerizing effect on his own.

I've nearly finished Eric Clapton's autobiography. The pervasiveness of drugs, including alcohol, among the musical leaders (at least) of the 60s generation is no surprise, but I confess to being astonished by the quantity and constancy of the intake descripted by Clapton -- decades passing in a separate drug-induced reality. Because of this narcotic haze (and the desperately clueless promiscuity that accompanied it), the whole middle part of the book becomes a little tedious, but the beginning, when he discovers music and teaches himself to play the guitar by imitating records, and the end, when, in his mid-fifties, he seems to have figured out what might make life good, are quite interesting. (A prayer of some kind was decisive in Clapton's "conversion" to sobriety, and he has continued daily prayer. To whom exactly is unclear...) The fecundity of the youth-music culture in England beginnig in the fifties is quite striking, and was of course an important influence upon what was bubble up in the US. (The young brits asorbed the American counterculture - Jazz, Blues -- and then sent it back.)

Well, I suppose this doesn't advance Peter's theoretical questions very much, but I found it interesting. And somehow this transatlantic interchange of musical and countercultural energy seems relevant to the question of the meaning of the sixties. Or it may be that I still haven't recovered from the first time I heard the Beatles' "Please Please Me," and I'm still transported by Cream's "Badge" (despite the nonsense lyrics).

Sure the music was very important. It told us who we were. We probably wouldn't have known, otherwise.

However, the unsung heroes of the "musical leaders" of the era were the producers and technicians who made those guys sound so good. For all of the counter-culture and unfettered imagination, where would a Clapton or Lennon or any of them have been without their commercial masters? What George Martin did for the Beatles, among others, was make a finished product that was art. Their tunes are nice (they have even made for good elevator "music)and sometimes the lyrics are not bad, but the rough was nothing to the finished product.

Really, think about it. The counter-culture would have been passed out in dumpy London flats or Haight-Asbury flop-houses if not for the commercial concerns who sold those guys to us and to themselves.

Ralph, that those songs are still being appreciated by the young must mean there is something there. My sons, from the 30 year old to the 18 year old, love the "music of your life." The youngest one, in bands, comes begging, "Who else was there?" and we dig up something else for him. He likes The Left Bank, right now.

Peter, don't the mind-altering drugs of then open us to the mood-altering drugs, available by prescription, today?

Kate, Sure, and someone could easily say it would be better to legalize marijuana than Prozac tens of millions through prescription. But it's impossible to be a productive member of society (in most jobs, anyway) under the influence of LSD, not so with Prozac. Narcotic haze seems almost more 70s than 60s to me, when drug use when from faux transcendental to unabashedly recreational. Well, narcotic haze also described most blues and jazz musicians, apparently, and Clapton was probably closer to them in spirit than the psychedelic sixties. I agree that the musicians of the late 60s owe a lot to managers and engineers and commercial and technical handlers generally. But the Beatles and Cream, for example, were on their owncharacterized by an eery originality and perfectionism that transcended humble roots and all that. The music was clearly the best thing about the late 60s, setting a popular standard that has not been approached since.

In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, Marx identifies four stages of the relation of man and woman. The first is the early Rousseau Second Discourse stage, bumping into each other in the woods, me Tarzan you Jane, spontanoeous, natural and inconsequential (for the male) sex. The second is the Family, which Marx understands as a true corporation resulting in one person, but in which the female is the property of the male. The family distintegrates under capitalism, with the introduction of divorce (and all the other things Kate in particular mentioned in the 60's). The third stage is the stage of crude communism, in which there is a sort of universal prostitution--really even worse than under capitalism. This was the subject of many rap sessions of young Marxist males--imagining free love without end. The fourth stage is the abolition of the problem of the public and the private, and as such, indescribable. Thus what Peter says could fall in the cusp between the second and third stages.

I'm sorry I have not been able to participate more in this discussion. I myself have been thinking much about 1968 this year. The late 60's were in fact tremendously erotic, there was a great yearning, but the pantheistic soup all around offered only abolition. It was in the late 60's that the time bomb set off by liberalism sent me packing back to the Christians and the Ancients. At Stanford University in the Fall of 1970 I was introduced to Thomas Aquinas and hence to Aristotle, and my life was never the same. My love was saved and explained.

I will try to participate more following Tuesday's election.

Rob Jeffrey, all the best to your wife in the election. And lucky (or best blessed) you to have found safe haven in 1970. I think America in general has fallen somewhere between capitalism and Marxism. In many ways, it has been a soft landing.

Peter, is marijuana self-medication for depression? Last semester's class was nearly all male, and on an all-male day during discussion it was evident that every one of them was a pot smoker. I guided the discussion to the user's problem with motivation, which they all laughingly admitted. I had seen, (or too often not seen,) their work and they could not deny the problem in the specific. Narcotic haze is still very much with us.

Yes, illegal drug use was increasingly prevalent in the 70s, though I think the drugs of choice changed over time. I was remembering last night and would include in a discussion of the drugging of 60s youth the use of prescription drugs, which was unremarked and rampant. My second high school, in OR, was nearly all "good kids" and most of those go-getters took amphetamines and barbiturates.

Maybe we will have to disagree about the extent to which the creative ferment of the 60s (and later) musicians was due to those individuals and what to the commercial entities who packaged them. I refer you (in a non-deferential referential way) to "A Hard Days' Night" which looked at their handling. Remember, especially, the George scene when he stumbles on the marketing agency? He tells the ad execs that he and his friends make rude jokes about the current agency "product" which is a cute perky young thing. The ad exec. kicks him out and then stands musing about whether George might be the next new thing. "Nah!" he says, but the movie was purely product placement and the Beatles were the product.

I don't deny the talent. Have you guys heard Jack Bruce's subsequent music? I preferred him to Clapton.

Right, Marcuse was sort of caught between celebrating the third and fourth stages. But the effectual truth was the intensification of the second stage. Women's response to male sexual liberation had to be feminism, or the application of contractual/consensual justice to intimate life. "The personal is the political." We'll be hoping and praying for Christina on Tuesday.

Kate--I gotta say that, sure, the Beatles started out that way, but... More generally, though, I'm pretty open to the thought that everything about the Sixties got commodified or boboed. Marijuana is not a SSRI, obviously, and it's less compatible with productivity, ambition and all that. It's also fine to drive on Prozac, but... But I can't help but think that marijuana is less of an attack on the soul, or eros. You're right that the increasing use of various kinds of "uppers"--prescription and not--characerized the late 60s. And LSD was often cut with speed, apparently to sustain the experience longer. We agree that drugs are the most enduring feature of the 60s; they may be less completely effective but they're more reliable for most folks than reding Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

Peter, but the Beatles became less commercial as time went on? As they didn't so much need the money, they became increasingly self-indulgent; think of "Magical Mystery Tour." As they went their separate wealthy ways, was there less hype?

Yes, everything about the sixties was commodified, during the time and especially following. Even feminism, even drugs and even "Feelings" which became the substitute for love. I tell my children, when someone says they have "feelings" for you, run the other way.

"Drugs really are required to free the imagination from necessity and the obsessions of self-consciousness, and especially to separate good moods from the whims of other people." -- Required?!? Enough of this leniency towards mood-altering drugs! I grant your point that the attraction was, at its best, connected with a longing for transcendence. (Indulge me in this autobiographical hypothesis: my drunk or high friends used to marvel that I could participate in their departure from mundane, economic reality without chemical assistance. I always connected this ability with youthful experiences of religious transcendence and a resulting conviction of the reality of another region of reality. I could make merry with my high friends because I had learned a certain contempt for what the world takes seriously.) --But once the feeling of loving well-being (the truth of love) is wholly severed from the love of truth, from the mind's interest in what is real (or once the contempt for the real, public world goes a step too far)-- once the good falls away from the true -- nothing can remain but subjectivity=commodification.

Ralph, religious transcendence has little to do with the experience of being high. Being high is a cheap substitute, like potato chips for real food, only more so. Some drugs satisfy that craving we have for the transcendent, but not well and not for long. You had the better experience.

Dr Lawler, all cows are black at night but in the morning you can find shrooms in the patties.

Kate, Well, exactly, the Beatles became rich guys who could do what they wanted. And even their most self-indulgent efforts became classic and commercial. There's a lot pompous and stupid about the late Beatles, but let it be. And Ralph, that subjectivity can't resist commodification is, of course, a big downside of the purely modern idea of freedom. I might also add that I actually don't take mood brightening drugs and was only talking about the internal logic of the Sixties. Drug-induced experiences are always closer to Rousseauean reveries that the transcendence of the mystic. Mysticism, Buddhism, etc., I hear, are really hard. John Lewis, pretty funny...

I am just an observer to this fine conversation and have no real opinions based on anything like experience (of the 60s or of drugs) but I wonder if I might presume to ask a question. What role do you think greed (irony of ironies) might have played in the 60s? What leads me to ask is my reflection that it doesn't seem likely to me that there could be any transcendent need satisfied by mood altering drugs that could not be similarly satisfied by a fine glass of wine (or two) and an equally fine conversation with friends. Did people just get a taste of that kind of experience and decide that they deserved more? Or is it that the wine is easy to come by whereas the friends (and the conversation) can be harder to find. Easier to skip the wine, forget the friends and get the drugs? Perhaps it was something like that that drove the sex too? And the music? A sense of entitlement?

So we really can get high with a little help from our friends. Drugs, of course, reduce our dependence on friends, except as fellow users. And friendship based on Julie's kind of conversation is hard to find, which is why there are so many bloggers and threaders and such.

Wine was not easy to come by then as now. People today feel entitled to good wine, good coffee, what the heck, good shampoo and everything else. We have perfect competition in the market for products like that, and have come to a sense of entitlement to good food, good drink, good hair, all sorts of things. Perhaps the late 60s demand for leveling (of course, far from everyone was a hippie. They (we) just got the most press.) combined with a growing commercial economy and Reaganonomics (or did those get us to Reaganomics?) - anyway, what I was trying to argue above (or in the other thread) was that the marketplace responded to the "Youth Culture" by co-opting and commercializing it. That's how the hippie comes to be the face of youth in the late 60s, although not as prevalent then as you might expect. By the 70s, all the guys had long hair, all the girls wore jeans (that is the uniform of my generation, the blue jean, which we still wear! Though we look different in them, now.) Counter-culture WAS common culture because it was marketable and so we still have to live with it. The artifacts of the day are those things that were made and those reflect the commercial opportunity found by some of our parent's generation in selling Youth to youth.

So, greed was absolutely part of it. Though if we were any greedier than previous generations, I don't know. We are certainly no greedier than those generations that followed. But the Decade of Greed (was that the 80s or the 90'?) was just the 60's crowd grown up and successful. The Joy of Stuff?

Anyway, you would be appalled at what passed for wine in my youth. But only some drugs have roughly the experience you describe. Others distinctly do not. The LSD experience is nothing like that experience and I don't see the Rousseauean reveries in it, though maybe in some other things I tried. Mind, I only tried everything once or maybe twice, just to be sociable. I wanted to know what things were, but not to live there. Like seeing SF on five dollars a day, which was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there, either, nor any city as I visited them back then. But I know people who stayed, in drugs, in the 60s and even in SF, but none of that went well and lots of those people are people in the past tense, as in they were people, but now they are dead.

I have things to do in the now.

Peter Lawler, what I have to do in the now involves sitting at the computer all day and the temptation to write for fun overbears my need to write seriously, sometimes. Herbert Hoover can get awfully dull.

On wine: You can now get a perfectly ok bottle for $3 at Trader Joe's. A bottle of Ripple or Boone's Farm was probably something like $2 when I was in high school (So maybe $15 in today's bucks). And they say there's no progress! The Sixties were full of the pretensions of entitlement--which is worse than greed. I'm entitled to life fully of reason, freedom, creativity, and love--and not just money!

Herbert Hoover CAN get awfully dull! How can HH not be awfully dull? Kate, You need to start typing "for fun" until you have a book.

I know what kind of music I like.

More often than not, said music is fueled by intoxicants of some sort or another.

I find the latter-stage Beatles work to be much better than the bubble-gummish sound of their earlier works. Coincidentally, Paul started experimenting with LSD in 66.

Aerosmith is a band that collectively, has gotten sober, while their music has considerably gotten more unlistenable.

Imagine "Ball and Chain" being sung by Janis, but without the SoCo/cigarette-fueled raspiness to her voice. There's a reason Celine Dion is not a blues singer.

I find the Cream/Dominos era of Clapton's music to be much more palatable than anything his done in the last 20 years.

Even the great Coltrane/Monk collaborations that occurred in the late 50's would not have happened had Coltrane not been using heroin.

Peter, what you say about people expecting a life full of "reason, freedom, creativity and love--and not just money!" reminds me of something Victor Davis Hanson discusses in his Mexifornia argument: the effects on the children of first generation Mexican immigrants watching their parents struggle in America and comparing their success with the seeming ease with which non-immigrants move through society. Resentment builds as they begin to want and expect more for their parents and, more important, for themselves. Eventually, they develop a kind of contempt for what they consider the slavish ways (e.g., hard work) of their parents who, in truth, have sacrificed so much for them and (also in truth) have a higher standard of living in America than they had in Mexico. But the proverbial "bar" (and not the "bar" made famous by Michelle Obama) has moved. The children are not satisfied by the same things that satisfy the parents. Perhaps this boomer generation is something like those young Mexican immigrants and children of immigrants. They watched their parents generation sacrifice so much of their youth to duty and--though their parents had a higher standard of living than their grandparents' generation--that "greatest generation" still lacked in something . . . was it joy? Were they, as you argue about McCain, too somber and duty-bound (ever focused on work and sacrifice) to enjoy a good glass of wine or good conversation or hugging their children, letting them whine a little and curling up with a good book? Did they indulge these boomer children in material things as a way to make up for their lack of joy?

In other words, was the greatest generation really, also, a broken generation? Is the problem with the boomers something like this: they set out on a mission to discover joy with no clear idea of what it was and no example of how, correctly, to pursue it?

It strikes me, too, that there is nothing really new in this activity of blogging and threading, as it were. And it was available in one form or another to the boomer generation as it is for this one (and to them, now)--though, like the wine--perhaps not so readily as it is today. Before this, people used to (and still do) do the same thing in email exchanges and, before that of course, they did it in letters. Some of our greatest literary treasures are, after all, derived from great correspondences between great minds . . . (Adams and Jefferson, Abigail and John Adams, Churchill and Roosevelt, etc.) I know I'm rambling, but I'm trying to think "aloud" (or whatever the equivalent is for written conversation).

Kate: good advice was given to me recently . . . at a certain point in one's life--especially when it comes to writing--one should only agree to do those things one really wants to do. Of course, if one has to do unpleasant things, one should and has to do them. But at some point it's good to begin questioning harder what really "has" to be done. Maybe that sums up the problem between the "greatest" and the "boomer" generation . . . the "greatest" didn't seem willing ever (at least in the eyes of their children) to do that questioning and the "boomers" felt entitled (too early and without justification) to always do that questioning. Maybe the real answer is that there was some truth (all misapplied) in both generations? I think Peter is really on to something with his discussion of gratitude and, perhaps more important, striving to deserve the good things we have. If all of us did that more often than we do, imagine the high that would produce!

Peter, just think of my challenge in trying to make HH fun. Yet I will write for fun, seriously, next year. Thank you for bringing this topic up, though. It has been a pain-tinged pleasure, remembering. I always have fun on NLT and you never know what might crop up. Look at M. Shawn A. here.

And you do know JUST what I mean about wine. We had a $3.99, Crane Lake (Australian) Malbec the other night that was surprisingly good with the dinner I made and fueled the conversation quite nicely.

Shawn, the single thing (apart from drugs) that all that music has in common is that it was produced by the artists when they were still young and hungry. (Paul in '66 was still pretty young . . . though it's true he was younger with the bubblegum stuff.) Also, against your argument: I just saw somewhere that Aerosmith's Steve Tyler checked himself into rehab again . . . so maybe the drugs (if they help--or, at least, don't hinder) only help (or don't hinder) when you're young? Haven't you ever noticed how quickly a bruise heals on a kid?


Sad news on Mr. Tyler. I do hope for his personal health that he's going to kick his demons once and for all, regardless of any musical detriments.

Hadn't thought of the age thing. That does seem a plausible reason for the differences in musical quality, at least to this person's ears.


Glad to offer a periodic change of pace!

I have just enough time for a frivolous interjection: this is literally the greatest time ever to be a general consumer of wine.

The emergence of Aerosmith was definitive evidence that evertying good about the sixties was over. And now's the time to drink the stinkin' Merlot the movie unreasonably disparages--no matter how cheap, it can't help but be plenty good enough for any non-wine snob. The sixties, to their credit, were too genuinely bohemian to be gourmet.

So is it your thesis that we have now settled into a kind of reasonable middle ground between the bohemian and the gourmet? Is Merlot a kind of American ideal? Better than Boone's Farm and not so excellent or rarefied as to inspire envy, discord and, inevitably, ingratitude?

Yes, Ivan. This reminds me of our discussion of the virtues of McDonald's coffee over and against Starbucks some months ago! But in that discussion we noted that the advent of Starbucks was a necessary moving factor in the improvement of McDonald's. Perhaps it really is true that a rising tide lifts all boats.

The most advanced of the McDonalds have all the fancy expresso drinks and have clearly surpassed Starbucks, which has trivialized itself through overexpansion. A rising tide is lifting all cups. And I enjoyed the reflection on the anti-snobbery that causes our bobos to buy decent, cheap wine, and I the K's comments on Miles... There's reason to fear for the future of beer, perhaps a more social or convivial beverage than wine. Wine is the also the mean between beer and the martini.

Yes, our McDonald's even has that fancy "iced coffee" now. I remember hearing about iced coffee for the first time when I worked in the concession stand of a Country Club swimming pool which--despite being a "Country Club"--was still a pretty middle class establishment in Southeastern Ohio. One of our Long Island transplants (the wife of a doctor, I believe) ordered iced coffee and I guess I looked at her like she was on drugs. She was polite, but taken aback by my parochialism. We didn't have iced coffee, of course. We had Folgers and some ice. She wasn't happy with that but she drank it and ordered another . . . by the end of the summer she had a convert in me. When I visited last summer and took my kids to that same pool, I was amused to see that they had a "slushie" machine version of the iced coffee and it was the most popular drink around the pool. Is this an improvement over the Folgers? Absolutely. Is it an improvement over the East Coast original? I'm sure there are purists . . . but they lie.

Thanks Peter, and good times all.

M. Shawn Anderson, your theory may be somewhat right for some artists, but it cain't be all right. Ralph is on to something you know. In that Ray movie the horrible thing about his heroin use is that it a) does seem to make his musical output better, and b) it inspires less-capable talents to become adicts in the misguided hope they will become as talented as Ray Charles. Well. Mr. Charles was big-time talent and genius, but in terms of simply being gone in his music, he never approached the sheer passion of the gospel sources he was copping so much off of.

And then there is the inconvenient fact, as James Brown put it, that heroin is likely to make you DEEAADD, so whether its worth the musical inspiration is rather questionable.

The most important example here is Charlie Parker. Sheer, Everest-like,'ll take a music scholar two hours to explain all that's goin' on in some two-minute take. 95% of bebop jazz is lame simply because of the fact that it is trying to imitate Charlie and there are just so few who can even approach... To what extent was the genius enabled by heroin? Big question. Then there's the other big question: had Parker LIVED, what other contributions to jazz would he have made? But make no mistake, the question here is whether the drugs enabled the already-there potential for musical genius and the already-there sheer hard work in mastering a whole slew of musical methods. I.e., there are whole canons of learned musical tradition spewing out of Parker's horn or Clapton's amp at their most uninhibited. Did the drugs curtail the inhibitions, and thus permit the musical vocabulary to go into overdrive, drugs that given to the average musician would produce nothing special? Well, the case will vary from drug-using musical genius to drug-using musical genius, and there have been plenty whose muse was screwed up or otherwise limited by the drug-use. Had Parker to do it all over again, however, I think he'd vote the James Brown way, and risk the development of his destined-for-some-kind-of-musical-greatness powers without the push of heroin.

The way overrated scream-it-cause-I-mean-it Joplin, by the way, is what you get when people buy into your overall theory, Shawn.

If Clapton had died due to his constant (but non-heroin, as far as I know) drug use, like Hendrix did, well, what a waste it would have been. And with Hendrix, geez, the waste is incalcuable...too many people like Joplin around him.

Uh, for Ray Charles, scratch my "never approached" and put "never quite reached the sheer passion of the best gospel artists, and apparently needed heroin to get him to that imitative level of release."

And my 95% of bebop being lame applies mainly to early bebop and to a lot of artists most of y'all haven't heard of mainly because they were forgettable in comparison to the sounds Parker and Dizzy were delivering. Early Miles Davis, for example, trading solos with Parker, sounds absolutely pathetic by comparison. He hit his stride later, and utilizing other styles.

I agree that Janis Joplin is way overrated. The song Bobby McGee is a classic, but not particularly credible out of her mouth. The big Carl issue is whether artistic genius requires the overcoming of inhibitions by all means necessary. And that turns out to MAYBE be true in the very rare case of singular genius. This point of course could be extened to literary genius (Faulkner, for example) and perhaps philosophical genius (some say even Strauss finally wasn't manic enough, just as Tocqueville criticizes Pascal for being so intense that he thought himself to death before he's 40/The "serenity now" faction of Straussians just isn't realistic as a reflection of intellectual greatness). It might really be a big issue whether Charley Parker, if he had it to do over, would choose against singular greatness no one quite gets and for life. Carl needs to work all this out in a best-seller.

Look at us. We are all so grateful for a commercial world that puts so much pleasure in our lives.

I have friends who are wine-snobs and I would never take Merlot to their home, nor my cheap Malbec, as it would offend their sensibilities. They feel about wine as Julie does about writing and only drink what they really want to drink. What they really want to drink is Chateaux Margot, Chateaux Pontet Canet.... their wine does not have to be French, (they like some CA vineyards) but that helps. I love it, drinking at their house. I make pate, which my kids don't like, and bread, which they do like, (so I am stealing bread from the mouths of my babes) and some other things. For me the wine is great indulgence and luxury, and for them my homemade things are the same. Did kings live so well as we can today?

Julie, I am doing what I really have to do.

Carl Scott, I have heard jazz musicians, playing high, who may have thought they sounded fine, fine, fine, but were actually as clear as Hegal.

One more take on Miles and our peculiar, American combination of bourgeois pragmatism and aristocratic artsiness: Miles turns out to be an very good case study in a kind of American his best, his palate for wine is remarkably discerning, even able to sense what is beyond mere empirical detection, what he often refers to as the "transcendent" quality of a his worst his can't see what's directly before his eyes (when he makes the famous remark about Merlot, he's pining for his long gone wife who's about to re-marry, all the while sitting across the table from a lovely woman who's clearly interested in him)...Americans have basically changed the entire wine industry today by being astute enough to want and identify quality wine but practical enough to demand it at a reasonable our best we can appreciate the product's transcendent quality (this country is home to some of the finest wine critics in the world) and we do a much better job at avoiding flights of pretentious fantasy (discovering what isn't really there or exaggerting the drama of each wine tasting). In this regard, we have a counterexample to Tocqueville's thesis about how un-empirical we are---we appreciate artistic achievement (which wine at its best approaches) without too quickly transforming that elevating experience into a claim to superiority.
By the way, Peter, the beer industry is changing rapidly as well, following the success of wine retail in the US...more emphasis on microbrews, lots of tastings and reviews that mimic wine appreciation, magazines devoted to the topic with articles on pairings etc....

Carl Scott: Clapton was a big-time heroin addict, for many years. He kicked this just to become an alcoholic, again for many years.

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