Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 56

I don't believe this to be so. The depolarizing of the sexes, to men–
tion the element that Fiedler observes with such fascination, is the
natural, and desirable, next stage of the sexual revolution (its dissolu–
tion, perhaps) which has moved beyond the idea of sex as a damaged
but discrete zone of human activity, beyond the discovery that "society"
represses the free expression of sexuality (by fomenting guilt), to the
discovery that the way we live and the ordinarily available options of
character repress almost entirely the deep experience of pleasure, and
the possibility of self-knowledge. "Sexual freedom" is a shallow, outmoded
slogan. What, who is being liberated? For older people, the sexual revolu–
tion is an idea that remains meaningful. One can be for it or against it;
if for it, the idea remains confined within the norms of Freudianism and
its derivatives. But Freud
a Puritan, or "a fink," as one of Fiedler's
students distressingly blurted out. So was Marx. It is right that young
people see beyond Freud and Marx. Let the professors be the caretakers
of this indeed precious legacy, and discharge all the obligations of piety.
No need for dismay if the kids don't continue to pay the old dissenter-gods
It seems to me obtuse, though understandable, to patronize the new
kind of radicalism, which is post-Freudian and post-Marxian. For this
radicalism is as much an experience as an idea. Without the personal
experience, if one is looking in from the outside, it does look messy and
almost pointless. It's easy to be put off by the youngsters throwing them–
selves around with their eyes closed to the near-deafening music of the
discotheques (unless you're dancing, too), by the longhaired marchers
carrying flowers and temple bells as often as "Get Out of Vietnam"
placards, by the inarticulateness of a Mario Savio. One is also aware of
the high casualty rate among this gifted, visionary minority among the
young, the tremendous cost in personal suffering and in mental strain.
The fakers, the slobs and the merely flipped-out are plentiful among
them. But the complex desires of the best of them: to engage and to
"drop out"; to be beautiful to look at and touch as well as to be good;
to be loving and quiet as well as militant and effective-these desires
make sense in our present situation. To sympathize, of course, you have
to be convinced that things in America really are as desperately bad as I
have indicated. This is hard to see; the desperateness of things is obscured
by the comforts and liberties that America does offer. Most people, un–
derstandably, don't really believe things are that bad. That's why, for
them, the antics of this youth can be no more than a startling item in
the passing parade of cultural fashions, to be appraised with a friendly,
but essentially weary and knowing look. The sorrowful look that says:
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