Saturday, September 23, 2023

1968's "Voices from the Love Generation"

  • Title: Voices from the Love Generation
  • Editors: Edited and with an introduction and epilogue by Leonard Wolf (1923-2019), in collaboration with Deborah Wolf. They were married. I believe that Deborah Goleman Wolf is still alive; she is the author of the 1979 nonfiction book The Lesbian Community. Leonard Wolf went on to write many notable books about Dracula, especially focusing on Bram Stoker's novel. That makes him a good candidate to appear on Papergreat again in the future.
  • Cover design: William McLane
  • Interior photographs: Credited mostly to Ralph Ackerman (1941-2008), with some by Thomas Weir. The three photographs with this post are all by Ackerman. Weir is known for taking some famous shots of The Grateful Dead, though he is not related to the Dead's Bob Weir.
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Year: 1968
  • Pages: 283
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: This copy was formerly shelved in the Ramsdell Public Library in Housatonic, Massachusetts (not to be confused with Miskatonic University).
  • Dust jacket blurb: "Leonard Wolf, professor of English at San Francisco State College, has been involved with the Haight-Asbury Hippie community for over a year as an observer and as director of Happening House, a communications center in the district. Along with his admittedly straight sensibility, Mr. Wolf brought to his work in the community an open mind and a determination to understand the movement as it really is. Voices from the Love Generation is a collection of interviews with fifteen Hippies, recorded and arranged by Mr. Wolf and his wife Deborah. The startling candor, the rough language, the frankness about sex and drugs, indeed, the mere effort at communication with the straight world that characterize these interviews, are a tribute to the trust and respect the Wolfs have earned from the Hippies. This book is by the Hippies, not about them."
  • Dedication: "This book is affectionately dedicated to the entire Haight-Asbury community."
  • Quote from Lenore Kandel interview: "Love is a gift. No bargain. You love someone, you take them, and you accept them entirely. And they're supposed to accept you, wherever you're at, if they love you. The only way I know it's going to happen is by experimentation, by living, and by telling the truth."
  • Quote from Patrick Gleeson interview (pictured at right): "For one thing, I feel that if you want to find the roots of our present problems, the vital roots, you can go back to the seventeenth century and see them becoming public issues and big problems then. You can see the rise of technology [and] the thing Swift was so worried about — abstraction. It's only through abstraction that we can have cybernation and cybernation will finally free us from the hangups of the physical universe."
  • What is "cybnernation" in this context? Per Leonard Wolf's extensive glossary, cybernation is "electronically controlled industrial automation." 
  • Quote from Wes Wilson interview: "I think the hippies are sort of like a beginning of something which is going to be different. I think there will probably be very few people in the Haight-Asbury who will go into a very disciplined scene. ... I don't think the system we're living in is going to outlast the hippies. The system will change. The thing that's happening with hippies is a growth, not a static thing."
  • Full list of subjects interviewed: Peter Mackaness, Lenore Kandel, Steve Levine, Patrick Gleeson, Maggie Gaskin (pictured at top of this post), Charlotte Todd, Peter Cohon and Sam, Sandra Butler, Pancho, Tsvi Strauch, Teresa Murphy, Wes Wilson, Ron Thelin, Shirly Wise, and Peter Berg.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.20 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In a long, insightful 2012 review, Tracey Madeley noted: "Throughout all the interviews there is a naivety and a hope for a better way of living. This is a great primary source for anyone wanting to study hippies, their values and ideas."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.80 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In a long and also insightful 2011 review, Mary Mekko noted: "Anyone who wasn't there will find these extensive interviews, in many cases classic hippie-druggie rambling, to be very insightful. They show the innocence of some of the aspirants to a New Life, those who wished to shed encumbrances, broken families, unhappy pasts including their aimless academic pursuits, odd jobs, careers, or lack thereof. Attracted by the Free Love ideals, both young men and women found the experience of free sex encounters at that time in history to be liberating. Aided by acid trips, the world appeared to them to be their love oysters. ... A great book for recording the genuine thoughts of the time, before the 'scene got ugly.' Note also ... that the Haight-Ashbury was a CHEAP neighborhood. The whole movement depended on free handouts, free food, donated clothes, welfare checks and parents sending money. ... This is the kind of book one should read, in retrospect, to see how our society has come in the direction it has. The young people seem incredibly innocent, if not disingenuous. They so much yearn for a world of peace, love and harmony — where they won't have to work, put up with rules, roommates, discomfort, etc. etc. And where has such a place ever existed, I do wonder? One can almost yearn along with them as one reads their ramblings. In the end, the movement was a yearning ending in a yawn."
  • Related post: "The Flower People"

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