A brilliant, alternative take on sixties swinging London, Jenny Diski offers radical reconsiderations of the social, political, and personal meaning of that turbulent era.
What was Jenny Diski doing in the sixties? A lot: dropping out, taking drugs, buying clothes, having sex, demonstrating, and spending time in mental hospitals. Now, as Diski herself turns sixty years old, she examines what has been lost in the purple haze of nostalgia and selective memory of that era, what endures, and what has always been the same. From the vantage point of London, she takes stock of the Sexual Revolution, the fashion, the drug culture, and the psychiatric movements and education systems of the day. What she discovers is that the ideas of the sixties often paved the way for their antithesis, and that by confusing liberation and libertarianism, a new kind of radicalism would take over both in the UK and America.
Witty, provocative, and gorgeously written, Jenny Diski promises to feed your head with new insights about everything that was, and is, the sixties.
Like many other members of her generation, journalist and author Diski (On Trying to Keep Still) was drifting during the 1960s: she took drugs, had sex, and spent time in mental institutions in her attempts to subvert the Establishment. Cutting through the patina of nobility, nostalgia and idealism by which most of her fellows remember the time, Diski describes a counterculture ruled by intense self-absorption, a misguided, idealist attempt at radical reform that led directly to the corruption of the '80s. Diski brings as much objectivity to bear as she can, and her British perspective keeps her a few paces removed from the conflicts over civil rights and Vietnam. Her writing is pointed, holding many (herself included) to rigorous scrutiny, a cultural deconstruction that pushes back against the generally accepted, media-friendly, and very American image of the free-love '60s. Even readers familiar with the history will find her insights absorbing and eyebrow-raising. Though her conclusion falls short of condemnation-their motives were too pure for that-Diski makes succinct, clever and meaningful arguments exposing a self-mythologizing generation and its ultimate failures of both fore- and hindsight.