|Woodstock 1969 - The Vision of a Generation|
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(p)© Elliott Landy 1994 - Continuum Books, New York - Used with Permission
(Edited from Elliott's fine Photo Essay - Woodstock Vision - The Spirit of a Generation)
Elliott Landy lives & works in Woodstock; an internationally renowned photographer who gave us so many wonderful album photographs - Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Jimi, Jim, Janis, John among many. He has authored a number of photographic books & is busy with a multi-media project on Woodstock. The Woodstock Generation rediscovered many ancient spiritual truths and gave the contemporary world an alternative vision for living - to be loving, gentle, and open all the time. Drugs were a window to that vision,but there was a price to pay. When drugs are used to reach the highs, one is less capable of dealing graciously with the lows and responds negatively to situations that could be handled better. Reactions such as anger, depression, physical depletion, and dependency are common. The ultimate goal is to be able to experience and enjoy life: the freedom and the ecstasy of being in a loving state of mind, and the strength to experience the difficulties without being upset, uptight, or anxious.
Now we realize that we must reach that state, not through harmful chemicals, but through meditation and inner spiritual commitment to joy and love, coupled with the hard work of getting through life while maintaining our integrity.
We hoped to leave the existing society behind and do our own thing - find our own truths and way of life. The Sixties culture called for a rejection of material and traditional comforts. We no longer needed beds to sleep in. The floor and a mat would do. Insurance plans, new cars, new clothes, traditional ceremonies, nine to-five jobs, meaningless work done just to pay the bills - all were questioned and discarded. What was important was to get high, to feel yourself, to become one with the spiritual forces in the universe, to communicate with our fellow man. So what if we lived in houses that would never be ours, drove cars that were failing apart, wore clothes that were used when we got them? As long as we shared what we had with each other, we would be all right. We felt we could live a nomadic, transient life as long as we were loving and generous.
We also thought meaningless middle-class values would disappear. Little did we realize then that in every historical phase there is a dialectic in which first one, then an opposite action predominates, followed by a synthesis of the two.
The yuppies of the Eighties, with their total focus on material wealth and meaningless status symbols, were a reaction to the drop-out, turn-on, tune-in hippie culture of the Sixties.
The energy created during that time is still with us, slowly influencing us more and more. It has evolved into what is today called New Age thought. The inheritors of "Woodstock" are not only the tie-dyed young people we see at concerts, but also the healers, the spiritual practitioners, and the activists who support the diversity of planetary life-forms. Many young people are intuitively drawn to the Woodstock era, feeling a closeness they don't yet fully understand while taking inspiration from its lifestyles.
The tools we used were love, freedom, spirituality, music, and action. We demanded freedoms long held to be taboo-to have sex at will, to use consciousness-expanding substances - and we actively tried to change the establishment through righteous, inspired action.
A lot of other things changed as well. Before the Sixties, men had short hair and crew cuts and wore business suits and ties. Social conformity prevented them from wearing frilly shirts and earrings. But the Sixties emancipated men's creative and feminine side. Freedom replaced formality. Men not only let their hair (down) and beards grow and put on more colourful clothes, they also smiled more lovingly and became more accepting of others. So many people were naked that men began to accept real women's bodies instead of focusing on Playboy fantasies.
They concentrated more on feelings and emotions than on physical satisfaction-something only women had done before. Women and men became better friends. Instead of guys just hanging out together, talking dirty, and harassing women, a new situation arose: men and women hung out together, smoked dope, had sex, and listened to rock 'n' roll. A communal experience was born. Men began cooking and taking care of children, while women got into rock 'n' roll.
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