“There are no limits to creativity. There is no end to subversion.” – Raoul Vaneigem, 1967
There was an untethered sense of space: psychedelic, sexual, hallucinatory, and drifting, a feeling that you were everywhere yet nowhere at the same time. You could feel it at the rock concerts, love-ins, group gropes, and sensitivity-training sessions, chanting and dancing, drumming together as one mindless organism, when the flash of insight, acid premonition, group mind, and astral telegram were the operative modes of communication in place of today’s electronic IM’s or text messaging. The sudden flashes and revelations of personal experience were in many ways more subversive than the big-time revolution that everyone was waiting for. In fact, there were thousands of overlapping revolutions and mini uprisings happening at once, thousands of different storms rising and joining forces with other storms, massing themselves along separate fronts. Yes, drugs were a major part of it, but they were just a means to another place, another reality, not an end in themselves. When Huxley’s “doors of perception” crashed open, they lead to the most extraordinary garden of possibilities.
The music and drugs have been well documented, but the fractured sense of space, the softened corners, the communal élan are less easily reclaimed. Where are the landmarks and monuments of the psychedelic revolution, and how do we go back if we don’t even know where to begin? I started to write Spaced Out in response to the culture of control that arose after September 11, 2001. It seemed like a good time to invoke a period of unbridled experimentation. As one Haight-Ashbury hippie put it: “Hold on by letting go.” The sixties legacy lingers on, influencing everything from the Internet and sustainable design to Freak Folk, anti-globalism, organic cuisine, alternative healing and rave clubs. Behind the liberated parks, communes, crash pads and painted busses, was the struggle for a certain mental space, a place without boundaries or divisions that would foster wildness, nurture new kinds of experience, and even change human consciousness. That dream never died but the story needs retelling.