Q : Is it true what they say about all these guys, who criticize, in the ‘Fifties, like in<J.D Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield -Were they all “Holden Caulfields”, all these idealists?
AG: Well, sir, everybody was kind of stupefied, you know – about sex, for instance, I mean, nowadays , Holden Caulfield would have a little sexual adventure. Nowadays, young kids get much more information. Everything’s much more open, you know. Nobody is…. The imagery is there, as it is in a primitive community, or there is in a farm community, where kids see cows copulate. So what is it, in the suburban city communities of the ‘Fifties, like, everybody really was totally insulated. It’s like that was the acme of middle-class isolation, and then the over-population, and over-industrialization, and the ecological crisis of the ‘Sixties began breaking all that down and mixing up the information again. In other words, like, white middle class got to the acme of being in a cocoon of comforts and electronic security and isolation. And then, the heavy-metal thing got to be so heavy that the whole crust of the earth began cracking open, and consciousness began to be shuddering, and sexual information and dope information and war information, and massacre information, and black information, foreign information, economic information, began crashing in on everybody’s head till it was finally planetary information and cosmic information. Moon shots. Science-fiction, I mean. The ‘Fifties were the last of, like, suburban..suburban urban, insularity, and, all of a sudden, the next thing, everybody’s plunged into science-fiction space-age, living on a planet floating around in the universe.
Student: The Leave It To Beaver Age!
Student: Leave It To Beaver
AG: What’s Leave It To Beaver?
Student: It’s a tv program.
AG: Yes, well intellectually, Well that’s a big transition, see, from (1940 to 1950).
In 1950 there was no cosmic consciousness. (In the) 1960s, all the young kids are suddenly reading the I Ching and the Kabbalah and the Zohar and Tibetan Book Of The Dead and the American Indian peyote rituals, and dropping acid, and going off to the moon, and studying high electronics, and going out on to high mountain desert areas (there’s like a whole new planet-consciousness that’s come through). That’s different, isn’t it? That’s all new. It’s like.. when I remember the ‘Fifties, it was all household and (sitting),you know, like, in the humane.. the community, to do the social work, and everything was going to be enclosed within Long Island, you know, Levittown, or something. All of a sudden, Levittown is cracked open by..by… by its appearance on the planet! (It’s revolving in a solar system which is at the periphery of the galaxy, you know, it’s three-quarter the ways out from the center of the galaxy – Even the ten-year-old kids know about the galaxy now. When I was a young kid, I didn’t think about.. I didn’t realize I was in the middle of a galaxy)
Q: Do you ever watch the Saturday-morning cartoon shows? You should see. You have to be a physics major to understand those..
AG: It’s probably, like, a shift as great as when I was in high school and grammar school we read about the great cultural conscious shift that took place between Galileo and Copernicus, you know, when, from..when they thought the world wasn’t round, you know, and when they thought the world was round, and when they thought that the earth… [Allen – offered a cigarette – no, I’ve stopped smoking] – that the earth was the center of the solar system, and then they realized that the sun was the center, and there was like a big..you know, people’s heads changed all of a sudden. Now it changes again.
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nine-and-a-half minutes in (on the fourth segment) and continuing until approximately thirteen-and-a-quarter minutes in