Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1973 Nervous Breakdown

Andreas Killen's 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America (N.Y.: Bloomsbury, 2006) delves into the watershed year 1973 and looks at the 70s, perched between the end of American involvement in Vietnam and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. To Killen (and others), "the Sixties" as we think of them stretched from the assassination of JFK in 1963 through Watergate. He gives the reader a lot to absorb and think about.

I particularly like his exploration of how Andy Warhol's reality became a sort of national reality. He intertwines politics, events, books (Fear of Flying and Jonathan Livingston Seagull), movies (Last Tango in Paris, Deep Throat, The Godfather, The Exorcist), and musicians (Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The New York Dolls), and "reinventing the Fifties," a nostalgiac Vietnam-blind vision that Reagan exploited and the plurality of voting Americans embraced.

Among other things happening in 1973, consider Roe v. Wade; the suspension of the military Draft; Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement; the death of Pablo Picasso; the World Trade Center dedicated; the CIA-backed Augusto Pinochet coup in Chile and assassination of Salvador Allende; the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East; gas lines; Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs; the forced resignation of U.S. VP Spiro Agnew; Patty Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Stockholm Syndrome (which Killen suggests affected whole swaths of Americans in various bad ways) -- and one catches some idea of the bewildering swirl that caused the vast collective socio-political "nervous breakdown."

There are other books about watershed years, too --1968 is a good one for that and I suppose 2000 and 2001 are, as well.

By comparison, I wonder how are things going to go for the rest of the current president's term in office through early 2009? So far, it's been a nice White House visit for all of us! I wonder what else they have cooked up and ready to serve?

Today's Rune: Breakthrough. Philip Roth won the PEN/Faulkner award for Everyman.

Today's Birthdays: Longfellow, John Steinbeck, Irwin Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Ralph Nader, Nancy Spungen.

Another year for me and you
Another year with nothin' to do


JR's Thumbprints said...

The White House wouldn't "cook-up" a feel good scheme for the American public, would they? I'm sure the media woud keep us informed of any type of manipulation, wouldn't they? Or are we suppose to not question our leadership, to put all our trust in them?

Brynne said...

Philip Roth...have you read Sabbaths Theatre?

loved that one.

Rethabile said...

Good read, thanks

luma said...

This book was not translated into the Portuguese, but the decade was known as the decade of the paranoia. It will be that we are cured? Beijus

Anonymous said...

Oh my. I survived that era without having a nervous breakdown. Maybe i was distracted with having to cope with 3 teenagers and a pre teener as well as the social and economic upheavals. Warhol was not in my universe. Reagan was not whom I voted for. I might even make it thru the latest disasters like Bush and Company.

Erik Donald France said...

Thank you all (i.e. y'all) for the comments -- trust few, Jim, and hope for the best; Brynne, Philip Roth is awesome, including Sabbath's Theatre (puppets creep me out), as are most or all of his work, though I need to get to Everyman, which looks short but sweet.