Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The unexpected often is a reminder of what we are expected to expect. The nature of that which qualifies as unexpected can be a barometer of the levels of socialisation. Since time immemorial there have been conflicts between the levels of expectations of segments of society or even an individual and that of the rest of the society, manifesting itself in socio-cultural movements such as the universal sufferage movement, the European Renaissance of the 14-17th century and even the Indian freedom movement which had socio-cultural shades to a predominantly political movement. However this conflict can be waged at a more subtle level as evidenced by instances of individuals protesting through the arts, literature and music. Bob Dylan came to be typified as a protest musician for his songs echoing anti-war and civil rights movements sentiments, an identity for which he later showed discomfort.

The Hippy movement of the early 1960s protested the American way of life by practicing alternative life styles inspired by the counter cultural values of the Beat generation. The hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic rock, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such as cannabis and LSD to explore alternative states of consciousness. In a society where the pressures of living up to identities can be suffocating drugs are a way of saying a big NO to a prescribed lifestyle and value system. Recreational drug use has also been looked at as a way of experiencing an alternative reality, forging an escape from the drudgery of every day living. Opiates inspire romantic notions of facilitating an existence shorn of the usual shackles imposed by a materialistic society. Ironic then that this form of 'escape' often becomes a deathtrap - a vicious cycle of chemical induced highs and lows. The rebel is tamed again.

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