Via interviews with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins, and Hunter S....

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AQUARIUS REVISITED: Seven Who Created the Sixties Counterculture That Changed America

Via interviews with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins, and Hunter S. Thompson, clinical psychologist Whitmer here tries (with the help of an ex-Saturday Review editor) to capture, and explain, the spirit of the 60's. Whitmer first visits Tim Leafy in L.A. A suntanned, chain-smoking 60, Leafy is seen charming Grace Jones, and designing software games, with the same blend of blarney and cosmic conviction he once used to turn on the young. Whitmer stuns Leary with a forgotten boyhood letter mentioning a scientist imprisoned for discovering a drag called ""The Milk of Human Kindness""--a twist of prophecy that Whitmer invests with heavy significance, as he does other serendipitous occurrences, such as Mailer writing ""The White Negro"" at the same time Ginsburg wrote ""Howl."" Indeed, all seven subjects are encouraged to remember catalytic meetings with the others, as Whitmer explores his central premise, that the 60's themselves were invented by this band of seven. In a tale of his Naked Lunch days, Burroughs admits dependence on Ginsburg for creative moral support; Tom Robbins is sweetly frank about his youthful adulation of Leafy. And so on. Not to be seen as a sop, however, Whitmer makes Rajneeshpuram, abode of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rangneesh, his last stop, a bleak vision of the homogenized concentration camp that the counterculture became. But, to end things on a proper 60's note, he winds up with a flight over America, hoping that somewhere below a handful of individuals are brewing up a new counterculture. Despite the incredible naivete of Whitmer's central thesis, and the grating nature of his imitative Gonzo-style journalism, this is an energetic read--primarily for the high pleasure of hearing once again the bold voices of the interview subjects. For that, and for rescuing the vintage of 60's spirit from the cellar and opening it to 80's air, Whitmer deserves credit.

Pub Date: July 27, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1987