DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? The Second Coming of the Sixties Generation by Annie Gottlieb

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? The Second Coming of the Sixties Generation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A look at the rebellious children of the 60's from the hindsight of two decades. Gottlieb attempts to do what The Big Chill failed to--that is, to search for an answer to what happened along the way and to what happened to the ideals of the 60's crowd. The movie copped out with soundtrack sentimentality. Gottlieb cops out, too (although she gets quite a bit further in her analysis), in intimating that the ideals of that time (now subsumed under the rubric of New Age ideals) are simply hidden under the surface of today's successful Yuppies. Scratch a Yuppie, she implies, and a flower child is bursting to get out. To be fair, Gottlieb doesn't propagandize for a return to a let's-all-get-high-and-overthrow-the-government state of mind. Looking at each element of the 60's revolt, she finds much to criticize: ""From our beginnings, a genuine impulse to do good. . .has intertwined. . .with our more ordinary pursuit of wealth and power."" Most of the men who served in Vietnam ""went over motivated by the impulse to do good. Those of us who opposed the war forgot that our brother grunts were as idealistic as we were; it was an American trait we shared."" Again, on the work choices of the 60's generation: ""We neglected to look out for ourselves, ostensibly because we secretly took them for granted."" So what happened to wake up the principled poor? ""Around 1980, the moral center of our culture shifted from Jesus' 'the last shall be first' to John Calvin's concept of the favored elect. The result was that those who were just doing good began to feel obscurely guilty while those who were doing well began to feel great."" And now the favored are supposed to suddenly turn back to create the golden age that the 60's folks tried to grasp but lost. Gottlieb's theory is attractive and somewhat neat, but, unfortunately, she depends too much upon New Age throwbacks for her evidence. She constantly refers to various communes and cults around the country, as if the future of America is resident in some California cavern. ""With a little help from our friends,"" she writes, ""we can be a generation of awakeners. . . The romance of the Sixties was 'I have nothing.' 'Then come with us!' Our linked hands created the bare bones of a new world. Twenty years later, it's finally starting to have some muscle."" A nice theory that will make its subjects feel better. Whether it holds up as a truism, only time will tell.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1987
Publisher: Times Books