DECADENCE: Radical Nostalgia, Narcissism, and Decline in the Seventies by Jim Houghan

DECADENCE: Radical Nostalgia, Narcissism, and Decline in the Seventies

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Ecological crisis, world hunger, resource depletion, population explosion, technology run amok and the prospect of nuclear overkill--Houghan looks around, blinks, and claps his hands because things are bad, getting worse, and nothing can be done about it. The malady of Western Civilization is Incurable. Houghan's cataclysmic forecast is delivered with gleeful, nihilistic abandon. We are done for. Whoopee! Having dipped into a little of this and a little of that--Daniel Bell, B.F. Skinner, Charles Reich, Bucky Fuller, L. Ron Hubbard, Jacques Ellul, Edgar Cayce et al.--Houghan predicts the eruption of a new millenarian eschatology of which Charlie Manson offered a preview. ""Social conditions in the West directly parallel . . . those which led to the emergence of revolutionary millenarianism in the medieval era,"" says Houghan who seems also to have ingested Norman Cohn whole. To each man his own Apocalypse--there will be as many sects as there are charismatic leaders though, naturally, in the 20th century they will not necessarily be religious figures. Is Houghan worded? Not at all. He despises those who are still ""pimping for progress""; he suggests that the people have become The Wad and society is now a malfunctioning Gizmo. Houghan has a certain smart-alecky way with a phrase. No need to grieve while waiting for le deluge. Aesthetically he's with Nero, tuning his fiddle; politically he's somewhere to the left of the Dutch Provos. His theme song is Sympathy for The Devil and morally he's nowhere at all.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1975
Publisher: Morrow