Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A new manifesto from Unquiet Desperation

The Manifesto
The counterculture is shattered. A movement that once screamed against the torpor of our time-fettered society is in shards, each fragment reflecting only the petty needs of its adherents. Whether an acolyte of one of the kaleidoscope of self-obsessed musical and literary subcultures, an obsessive over some futile political cause or worse a soul lost to those games and worlds existing only in the circuits of counting machines, we are the heirs of those with grander visions, and their shades regard us with scorn. Those dwellers of high halls that profit from our continued acceptance of the worksheep ethic are pleased: a splintered counterculture leaves them unchallenged, no voice against us squandering our days to gild their cages further. Any hint of resistance and they spew out songs from tame alternative bands, songs that speak of loneliness and shuttered rebellion. Pacification accomplished; nothing deadens like corporate nihilism. It is clear: the counterculture is broken, and it is broken because it is corrupted. Our only chance of liberty is to mend it and to do that we must look back, and heed the lessons of our wild free forebears. First the Transcendentalists of the nineteenth century and then the Beats of the fifties rejected the constraints of their times and took another, more perilous path: not only did they enter the wilderness, seeking existence away from the distractions of society, but they also sought knowledge. Their exploration was inner as well as outer. Unfortunately the Fall would come before the Beats attained enlightenment: they were swept up in the chaos of the sixties. Counterculture decayed, sliding from a flame-eyed band of literary ascetics, men and women that knew the road to true understanding was hard and long, into a hydra-headed youth movement, seeking escape and instant answers, its music already infected by the corporate world it professed to reject. If we are to forge a new counterculture we must reject this slide into factionalism, and follow the example of Thoreau and Emerson, of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs. We must reject the illusory choices our society forces on us, and strike out on our own quest to experience existence in its rawest, purest form. It will not be easy. The life of the outlaw artist, the outlaw writer disturbs loved ones and invites assault from right and left: honesty infuriates both sides of the political divide. Despite this, our first steps should not be without hope. We are forewarned that the drug-fixated and cultish short-cuts of the sixties lead only to dead ends, and know that though solitude is occasionally necessary Thoreau was never alone for too long in Walden, and even the archetypal outlaw writer, Burroughs, felt drawn to those of like mind. Indeed, this is the lesson to take from the Transcendentalists and the Beats: though comprised of individuals on their own paths to enlightenment, they came together and collaborated to telling effect on their generations and those after. We must be the same: though we draw apart from the petty lives of our peers, it will not be lonely. We will find those like us, and in the end will travel the road together. Looking beyond the shards, we see something deeper, something higher, something enduring. The spirit of creativity still smoulders in the cities and the suburbs, and our recapturing of the spirit of those glorious pioneers will set it alight. We will form the nucleus of a reborn counterculture, no longer shattered, and stand as a beacon to those seeking escape from their groundhog lives. A new movement is forming: can we afford to stand aside? Of course not. We must be at its centre, driving it with the wisdom we will gain. The knowledge we reveal will enlighten the world.
Signed
Unquiet Desperation