Wednesday, September 7, 2011

hippies - book - 1969 - The Children of Change

The Children of Change
Don Fabun
Glencoe Press
1969
39 pages

Sooo.... as we already know, the 1960s were a different time, and much of what has made it different has since been absorbed by the culture industry and turned into spectacle.  Nowadays the long hair on boys, psychedelic good vibration groovitude and “bone rattling” rock music are defanged signifiers of rebellion in pop-culture productions.  Tattoos are hardly rebellious anymore, let-alone long hair, guitar-playing and new age spirituality - but I’m writing this from a historical situation where the hippie phenomenon has had 40 years to sink in.  In 1969, the hippies were an incomprehensible collage of hair, weird clothes and zoned-out facial expressions, and Don Fabun, thankfully, produced this short guide to help the uninformed understand what’s going on.

The Children of Change is a slim volume that my friend Richard (thanks, Richard) from Ottawa’s Bytown Bookshop mailed to me.  It’s author, Don Fabun, was the publications director of the public affairs department of Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation which basically meant he published a corporate magazine.  He also edited a science fiction magazine called The Rhodomagnetic Digest and wrote a few other books about creativity and communication.  This particular book appears to be a condensed and unscholarly version of The Making of A Counterculture, and I suspect that if it had a purpose or target readership, it was the sympathetic adult generation that preceded or birthed the hippies.

Fabun’s book is a small collection of short pieces that attempt to summarize the attitudes and attributes of the hippie counterculture that the author refers to repeatedly as the “the children of change.”  Fabun laces his discussions with hippie talk and thus creates the sense that he comes from the underground, despite his title as Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation Director of Publications.  He describes the importance of music (and lists several relevant albums) film, hair, and the underground press and also discusses other issues like student revolt, new age occultism, and communal living.  These discussions are buttressed by favorable quotations taken from commentators on the hippie phenomenon, like Gore Vidal.

There are two significant omissions made by Fabun, that make The Children of Change an incomplete discussion of its subject.  The first omission is any mention of drug use.  Everyone knows that hallucinogenics and marijuana were in widespread use among hippies during the 1960s.  The hallucinogenic influence can be found in many of the cultural forms discussed by Fabun, including the underground press and the music of the period, and it is difficult to make a judgment on why the author neglected to mention the hippies will to alter their consciousnesses.  The second omission was any representation of non white “children of change”.  By the time The Children of Change was published the Black Panther Party was two years old and a considerable force in the American political scene.  I suspect that the publication was intended for a white middle-class readership of some kind, and hence it reproduces the “children of change” as an all white social turn.  

The final aspect of the book I would like to discuss are its illustrations.  The book is full of colourfully psychedelic illustrations by an unnamed artist.  The cover illustration bears a partially legible signature that I, so far, haven’t been able to extract a usable search-term from.  The book also features a number of photos of sculptures, blocky representations of hippies mostly, by an artist named Pat McFarlin.  The art is probably the best part of this book and, I suspect, comes directly from the culture this book puts under examination.


1 comment:

  1. Hi. I looked up Children of Change after hearing it mentioned in a video. I think you'd find of interest -

    http://www.proxywhore.com/invboard/index.php?showtopic=255141

    ReplyDelete

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