Norman Mailer, the hipsters of 1969 and a new breed of “pyschic outlaws”…

A nice slice of Norman Mailer running for the Democratic ticket in the New York Mayoral campaign of 1969, courtesy of Adam Curtis’s BBC blog, who then goes on to make this observation of a class of person that Mailer’s (not very successful) electoral appeal drew towards, namely the ‘hipsters’:

…this new breed of “psychic outlaw” could be equally a candidate for the most reactionary or the most radical of political movements. And in the film there is a fascinating scene where Mailer takes on the trades unions on one of the avenues in New York. He tells them that in the past they were a heroic movement – but that now they have become a repressive, stultifying force in society – in particular in the way they are refusing to allow blacks and hispanics to move up society.

It is an odd moment because as you watch you realise that it was elements of this rebellious individualism that both Thatcher and Reagan would later harness. And that possibly, if the left had got hold of it earlier, then the history of the West might have been very different.

It’s an odd moment certainly, and one you won’t find too often in professional politics… There’s also a moment in which he’s almost a bystander on street corner in a black district with two voters hammering out the fundamentals of US politics: i.e., the mandated idea; and the capacity for practical implementation of such ideas. Tie that into the moment near the end, when Mailer’s father tellingly says, “I don’t want him to win. If he wins, he loses”…

The whole thing is slow moving (so you’ll want to take some time to watch the full forty minutes), but it is priceless in its telling detail…

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  • wild turkey

    mick

    not surprised by the lack of comment.

    but thanks for this and the resulting trip down memory lane. being a member of the class of 69, some buddies and i got the train down from connecticut to join in the campaign…. actually more of a happening. while having an inate simpatico with mailer, the main draw for us was Jimmy Breslin who was a very high profile columnist/investigative journalist with, of all things, the New York Daily News. check out his article on the guy who dug JFKs grave.

    dumb question 217: was there ever an irish/NI equivalent of the hipsters? well put it this way,.in 1983 when a buddy from new york visited me in belfast his takeaway line was…’shit, so this is where the banjo players in deliverence come from’

    again thanks for the post and the vid link

    mahalo

  • Mick Fealty

    Good question… I don’t know if there is a read across with the hipsters as a class… The actual war probably trimmed their capacity for ostentatious disaffection…

    But I do think we have ended up with more than a few ‘psychic outlaws’…

  • wild turkey

    “But I do think we have ended up with more than a few ‘psychic outlaws’”

    mick had to a double take. at first i read ‘psychotic outlaws’ pardon my mistake

    yeah, anyway what we have ended up with may also be termed devolved regional administration. in view of the mailer/breslin campaign, government would be far to virile a word to apply to current local circumstance

    “…this new breed of “psychic outlaw” could be equally a candidate for the most reactionary or the most radical of political movements. “… or the new PONI indigenous breed could be the most, ah, convienent and MOR position to take.