Skip to comments.Apollo vs. Dionysus
Posted on 11/08/2012 6:53:46 AM PST by ffusco
IMHO the cultural war between Apollo and Dionysus is over. The classic dichotomy of Thinking and Feeling as embodied by the 2 sons of the Greek god Zeus which has been the center of the cultural war in the US since the 60's has been won.
The 2 events of 1969 which will illustrate this point are the Apollonian achievements of the first man on the Moon, (aptly named Apollo 11) and the Dionysian Woodstock Music Festival during the Summer of Love. Among people who were old enough to remember, these 2 events very neatly cleave society as to which was more culturally significant. The author Robert Persig called this rift the Classic vs. Romantic modes of thought.
The Apollo mission was the epitome of science, engineering and the heroism of a few brave astronauts. Woodstock was a muddy 4 day drunken orgy with free music which resulted in the near total destruction of a dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur who was told to expect 50,000 concert goers. Yasgur, A REPUBLICAN, at his own expense provided mostly free food, milk and water during the festival which draw approximately 300,000 people. He was subsequently sued by his neighbors for property damages and received a paltry $50,000.00 settlement. AFAIK Hendrix, Joplin, CCR, CSN & Y, The Grateful Dead and others donated NOTHING to help him repair and clean up the garbage and human waste contamination left behind at his 650 acre farm. He declined hosting the festival again the following year. He died of a heart attack 4 years later at the age of 53.
Reason and determination vs. euphoria and lust. Hard work vs. play. Responsible adult vs. childish whims. Discipline vs sex, drugs and rock and roll. The terms you apply matter little. It remains Apollo vs. Dionysus. I will let the reader draw their own conclusions as to which side won.
And let’s not forget the ascendency of Bacchus that July of 1969 when Teddy “The Swimmer” Kennedy wantonly murdered campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne.
You got it. AT the root of our political and economic mess is a moral and cultural super mess. We have been running on fumes for quite some time. Those under thirty, and particularly those under twenty, make the Woodstock crowd look like hard-working, self-disciplined Amish folk.
In the past 2 days...
6.3 earthquake in Western Canada
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Good post. Another point to add to your narrative is the fact that the U.S. military had to get involved at Woodstock, providing chopper airlift for medevac cases and also their expertise and equipment for handling food/water and sanitation needs for large groups of people living in the open......”Olive Drab Haze, all through my mind.....”
Well, he is in pretty good company...
The thing that I thought was hilarious about Rand’s examples is that the Apollo Program was a government funded initiative that required a lot of private sector R&D and innovation to be successful. Woodstock, on the other hand, was started as a private money making effort that ended up needing a bunch of government intervention to actually pull off without a lot more problems than it ended up having.
It somewhat spoiled many of her basic premises about the theuniversal benefits of private sector efforts vs. the universal evils of government action.
Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark.
Sir, I wrote this off the cuff this morning and cited my major source Persig, but I was aware of those 2 events and their significance long before I read Rand’s essay and “Zen and The Art of...” 25 years ago in college. I never stated it was my original work but I suppose I am so familiar with theirs that I have internalized it.I don’t even think it was an original idea of Rand’s. In Rome it was the Stoics vs the Epicurians. She was just very prescient in her cultural analysis. My post is more like a B grade sophomore philosophy essay posted here for others to enjoy and your comment is completely unnecessary and rather petty.
My apologies to the late, great Ayn Rand who penned an essay of the same title using the same 2 events I used as an example of the cultural battle.
In that essay she focused a lot on how these two events were portrayed by the media. The moon landing as, “look how small the earth really looks” and the Woodstock event as some sort of accomplishment.
Woodstock had tickets for sale, but the band lineup was so spectacular that the place was swamped by demand.
Great post, and a timely discussion...
The analysis of current politics through that classic opposition is not incapable of turning on its head. MM Ponty observed that too often science creates a model of the world so as to measure it and then mistakes the model they made for the world itself. In this event, which I will argue is all too relevant (eg. environmental science/religion) art is the only way out of the model. As A Rand would say, “Art reifies reality.”