Thinking About the Sixties by Richard Goldstein

1960s: Days of Rage


“The ’60s was was a decade without nostalgia, and thus a decade without irony. It’s only natural, then, that the current wave of nostalgia for the ’60s is suffused with irony — for we are looking back to a time when we most looked toward the future. The writers in this special section on the ’60s disagree about what kind of future that generation foresaw, yet all write on the assumption that rather than reduce our past to artifact we regard it as inspiration. Richard Goldstein, in his odyssey of sensibility [below], asks if it’s possible to reclaim ecstasy. Michael Thelwell, in recalling the traumas of the movement for black empowerment, explores the divergence between hope and naïvete. Jack Newfield’s memoir of Robert Kennedy portrays a man who knew loss yet never lost vision. In Paul Cowan’s ’60s quiz, what was so vivid then seems faded now —…

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