28 I CHRONICLESnbore from within the Teamsters’ Union, radicalizing it innpreparation for the imminent revolution, to which end theynworked in a trucking firm, Mike as a loader, Rachel as andispatcher. In between ecstatic tales of their experiences innCuba cutting sugar cane, Mike filled me in on the careernchoices of some of his classmates: Peter was doing greatnwork in the M f , Bill was running guns. Brad wasnhigh up in the Weathermen, Hugh was making bombs . . .nand on it went, a roster of names of conventional, uppermiddle-classnstudents associated with the nuttiest, mostntheatrically violent groups onstage at the time. To grasp thensignificance of these revelations, one has to know the venue.nTweedy College, my alma mater and the last place I hadntaught before moving to Vermont, was one of those small,nmediocre liberal arts colleges suffering from delusions ofnivied grandeur that abound in New England. It hadnspecialized for years as a finishing school for rich secondraters,nthe kind of men who finally become Third VicenPresidents. Mike’s vignettes showed me a convergence: Then60’s were mainstreaming, and Tweedy was beginning tonswing with a new Zeitgeist. These wayward boys wouldnsoon be back on track; when conventional people join wildlynextremist groups, it’s a Momo routine. Nor did it take muchnclairvoyance to see that their present antics would one daynmake some of the brighter pages in their resumes. (Tweedy,nof course, would soon have Black Studies, Women’s Studies,na homosexual club, Marxists in Residence, etc., etc.)nAt first sight, it looked as if Momo’s fantasies were beingnacted out by Mike and Rachel and their friends, thusnshowing the progression of radicalism in a few years, but itnwas still an act, still a fantasy, self-regarding role-playingnessentially the same as Momo’s. There was this difference:nMomo had not dared to strut his stuff anywhere but on ournremote farm, knowing that he would be laughed at in thenwider world; it was clear that Mike and Rachel and theirnfriends were taken solemnly. Why? And what did itnportend?nThe answers came with another former student, Lenny,nwho exemplified one of the commonest 60’s types, sonpathetic that I often think of it as a class of victims. When Infirst knew Lenny in 1960, he was only a foolish freshmannwith a vacant grin, a harmless kid who wore his red andnyellow high school warm-up jacket on all occasions (ansartorial blunder at Tweedy). Some time after Mike andnRachel’s visit, there appeared at our door a rusty bread van,nplastic flower decals on the hubcaps, LOVE painted on itsnsides, out of which stepped sandals, flowing robe, long hair,nheadband — all attached to Lenny. He had quit grad schooln(“I split the scene, man, too uptight”), had left a wife innCalifornia (“Too many hassles, man. I split the scene on mynbike”), had driven across country on his Honda, picked up anjob on an “underground” paper in Boston, and was nownlooking for organic communal life on the land in Vermont.nJudging from his appearance, we all imagined Lennynwould have some interesting or profound or bizarre truthsnfor us, but his word-hoard was limited to the hippie lexicon:n”like, man,” “y’know,” “far out,” and so on. We werendisillusioned. How could anyone not have one singlenintelligent thing to say? How could anyone so attired, songroomed not have anything even mildly interesting to say?nAfter he left, I said to my wife, “I’m afraid it’s the samennnold Lenny.”n”Yes,” she answered, “All he did was trade in thenwarm-up jacket for a funny robe.”nAt any other time, Lenny would have led a quitenordinary, humdrum existence. What the 60’s did for him,nand for countless clucks like him, was to make him seemn(especially in his own eyes) glamorous by giving himnconventionally “exotic” roles and speeches, costumes, andnprops. The Lennys of the 60’s fancied that distinction wasnto be had by adopting the deportment, dress, language, andnmental habits of a herd of similarly undistinguished clodsngrouped under the media banner of the “counterculture.”nThat it did nothing for them except to inflate their patheticnegos at the expense of a sense of realism about themselvesnwas its smallest injury. Far worse, for them and for the rest ofnus, was the way it sanctioned and encouraged, in the namesnof love, freedom, individuality, etc., the trivialization andnfinally the degradation of those precious concepts. Nonodium attached to him for quitting grad school or leaving hisnwife; on the contrary, this was “liberation,” and those in thenmedia (and their number was legion) who pondered thenLennys of the time took pride in casting aside reason,nintelligence, realism, and the wisdom of experience tondiscover in these pitiable adolescent attitudes weighty lessonsnof the heart and mind for the edification of the rest ofnus benighted souls who failed to see the great messagesnbeing conveyed to us by “today’s troubled youth.”nIf a comparison of Momo and Mike showed me hownswiftly certain absurd radical poses were becoming conventional,nI saw in Lenny the incredible dispersion among quitenordinary middle-class people of the same unspoken impulsesnand implicit ways of thought, however superficiallyndiverse their immediate concerns. Looking back from thenend of the 60’s, from the advent of Lenny in his “Love”nvan, the pace of development in the decade was astonishing.nIt began, innocuously enough, with folks like the Woodwrightsnplaying roles, with the help of a small admiringnpublic, in flattering home movies of no great import. Withinna few years, they were so numerous that magazines andnpublishing houses, founded wholly on Country Fakery,nwere flourishing. At the same time the hippie homesteadersnseemed to jump out of the ground in their hordes. Whynthis? Why then? Why so sweeping and so rapid?nAlthough it is possible to trace the 60’s all the way back tonthe Enlightenment (and even beyond), we will understandnthem well enough if we go back only a century to the eranwhen iconoclastic cultural modernism, allied with politicalnradicalism, was just beginning in the U.S. As the yearsnpassed and the ideas gradually gained adherents, they tooknon various forms and marched under different banners butnalways towards the same goal: a generalized idea of freedomnthat took specific shape as liberation from the constraints ofnconvention. By the 1920’s, cultural modernism, its prewarnradicalism hardened and made more fanatic by the Bolsheviknseizure of power, commanded the intellectual heights.nFrom then on, all established practices or conventions werenon the defensive, and as the years passed, their area ofnsovereignty shrank. The old ideas were drained of theirnlifeblood until they were only shells, nominal beliefs rattlednnow and then in their musty boxes to frighten the children.nWhen modernism finally permeated the educated middlen