Fin de siècle ….VIETNAM, 1968 (Sunday Reading, 1/27/19)

At the same time drug use rose dramatically among young urban Vietnamese. Some began smoking marijuana, and a few began experimenting with cocaine. At night in the heart of Saigon, by the hundreds and thousands, young Vietnamese, mostly from the middle class and many of them students, flocked to their own yin rituals of communitas, antistructure, and surcease from the conflicting social pressures generated by a society subjected to twenty-five years of war and sudden, massive, and unchanneled sociocultural change. With the photic-driving of flashing colored lights, the sonic-driving of highly amplified electronic keyboards and electric guitars, in darkened rooms thick with cigarette smoke laced with marijuana fumes, the alienated and disoriented youth of Saigon tried to boogie their way into hyperventilation to induce an altered state of consciousness. In physiological, psychological, and sociological terms, the phenomenon was strikingly similar to what their structurally oppressed and psychologically disturbed great-aunts and -uncles had done for centuries as they performed their shamanistic rites to the accompaniment of flickering candles, pungent incense, and throbbing Taoist drumrolls. The same physiological transformation was being sought by people who had learned from prestigious foreign exemplars of an altered state of consciousness that could free them, at least temporarily, from the particular pressures that the yang structures of their society in their time inflicted upon them.

The Dark Maiden of the Ninth Heaven was superseded by Janis Joplin.

(Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, 1993)

I’d cut off my left hand if anyone caught me writing the bloodless, academic jargon of that long paragraph.

I’d give my left arm to have written that last line, which is worth remembering as, after eighteen hard years of rockin’ and rollin’, we begin negotiations to hand the newly minted chaos of Afghanistan back to the Taliban.


First chaos. Then tyranny.

And it does not pay to forget that the line between cherished liberty and tyranny-breeding chaos is exceeding thin. . .

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