austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Pretty little whirling butterfly

Caught on Turner Classic Movies: the mental hygiene/documentary short Distant Drummer: A Movable Scene, from George Washington University and the National Institute of Mental Health, taking a break from uplifting rats and mice. This is a bit of Those Pesky Hippies, What's Wrong With Them Anyway? movie-making which is actually relatively warm towards those hippies for a documentary narrated by Robert Mitchum, without quite getting away from pointing out how they're dirty and non-Protestant and not really concerned with the problems of the Real World and how they never actually show real selflessness the way Authority Figures do. It's important to make sure the audience knows that even if you show people sympathetic to the hippies, that doesn't mean they can be credited with anything.

And yet there is some curious warmth towards the attitudes of the counter-culture, admitting that --- for example --- harassment over the trivial issue of hair length made it easier, once people discovered that hair two inches long did not result in death or disease or mixed-gender dancing, to suppose that authority figures don't actually know everything and they'll often claim stuff is dangerous just because they don't like it. (Would that more people understood that about authority figures.) Apparently the most tragic thing for parents was discovering a child who was always neat and clean and wore ``good clothes'' and was always home on time and responsible, and yet also did drugs and so he DIED.

There's clear distinctions drawn between those who are having Authentic mind-expanding experiences such as meditating, and those who are having Non-Authentic ones like hallucinogen use, of course. But I think the most baffling moment was a throwaway line about the crazy things Those Kids would do to try getting high on stuff not necessarily illegal drugs: ``our youngsters out here are drinking diluted Murine eyewash, they're smoking crushed aspirin, they're drinking Ban deodorant, they're injecting Accent meat tenderizer, always in search for the magic high''. Injecting Accent meat tenderizer? The heck? I have to figure some of these got started as people testing to see how gullible their companions were. ``Oh, yeah, if you chew an ordinary pillow for two hours the residual chemicals from the dyeing process will blow your mind, and it's way more intense if you hold an ink pad to your chest so its fumes penetrate your heart muscles.'' I think the prank aspect of drug rumors is probably understated. Or someone just wanted to see who would believe people were drinking diluted eyewash and injecting meat tenderizer.

Trivia: Marc Isambard Brunel developed a factory in Portsmouth, at which ten men could produce 160,000 pulleys a year, meeting the full requirement of the Royal Navy. Source: One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, Witold Rybczynski.

Currently Reading: The Making Of The Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes.


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