Remember bookstores? Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s I used to browse in small indie bookstores and pick up quirky but provocative books, some of which are still on my shelves. Yesterday, moved by an obscure impulse, I pulled out Inner Visions, a 1979 paperback by Nevill Drury. I’m pretty sure I bought it because of the chapter on the Tarot.
I don’t remember a word of what’s in the book, and it’s not clear I’m going to sit down and read it this month. What prompted me to mention it was the misguided optimism in the Introduction. When Drury was writing this book, the term “counter-culture” could still be used, and with a straight face. Experiments with psychedelic drugs were taken seriously by intelligent people. In the Introduction, he mentions the album covers of Roger Dean, notes “the relationship of the fantasy art on record sleeves to the electronic inner-space music which it often represents,” and suggests that “these forms of modern music represent one facet of the contemporary reaction against scientism and the search for what [Theodore] Roszak has termed the visionary sources of our culture.”
The question I’m asking myself is, what happened? How did a cultural movement that seemed to promise a change for the better get so thoroughly derailed? Why, today, do we roll our eyes and cringe with embarrassment when we encounter Drury’s enthusiasm for magical consciousness and “a truly open-ended cosmology”?
What happened, for starters, was Read more