Hippie Activism in Literature: Meta-Narrative, Juxtapositioning, and the Continuous Fictional Dream
Borrowing from his new book, The Hippie Narrative: A Literary Perspective on the Counterculture (2007), Scott MacFarlane will explore how different didactic techniques used in the key works of literature from the counterculture served to further (or occasionally obstruct) the respective author’s social, political, religious, or philosophical activism. The works to be touched on will include Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Gurney Norman’s Divine Right’s Trip, Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. All of these books, in markedly different artistic ways, address key social issues such as progress, authoritarianism, the loss of the pastoral, changing attitudes toward war, drug use, spirituality, feminism or the environment. With an assumption that each author had a particular activist perspective to portray or promulgate, this discussion will look at how the forms and methods of meta-fiction, juxtapositional structures, or traditional energeic narratives impact on the rhetorical and dramatic effectiveness of the prose.
Scott MacFarlane, the author of The Hippie Narrative: A Literary Perspective on the Counterculture, lives in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington state where, as in the line from Billy Joel's song, "Piano Man," he considers himself a real estate novelist. Also a parttime teacher, MacFarlane received his BA in anthropology and editorial journalism from the University of Washington in 1979 and his MFA in creative writing (fiction and pedagogy) from Antioch University Los Angeles in 2005. In the late '70s and '80s the author explored the waning vestiges of the hippie counterculture, including a full year traveling in an old VW minibus with his wife and three-year-old son. In addition to authoring this work, which establishes the literary canon of the '60s and '70s counterculture, when MacFarlane is in the creative writing classroom he experiments with collaborative short story writing where the students must make as many of the authorial decisions as feasible. Then a lead writer, usually the teacher, crafts the story according to the student input. An article on this collaborative process will be published in the quarterly magazine, Teacher & Writer, in mid-2007.