Hippies: the legacy of love, peace and flowers

"I didn't know where to go except everywhere." The phrase belongs to the novel In the path (On the Road, 1957) of Jack Kerouac and it became the spirit of an age. Especially from that crowd of young people that that distant Monday August 18st, 1969 they crowded the field of Woodstock to see and hear the gods of music. That was the first collective and foundational expression of the hippie movement.


Although half a century has passed and "horse racing" seems buried under several layers of historical dust, wars, dictatorships, mass attacks and other disasters, its influence continues to this day. The music, la clothing, true spirituality, the letters biases de political thought seem to account for it.

It can be easily recognizable today in the stripped clothing of some young people, in their dissatisfaction with the adult world, or in their way of listening to music, among other features. There are also those who do not register it that way, and the hippie movement is nothing more than a faded memory of a tumultuous sixties hopelessly lost.

It was an American phenomenon that quickly went global.

The truth is that the so-called "hippie culture”Left his mark and has acquired different expressions throughout these years. Along with some other previous manifestations, such as the so-called Beat generation to which the author cited at the beginning belonged, had in common a factor that distinguished them from other currents: their protagonists were young people in what, until then, was an adult world. A virulent reaction against the establishment and, in particular, against the adults who had left a legacy of terrible wars, with tens of millions of victims in the first half of the XNUMXth century.

Historians agree that the great unifying factor of these exuberant young Americans was the protest against the Vietnam war. A conflict that led the United States to its worst failure in a decade of combat, and soured the victory that, after World War II, had made them the victorious heroes of the West.

With the end of the conflict in the distant Asian country, “hippism” as such ended up being extinguished. However, for many years the features of their culture continued to exist today.

The peace symbol, born as an anti-nuclear protest, maintains its meaning.

What still lives

"From hippie culture several things survive. For example, the love of nature, the natural, that one saw promoted by the hippie movement, is prolonged in time thanks to ecologists, vegetarians and vegans - to give just a few examples, "he says. Gustavo VerdesioHe holds a doctorate in Latin American literature from Northwestern University and has been a professor at the University of Michigan for 18 years. He also directs the collection Discs of Estuario publishing house, dedicated to River Plate music.

Verdesio maintains that respect for indigenous cultures also comes from those roots. The original hippism was nourished, precisely, by some features of the North American native cultures from which it copied, for example, a good part of its clothing.

"The world of artisans, which usually coincides with the exaltation of places far from the cities, continues to live in those that, in the case of Argentina, go to live in El Bolsón or Uritorco (people satirized with affection and longing in Flying birds, a film starring Capusotto and Luis Luque) in search of a place where the spiritual aspects of life are favored, and in Uruguay, among those who exalt the natural virtues of Valizas or Cabo Polonio. The supposed energy of those places would be the key element in the search for those citizens, ”says Verdesio.

The rise of the currents New Age, in vogue especially from the 1990s to these days, as well as the persistent interest in oriental philosophies and alternative medicines are, in Verdesio's opinion, other expressions of the hippie legacy.

“In music, every so often a group or soloist emerges that rescues or vindicates the hippie aesthetic. I think, for example, of the band Lavender Diamond and, above all, of its singer, Becky Stark ”, describes Verdesio.

Visible signs

For the semiologist Fernando Andacht, beyond the clothing that seems to be reborn from time to time, especially in a parodic way during the Vernacular Night of Nostalgia, "there was a movement back to nature in the present."

"Based on Eastern Religions - the commented spiritual journey of The Beatles to India, to meet the Maharishi -or authors who were very far from that movement, such as the German novelist Herman Hesse- there is a search for what modern western society would have lost in its desire to materially improve the quality of life ”, he points out.

The academic sees a clear example of this influence in the famous German Green Party, global precursor of environmentalism.

As for the features of the hippie trend and the countercultural movements that are still in force, Andacht notices their mark on some youthful expressions typical of this time.

“We can think of that hippie youth as a globalized movement that functioned as test field for what today has exploded on Instagram and other networks. Namely: communities of aesthetic, ideological and political affinity ”, the researcher maintains.

Andacht affirms that these traces still persist in the notorious differences that characterize the new generations, such as the celebration of the best before date, anatemized by hippies.

Another aspect in which the semiologist sees a clear hippie influence is in the use of drugs, from marijuana to lysergic acid, so typical of psychedelia. “An experimentation with the imagination and the various ways of 'going up' (in English, get high) They are not an invention of the hippie movement either, but they are an ingredient of its cultural practices, both in the positive phase - the expansion of perception - and the negative phase marked by excess and death ”, he explains. Andacht recalls, in this sense, the iconic figures of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix, all of them dead at the age of 27 at the height of their careers.

In modern music the movement exerted an enormous influence.

THOUGHT. Protest and antiwarism is at the center of the hippie movement and, therefore, in its thinking. This is how the philosopher and university professor understands it Javier Mazza, who sees in the movement a clear uprising against the Vietnam War that later became intellectualized.

“I think that as well happens with all countercultural movements, the hippie movement had a boom and a decline quite followed in time. A little, that is what defines countercultural movements: they arise - and both by the way in which they are formed, by the way in which they operate, and also towards what they operate - they make them of short duration ", says Mazza .

The philosopher gives as an example the remembered movement of the May 68 French, where left-wing radicalized students took to the streets for an incendiary protest against the government of Charles De Gaulle. The street unrest was soon joined by the trade unions and the French Communist Party, transforming the revolt into the largest general strike in French history. After the protest the movement as such was extinguished. “It arises, raises something and puts it on the table and just as it raises it, it disappears. There is a definition by (Gilles) Lipovetski regarding countercultural movements that says that revolutionary movements in postmodernity are only apparently revolutionary, ”he points out.

“It could be said that countercultural movements are actually reactive and not proactive, as the French Revolution or American Revolution”Explains Mazza.

Likewise, it notices a mixture of philosophical currents already existing at the time that ended up feeding hippie thought, such as existentialism, vitalism and nihilism among the main ones. The "rediscovery" of Henry David Thoreau and his magnum opus, Walden, are typical of the time with two central ideas: civil rebellion and return to nature.

Mazza also agrees that the use of hallucinogenic drugs, taken first as experimentation and then as an almost identity issue, runs through the entire movement and almost defines it. Some rock bands make it their own name, as was the case with the emblematic The Doors (Las Puertas), which owes its name to the essay of Aldous Huxley The Gates of Perception, in turn based on the visionary poems of William Blake. In these pages Huxley referred to his experiences with mescaline, under whose influence he wrote the work.

Other aspects linked to hippie culture have been revived with force in new expressions such as veganism and a certain spiritualism, which, according to Mazza, have been more linked to countercultural movements than specifically to hippism. In his opinion, these currents arise as a reaction that the West has had on itself.

“Above all, I would say that since Nietzsche henceforth, the whole philosophy of the XNUMXth century, in particular up to the first half of the century and a little later, raised the question of saying: 'Obviously we have thought the world in a bad way, or there have been many bad ways of thinking about the world that have led us to commit atrocities such as atomic bombs or the same Holocaust'”, Says the teacher.

Hippism has been on the road for half a century and it is still so rampant with long hair blowing in the wind.

Cabo Polonio usually attracts those who keep the horse racing flame alive.

The horse race "already was" for Hugo Fattoruso

Hugo Fattoruso is preparing to receive the Latin Grammy in recognition of his career in modern music. A core aspect of Fattoruso's work lies in his search for fusion with a rhythm as his own as Candombe and rock. Although he lived at that time, Fattoruso says that “I couldn't tell if (hippism) influenced me as a musician”. Regarding the features that survive, the musician assures that “not close to what it already was, or at least that is what I can find on the street, in life ”. However, he believes that this culture is still alive in those who professed it in the sixties.

Bright colors, crafts, the typical clothing of the hippies.

Typical clothing was adapted to more local uses

Clothing became a hallmark of the hippie movement. Bright colors, faded jeans, flowers, typical ethnic clothing such as Walla Walla dresses, "elephant leg" or Oxford pants, necklaces and handicrafts make up the characteristic hippie clothing. Some of these traits were adapted or also survive in modern youth clothing, he observes. Angela Rubino, industrial designer in the textile area and co-author with Magdalena Ponce de Leon of History of Uruguayan fashion from 1985 to 2018 . “The origins of the hippie movement and the installation of Woodstock were, obviously, due to the emergence of youth in the world, we came from an aging humanity and after the Second War there is an explosion of children. There this rebellion arises ”, observes Rubino. The design expert believes that young people today express themselves with greater freedom in Uruguay than during the rise of horse racing in the world. “In our case we were more like the rest of the Latin Americans, we used Peruvian divers, those guarachas, the wheel sandals, we dressed in what was around, the colors were not strident, they were dark colors, also because the country was in that situation ”, he remembers. Rubino believes that some traits of the hippie style persist, above all, in the stripped-down way of wearing clothes in today's youth. "There are many groups of young people who also express themselves through clothing according to the group with which they relate, or what they study," he observes. However, the character of the country seems to prevail in all layers, for example in the choice of colors that are usually muted or predominantly dark. The use of second-hand clothing, although it is current, does not come from that time. “In the houses with second-hand clothes there are no clothes from the seventies, for example, that in Europe and the United States happens. But not here, the oldest clothes you get are from the late nineties, ”says Rubino. Some techniques of home dyeing, such as Batik, survive under new modalities and identical results.


Words, symbols and ideas

The English word "hippie" derives from the word of the same origin "hip", which can be translated as "popular or fashionable". At the end of the 1950s, the term "hipster" began to become common to refer to the avant-garde, which at the beginning of the 60 'already wrapped under that name the bohemian of jazz clubs. The city of San Francisco, California, was the quintessential cradle of the hippie movement. It was, precisely, a journalist from a local newspaper - Michael Fallon, a chronicler of The San Francisco Examiner - the first to use the term "hippie" in a chronicle published on September 6, 1965. There he referred to the new bohemia of those long-haired young men and girls in long Walla Walla dresses, as opposed to the already slightly aged representatives of the so-called Beat Generation, to which the writer Jack Kerouac belonged. Jazz was no longer the music they were listening to, but the compositions of bands like The Mamas & The Papas, Jefferson Airplane or The Grateful Dead. Two years later the term "hippie" had already spread throughout the world. The circle with the three lines inside it is perhaps the best known and most popular symbol that identified the movement and became part of its clothing. The symbol was created in 1958 by British designer Gerald Holtom especially for the nuclear disarmament campaign, the theme that revealed the protest movements of the time. Holtom took the initial letters of Nuclear disarmament (“nuclear disarmament”, in English) in the semaphore alphabet that represents the N with the arms down and the D with a vertical arm up.

This is an article collected from EL PAIS Uruguay about hippy culture that we want to share with you. 


    Leave an answer

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

    Main Menu

    They force us to bother you with the usual cookie issue ...    More info
    Open chat