I’m currently reading Cold Comfort Farm, which is a satirical novel about an upper-class girl who goes to live with some country cousins and decides to whip them into shape. Weirdly, it’s sort of science-fictional? It was written in 1932, but takes place in the near future, so there’s stuff like television phones and cheap, quick air travel and that kind of thing. I have no idea why the author made that choice, but there you have it.
One interesting thing: there’s an extended riff where the narrator makes fun of a character for being kind of a hippy and wearing colorful clothes and believing in nature and poetry and all that other Romantic stuff.
Which reminded me of Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, where the author also makes fun of the early Transcendentalists for being big old free love hippies who tried to start a commune in upstate New York.
Which made me think: Have there always been hippy-type people? People who believed they could rebel against modern conformism by founding simpler communities that were more in line with nature and where they could practice sexual liberation and believe in flowers and being one with the earth and stuff?
One hypothesis of mine was that maybe hippyism began with the Romantic poets and that before them, there wasn’t quite this same meme. But then no, I was discussing this idea with a friend, and we remembered about ancient Greece and its Cult of Dionysis, where people would head out to the woods and get drunk and have orgies and tear apart animals in a way that was quite threatening to established religion.
And then there was Ancient Rome, which went through its own period, during the Augustan era, of idolizing pastoral life.
So yeah, hippy-type shit. It’s just something that happens.