Sunday, April 16, 2017

Introducing the 1971 Project

It's been awhile since I've started a new running series on this blog, which is a shame since I tend to write better when I am thinking about a bigger topic than just responding to the events of the day.

I am a sucker for a lot of genres I should not be a sucker for, and one of them is the "The World In Year X" genre. After all, I am a sophisticated historian, and understand that historical events and trends very rarely conform to arbitrary dates on the calendar. That said, I find something satisfying about books that deal with a calendar year, especially baseball books. (At least a sports season puts greater ontological weight on viewing things by year.)

I am currently reading Heather Ann Thompson's deservedly lauded history of the Attica Prison uprising in 1971, and that triggered in me a long-held notion about that particular year. I now see it as the apotheosis of the 1960s in many respects. Not just the sixties as the time of radical protest and social change, but also the sixties as a time of resentment, backlash, and rise of the modern conservative movement. The brutally violent suppression of the Attica uprising, perhaps more than the Kent State shooting the year before, showed the willingness of authority to use its full power to destroy the voices of dissent. After all, it was in 1971 that activists broke into government offices and revealed the machinations of COINTELPRO.

On reason why I keep writing on this blog is that I lack the expertise, talent, and time to write books, but something in me compels me to keep writing. So instead of the book about 1971 I wish I could write, I'll be giving y'all a bunch of blog posts.

So I will leave this one off with "Can't You Hear My Knocking" by the Rolling Stones. It has an air of desperation mixed subtle violence that seems so fitting for the times. There's also an extended solo section in the middle, a sign of changing musical times for a band once known for its compact, explosive singles.

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