Hunting The Boojum

The Youth Revolution

During the middle and late 1960s events around the world had taken a sudden surprising turn and teenagers in general and university students in particular were behaving in ways that resembled medieval revitalisation movements. These remarkable cultural phenomena could alter reality for large numbers of people. I was teaching and researching this very topic at the time together with researching for a PhD in creative expression and cultural values. This was my chance to come out of the trenches. Realising that cultural phenomena usually reached the Antipodes a year or two later than Europe and North America I prepared to surf the tsunami of hysterical self confidence that was approaching our shores. I based my approach on a synthesis of Logic, Love and Levity and took the unusual step of founding a reform movement that I called Action for Love and Freedom or ALF and anchored it securely on the university as a Community of Scholars.

 

The Fun Revolution

My academic training in Psychology and Sociology helped me to analyse what was happening and to keep a cool head. My sunny disposition, which followed a happy non-dogmatic Christian childhood, had even survived compulsory secular education due to frequent changes of school following evacuation in war-time England. I was more attracted by Hippie sentiments of love and conservation of the environment than by neurotic hatred of “the system” etc. of the rising Student Power movement. Levity or playfulness is I believe a characteristic of Anglo-Saxon culture in particular, though the Czechs seem very similar. Raised on a diet of ITMA and The Goon Show on the radio, and with a love of Chaucer, Rabelais, Cervantes, Capek’s Good Soldier Schweik, and with respectable theoretical underpinning from Huizinga’s Homo Ludens I started the Fun Revolution. Logic and Love were in the wings but Levity was centre stage.

 

This is not the place to give even a brief account of what happened during the Fun Revolution at the University of NSW between 1967 and 1969. Suffice to say that it included my being dismissed from my teaching fellowship without consultation or appeal by my humourless Marxist head of department. He had been recruited from the ranks of Political Science and like many politically motivated intellectuals was probably baffled by my sociological and psychological sophistication. Subsequently however I was rescued by being appointed as official university Wizard by the Vice Chancellor and Student Administration. This ‘liminal’ role gave me many more opportunities to “revitalise” the campus.

 

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