During the year 2018, I plan to share with you excerpts from my journal from the year 1968. Month by month, I want to compare the events and experiences of one life, mine, with the larger picture of a world that was rapidly changing, a year of events that rocked the very foundations of of society and culture.
My American River Trilogy, Tributaries, Currents, and Confluence, is set primarily in Northern California during the decade of the 1960s. In that turbulent decade, one year in particular stands out as “The Year That Shaped a Generation.” Read the entire journal entry here.
Here is my February post for my Re-living 1968 blog. February brought new challenges and new issues into the spotlight. After seeing the film, “Bonnie and Clyde,” I began an exhaustive research project on the role of the “outlaw hero” in American mythology that eventually resulted in my first publication, “The Outlaw Hero and the Negation of the American Dream.”
Out in the larger world, there was also a lot going on—the escalation of the war in Viet Nam, increased American casualties, rising criticism of the war, labor unrest, and continued racial tensions. The year was off to a disturbing start—but we hadn’t seen nothin’ yet. Read the entire journal entry here.
On March 5, 1968 I wrote, “I don’t want to regret my life. You’ve got one shot at doing something, being something. So don’t waste time . . . Then when you come to the edge and you’re staring down into the bottomless blackness of eternity, you can say ‘I did okay… I spent my time well.’” I was twenty five years old, and I had an agenda… Read the entire journal entry here.
“APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
—T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”
Read the entire journal entry here.
1968 continued to be full of surprises as spring turned into a long hot summer of discontents and tragedies. Events in my little world seemed to reflect the mayhem of the larger world. Read the entire journal entry here.
May 30 seems like years ago. If things were odd then, they’re even worse now. I think I left us in the floods, the strikes, the protests? Just as we thought it couldn’t get worse, this ugly, contorted, screaming mad world came up with another beautiful whack. Read the entire journal entry here.
The entire month of July is absent from my 1968 journal. I think that after the events of June, I was too shell-shocked to write anything.
But we did travel in July of that year. So, I’ll tell you what I remember. Read the entire journal entry here.
Rain outside. Gray and warm. Soft nostalgic scent of wet grass and damp bark. The Democratic Convention is scheduled for later this month. I wouldn’t care except that sometime during the event Ted Kennedy will be there and he’ll say some words. Read the entire journal entry here.
September 1968 was the end of an era. As Summer morphed into Fall, there was a sense of disbelief about what we’d collectively lived through. It had been an astonishing year! The run-up to the 1968 presidential election seemed almost like an afterthought after tumult and tragedy of the Spring and Summer. I reacted by going to the movies, getting back into my art, and gearing up for the final year of my graduate work at Ohio University. Read the entire journal entry here.
October 13, 1968 I ended up going to the conference and it worked out pretty well. Flew up with Dana Loomis and Abner Jonas [two Ohio University art faculty members]. Kinda weird. The conference was strange too. I played along. I’m finding a lot of dishonesty out there which is quite … Read the entire journal entry here.
Exhausted from the previous half year of turmoil, I retreated in November to friends and contemplation, trying to re-ground myself after a hectic period in my life. The election on November 5, 1968, of Richard Nixon got only a one-line mention. Disillusioned, I turned inward. Read the entire journal entry here.