1%er, Arnold J. Toynbee, Bobby Beausoleil, Botany, Botticelli, Botticelli’s Primavera, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Burning of the Vanities, Cecil Rhodes, Cromwell, Daisy Bates, Diamond Jubilee, Don Snyder, Edmund Stillman, Edward John Eyre, Florence, Francis of Assisi, Harley-Davidson, Hippies, J.H. Plumb, Jan Morris, John Stuart Mill, Lord Kitchener, Manson Family, Marshall McLuhan, Morant Bay rebellion, Queen Victoria, Ranters, Roman Empire, Rome, Roy McMullen, Savonarola, The Beatles, Uffizzi Gallery, Walter Pater
You can tell it’s 1968, as this issue has a special section on The Hippies. The cover features a close-up of Flora from Botticelli’s Primavera in the Uffizzi Gallery, Florence. Her resemblance to a hippie flower child is not coincidental:
Introducing the special section, the editors write:
The hippies’ credo, echoing Socrates, is ‘Do your thing’. Very well. HORIZON’S thing is the study of our own civilization in the long view of history.
The hippies are secular heretics, for they reject the moral principles of society, claiming to return to a purer, less hypocritical morality. What this new secular heresy has in common with religious heresies of the past, to which it possesses so many resemblances, is that it has occurred in a very affluent society…Also, as now, it was a time of war and social dislocation…The philosophy of the marketplace had spread like bindweed over ancient morality and stifled it…Better get right out of it and dwell with the brethren, led by the inner light.
…Indeed some founders of religion seem uncomfortably close to the hippies. Beyond Saint Francis looms a larger, more formidable figure, who amid the vast riches and stupendous power of the Roman Empire had no use for it, not for riches, not for strife, not for hypocrisy; who preferred a prostitute to a prude.
But he didn’t think the hippies would effect revolutionary change because they possessed ‘attitudes but not an ideology’.
One side of the hippies is seen in this picture, illustrating ‘As It Was in Rome…’ by Arnold J. Toynbee, who shows how the early Christians were ‘Un-Roman! Un-American!’. The caption to this picture reads, ‘In a pile of junked cars two Californian hippies see a wasteful, materialist culture’ –
But here’s the other side, illustrating ‘A Reckoning to Come?’ by Edmund Stillman: ‘Resting on his Harley-Davidson, a member of an East Coast motorcycle club has a scowl on his face, a can of beer in his hand, and an Iron Cross over his heart.’ –
They could have added ‘A “1%er” patch on his vest’.
‘Modern life,’ Stillman concludes, ‘suffocates, but the hell of it may be that asphyxia is the price we pay for some modicum of order, some peace.’
And look who is pictured outside a house in San Francisco that is home to ‘a transient population of artists, musicians, and underground film makers’:
‘Bobby Beausoleil, leader of a rock group called The Magic[k] Powerhouse of Oz.’ It would be another year before people heard of the Manson Family.
Most of the pictures were taken by Don Snyder. ‘Because he is one of their own, he was able to win their confidence and to show them, in these remarkable photographs, as they look to themselves.’
Now for something completely different – James (now Jan) Morris writes about ‘The Imperialists’ in an extract from his 1968 book Pax Brittanica. He imagines himself at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and looks at the men (and one of the women – Daisy Bates) who built the Empire. They include Cecil Rhodes: ‘There was a shifty look to Rhodes, but it was shiftiness in the grand manner, as if he dealt in millions always – millions of pounds, millions of square miles, millions of people.’
He became a figure of violent controversy at home. Ruskin, Tennyson and Carlyle were among his supporters; John Stuart Mill and T.H. Huxley were members of a committee that secured his prosecution for murder…The legal charges were dismissed but he was never offered another post…Through it all he had hardly bothered to defend himself – as though the sandy silence of the outback had muffled his soul.
And then there is Lord Kitchener, seen here with aides in Delhi in 1902:
Kitchener and all but one of his aides would be killed in World War I.
In ‘Anatomy of a Masterpiece’, Roy McMullen looks at Botticelli’s Primavera (Spring), with a ‘Gravure Portfolio’ giving close-ups of the work, including this one of flowers at the foot of Venus, titled ‘Botticelli: Amateur Botanist’:
Here’s the key:
If 1968 was the year of flower children, it was also the year of Red Guards. As Joseph Barry writes, in 15th century Florence they were led by Savonarola:
Dressed in white robes, carrying olive branches and little scarlet crosses, Savonarola’s sacred legion of child inquisitors roamed Renaissance Florence by the regiment policing the morality of its streets, penetrating its houses. They tore veils and jewellery from women, finery from men. They hounded gamblers, courtesans and blasphemers, and cropped the hair of youths. If a homeowner co-operated, they collected condemned “vanities” peacefully, pronouncing on his house a benediction especially composed by Savonarola. If he did not, they ransacked it for “lascivious” paintings, books, pieces of sculpture and “pagan” objects. These they threw into the street, mutilating them and piling them in baskets, carting them to the public square for the great bonfires that have come to be known as the famous Burning of the Vanities of 1497 and 1498 – the greatest catastrophe for Florentine art treasures until the flood that took place in 1966.
It is not confirmed if Botticelli threw his own nude drawings on the fire, but:
What we do know is that after he was converted by Savonarola, his canvases became far fewer, his Venus disappearing from them along with her spirit, his mood and style darkening with an acid sorrow that has intrigued critics since Walter Pater with the Botticelli Problem.
Did you think there was someone missing from this 1968 roundup? In ‘On Polyphony and a New Vocal Quartet’, ‘a certain musical ensemble, called The Beatles’ get a ‘critique of their musicianship’ by Frederic V. Grunfeld:
In years to come, when we look back on this epoch we now think of (tentatively) as the McLuhan era, we shall find that their four faces tower above the scene like Gutzon Borglum’s presidents carved from Mount Rushmore, and it shall hence henceforth be known to posterity as The Age of the Beatles.