Okay, here’s a shorter way, for those of you who haven’t the patience for my full cinemascopic link-littered prose, to get at what I mean by Intermediate Modernity
In Book VIII Republic terms, intermediate-modernity was the era of the self-repressing Oligarchic Soul, and “the 60s” ushered in the dawn of the fully Democratic one, complete with a tossing aside of sober suits and dress shoes for psychedelic colors and toes in the grass. Business dress would only be re-donned on bourgeois-bohemian terms–by such surface compromises the Cultural Revolution would be regularized. Full modernity had arrived.
One can encapsulate the change with a single contrast: there is something surprising and cringe-inducing about the fact that Cary Grant, that masculine icon of intermediate modernity, did a lot of acid in the late 50s and early 60s towards the end of his career, but there is something expected and perhaps inspiring about the fact that Steve Jobs, that man of full modernity, did so also, just when he was starting out. That’s because while the Pill was the more sociologically fundamental drug by far, LSD was the more symbolic drug of the times, representing the total freedom now sought not just in one’s sex life but in all spheres of life, i.e., the freedom to re-form the psyche, by means of brutally honest (Freud-esque, but not Freud-loyal) openness to and about all of one’s desires, by taboo-shattering, and by an unprecedented embrace of human diversity, cultural and psyche-logical. Grant said that on acid he learned “that everything becomes its opposite.” Today, our Internet World mimics, in a controlled and “consumer-choice” way, some of the wild hopes represented for a time by acid, giving each of us our own I-portal to all of human diversity. So it makes a kind of sense that Jobs, who like all the brave hip kids of his generation became Experienced, was one of the men who helped make this I-World of ours possible.
But for those who want to long for the good old AMC-portrayed America before liberals messed everything up, when men were men, women women, and everyone dressed so proper, it does not really compute that Grant became an acid-apostle. Nor do they want to admit that the free-love of the hippies was to a certain extent an attempt to democratize Grant’s movie-star experience of fooling around quite a bit. This is because until one admits the basic instability of intermediate modernity, and that our major cultural sicknesses go back at least as far as its 1920s arrival, one cannot be a genuine conservative, nor have the degree of sympathy for Rock and the 60s counter-culture that one ought to.
Check Wikipedia if you don’t believe me about Grant’s acid-advocacy. And if you want to know the low-down details, there are more than enough here.