MPE Award of the Day (Maximum Possible Error): James Rado and Gerome Ragni: The Age of Aquarius.
The hit song with the catchy gimmicky tune and the inane lyrics was written for the musical Hair, in which the singing actors stripped to the altogether and showed more hair than decent people cared to see. It’s astonishing to consider how quickly not only moral sensibility but taste collapsed, so that people soon were doing in public what would have roused disdain and ridicule only a few years before. Hair hit the stage in 1969. If you watch a tape of Game 1 of the 1968 World Series between the Cardinals and the Tigers, you’ll notice that the women are wearing dresses and hats, and the men are wearing white button-down shirts. That was in early October, in St. Louis, on a very hot and muggy day. Bob Gibson struck out seventeen men in that game (still a World Series record), shutting the Tigers out, 4-0. You can tell how hot it was by the sweat pouring from Gibson’s forehead and cheeks. And yet the people were well dressed. By 1975, you’d see shirtless men with painted bellies, and baseball would have a big problem with drunks in the crowd.
The Age of Aquarius was supposed to be dawning, bringing about Peace on Earth. How was that to happen? Well, everybody was supposed to be too busy mounting one another or being mounted; making love and not war. Any decent pagan philosopher, not to mention the millennia of wisdom from the Jewish and Christian scriptures and their interpreters, could have told them about the essential cruelty of lust, but nobody was listening. We still have wars, quite a lot of them, but we also enjoy the delight of destroyed communities and families; morally and socially, we live among the bombed-out ruins of what once was a great and good nation. And we don’t even derive the “benefits” of eros. C. S. Lewis could have predicted that, too. Eros is a cruel master. People who submit themselves to eros as if it were the greatest of human aims soon find that they lose not only the greater goods but eros itself, as they must go farther afield and strive with redoubled energy to muster the excitement that once accompanied their first violations of the moral law. Call it the Age of the Desert. What’s the astrological sign for loneliness, divorce, dead babies, and the boredom of squalor?