Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life Magazine, 1968, and the Minnesota Historical Society

" '68: The Incredible Year: LIFE special issue, January 10, 1969"
Covering 1968, The 1968 Project, Minnesota Historical Society (January 10, 2010)

"When 1968 became 1968

"Forty-one years ago today, LIFE magazine brought out this issue entirely devoted to a breathless review of the year that had just ended: 1968. The scale of attention here was unprecedented for the venerable LIFE magazine, and I don’t believe it was repeated during the rest of the magazine’s tenure. Surely, year-end journalistic wrap-ups were (and are) commonplace, but this was something more: an entirely retrospective issue of a magazine that ordinarily prided itself on its up-to-the-minute journalism (especially photojournalism). Such was the stunning power of the 'Incredible Year' and the extraordinary self-consciousness of the moment. At virtually the first possible moment, 1968 became '1968'–something larger, more symbolic, more worthy of engraving in virtual monuments.

"Battered by a series of awful waves

"LIFE begins its coverage with a fast-paced timeline, with a few words and thumbnail photos for each month. 'What ELSE could have happened in one spin around the sun? It was a year when everybody had to be heard–students, blacks, hippies, yippies, rightists, leftists, dissidents–and then heeded, instantly. It was a year of confrontation, a year the Establishment became the Enemy, the alienated became the activist and nobody could hear the sensible voice of the quiet man....'..."

Yeah: It was a pretty big year. I was there, by the way, and have too good a memory to get nostalgic for the "good old days."

Still, it doesn't hurt to review what happened: and this is a pretty good one-stop spot to do so.

Don't worry, by the way, the next post's topic should be a whole lot lighter. Wouldn't take much.

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