The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the early 1960s and spread around the world. The word “hippie” derives from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.
Additionally, the word hipster derives from the word “hip” which was the equivalent of “cool” or “edgy” in the Beat language of the 50’s. The roots of the hippies can be found in the analogues of the Beat bibles, written by three of the greatest writers of the era: in basically nonfiction prose-form Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road” during a two-week spree high on benzendrine, in a more scholarly-literary prose-form William Burroughs wrote “Naked Lunch”, and in poetic form Alan Ginsberg wrote “Howl.” The best description of hippie culture itself may have come from New Journalist writer Tom Wolfe in “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, but another key take on the era comes from the essays of Joan Didion in “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.” And to really get a grip on the madness of the era through the eyes of perhaps the greatest living literary genius who writes in the English language, check out Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.” These works should thoroughly explain what “hippie” stands for, in its ideal, its generality, and its cliche.
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