Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children. The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art and social permissiveness.
Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. The novel was published in 1966 and was joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel (with Babel-17).
The eponymous Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human test subject for the surgery, and it touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.
Although the book has often been challenged for removal from libraries in the US and Canada, sometimes successfully, it is regularly taught in schools around the world and has been adapted many times for television, theatre, radio, and as the Academy Award-winning film Charly.
In the beginning, if there ever was such a time, Demeter, the goddess of life, gave birth to four daughters, whom were named Persephone, Psyche, Athena and Artemis. The world’s first children were unremarkably happy. To amuse their mother -with whom they were all passionately in love – they invented language, music, laughter – and many more useful and boisterous activities.
One morning Persephone menstruated. That afternoon, Demeter’s daughters gathered flowers to celebrate the loveliness of the event. (Poppies the flowers of forgetfulness.) A chariot thundered, then clattered into their midst. It was Hades, the middle aged god of death, come to rape Persephone, come to carry her off to be his queen, to sit beside him in the realm of non-being below the earth, come to commit the first act of violence earth’s children had ever known.
Afterwords, the three sisters agreed that he was old enough to be Persephone’s father. ….
The sun spoke “Why mourn the natural fate of daughters – to leave their mother’s home, to lose their virginity, to marry and to give birth to children”?
Demeter was grieved beyond and before reasoning. She said to the sun “Yea, if that be the natural fate of daughters, let all mankind perish. Let there be no crops, no grain, no corn, if this maiden is not returned to me.
Because Demeter was a powerful goddess, her wishes were commands and Persephone returned. Persephone still had to visit her husband once each year (in winter when no crops could grow), but her union with him remained a barren one. Persephone was childless. Neither husband nor child – no stranger would ever claim her as his own. Persephone belonged to her mother. That was Demeter’s gift to herself.
But “oh” and ‘oh’ and ‘oh” sighed Persephone’s sisters after they had seen everything..
Psyche was the first to speak. “I am beautiful – some say more beautiful than all my sisters, and still no man claims me as his wife” (Actually, Psyche and Persephone looked quite alike: you could not tell them apart.) “Sisters! I am longing for love. I am lonely and frightened in our mother’s house. I wish a husband – with strong and handsome eyes – and I wish to have a child.”
Athena spoke next: “I am not beautiful – and care not such things. (She was in fact exceedingly beautiful, but was very tall even for a daughter of a goddess.) “Sisters! My childhood is over and must be relived. I wish to be born again – and of man. I wish to plot the clash of heroes from afar, dressed in the finest armor, moved by the finest wisdom. I wish for my wholeness and not for children or a husband.”
Artemis spoke last. (She too was tall and of a darker complexion than her sisters.) “Sisters! perhaps I wish for the impossible and will have to wander even farther than our mother did in search of it. I, too, want heroic clashes and great deeds. But I also want love and children. My head aches with visions of swords and altars, dazzling cities, and beautiful maidens. There is a music in my ears strange to our mother’s house.
Well, as this conversation is common knowledge among schoolgirls, we know what each sister arranged for herself.
Women and Madness by Phylllis Chesler Ph.D