Mediated Immediacy
Living in the Now
I started out talking about how to trip, and then I saw that life was a trip.
So now I talk about how to live.
—Stephen Gaskin, Catalog of Sexual Consciousness
n 1971, Simon and Schuster published The Underground Dictio-
nary by Dr. Eugene E. Landy, a clinical psychologist and lecturer
at the University of Southern California. Dedicated “to my people,”
the book offered itself as a sort of Rosetta Stone of countercul-
tural slang, fashioning a “much-needed communications bridge
between the Establishment and the underground culture” through
a detailed inventory of the new vernacular that was rapidly colo-
nizing the popular lexicon of American youth. Most of the entries
reflected the technical jargon of drug use and sexual behavior
Landy had picked up in his work at a community health center for
young people: “Come,” we are told, refers to “male or female ejacu-
late,” “Main squeeze: wife or girlfriend,” and “Coast” is to “feel the
effects of a drug.”¹ The Dictionary imparts a glimpse into the com-
plex meanings and emotional styles inscribed in everyday habits
of living and communicating, described through clandestine and
restrictive words: “Up tight: in a state of extreme tension or anxiety;
worried, disturbed; upset”; “Groovy: great, fantastic, joyful, happy”;
“Cop out: Find an excuse, usually a phony one, to get out of some-
thing or a situation” (192, 93, 57).
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