NEXUS: a connection between incidents, topics or people

It took the 60′s for people to begin to experiment and then identify the science of  “connecting” with each other beyond traditional methods.   The explosion of sexual freedom, interpersonal relationship and sensitivity training onto the human relations scene has transformed (for better or for worse) the whole concept of the nexus between people.  Anonymity and Victorian principles had reigned pretty much until then except for the most unusual of conditions, which in America were referred to pejoratively as “bohemian.”    But in the sixties there was a new wave of “freedom” and “permission” to experiment with relationships, resulting in the creation of a new moral climate.   I tend to relate the expression of the sixties with the stage production of  Hair, a musical and dramatic celebration of unfettered celebration of new parameters for identifying that nexus.

Hair “broke all the rules” of stage production including the introduction of nudity,  drug use, anti-war incantations, and sexual freedom onto a Broadway stage.  Its raucous, irreverent lyrics challenged the status quo and highlighted new understandings of what it meant to connect with other human beings.  The celebration of a new meaning of human nexus touched a broader audience than the “hip” generation, with business men sitting at their desks mouthing the words to “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” while surrounded with the tools of the corporate boardroom.

Perhaps nothing demonstrates the way in which the newly-articulated connection/nexus between people exists than the emergence of a parlor game exploring the “six degrees of connection between a person and the actor Kevin Bacon.”  Growing out of a college  party event, the concept that everyone has a connection to the prime person in the universe, Kevin Bacon, the actor, the subtle purpose of the exercise is to explore how an individual traces (her) relationships.  The fact that people are even interested in that factor is a sign of the changing experience of human interaction beyond themselves.*

It is interesting that a little over a decade later, the newly-discovered significance of human nexus having crashed onto the scene, we find the articulation of an “Age of Narcissism” being described by Professor Christopher Lasch of the University of Rochester.  He articulates a self-centered hedonism which relegates the “other” in one’s life to a secondary position.  It would seem superficially that the nexus has been broken which so dominated the sixties and seventies.  However, Lasch is clear that there is actually a connection (a nexus) between the relationship explosion of the sixties and the narcissism of the late seventies and eighties.  The self-absorption of the “hippie” generation, with emphasis on pleasure and self-gratification, is intimately connected with the onset of the narcissism which expanded beyond the counter-culture of the Hair generation and found a home in the rapidly-expanding dot-com generation which dominated the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

Nexus has other meanings in the world of science, medicine, and mathematics.  But none is so interesting as the way in which nexus leads us to the exploration of human connection and its ramifications for societal change.

*A memorable  experience two decades ago when our older daughter called in the middle of the night to proclaim that she had been at a party in New York City  which Kevin Bacon attended, elevating her to the first level of connection, left us confused for the rest of the night until she was able to explain the significance the next day.

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