Here’s Some “Formative” Quotes:

Friday, April 5th, 2013

“In a very short time, I went from thinking (as I had been told over and over again) that my generation had nothing to say to that it not only had everything to say but was saying it in a completely new way. It was a multitude of voices coexisting and combing and all adding up to something that certainly ‘meant’ something but couldn’t be easily classified. Each individual had to find it in their own way and in the only place society had left for this discovery — the margins. I think that’s where ‘Slacker’ takes place — [outside] the accredited sources of information or the images we officially have of ourselves as a society. This seems the place where the actual buzz of life goes on, where the conspiracies, schizophrenia, melancholy, and exuberance all battle it out, daily.”
[Richard Linklater, in the St. Martin’s Press book, ‘Slacker’ (companion/addendum book to Linklater’s 1991 film of the same name)]

“Some Americans see the food movements as ‘nice’ but peripheral — a middle-class preoccupation with farmers’ markets, community gardens and healthy school lunches. But no, I’ll argue here. It is as heart revolutionary, with some of the world’s poorest people in the lead, from Florida farmworkers to Indian villagers. It had the potential to transform not just the way we eat but the way we understand our world, including ourselves. And the vast power is just beginning to erupt … In 2008 a singular report helped crack the productivist frame. This report, ‘The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge’ (known simply as IAASTD), explained that solutions to poverty, hunger, and the climate crisis require agriculture that promotes producers’ livelihoods, knowledge, resiliency, health and equitable gender relations, while enriching the natural environment and helping to balance the carbon cycle. Painstakingly developed over four years by 400 experts, the report has gained the support of more than fififty-nine governments, and even productivist strongholds like the World Bank.”
[Frances Moore Lappé, of the Small Planet Institute, in “The Food Movement: Its Power and Possibilities” (from “Indigo: Humanities Magazine for Young People,” Vol. 7, Spring/Summer 2012)]

“Why are those women so dangerous? Why are the Powers That Be attacking anyone who doesn’t imitate Ward or June Cleaver? There can only be one answer: lifestyle choices are the front lines of the political battle these days. And if we consumers fail to live the way Corporate America wishes us to, we become dangerous. When we form our own communities, when we find our furniture in the trash, when we take care of friends who can’t take care of themselves, when we organize our own old-age homes and day-care centers, when we make our own fun, when we refuse to drive cars, when we turn off our TVs, when we do all that and more, well then, Corporate America has little to sell to us. We might not need Exxon, General Electric, or Procter & Gamble. We probably wouldn’t need full-time jobs. And we certainly wouldn’t need products like L’Oreal (‘because I’m worth it’) to make us feel important.”
[from Boston zinester Pagan Kennedy’s 1998 response to “Martha Stewart’s Living,” the aptly-titled “Pagan Kennedy’s Living (St. Martin’s Press)]

“She breaks the silence by saying that it’s not healthy to live life as a succession of isolated cool little moments. ‘Either our lives become stories, or there’s just no way to get through them.’ ¶ I agree. Dag agrees. We knew that this is why the three of us left our lives behind us and came to the desert — to tell stories and make our own lives worthwhile tales in the process.”
[from Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel, “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture” (St. Martin’s Press)]

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
[Joan Didion]

“Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.”
[Cicero]

“No one under age thirty-five today can remember the singularity that overtook America in the nineteen-sixties, and the generation that experienced it most directly seems largely to have opted for amnesia and denial. ¶ But something did happen: a city came to be, in America. (And I imagine America here as shorthand for something else — perhaps for the industrialized nations of the American Century.) This city had no specific locale, and its internal geography was mainly fluid. Its inhabitants nonetheless knew, at any given instant, whether they were in the city or in America. The city was largely invisible to America. If America was ‘home’ and ‘work,’ the city was about neither, and that made the city very difficult for America to see. There may have been those who wished to enter the city, having glimpsed it in the distance, but who found themselves baffled, and turned back. Many others, myself included, rounded a corner one day and found it spread before them, a territory of inexpressible possibilities, a place remembered from no dream at all. We would find that there were rules there as well, but there would be different rules. Down one half-familiar street, and then another, and perhaps we came to a park . . . ¶ It proved to be possible to die in the city, and no book was ever kept of the names of the dead. Many survived there, but did not return. (Some said that those who did return had never quite been there.) But for those who remained, some things else gradually happened. The membrane eroded, America and the city seeping into one another, until today there is no America and there is no city, only something born of their intermingling.”
[William Gibson, “The Recombinant City: A Forward,” written for the 1995 ed. of Samuel R. Delany’s “Dhalgren”]

“The boomers grew up with a kind of fifties postwar abundance as a foundation. It seemed to have a solid framework and a certain code of belief in the president, the media, and every official word from above. I guess the assassinations and political upheavals that happened in the sixties and early seventies, the things we grew up with, left us without any of that false innocence to return to. It’s hard to think nostalgically about our country when we were kids because there was nothing calm or reassuring about it. The previous generation still hasn’t gotten over their initial realization that they’d been lied to and that everything was irrevocably fucked. We grew up knowing all that.”
[Linklater, op. cit.]

“This was the first generation that wasn’t being conscripted into the army. It was a generation that was going to shape things with this freedom.”
[Jimmy Page, on ’50s British kids listening to rock ‘n roll records, “learning from them,” in a “Rolling Stone” interview (Iss. #1171)]

“”Ever since the constellation of traumatic events that took place in 1973, contemporary American culture has been marked by deeply neurotic undercurrents … In 1973 reality itself seemed to be up for grabs, as one of Nixon’s supporters indirectly acknowledged when he affirmed that the president, at the November press conference at which he had announced to the nation “I am not a crook”—held, significantly, at Disney World—had achieved “a great deal of verisimilitude” … The decade that, in 1973, invented reality television programming has in our time become itself a kind of reality television show, available for endless replay, its melodramatic narratives and images endlessly looping through our current divided red state/blue state consciousness … This book peers into the American mind at a deeply schizophrenic moment. It offers a psychogram of a country that was dealing with the consequences of Vietnam, Watergate, and economic meltdown—a profile of a year of uncertainty and disorientation but also of tremendous vitality and creativity … While many Americans were having a hard time locating themselves in an increasingly disorienting political, social, and economic landscape, they could turn for guidance to the signposts found in music, movies, and novels. ‘1973 Nervous Breakdown’ assembles these signposts into a road map of a moment and of a collective sensibility that in many ways is still ours.”
[from the “Introduction” to Andreas Killen’s “1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America” (2006)]

“You will receive your instructions in many ways. From books, street signs, films, in some cases from agents, who purport to be and may actually be members of the organization. There is no certainty. Those who need certainty are of no interest to this department. This is in point of fact a ‘non-organization’ the aim of which is to immunize our agents against fear despair and death.”
[from William S. Burroughs’s “The Ticket that Exploded,” used as the end, closing quote to the Winter 2009 issue of the “No Colony” literary journal]

“What Freud did for dreams, Andre Breton does for despair: in its distortions he finds the marvelous, and through it the redemptive force of the imagination. Originally published in 1932 in France, ‘Les Vases communicants’ is an effort to show how the discoveries and techniques of surrealism could lead to recovery from despondency … In ‘Communicating Vessels’ Breton lays out the problems of everyday experience and of intellect. His involvement with political thought and action led him to write about the relationship between nations and individuals in a mode that moves from the quotidian to the lyrical … Ultimately, Breton’s book is indescribable, so ambitious is its reach and grasp.”
[from the 1990 Univ. of Nebraska Press ed. of Andre Breton’s “Communication Vessels” (trans. by Mary Any Caws & Geoffrey T. Harris, w/notes & introduction by Mary Ann Caws]

“I had been taking one of those elective courses in Modern Art, and it was the Surrealists who’d really caught my attention. Having as yet virtually no access to my dream life, I missed the main point of the movement and became fascinated instead with the simple idea that one could combine inside the same frame elements not normally found together to produce illogical and startling effects. What I had to learn later on was the necessity of managing this procedure with some degree of care and skill: any old combination of details will not do. Spike Jones, Jr., whose father’s orchestral recordings had a deep and indelible influence on me as a child, said once in an interview, ‘One of the things that people don’t realize about Dad’s kind of music is, when you replace a C-sharp with a gunshot, it has to be a C-sharp gunshot or it sounds awful.”
[from Thomas Pynchon’s “Introduction” to “Slow Learner: Early Stories” (1984)]

“‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ and the works of John Barth and Robert Coover and William Gaddis could be read almost as guidebooks to an America in which nothing could be trusted on appearances, and everything good was in danger of vanishing, because our fathers had let us down.”
[from Donald Antriam’s 2004 “Introduction” to Donald Barthelme’s novel, “The Dead Father” (1975)]

“But there WAS another way to look at it. Zeb had showed me a secret, something I hadn’t anticipated: there was a whole hidden world out there, a way of getting by without participating in the system.”
[from Cory Doctorow’s 2008 Y.A./S.F. novel, “Little Brother”]

“Suddenly I began to notice some eclectic stencils appearing. They were all over town, from Easton to Clifton, and they were eye-catching, humorous and challenging. Their number increased, but there was no tag, just the image. When you see this kind of quality it makes you realize there is intelligence out there and that’s reassuring. It also makes me proud of my town. It was just the kind of thing I loved to see on our walls as opposed to mindless, often sinister, corporate advertising on billboards … I always felt good about people like him, someone who is doing their own thing with their own mind, and letting the world hang.”
[from “Seven Years with Bansky” by Robert Clarke (2012)]

“Olympia had a reputation of being elitist, but if you got off your ass and did something—started a band, or did a zine, or got a radio show, or put on shows, or made your own handmade postcards, or any damn thing that was meaningful—you got respected. I watched all those people that felt like they were being left out, going to parties, and hanging out at the shows; but they were mostly getting pressured to do something. The whole community value was to push people to do stuff. People who got pushed and just didn’t respond were just consumers.”
[Slim Moon, founder of Kill Rock Stars records, in “Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music” by Mark Baumgarten (2012)]

“Please don’t ask if you can possibly help it.”
[theoretical physicist Richard Feynman]

“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
[Albert Einstein]

“Evolution doesn’t care whether you believe in it, any more than gravity does.”
[Seth MacFarlane, in “Rolling Stone” #1168]

“‘BELIEF IS NOT REQUIRED: YOU WILL REINCARNATE ANYWAY. A LEAF DOES NOT HAVE TO BELIEVE IN PHOTOSYNTHESIS TO TURN GREEN.’ ¶ ‘Michael,’ Craig said as he stared at the Ouija board, ‘is a smart-ass.'”
[from Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s “Messages from Michael” (1979)]

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