Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Boomer American as Cant-Ridden Noble Savage

At some point between 1945 and 1967 we had somehow neglected to tell these children the rules of the game we happened to be playing. ... These were children who grew up cut loose from the web of cousins and great-aunts and family doctors and lifelong neighbors who had traditionally suggested and enforced the society's values. ... They are less in rebellion against society than ignorant of it, able only to feed back certain of its most publicized self-doubts, Vietnam, Saran-Wrap, diet pills, the Bomb.

They feed back exactly what is given to them. Because they do not believe in words--words are for 'typeheads,' Chester Anderson tells them, and a thought which needs words is just one more of those ego trips--their only proficient vocabulary is in the society's platitudes. As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from 'a broken home.' They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words.
-Joan Didion, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," 1967

via Rod Dreher

No comments: