It was a time of collective self-importance, which masked — not very effectively — a striking indifference to the way the world actually did and might work. I hardly met a single person in the “underground” context who didn’t, no matter how sexually available or amusing, turn out in the end to be ignorant and rather a bore.
The depths of tedium that can be plumbed by sitting around half stoned, listening to people chatter moonily about reuniting humankind and erasing its aggressive instincts through Love and Dope, are scarcely imaginable to those who have not suffered them.
And the other one, from the incomparable Lileks:
Before the 50s, when there were actual problems like an interminable Depression and Nazis, adolescents were mostly unseen in the culture. You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. The culture would tolerate some things like Bobby Soxers, but with wry eye-rolling amusement. After the war, though, the adolescent was not only the focus of the culture’s attention, he was taken seriously. He was an inarticulate oracle, a mumbling sage, a jeering jester with a switchblade. One of the dumbest lines in cinema is one of the most famous: asked what he’s rebelling against, Marlin Brando’s character in the “The Wild Ones” says “Whaddya got?”
Oh, I don’t know. The Pure Food Act, antibiotics, an industrial infrastructure that makes it possible for you to ride your bikes around, paved roads, a foreseeable successful conclusion to rural electrification, sewers, the ability to walk into any small café and order a Coke and know you won’t be squitting your guts out 12 hours later into a hole in the ground alive with squishy invertebrates. Little things.
Someone please tell me why Lileks is not writing for the NYT.