On The Intellectual Road
Every once in a while I feel the need to review some of the literature I found significant in forming my intellectual makeup; books I found staggeringly revelatory. Three of them from the fifties and sixties, sociological studies that can be disappointing on a rereading, of which I was in awe.
William Whyte’s ’Organization Man’ was the first followed by the great Vance Packard and his ’The Hidden Persuaders’ and last Alvin Toffler’s ’Future Shock’ that was actually published in 1970. Surprisingly all three still have relevance.
While ’Future Shock’ may still be the most useful, Vance Packard’s style was incomparable. He wrote several, none of which approached the transcendence of The Hidden Persuaders. That volume is about the advertising industry, almost an expose of the methods of the subversive Edward Bernays. Boy, it taught me a lot.
I’ve never been opposed to advertising being somewhat partial to being exposed to new products or reminded of old favorites. I have no trouble resisting items I don’t want and wouldn’t buy anyway but maybe something I could use. I don’t mind being told an item will enhance my virility, give me a glow that can’t be obtained in any other way and otherwise make my life shine. If I believe it the item will make my life shine. Vance Packard merely told me how it was being done. I thanked him for that.
And reading him was such a pleasure, it was this time too, even I suspect his other work will be. I’ll have to look them up and get copies.
Alvin Toffler. What can one say? I hadn’t paid attention to his subsequent career since 1970 but it turns out he’s made a franchise of himself. He has several other volumes that I’m sure are valuable too. I’ll have to try them out.
Future shock had a lot to do with preparing my mind to deal with unfolding developments. If I could have remembered more I would have done better. Toffler is especially still useful, even timely, well worth reading whatever your age.
William Whyte’s ‘Organization Man’ was maybe the first of the ‘bitch’ books I read. God, I mean, modern life is so difficult. How do I ever survive? ‘The Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson was one of the first alarmist books I remember but I was still in high school when it came out
while Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd was even earlier thus having little real effect on me, I think. Of course Osbornes ‘The Outsider’ came along in the late fifties but I found it distasteful along with Kerouac’s On The Road. I have always detested Kerouac although I once did hitchhike across country. Wrote it up too. ‘Our Lady Of The Blues, Book VII is on the internet if you’ve got the courage. J
Toffler and Packard were real sociological studies while Whyte’s ‘Organization Man’ was a condemnational bitch but still a great influence on me and historically valuable. It was kinda like that. The novel ‘The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit’ of 1955 was terrific at the time too but I don’t know how it would hold up.
Just some thoughts about the roads I’ve traveled to get here. You might like these as snapshots of the scenery I saw.