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Growing up Absurd : Problems of Youth in the Organized Society
Includes the essay "On Paul Goodman" by Susan Sontag.
Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd was a runaway bestseller when it was first published in 1960 and it became one of the defining texts of the nascent New Left. Goodman, at the time well into middle age, was a maverick anarchist who broke every mold, and did it brilliantly--he was a novelist, poet, and a social theorist, among a host of other things--and the book's success established him as one of America's most unusual and trenchant critics, combining vast learning, an astute mind, utopian sympathies, and a wonderfully hand-on way with words.
Growing Up Absurd takes the crisis of disaffected youth as indicative of the crisis within the culture at large, which Goodman describes as being run by corporations that provide employment (when they do) but not work in any meaningful sense, work that engages body and soul. Disaffected youth was in this sense at the forefront of a disruption of a social order that was, if not directly politically repressive, humanly repressive, stifling the real human potential which, surely, a good society would serve to unleash, encourage, and pass on. With a brilliant range of reference that takes in Department or Labor Reports and the novels of Kerouac and Genet, Goodman's single greatest book demands rereading now as a work of penetrating analysis, moral passion, and provocative and indeed prophetic wisdom.
"Paul Goodman Changed My Life", a documentary by Jonathan Lee and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, is playing at film festivals around the world in late 2011 and into 2012. It had a two-week run at Film Fourn in New York City in October of 2011. It was widely reviewed, including reviews in The New York Times, Variety, The New York Post, Village Voice, Time Out New York, and Slant.
"The time is surely right for a Goodman revival. There are aspects of contemporary life that he anticipated and influenced -- the gay rights movement, most notably -- and others that are sorely in need of his wisdom....His most famous book, "Growing Up Absurd," originally commissioned as a study of juvenile delinquency and later a bible of the 1960s student rebellion, remains essential and troubling reading for anyone who cares about the problems of the young...." - A. O. Scott, The New York Times, 10/19/11, from his review of the film "Paul Goodman Changed My Life"
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December 13, 2011
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