The Strawberry Statement : Notes of a College Revolutionary by James Simon Kunen
New York : Random House, 1969. Fourth printing. Hardcover. 150 pages ; 21 cm. $4.95 dust jacket. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
...have snot on our
noses. What we do have is hopes and fears. Or ups and downs, as they are called."
That "we" is JAMES SIMON KUNEN. Nineteen years old in 1968. Student at Columbia. Now, an author. But, "I should like to point out immediately that just because I happened to be born in 1948, it doesn't mean that what I have to say as a nineteen-year-old is worth any more than what nineteen-year-olds had to say in, to pick a year at random, 1920. To say that youth is what's happening is absurd. It's always been happening. Everyone is nineteen, only at different times."
Yet, what James Simon Kunen had to say at nineteen does have special worth. Perhaps because, "My friends and I became preoccupied with the common nostalgic assertion that 'these are the best years of your lives.' We could accept the fact that the college years are exhausting, confusing, boring, troubled, frustrating, and meaningless—that we could take in our stride; we'd seen hard times before. But that everything subsequent would be worse was a concept difficult to grasp and, once grasped, impossible to accept"
Instead of merely accepting his world, James Simon Kunen began to think about his world:
"Isn't it singular that no one ever goes to jail for waging wars, let alone advocating them? But the jails are filled with those who want peace. Not to kill is to be a criminal. They put you right into jail if all you do is ask them to leave you alone. Exercising the right to live is a violation of law. It strikes me as quite singular."
And about himself: "My father talks about the bad associations people make when they see someone with hair. I come back with the bad associations people make when they see someone replete with a shiny new Cadillac that looks like it should have a silk-raimented coachman standing at each fender. But as for bad vibrations emanating from my follicles, I say great. I want the cops to sneer and the old ladies swear and the businessmen worry. I want everyone to see me and say, 'There goes an enemy of the state,' because that's where I'm at, as we say in the Revolution biz"
And to plan what to do about it: "There are those who want an armed Revolution and I am not one of them. Not fust now. But I do have a statement to make at this time, gentlemen. Since the First Republic of the United States is one hundred ninety-two years old and I am nineteen, I will give it one more chance."
And while he did, he wrote this book. We think it's important that you read it.
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