Preface to the book I'll likely no longer write:
This is my book.
I take responsibility for it.
I wrote my book for several reasons, any one of which would be adequate reason for writing a book, none of which is quite accurate. In this life everything falsifies everything else. What can you do? The reasons are not listed in order of importance; some critic can do that should he feel moved to do so. I won't mind, and I don't care. They've got to make a living too.
The reasons for which I wrote my book:
1. I need the money. I haven't been able to find any other work and time hangs heavy on my hands, heart, and head.
2. Ever since I was a little boy I've wanted to write a book.
3. I am certifiably insane, and writing a book is a valuable curative experience, rather like having group therapy with yourself.
4. The world needs my book.
5. My friends expect it of me.
6. I want my son to look up to his father, and literature is a very respectable profession.
7. I need some excuse to exercise my essentially unrestrained libido.
8. I hope that writing a book will attract a mistress.
9. I want fame and cultural power.
10. I was inspired.
11. I want to be a guest on a television talk show.
12. My book refused to allow me to leave it unwritten.
13. (Critics may here fill in one additional reason. Please limit yourself to a single, declarative sentence. Compound sentences are allowed, but complex or compound-complex sentences are not.)
My book is the definitive book on the counter-cultural experiment. It is about the counter-cultural experiment because a book must be about something, although that stricture is weakening these days. The term "counter-cultural experiment" means that some of the people in my book smoke marijuana. Some of them play with even harder drugs, but then there is stupidity wherever you look. Life has always been like that. For the record, I have been known to smoke a joint on occasion. Personally, while as a matter of principle I would be reluctant to recommend smoking grass to anyone, I doubt that it's worth quite as much fuss as we've witnessed. Life is full of pitfalls and is always terminal, at least in the physical sense as understood in this segment of time-space. That's as much as I have to say on the subject. (My wife, who likes to get in the last word wherever possible, wants me to add that pregnant women probably should not smoke, just to be on the safe side. Cubs in utero are, after all, quite helpless, and prudence is a virtue.)
My book is the definitive book on the counter-cultural experiment because I believe that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Such folksy wisdom may pop up here and there. It's a lapse or a calculated effect, depending upon your discernment and personal taste. Critics will be permitted to scream.
There are some things you should know about my book before you read it.
Some things you should know about my book before you read it:
My book is written in the first person singular (or plural, depending on how you look at it) because writing in the first person is, they say, easier than writing in any other person, singular or plural, for the simple reason that the terrain is more familiar. Writing in the first person thus avoids many of the pitfalls that await an unwary writer. These pitfalls are usually manufactured in the universities and are deployed mainly by critics, who are, despite the recurrent tone evident in these lines, a species of creature that I find engaging, in a comic sort of way. My name appears under the title on the binding and on the title page and at the end of this introduction because I think a man should always sign his work, surgeons and a few others excepted. Sometimes, though, I appear under another name in the book. The instances of this particular pathology will not always be apparent, and I will not will not go to any trouble to point them out beyond this brief mention. The reasons for this odd circumstance are either deeply artistic or deeply psychological or both. Part of it too is that life does that these days. If you think that sounds like an identity crisis you are probably not spiritually mature enough to read this book, but if you're willing to try anyway, I'm willing to give you the chance. All of the people in this book are real people, some of them actually real and some of them real in the way that people in books are real. If the real people in this book recognize themselves and want to sue me, let them go ahead, although I doubt that they have much of a case because mostly I liked them all and say only nice things. (There are no critics in my book. They get their chance later.) If anyone sues me and wins, I'll probably shoot myself. Sometimes I cheat like that.
If you object to people who talk about God you should not read my book. Sometimes I talk about God. My book is a very spiritual book. If you object to people who talk about God and marijuana in the same book, you should not read my book, for reasons that should be apparent if you have been paying attention this far. I don't talk much about sex in my book because most of us know how to do it already and those who don't should ask their mother or their father because to do so will strengthen the family and strengthening the family strengthens society, without which the counter-culture (and thus my book) would not have existed. Gratitude is a mark of civilization.
There is a plot in my book, despite appearances. There does not seem to be a plot because I wanted my book to be a realistic book, and the temper of the age makes it difficult for us to see a plot in anything, although it makes it necessary to see a conspiracy in everything. Those of you who see a plot in life (the Chardinians) will see a plot in my book; those of you who see no plot in life (the nihilists) will see no plot in my book. Critics will be permitted to applaud this as an excellent mating of intention to technique.
Time in my book is spread out over many years. My book is written in the eternal immediate, which is a psychological tense analogous to the infinitive mode of a verb. I am not particularly careful about time in my book, but the attentive reader should be able to manage the shifts. If there is any trouble, write me and I will forward a personal explanation. If I get more than twenty-five letters I will consider myself a failure and will probably kill myself.
My book is dedicated to the several forms of hysteria and to a fervent hope for sanity, my own and the world's.