I Want to Be in This Man’s Skull

Thanks to my friend Alyce for a link to this wonderful site where I culled this gem of a paragraph from “Varioram of Classic Tracts and Pamphlets:”

At one time or another, the ills of the world have been blamed on everything from tight-fitting shoes to television. The Diggers wanted to abolish money, the Luddites wanted to destroy the machines. The majority of such sectarians has traditionally adopted the medium of printed matter to broadcast theories, positions, opinions. Social theorists have published provocative polemics about eugenics and population engineering. Crusading utopians and meliorists have generated a wealth of redemptive and rehabilitative circulars such as the memorably-titled Kill Your Television (anti-cathode tube), The Menace of Psychiatry (anti-mind modification), and Absinthe – Sapper of Souls (anti-alcohol). Feuding factions have produced pamphlets both pro and con concerning such issues as abortion, the legitimacy of monarchy, gun control, the right to privacy, methods for disposal of the dead, vegetarianism, even aesthetics. The germ and genesis of most of these is the impulse to air grievances. Gripes, beefs, cavils and carpings envenom the prose of leaflets, pamphlets, flyers, tracts and broadsides published by a panoply of political extremists, religious fanatics, eccentrics, radicals and zealots of every stripe. It is a long tradition dating to the early days of the printing press, and which persists even in the era of e-mail, facebook, and twitter and, although the pages of many of these impassioned documents have become brittle with age, many are still dripping wet with vitriol or, at least, with the perspiration of fervid conviction.

Good gosh almighty, can Gilbert Alter-Gilbert write! Sometimes a piece is so good, it almost doesn’t matter what the subject is, however in this case, the subject of tracts and pamphlets is also interesting. I’ve had a fascination with pamphlets since I picked up my first Jack Chick tract, one I’d found on the effluvia littered ground during my hometown’s July 4th carnival in the late 60s. Besides the blatant fundie drivel, anti-semitism, anti-catholicism, and other crude things about Chick’s tracts, reading it set me firmly on the path of appreciating the graphic novel, but that’s another story. Gilbert’s compendium of tracts and pamphlets is a look back at sociological/psychological warfare.

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