How To Be a Nonconformist: 22 Irreverent Illustrated Steps to Counterculture Cred from 1968

“ Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else ?, ” James Thurber asked in the caption to a 1958 New Yorker cartoon depicting a womanhood fed up with her artist partner. It remains unknown whether the cartoon itself, or this cultural dismay shared by some of the era ’ randomness counterculture thinkers, inspired the 1968 jewel How To Be a Nonconformist ( populace library ) by Elissa Jane Karg. One could easily imagine that if Edward Gorey, master of pen-and-ink irreverence, and Patti Smith, godmother of punk-rock, had collaborated, this would ’ ve been the leave. But what ’ s most impressive is that Karg was alone sixteen at the fourth dimension, a self-described “ cynical & doubting junior at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Connecticut, ” qualified to examine nonconformity as “ an angry and amused observer ” of her “ cool contemporaries. ”

With her overwhelmingly fantastic black-and-white drawings and hand-lettered text, which in the first place appeared in her school newspaper and were finally published by Scholastic, she offers 22 rules for becoming “ a bona fide nonconforming, ” poking fun at so many archetypes still strikingly prevailing — possibly even amplified — today : the misconstrue artist-hipster, the troll grubbing for clout nail by spewing crusty comments, the protester-for-the-sake-of-protesting, the musician flaunt her mental health issues as a badge of ace. Rather than derision, however, Karg ’ s elusive message is a reminder that, as Toni Morrison memorably wrote in Beloved, “ definitions belong to the definers, not the defined, ” that a wide life is about “ allowing the assorted petals of our identity to fully unfold, ” and that adhering to any prescriptive modality of support, flush if it ’ s one that rejects the herd of mainstream polish, only flattens us into caricatures of our dispatch selves and transforms us into a herd of a different kind, one the cultural critic Harold Rosenberg excellently called “ the herd of independent minds. ”

Karg, in truthful counter-nonconformist fashion, didn ’ thymine end up moving to New York City and commodify her brand of creative cynicism. alternatively, she moved to Detroit, had two daughters, joined the socialist party, became a nurse, and led an earnest life as an avid recommend for women ’ second rights on the cusp of the second beckon of feminist movement. Tragically, though possibly poetically given her life choices, she was killed in 2008 at the historic period of 57 while riding her bicycle back from a socialistic party meet. She never authored another book, but did co-author the 1980 handbook Stopping sexual Harassment .
boundlessly fantastic, How To Be a Nonconformist is long out of photographic print but surviving copies of can be found online. Complement it with Exactitudes, the contemporary photo-anthropological record of the cultural phenomenon Karg satirizes .

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