Early FAQ’s about Don’t Follow Me I’m Lost

November 3, 2009

DFM coverMy book has not been out a week and probably not more than a dozen people have read it yet, but based I suppose on its cover and its subject matter, some recurring themes are popping up that I wanted to take a moment out from the busy international junket to address. Most of the questions are coming at this point from the campus itself and some alumni, so here’s my first stab at some responses.

Q: Aren’t you presenting a very stereotypical view of Hampshire students? I mean, all my friends at Hampshire were really hard-working, dedicated seekers of knowledge?

A. The vision of Hampshire when I arrived as a wasteland of self-absorbed deadbeats may a stereotypical view, but at that time, if memory serves the drop-out rate (or non-completion rate was somewhere pushing up close to 50 percent, which suggests that the stereotype held for somewhere close to half the school.

Q: Do you really think this is what Hampshire is like today/was like for everyone?

A: I can not speak to that at all. This is my own memoir of my experience during a very particular time (1986 – 88). Whether anyone before or after, or even during experienced the same is for them to say. But as the subtitle of the book suggests, I was writing about the twilight of an era; when the carnival atmosphere that had reigned over this sub-strata of America from the late 60’s through to the 80’s gave way to the much more self-serious, earnest age that we live in today. So even in the book, this carnival is dying away.

Q: Aren’t you just glorifying people who were a bunch of jerks and your own irresponsible jerky behavior?

A: Portraying is not glorifying. At least it wasn’t intended to be. I think I make out my youthful jerky behavior as fairly jerky and if I show the what led to it, that’s not to justify it. Jerks are jerks and dicks were dicks and no one is saying otherwise.
That said, to while my comrades and I were certainly ridiculous, that doesn’t make the self-righteousness of the rest of the school any less insufferable.
And all that said, while the Dicks were certainly “not nice” there was a rather beautiful purity in their total refusal to get swept away into the stream of life, their almost monastic refusnik tendencies.

Q: Why should I care about these idiots?
A: That is perhaps the hardest question of all to answer. For starters, if you don’t care about them, you don’t and nothing I can say will change that. But I guess the reason I thought these characters were worth preserving on the page is that they represent an apotheosis of an era, of my Generation’s ethos of ironic distance from the world. Coming as it did at the end of the disasters of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, just as the baby boom were taking the reins of American culture, the Dicks absolutely refusal to take anything seriously can be seen as the only possible route for generational survival in a hostile landscape. Certainly, that ethos is what became the driving force of the one moment when my generation found ourselves in the drivers seat of the culture – the Grunge Era, that brief window between the Baby Boom and their children when we were at the center, and ironic nihilism was our animating ethos, for better or worse. And it was born here, on a moldy, unaired couch at Hampshire College.

That’s enough questions for tonight. If you have any more, please leave in the comments section and I’ll try to answer soon as I can. Check back for events info shortly. And as ever, find out more about the book or buy yourself a copy by clicking right here.

Comments (4) | More: News

4 Responses to “Early FAQ’s about Don’t Follow Me I’m Lost”

  1. Dltooley says:

    “At the height of the Reagan revolution author Richard Rushfield chose to attend the most prestiguous radical institution of higher learning, Hampshire College. This book is his story, and the story of the allied group of artists, producers and marketers that was the Supreme Dicks. It was a coming of age in a moment of political and artistic zen, between punk and grunge in the musical world.

    The Supreme Dicks were some of the sperm that fertilized the egg that would become the Universe of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr, and, as a side project, the first X fueled raves.

    In this book RR skewers the pinnacles of the corrupt and hypocritical NE establishment with humor filled with the freshness and perspective of a west coaster taking the plunge on the east coast. The power that be that used Hampshire College, and the Dicks, to forge the abusive corporate and political tool of Nifong political correctness are left lying under the bridge with recently released Priest pedophiles.

    You however will walk away laughing, with a buddha smile of enlightenment and individual empowerment that will carry you through whatever the bastards may throw your way.”

    -Douglas Tooley
    (BTW, a mea culpa, I think I was the one who started calling the civilian security force as a prank)

  2. Katsoulis says:

    The drop out/non-complete rate between ’87 and ’91 was one of the highest in the nation – 20%. (Not 50%, as your memory serves)

    There were two reasons for this. The first was that Hampshire was and still is disproportionately expensive. The financial aid was inadequate and the financial aid office was less than helpful.

    The other reason is that every year Hampshire admitted some portion of students who thought Hampshire would be an easy ride, mistaking no grades or tests for a lack of academics. It sounds as though you fell into this category. It still isn’t clear to me why you were there and, especially, why you didn’t leave when you were so miserable and disdained the school as you did…. Read More

    I don’t know what your financial situation was, but I do know that on campus, the rumor was that Hampshire would let any full tuition student stay regardless of their progress academically. Hampshire needed the money.

  3. person says:

    For an author you sure do a minimal amount of editing of your blog posts. I hope the book is better edited than this page; I can barely read it with all the added words, suffixes, and lack of punctuation.

  4. radicalchic says:

    Gee, I hope I’m in it. When does it come out in paperback, cuz I can’t afford a hardcover.

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