Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eric Hoffer: Troublemakers

The following are aphorisms taken from the chapter "Troublemakers" by

-- Eric Hoffer --
from Reflections on the Human Condition

"It is cheering to see that the rats are still around--the ship is not sinking."

Of course,  they won't leave.  It's their duty to save us from ourselves by showing us their road to paradise (and make a few bucks lecturing, appearing on talk shows, and selling books at the same time). 

"Right now it seems that they who have a truth to reveal also have a lie to hide."

This reminds me of numerous books whose titles begin with "20 Lies Your ______ (Parents? Teachers? Religious Teachers?--fill in your favorite here) Told You."  I found a copy of one of them at a used  bookstore for twenty-five cents.  After reading it, I felt like going back and asking for a refund.  The lies? fell into two categories.  The majority of them were the type that belong in a category with  Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, George Washington and the cherry tree,  etc.  In other words, most adults, in fact most teens, no longer believe these things.  The other type, I found, couldn't be verified or came from dubious sources and also had an obvious political agenda. 

"Though dissenters seem to question everything in sight, they are actually bundles of dusty answers and never conceived a new question.  What offends us most in the literature of dissent is the lack of hesitation and wonder."

I never met a true dissenter who didn't believe he/she had a direct line of communication with the Deity and  as well as being gloomy and inflexible.

"Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches.  You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone.  And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity."

 I remember the hippies in the '60s who insisted they had broken out of the conformist trap and were becoming their own person, unique and individual unto themselves.  What was funny was that one could always identify these unique individualists by their uniform--jeans, t-shirts, headbands, beads, long hair, and sandals.  The women were slightly more individualistic as they alternated between granny dresses and jeans, usually cutoffs or with numerous holes.


  1. You and Hoffer have nailed the nonconformists. I suspect there have rarely been many true nonconformists. Perhaps our society now would medicate and institutionalize them if they strayed too far into singularity.

    I enjoy watching the so-called nonconformists on campus where I teach (for a few more weeks). They try so hard to be different AND part of a tribe at the same time. Ah, the wasted energies and self-deceptions of youth!

  2. RT,

    The real nonconformists are the quiet ones who go about the day without raising a fuss and slowly subtly changing things by their actions. It's only after they are gone that we realize what they were about.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. I make a distinction between nonconformists and anticonformists.
    Those who laugh at others for their conformity, who call everything mainstream and who do something different for the mere sake of being different are anticonformists. Sometimes called hipsters. I find that way of thinking rather juvenile.
    Nonconformists neither blindly follow the majority nor blindly reject all traditions/ conventions/ advice. They think.
    At least, that's the way I see it.

  4. Di,

    I think Hoffer describes those whom you call anticonformists. They are predictable and they do run in a crowd.

    Those who think for themselves are hard to identify because sometimes they agree with the majority, sometimes with the minority, and sometimes they agree with nobody.

  5. Yeah, I agree.
    By the way, is the verification for each comment really necessary? :D I'm too lazy to lean towards the screen and try to make out the numbers each time publishing a comment. Haha. Though it's up to you of course.

    1. Di,

      Blame it on spammers. I just instituted the verification last year when I got hit by spammers--sometimes as many as 10 or 15 a day. Prior to that I required no verification, but I got tired of wading through them every day.

      I see that another blog is now being hit by the same group--I recognize the pattern.

    2. Ha, Wuthering Expectations?

  6. This is cool:

  7. Di,

    What's happening there?

    1. Can you see the picture?

    2. Haven't clicked on it yet.

    3. Do that then. I don't think there's any virus.