Americans born since World War II have grown up in a media-saturated environment. From childhood, we have developed a sort of advertising literacy, which combines appreciation for technique with skepticism about motives. We respond to ads with at least as much rhetorical intelligence as we apply to any other form of persuasion.
I joined the army on my seventeenth birthday, full of the romance of war after having read a lot of World War I British poetry and having seen a lot of post-World War II films. I thought the romantic presentations of war influenced my joining and my presentation of war to my younger siblings.
Before the Second World War, I believed in the perfectability of social man; that a correct structure of society produced goodwill; and that, therefore, you could remove all social ills by a reorganisation of society. It is possible that I believe something of the same again; but after the war, I did not because I was unable to.
See, the 'On the Road' that came out in 1957 was censored. A lot of the honesty of it, the bitter honesty, is in the original scroll version that came out in 2007 on the 50-year anniversary. Back then, there was so much post-Second World War fear that was imposed on everybody - 'You must live life this way' - and these guys were bored.