Yesterday, the world got a little less witty when renowned journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe passed away at the age of 88. The writer, who had been cataloguing culture and, most notably, counterculture since the late ’50s, passed away in a Manhattan hospital after being admitted for an infection, reports The New York Times. But while Wolfe’s life has naturally come to an end, his words will live on forever.
The iconic New Yorker was not only responsible for over a dozen books — he famously wrote 10 pages a day, once telling fellow journalist George Plimpton of his approach, “If it takes me 12 hours, that’s too bad, I’ve got to do it,” as The New York Times notes — he was also a pioneer of New Journalism. The genre, which was a more literary take on reporting, laid the foundation for conversational and emphatic Internet writing as we know it. Some of the best examples of it can be found in his seminal 1968 nonfiction account The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, where he followed LSD enthusiast Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters around California. Even today, the book is still regarded as the go-to snapshot of ’60s hippiedom. Among other career highlights, Wolfe’s 1979 book The Right Stuff, which focused on American astronauts, was eventually made into a 1983 film starring Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid, and Ed Harris.
In the wake of Wolfe’s tragic passing, revisit some of his best quotes below.
“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.” ― The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.” ― The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
“Sometimes we don’t even realize what we really care about, because we get so distracted by the symbols.” ― The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” ― You Can’t Go Home Again
“I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.” ― The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.” ― You Can’t Go Home Again
“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
“Man is born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way.”
“The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.”
“The road of knowledge leads to the palace of wisdom.”
“If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.” ― The Bonfire of the Vanities
“An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others.”
“That’s mostly what the Internet is, just passing the time. But unfortunately you are dealing with words that can have meaning.”