A Low Culture Manifesto
by Chuck Klosterman
Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs was my introduction to Chuck Klosterman. Back when Barnes & Noble used to be a thing and I would grab a pile of 10-15 books sitting in their leather chairs trying to decide which books to purchase, I stumbled upon Klosterman’s book. It was 2004 and I was immediately enthralled. I’ve followed a lot Klosterman’s works since, from his 2015 GQ interview with Tom Brady to Killing Yourself to Live to IV, but it’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs that has stuck with me.
“Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time.”
“Life is rarely about what happened; it’s mostly about what we think happened.”
“Being interesting has been replaced by being identifiable.”
“Whenever I can’t sleep, I like to lie in the darkness and pretend I’ve been assassinated. I’ve found this is the best way to get comfortable. I imagine I’m in the coffin at my funeral, and people from my past are walking by my corpse and making comments about my demise.”
“Important things are inevitably cliche, but nobody wants to admit that.”
“Though I obviously have no proof of this, the one aspect of life that seems clear to me is that good people do whatever they believe is the right thing to do. Being virtuous is hard, not easy. The idea of doing good things simply because you’re good seems like a zero-sum game; I’m not even sure those actions would still qualify as ‘good,’ since they’d merely be a function of normal behavior. Regardless of what kind of god you believe in–a loving god, a vengeful god, a capricious god, a snooty beret-wearing French god, or whatever–one has to assume that you can’t be penalized for doing the things you believe to be truly righteous and just. Certainly, this creates some pretty glaring problems: Hitler may have thought he was serving God. Stalin may have thought he was serving God (or something vaguely similar). I’m certain Osama bin Laden was positive he was serving God. It’s not hard to fathom that all of those maniacs were certain that what they were doing was right. Meanwhile, I constantly do things that I know are wrong; they’re not on the same scale as incinerating Jews or blowing up skyscrapers, but my motivations might be worse. I have looked directly into the eyes of a woman I loved and told her lies for no reason, except that those lies would allow me to continue having sex with another woman I cared about less. This act did not kill 20 million Russian peasants, but it might be more ‘diabolical’ in a literal sense. If I died and found out I was going to hell and Stalin was in heaven, I would note the irony, but I couldn’t complain. I don’t make the fucking rules.”
“Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less.”
“I once loved a girl who almost loved me, but not as much as she loved John Cusack.”
“The goal of being alive is to figure out what it means to be alive.”
Sticky Books are those that you just can’t get out of your head. They stick with you long after you have put the book down and have moved on to something else. These are some of my Sticky Books. I don’t enjoy reviewing books myself. I find I am either full of far too much praise for the book because I know how difficult it can be to write a book, or I am far too negative about a book because, well, I guess I was just in a bad mood. So instead of reviews, I have pulled some of my favorite quotes from each Sticky Book.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.