Time Essay: The New Cult of Madness: Thinking As a Bad Habit

ONE of William Steig's bitingly wistful little cartoons bears the caption:

"I will review my thoughts just once more." A figure, Steig's version of The Thinker, sits slumped at the end of a labyrinth of drunkenly tilting stakes. His eyes stare out of focus in the general direction of his knees. His forehead wears its frown like a cross.

The official myth may persist: man is the thinking animal. But whether the problem is Viet Nam or population growth, homosexuality or the existence of God, he seems to be turning queasier and queasier at the...

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