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elizabeth wurtzel

Everyone expects provocative, funny quotes from Elizabeth Wurtzel. The real shocker is that her new book ‘Creatocracy‘ is a wildly entertaining and original look at how the intellectual property clause of the US Constitution created popular culture as well as the American spirit of invention and nearly everything else that’s great about our country. But enough about her argument: Here are some quotes:

1. The United States has created extraordinary things, mostly because it has been possible and wonderful and profitable to do so here in a way that isn’t possible anywhere else in the world.

2. If human genius could thrive without a system to support it, Hollywood and Silicon Valley would be located in Papua New Guinea.

3. If you think it’s annoying to wait for the next season of House of Cards, just think of a time when the big excitement was a change in the weather. Nothing ever happened back then. No one left his village. There was work and sleep and church on Sunday and the same people all the time. So those who travelled overseas to live were the outliers of history. They were the outliers of everything.

4. Starting a state is a crackpot undertaking, and while we revere Washington and his peers, we cannot forget that they must have been crazy, as were all the people who came here, thinking for whatever desperate reason that it was a good idea.

5. The American flag is the most exquisite and artistic of all the banners of all the nations. The asymmetry of its exotic design cannot be explained by the fad for Greek Revival architecture that is another contemporaneous remnant of 1776. For some wacky reason, Betsy Ross—the mythic seamstress, much like Dolley Madison is the First Lady of ice cream—stuck the blue patch of white stars in the corner, when by all rights it ought to be in the center.

6. The Founding Fathers were virtuous and serious men, and their vision was not of a civil society centered on the gyrations of Elvis Presley’s hips, or on the sinking ship in Titanic. Could they have imagined that Kanye West would want to pack it all in to design hotels? They did not see Jay-Z performing “Picasso Baby” as if holding court at the Pace Gallery. They did not contemplate Gawker. They did not live in a land of millions of Beliebers.

7. Seldom is virtue an incentive for quality when it comes to creativity. Money makes the world go around. And around and around.

8. A meritocracy is not fair at all: It rewards the talented, the brilliant and the beautiful, who are already lucky.

9. If you get the feeling life is unfair, you are onto something. Even the wicked get worse than they deserve. But what can you do? Go sue unfair. There is a huge class action lawsuit waiting to be filed against unfair.

10. An immigrant is an extreme person. No matter how bad circumstances are in your native country, regardless of the death threat, complacency and entropy means most people will stay put amid famine and genocide. Anyone who crosses deserts and mountains and oceans and borders because life means more to him than stillness is brave. Never disrespect an immigrant.

11. Perhaps you don’t appreciate Francis Bacon’s yellow triptych of Lucien Freud, but someone put $142 million worth of appreciation into it. The most beautiful painting is the one that fetched the highest price. Talent matters not at all if no one cares. Talent gets noticed.

12. Most people, using everything they have in real life, cannot take hold of you the way a talented writer can without even being there. Talent is the ability to mesmerize people when you are nowhere near. Talent is the ability to make something that is more stunning than human presence.

13. We all get better and sharper and smarter with age, but we are never so keen and alive as when we are screaming to be heard.

14.  In the United States, you know you are talented because somebody is paying for your work.

15. Money is more than just rent and emeralds, money is more than just meals and platinum, money is more than the many things it buys and funds and pays for: Money is glitter. Money is attention. Money is where the action is. If something is valuable, it generates excitement. What is worthless gets lost, and lost to history. Now that there is no money in being a musician because no one buys albums anymore, the dream is no longer to be on stage beneath the bright strobe spotlight at Madison Square Garden. The dream is a tech start-up.

16. The teenager is gone. As a group, teenagers came and went with the twentieth century. Starting in the 1950’s, adolescence became a liminal state between childhood and responsibility, when rebellion in ways that annoyed your parents but were otherwise harmless became available. Does that exist anymore? People of all ages smoke marijuana and listen to Mumford & Sons, while high school students do their homework and worry about the future.

17. We are here to be entertained. We are not here to do a Google search. We are not here to stare into the void. We are here to have fun.

18. There was no state apparatus that pushed along the great copyright and trademark fields, our big movies are not underwritten by the government as they are in so many European countries, the glorious fashions of Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs are not made in nationalized assembly lines, deregulation is the rule in all industry. Bicycle designers Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their first glider on the beach in Kitty Hawk, not at a United States Air Force base. We don’t just distrust government to run things—we also assume it has terrible taste and can’t fly.

19. The greatest of the great American art forms have been done in factory settings, with profit in mind. No one can convince me that Hollywood is not the greatest artist ever. I cannot imagine who or what even comes close. Take that, Michelangelo.

20. The movies are pretend, which is why they are what we are. We walk around in a state of narrative. Life is more like a movie than it is like life.

This originally appeared in the We Work Magazine. Republished with permission.