On the Countercultural Influence of PEANUTS

David L. Ulin at Literary Hub:

Here’s where it begins for me: a four-panel strip, Lucy and Linus, simplest narrative in the universe. As the sequence starts, we see Lucy skipping rope and, like an older sister, giving Linus a hard time. “You a doctor! Ha! That’s a big laugh!” she mocks. “You could never be a doctor! You know why?” Before he can respond, she turns away, as if to say she knows him better than he knows himself. “Because you don’t love mankind, that’s why!” she answers, seeking (as usual) the final word. Linus, however, he defies her, standing alone in the last frame, shouting his rejoinder out into the distance: “I love mankind . . . it’s people I can’t stand!!”

When I say begins for me, I mean it figuratively; that strip ran on November 12, 1959, nearly two years before I was born. What I’m describing, rather, is a sensibility, a way of looking at, or engaging with, the world. I still remember the moment I stumbled across that set of images, entirely by accident—which is as it should be. It was the middle of June 1968, and I was in the finished basement of a cousin’s house in suburban Michigan. I still remember encountering the punchline with the flash of recognition someone else might call epiphany.

More here.