1996 Preface: Test Pattern for Living was only published as a paperback, and was, therefore, soon out of print — as it has been for at least 20 years. The book did, nonetheless, develop something of a modest cult following at that time and since. I continue to get occasional inquiries as to where copies may be acquired. I know of no place. So, now that the Web makes it possible to end-run the printing process and put it back “in print,” it seemed sensible to do so. There may be some one-time readers for whom it will be nostalgic, children of theirs with whom they would like to share it, and new readers who’ve never heard of it.
Aside from this “1996 Preface” not a word has been added or deleted from the 1972 edition (although only the words, without the sheet music, are retained from the Foreword). Everything has been copied into this format as best possible, from front cover to back. To “update” the text and quotes would be to write an entirely new book in a very different time. (With apologies, one of the consequences of this failure to rewrite is that the language is not gender neutral — as, with very rare exception indeed, was the case with all writing at that time. Shortly after this book was published much greater sensitivity to the consequences of the standard references to “he,” “man,” “chairman,” etc., when referring to both women and men, began appearing in writing generally (“she or he,” “one,” “person,” etc.), including my own.)
This book grew out of the conflict between my role as a public official and both (a) the historical time (late 1960s, early 1970s), and (b) my own personal struggles. It is difficult to understand this book without having lived through, or read about, that historic period. Since I was “born married,” and early acquired “Type A” habits, I essentially skipped adolescence until I reached my late-thirties. Thus, the great truths I discovered, and felt compelled to share with the world during my 15 minutes at the bully pulpit, were things that many folks were either born knowing or quickly learned. So portions of this book occasionally seem to me, in retrospect, a little overly ideal and sophomoric — less kindly critics might say totally nuts. Nonetheless, if one can overlook that, there are still some worthwhile insights here that do not now seem as if they will ever be a quarter-century out of date.
Test Pattern for Living was written during the time that Charles Reich was writing of The Greening of America, and Abbie Hoffman was titling his book Steal This Book. Artistically, it was an experimental and creative time in publishing.
In that spirit, (1) the Forward, by Mason Williams, was the actual sheet music to a song titled “Godsend.” (2) I took no royalties from the book, and (3) insisted that it be published by Bantam only as a $1.25 paperback to save readers what I viewed as the excessive costs (and profits to authors) from hardback books. Now, having reacquired the rights from Bantam, and (4) in the same spirit, it is being scanned for free distribution from my World Wide Web page on the Internet nearly 25 years later. (5) As the copyright notice makes clear, I am asking those who may wish to download it to maintain this tradition; that is why I am retaining, and do not grant to others, the right to use this material alone, or in anthologies, in any medium, for which any payment is made. So long as it is passed along in its entirety, without charge, it may be freely shared with others.
(6) There is one feature the reader will need to understand even to read, let alone to print, this particular online version. After the Introduction, the rest of the paperback book edition is laid out with all the left-hand pages containing nothing but quotes, and all the right-hand pages containing the text. Page breaks are indicated by the notation:
# p. n #
(substituting the page number for the “n”). That is why there may be a sudden break in the middle of a sentence — or even a word — seemingly followed by something totally unconnected. When the pages are laid out as intended this arrangement makes sense (or at least as much sense as such a format ever could). As noted in the original introduction, this enables one to read (1) only the even numbered pages of quotes, and get a sense of the theme of the book, (2) only the text on the odd-numbered pages, or (3) both — that is, the quotes on the even numbered page along with the related and accompanying text on the next, odd-numbered, page.
The reader may find this text merely historical, simply hysterical, or actually helpful — and hopefully a bit of all three.
Nicholas Johnson Iowa City, Iowa February 1996