Author Jack Bowen Waxes Philosophical on Bumper Stickers


Who says you can't learn something while sitting in traffic? Just ask author and philosopher Jack Bowen who gave a reading at Books & Books last night on adhesive car art, the subject of his latest tome, "If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers."

"There's a lot of meaning in these statements," Bowen said Wednesday night. "I certainly think it (the abundance of bumper stickers) is somewhat unique to the area -- they are so universal."

But the Stanford alum -- who was first inspired to write the book after a death penalty bumper sticker sparked a riveting debate with his philosophy students -- said he considers Facebook and Twitter to be the so-called new-age bumper stickers of this generation. And he isn't a fan.

"Communicating only via bumper sticker would be doing a disservice -- you wouldn't have a chance to delve," Bowen said.  "And I think that's what is kind of going on with the Facebooking."

He added, "People are almost too busy reporting on their lives."

After researching more than 2,000 bumper stickers emblazoned with phrases such as "My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma" and "What If The Hokey Pokey Really Is What It's All About?" Bowen said selecting his favorite can be a challenge.

"The one I think has been a part of my motivation is 'If Ignorance Is Bliss, Then Why Aren't More People Happy?,'" Bowen said.  "Another is 'Reading is Sexy.'"

He was at Books & Books, after all.

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