Thorstein Veblen’s name appears twice in Tom Wolfe’s book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Thorstein lived and died in a house he built for his first wife, which bordered the Stanford University property, at 2006 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, CA. Author Ken Kesey later lived behind this house on Perry Lane.
Speaking of Kesey, from page 36:
“He had gone to Stanford University in 1958 on a creative-writing fellowship, and they had taken him in on Perry Lane because he was such a swell diamond in the rough. Perry Lane was Stanford’s bohemian quarter. As bohemias go, Perry Lane was Arcadia, Arcadia just off the Stanford golf course. It was a cluster of two-room cottages with weathery wood shingles in an oak forest, only not just amid trees and greenery, but amid vines, honeysuckle tendrils, all buds and shoots and swooping tendrils and twitterings like the best of Arthur Rackham and Honey Bear. Not only that, it had true cultural cachet. Thorstein Veblen had lived there. So had two Nobel Prize winners everybody knew about though the names escaped them.”
From page 55:
“The papers turned up to write about the last night on Perry Lane, noble old Perry Lane, and had the old cliche at the ready, End of an Era, expecting to find some deep-thinking latter-day Thorstein Veblen intellectuals on hand with sonorous bitter statements about this machine civilization devouring its own past.”
Thorstein Veblen is in the script of the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, starring Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward.
Just a few minutes into the film, Mrs. B and her friend Grace are in an art class discussing how they depend on men and that Mrs. B doesn’t know what to read to keep up with what is going on in the world. Their friend Mabel overhears and walks up.
Mabel: “I couldn’t help overhearing. We do depend on them. Don’t we just? It’s the affluence.”
Mrs. B: “Affluence?”
Mabel: “Well, surely you’ve read Veblen?”
Mrs. B: “Read?”
Mabel: “Veblen. The Theory of The Leisure Class. It’s possibly the most damning indictment ever written.”
Mrs. B: “Why I haven’t, but I suppose I should.”
Mabel: “Well, if you’d like, see me later after class and I’ll jot it down for you. It’s marvelous. It’s horrifying!”
In the next scene, Mr. and Mrs. B are in their living room. Mr. B is very relaxed and listening to the radio while Mrs. B is reading.
Mrs. B: “Walter?”
Mr. B: “Huh?”
Mrs. B: “I was wondering, have you ever read Veblen? ......... are you listening?
Mr. B: “Read what?”
Mrs. B: “Veblen. Thorstein Veblen. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Mabel told me about it.”
Mr. B: “India, for Pete’s sake. It’s been a long day. I’m tired. I’m not going to spend my evening talking about a book written by some socialist crackpot. And as far as I’m concerned, that Mabel friend of yours is one of them.”