What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Is the Eric Cash character based on anyone?

Richard Price: He’s sort of based on me. Eric Cash is a 35 year old maitre’d at a toine restaurant down there who is one of three people that get confronted in this mugging. The other two are young guys in their early 20s. One of them gets killed; the other one is so drunk he doesn’t remember the whole incident. The thing about Eric Cash is that he’s 35 and down on the Lower East Side, 35 looks like 65. It’s sort of like the tyranny of youth and the tyranny of “I’ll live forever and anything’s possible. Everything good will happen to me. Nothing bad has ever happened to me.” Eric went down to the Lower East Side when he was 22 just like the kids that are going down there now and he became a maitre’d but it was just a means to an end. He thought someday he was going to be a working actor, he was going to be a screenwriter or some kind of writer and maitre’d was just to pay the bills until glory happened. Well, all the hyphens have fallen off after maitre’d. Nothing’s panning out and he realizes that that’s what he is. He’s a maitre’d. There’s nothing wrong with being a maitre’d unless that’s not what you wanted to be. That was just like your starting point. The problem and the torment for him is that he’s surrounded by 22 year olds that were just like him 13 years ago and they’re a torment to him because they all think they’re going to make, they all think they’re going to live forever. When the murder goes down, Eric responds in a way he’s not proud of. He basically runs away and never calls 911. When the police get to the scene, they’re talking to Eric and they know he’s lying, that he’s covering something. Along with two bad eyewitnesses, they think they’ve got the shooter. Whatever wasn’t destroyed in him by being so close to a death, is eviscerated by the cops over the next eight hours in a closed room. And by the time the cops are done with him, you can pick him up with a Dust Buster. The problem is, once they realize they made a mistake and they locked up the wrong guy, they realize he’s their only true eye witness and he won’t cooperate with them. He’s just been wrecked.What I was writing about was what would happen to me if I were one of those kids at 22, which I was and I had an early publication. So I was like 24 when the Wanderers was published. But Eric Cash would’ve been me. Nothing ever broke for me. I don’t know if I would’ve been a maitre’d. I would probably have been one of a trillion lawyers somewhere. He’s the ghost of Christmas future, there but for the grace of God. I’ll never know that. First of all, I was an idiot. I wasn’t ambitious. I was still in school. I was just writing for my writing class. For me, when I had enough of those stories together and they went out and I heard they were going to get published, it was like the world’s best term paper ever. It didn’t even dawn on me that right now, you’re no longer a writer; you’re an author. Honestly, if I knew what the odds were, if I knew what I was intending to do a little more acutely, I probably would’ve been too psyched out to pursue it. It happened almost in spite of myself. I didn’t hustle in any way. The thing is that when I was 24, 22, 23, when I was going to Columbia, School of the Arts Writing Program, if the Lower East Side was like the way it is now back then, I probably would’ve crawled on broken glass to go down there and be in that neighborhood. I would’ve loved the playground like that. I probably also would’ve been maybe not as oblivious as a lot of kids to the other worlds down there because I come from a house project, but I would pretty much be focused on other people like me. It was like one big Little Rascals clubhouse.

Recorded On: 3/3/08


Is the Eric Cash character ...

Newsletter: Share: