A Novel Twenty Years in the Making

While John Irving has come to stand as the American novelist par excellence, he is not particularly into the novel—in its modern form—nor, for that matter, America. In fact, as he suggested in his new Big Think interview, the most valuable contribution to the storytelling tradition to arise from the country might just be the western movie.

Irving also discussed the thrill of beginning a new book—a challenge that never gets easier, as a blank page ignores fame and prior achievements and greets the writer like a cold stranger upon each encounter. Irving’s now well-known method for beating this has been to never start a book before knowing the final sentence, yet, in the case of his newest book, these words—though sensible—remained vague and undefined for more than two decades.

The writer also discussed how random fears and obsessions “haunt” his narratives; an inevitability, in many ways, as “obsessions, by definition, control you.” He also described why many of his recurring themes—including sex—appear as a means to subject his characters’ to the terrors of random, yet tragically consequential, fate.

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
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