Novelist Bret Easton Ellis is used to people asking him about the numb, disconnectedness of his characters—and whether that's a reflection of his own worldview. Not so much, he says: "If I was a truly pessimistic
person I don't think I'd be writing novels and I don't think I'd be
excited by the idea of writing novels. ... I'm not an optimistic person by any means, but I'm not a super
pessimistic person and I'm not, you know, that numb."
In his Big Think interview, the author of the major cultural landmarks "Less Than Zero" and "American Psycho" (among several others) also spoke about the place of graphic (and, some might say, gratuitous violence in his fiction, saying that he could see both sides of the issue. "There's an argument to be made, sure, that the violence in 'American Psycho' is gratuitous and I can understand that argument," he says. "I can get both sides. I can get the side that 'Okay, look, the book is in it's own way a kind of performance art piece and the violence needs to be there so it comments on everything and it's all part of a puzzle.' And I can also see the other side where it just seems gross. ... I think both arguments are right."
Ellis talked about the "emotional" places where he gets the inspiration for his novels, how he outlines a new book, and how he structures his writing time while working on a novel. Despite all of the time he spends with his characters, he says they don't get into his head as much as you'd think: "It's not like method acting," he says. "It's not like you become these characters while you're writing them. I mean, to a degree you do. ... They're made-up characters but they do come from a place of pain and they do come from a place of darkness. That does not mean, however, that I am an extremely dark dude who was walking around while I'm working on this book, you know, with a set of fangs and a cape and a really angry face, and I'm like, you know, 'I want to kill people.'"
Over the course of his seven novels, there are a number of characters that keep popping up again and again, but Ellis says he doesn't intentionally bring his older characters back in the new books—they just seem to fit in specific scenes. He also talked about how his screenwriting work has affected the way he writes novels, noting that screenwriting is "a collaborative process" while a novel is not.
Ellis also talks about how the rise of e-books and iPads may change the future of fiction writing, saying that digitized books with graphical and videos elements could take fiction writing to "someplace very cool." "We now live in a society where we want ... more of an interactive experience. We want to see images. We want to see a lot more of a lights show or something. That makes sense to me and I think that can be incredibly exciting. So once that really does start happening I don't know, that could even possibly re-energize my faith in fiction." He calls this era the "post-Empire" age of publishing, and while he accepts that social media and online marketing are part of a modern book launch, he thinks bringing out a book today is much less "fun" than it used to be.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
- The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
- The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.
- Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
- Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
- Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.
- The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
- The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
- Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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