An Almost Religious Faith in "Process"
Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog "Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots" and is the creator and host of the "Think Again" podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children's Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre company (Rorschach, in Washington, D.C.), and wrote roughly two dozen picture books for kids learning English in Seoul, South Korea. He is also the proud father of an incredibly talkative and crafty little kid.
When author Nathan Englander visited Big Think, I had one major question for him, which I asked in about six different ways. How, I wondered, do you dare to embark on a new work of fiction? How do you trust that when you walk out on that imaginative tightrope, it isn’t going to snap?
The question has been on my mind in light of The Pale King, the late David Foster Wallace’s unfinished work, its promising bits stitched together by an editor after Wallace’s suicide into a kind of monument to unrealized ambition. The Pale King is full of flashes – torrents, even – of brilliance that indicate what an important, definitive novel it might have been, if only its creator had won the battle with the demons he was attempting to exorcise in the writing of it.
Englander downplayed the riskiness of writing fiction: “there are scary jobs in this world,” he said, “and there are real dangers that people face, you know, running into burning buildings and things like that.” But he agreed that, for him, the process is always terrifying, always a matter of life or death. He manages it by committing to “the story as a whole” and placing an almost religious faith in the writing process. Along with other successful writers, Englander believes that no matter how many false starts he makes along the way, perseverance will always lead him to a final draft. And while experience has confirmed him in this belief, each new act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) requires a new leap of faith.
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The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
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