Are New Englanders Afraid of Sex?
John Irving is the author of twelve books, including “The World According to Garp,” “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” and most recently, “Last Night on Twisted River.” Over his career he has won a National Book Award, an Academy Award for his adaptation of “The Cider House Rules,” and many other honors, and has been translated into over thirty languages. A former competitive wrestler, he splits his time between Vermont and Montreal.
Question: Is there a certain thrill or enjoyment in writing about sex?
John Irving: Well, not when you consider in my stories how many terrible repercussions there are from the sexual moment. There seems to be some puritanical, ancestral thing, some New England thing, maybe I got it from Hawthorne, that sexual pleasure is sort of disproportionately rewarded with some kind of calamity. But it's always a part of my purpose as a storyteller to first create characters that the reader will be anxious for. You can't be anxious for a character if you don't care about the character, if you don't in some way like, respect, or even love the character, or at least have affection for the character. And then once I've established those characters, in whom the reader, I hope has some emotional investment, then it's perversely my job to make as many terrible things happen to those people we like as I can imagine.
Six or seven books ago, I might have told you that maybe I write so much about the things I fear as a way of hoping that if I write about these things, if I realize them in fiction, that they actually will never come true and they will never happen to me. But if that were the case, it clearly doesn't work, because I'm continuing to write about the same thing.
Recorded on: October 30, 2009
The famed novelist explains why even considering the act strikes many with a sense of anxiety and impending doom.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
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.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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