New Beginnings are Frightening

“…sometimes a crisis is not really a crisis at all – just a new beginning. Because one thing she’s learned through all this is that if a new beginning is really new, it will feel like a crisis. Any real change should make you feel, at first, afraid. If you’re not afraid, then it’s not real change.” from Nathan Hill’s novel The Nix

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Why There is Fake News

“What’s true? What’s false? In case you haven’t noticed, the world has pretty much given up on the old Enlightenment idea of piecing together the truth based on observed data. Reality is too complicated and scary for that. Instead, it’s way easier to ignore all data that doesn’t fit your preconceptions and believe all data that does. I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe, and we’ll agree to disagree. It’s liberal tolerance meets dark ages denialism. It’s very hip right now.” -from Nathan Hill’s The Nix

We Know Consumerism Is A Let Down, That’s Why We Do It

“Think about it. Why does one eat a snack? Why is a snack necessary? The answer—and we’ve done a million studies on this—is because our lives are filled with tedium and drudgery and endless toil and we need a tiny blip of pleasure to repel the gathering darkness. Thus, we give ourselves a treat. “But here’s the thing,” Periwinkle continues, his eyes all aglow, “even the things we do to break the routine become routine. Even the things we do to escape the sadness of our lives have themselves become sad. What this ad acknowledges is that you’ve been eating all these snacks and yet you are not happy, and you’ve been watching all these shows and yet you still feel lonely, and you’ve been seeing all this news and yet the world makes no sense, and you’ve been playing all these games and yet the melancholy sinks deeper and deeper into you. How do you escape?” “You buy a new chip.” “You buy a missile-shaped chip! That’s the answer. What this ad does is admit something you already deeply suspect and existentially fear: that consumerism is a failure and you will never find any meaning there no matter how much money you spend. So the great challenge for people like me is to convince people like you that the problem is not systemic. It’s not that snacks leave you feeling empty, it’s that you haven’t found the right snack yet. It’s not that TV turns out to be a poor substitute for human connection, it’s that you haven’t found the right show yet. It’s not that politics are hopelessly bankrupt, it’s that you haven’t found the right politician yet. And this ad just comes right out and says it. I swear to god it’s like playing poker against someone who’s showing his cards and yet still bluffing by force of personality.”- from Nathan Hill’s novel The Nix

We Are Complicated

“What Faye won’t understand and may never understand is that there is not one true self hidden by many false ones. Rather, there is one true self hidden by many other true ones. Yes, she is the meek and shy and industrious student. Yes, she is the panicky and frightened child. Yes, she is the bold and impulsive seductress. Yes, she is the wife, the mother. And many other things as well. Her belief that one of these is true obscures the larger truth, which was ultimately the problem with the blind men and the elephant. It wasn’t that they were blind – it’s that they stopped too quickly, and so never knew there was a larger truth to grasp. … Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime”- from Nathan Hill’s novel The Nix

How Tribalism Sustains Itself: Disdain or Hatred of Others

“It’s actually pretty brilliant. The protestors and the police, the progressives and the authoritarians–they require each other, they create each other, because they need an opponent to demonize. The best way to feel like you really belong to a group is to invent another group to hate.” -from Nathan Hill’s novel The Nix