Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 17, 2014 - 3:25pm

http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/bret-easton-ellis-interview

.... sorry but I'm glad someone said it. Funny but I'm liking him more and more these days.

Dean Blake's picture
Dean Blake from Australia is reading generationend.com February 17, 2014 - 4:41pm

It's true. I cried just this morning.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 17, 2014 - 5:10pm

happy cry or sad cry?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 17, 2014 - 9:00pm

i wasn't aware of this guy before, but i think he might be some kind of genius.  sociology is a funny subject- some people get it, but nobody with a degree in it seems to.  

 

 

Dmcleod's picture
Dmcleod from Florida is reading Molloy February 17, 2014 - 9:06pm

You should read American Psycho. It's very... elaborate

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 17, 2014 - 11:35pm

Love this, not that I quite agree with his take on DFW, but I'm glad there's a prominent voice that it not P.C.

 


I think David Foster Wallace is a complete fraud. I’m really shocked that people take him seriously. People say the same thing about me of course, and I’ve been criticized for saying these things about Wallace due to the very sentimental narrative attached to him since he killed himself.

But it all ties into Generation Wuss and its wussy influence on social media to a degree; if you have a snarky opinion about anything, you’re a douche. To me, that’s problematic. It limits discourse. If you just like everything, what are we going to talk about? How great everything is? How often I’ve pushed the Like button on my Facebook page?

Is it BuzzFeed who said they’re not going to run any negative reviews any more? Really, guys? What’s going to happen to culture then? What’s going to happen to conversation? It’s going to die.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon February 17, 2014 - 11:53pm

This thread offends me and hurts my feelings and I feel bullied and abused.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff February 18, 2014 - 8:17am

True. Maybe we should stop terrorizing readers now.

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies February 18, 2014 - 9:02am

He's right, you know.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 18, 2014 - 9:32am

Okay, what should come first- American Psycho the book, or the movie?  It's been on my should-watch-it-someday list for a while now.  People always want to say the book's better, but that's not always true.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne February 18, 2014 - 9:41am

The book is ... questionable. It's not that it's bad, it's just that I can't tell how much of it was brilliant by design versus by chance. It's in some ways very different from the movie, but mostly it's just the movie amped up to a whole new level. Which isn't necessarily a good thing. The movie drives home a very specific point, where the book gets so graphic, if you actually read it word for word without skimming, it starts to feel much less like social commentary and more like slasher fiction. I have a strong stomach and have read all kinds of gross, unacceptable, horribly violent shit, but this one's got portions that actually nauseate me a little. Which impresses me on the one hand, and makes me wonder why I'm reading it on the other.

I'd say if you want to judge the book in a detailed fashion on its own merits, read it first. If you want to enjoy it, it's probably more enjoyable to get the vibe from the movie first, as it makes it easier to hold on to what's genuinely weird or funny or entertaining about the book when you read it.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 18, 2014 - 10:19am

It's a generalization of course, but not wholly inaccurate. I sometimes wonder if there'd be less hardcore trolling if true discourse were more common. There'd still be some, I'm sure, but some trolling is probably due to the fact that actual disagreement often can't lead to actual discussion.

And when content is produced based on clicks and likes, but dislikes mean nothing, won't content eventually funnel into a very limited form? Then anyone who's not into it would have to wait for some kind of Sex Pistols event, or just go out and find the other stuff that's already happening.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 22, 2014 - 5:07pm

It's a generalization of course, but not wholly inaccurate. I sometimes wonder if there'd be less hardcore trolling if true discourse were more common. There'd still be some, I'm sure, but some trolling is probably due to the fact that actual disagreement often can't lead to actual discussion.

And when content is produced based on clicks and likes, but dislikes mean nothing, won't content eventually funnel into a very limited form? Then anyone who's not into it would have to wait for some kind of Sex Pistols event, or just go out and find the other stuff that's already happening.

Yes to all that.  I find this trend even more noticeable in person than online.  Younger people (as in, early thirties and down) all want to discuss banal, inoffensive, empty, meaningless shit. All. The. Time.  Not just at parties, or at bars, but even in one-on-one situations where a bit of bonafide intellectual exchange (or "conversation" as our grandparents called it) might benefit both sides.

Listen: The need to feel accepted/fit in is stronger than almost any other instinct (look it up, after basic survival it's right up there, pretty much an accepted fact in the fields of psychology and sociology). Interconnectedness exponentially increases this need. Now we need to fit in not only at the party, or at work/school, etc. We need to fit in constantly, since our social connectivity is constant and, for all intents and purposes, infinite.

No one calls anyone out on their bullshit. So, bullshitters tend to rise to the tops of social hierarchies.  Passive aggression becomes the only accepted form of criticism, so no one ever really knows what anyone else means, adding to the whole mess. Then some people wind up not knowing what they themselves mean. I imagine this trend will continue and worsen.

Maybe the decline of culture is really the decline of the individual.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby February 23, 2014 - 12:37am

To Nick from Toronto:

I think the social connectivity you're talking about is superficial. I can't tell you how many times I've seen couples and other groups of people out at dinner (Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, NY, Austin) and they're all texting. No one is carrying on a conversation. I believe the ability to empathize and connect at any level with another person is not appreciated or being developed--a basic social skill which has helped our species to survive. 

As to the hope to hold a bonafide intellectual exchange, the people involved in this imaginary talk first need to be able to have a store of knowledge to refer to-- and the age group (and beyond, if truth be told) you refer to are, imho, sorely lacking in that department. Either that, or they prefer not to get into discussions in a bar or a party where, as you say, they don't want to offend someone.

Sorry, rambled on a bit; but I hope neither of the declines you describe will prevail. 

We are at last out of the snow and the sun was out today, with temps in the low sixties, so, There Is A God!

Cheers! and happy weekend! 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 23, 2014 - 9:52pm

@ Nick-

I already posted this somewhere...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKyIw9fs8T4

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 24, 2014 - 4:59pm

"inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty" 

Love it.

Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories March 1, 2014 - 3:02pm

Good read, thanks for posting. A lot of interesting opinions but this stuck out to me:

...depiction is not endorsement.

That's something a lot of people I know struggle with. Anything the author writes about in fiction is attributed to that author's every-day existence. Just because I write about a brutal murder from the perspective of the killer, and he enjoys the hell out of it, does not make me a psycopathic murderer nor someone who condones murder.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 1, 2014 - 7:33pm

^

It's a struggle because audiences are often very stupid in that way.  Especially when they're young.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 1, 2014 - 11:05pm

Nick, Matt, Thuggish: I'm not sure they all believe you condone murder, etc., but I I think many readers assume that you write what you know--not necessarily what you did, but. It's stupid, yes, but how to change this? I don't think most folks in E.G. Poe's lifetime (hopefully they don't now) thought Poe was capable of the things he wrote about. They certainly didn't think Dickens was. Thuggish, I'm not sure it's stupid; I think they don't know any better. Let's face it: a lot of youngsters (at least in the South, for the moment) aren't well-educated. I'm not sure what the answer is.

I don't know how involved any of you in this virtual community are involved in your real community to see what's going on with the K-12 and up youths. If these folks don't develop a love and a need for every writers' works here, then you and I are out of a job. More importantly, at least 2 generations are lost to our production--which is mainly story-telling. They are playing video games; writers can teach them to THINK and Problem solve. I grant that video games can teach them how to avoid being shot and how to get the most points; but is this going to help them live in the real world? Writers are supposed to capture the readers' imagination, and then they (writers) can help develop the 2 skills I just gave-independent thinking and problem-solving. You may not intend this outcome, but I hope you welcome it. 

You all have a passion for what you do. You all have stories to tell. It's to your advantage to help folks get your point, your vision. Your craft is as old as mankind; it is essential, at least in my opinion, that this tradition continues. Ok, getting off my soapbox now, but I would encourage all of you to be active in your communities, especially schools, to help "fertilize" a new crop of writers, but most importantly, readers.

My apologies.... just got back from a TEDx conference and I'm fired up to make a difference in my town, which so many people world-wide have such a bad impression of. (But I'm right: if you have no readers, then what you are doing counts for nothing.)

Cheers and happy weekend!

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 1, 2014 - 11:16pm

Um, one more thing: I think one thing the average reader can get from "Fight Club" is (actually 2 things, sorry!) Question Authority! (which I grew up hearing) and Screw the Status Quo/ your safety zone/the expectations of others. Course, I could be wrong; I often am, but I'm not afraid to fail--I try to learn from it, and change my tactics.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 3, 2014 - 10:39pm

When you say you're not sure it's stupid, but rather they don't know any better...

I find those two statements synonymous.  

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 4, 2014 - 1:19am

Thuggish: I think stupid is ignoring the truth or facts presented to them. I think not knowing any better is a child who's grown up without the benefit of being presented with the facts. We have a lot of adults in the first case in the South, and too many children in the second case in the South. I could give you reasons, but that's a discussion for another day.

Thanks for the response--I am learning a lot from everyone here.

 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 4, 2014 - 1:46am

Um ps Thuggish: I hope you don't read my post as being smart ass--That's definitely not my intent. One of my gripes @ posting is many times the reader doesn't get the nuances in a message as you would when having a face-to-face conversation. I seriously appreciate any feedback I get to any post I make. 

Slainte!

XyZy's picture
XyZy from New York City is reading Seveneves and Animal Money March 4, 2014 - 6:32pm

@justwords:

I don't disagree with your sentiment, and that which you are applying your passion towards. Engaging youth with storytelling truely is how we can continue to be storytellers. And I certainly encourage outreach into the community to make that happen. I'm thinking primarily of work like the 826 Valencia writing center and pirate store... or the superhero version done in Brooklyn. Inspiring and interesting stuff. And I agree that getting out of our virtual community from time to time to engage our "real" communities can only be beneficial for all.

Nor do I confuse stupidity with ignorance. So I hope you'll understand when I take umbrage with the notion that "at least 2 generations are lost". Especially as you collude these "lost generations" with video gaming. That's ignorant. So let me elucidate you.

Yes, storytelling is as old as humankind. And the reason is not because we've lived up until now in various cultures that supported storytelling, and injected and cultivated it in our youth, or have lived in societies whose storytellers consciously reached out to their communities to be sure that they were engaging/understandable to the youth. Storytelling survives because it is integral to us as people. Not novels. Not short stories, or movies or poetry or any form of storytelling that currently exists. It is storytelling itself.

So to conflate those "poor" kids who are learning to "dodge bullets and earn points" (instead of learning to think?) through video games as a lost generation is the same ignorant argument that was used against television when it came about. The same argument against radio, and comic books, and moving pictures, and magazine subscriptions, and novels. Every modern form of storytelling has undergone this same ignorant scrutiny. That its advent has and/or will destroy our youth's ability to imagine and think for themselves.

And now it's videogames. And there's nothing personal in my diatribe. I'm sure you're a lovely person whose enthusiasm for community outreach has skewed your perception and some of your preconceptions on the matter; at the very least a noble reason. Which I understand as a fan of Ted Talks myself... but diatribe none-the-less, because I am also one of the "lost generations". This is an argument I have been hearing about video games for nearly my entire life. And since I've had over thirty years to think on this idea, I'm afraid you get my soapbox for the evening...

Just taking your specific examples, there are so many flaws: If videogames could teach you to "dodge bullets" then it'd probably be a much wider used tool in the military and law enforcement realms... and it is heading in that direction. Video game simulators make for somewhat better soldiers, there is a hand-eye coordination correlation, though cross application between control devices and real-life is still hard if not outright imposible, but some underlying things are happening (especially when you consider flight simulators are running actual combat missions now without risk to a pilot's life... thanks, Obama!)

If you think that learning to "score points" does not help you in real life, then you are not paying attention to "real life". What were your grades in school if not a score? What is the balance of your bank account if not a score? Your airline miles and frequent buyer points? Granted they are scoring systems with complex and convoluted rules-systems... almost impenetrable; while videogames generally use very simple and self-explanatory rule-systems to determine scores. But what better way to explain complex systems than to break them down into simple versions? And how is getting better scores and dodging bullets not critical thinking or problem solving? You have a problem, your character is getting hit with lots of bullets at this point of the game and then dies. How are you going to solve the problem and continue with the game? How is navigating three-dimensional environments and mazes not critical thinking? There is an entire genre of videogames called "puzzle-platformers" where the primary game mechanic is solving complex problems. Games like Antichamber and Portal. Not to mention external critical thinking about games and game-playing, like behavioral economics models generated by people in the industry to explain motivation and reward. How simple changes like changing a grading system from falling from 100% to building from 0% can significantly improve student engagement in the classroom, and how to break down complex systems in the real world into gamified chunks that can be comprehended.

And this is all before we even get to modern videogames and their unique capacity for narrative and storytelling. The past year alone had  some of the most engaging stories of the year told through videogames: Last of Us, To the Moon, Bioshock: Infinite, Spec Ops: The Line, which as far as original story-telling content goes, stands up to anything I saw in theaters or on television ((although Spec Ops may not count as original since it's somewhat an adaptation of Heart of Darkness, but with such an interesting take it stands on its own in my mind.) and though I'm usually years behind on reading so there may have been a great novel or short story collection that came out last year that I haven't gotten to yet...) And these are just games that are primarily standard narratives and not nearly as interactive and interesting as videogames can (and will) someday be (as foreshadowed by ideas like Draw a Stickman Epic, Minecraft, The Stanley Parable and Scribblenauts.)

But this is all secondary. It is useless to argue "video games are just the next incarnation of storytelling form" versus "video games are a waste of mental energy and attention." If your goal is to reach out to a generation you perceive to be lost to video games and inspire them to read and engage with you, then you have to use video games to do it. Because you are now in the same arena that video games are excelling in, grabbing and retaining attention. You are right, these kids are not stupid, and there are many things that they are ignorant of, but it is not from a dearth of storytelling brought on by video games. In fact the opposite. Video games are engaging the youth of today because they (video games) are learning to use storytelling better and better. And they're in the mostly unique position of being able to combine storytelling with participation. And for me this is the biggest sticking point of this whole flawed arguement. There is only one way to "read" a book (outside of aleatoric and ergodic works), though many ways to interprate one. In video games there is the potential to be as many ways to "play" games as there are to interprate them. And without critical and independant thinking and problem solving skills, there is no story in the first place.

Does every video game reach this potential? No. Not even every video game reaches the standard narrative potential it inherits from more traditional storytelling modes like film or novels. But then again, neither do all films and novels. And I am also a writer and an editor. I don't want to see the written word disappear from the world any more than you do. But I am also not afraid that it will. I don't see video games as some threat that will end all of our careers. At least as long as we see our careers as storytellers. Novels may some day go the way of the epic poem and the morality play... or even the serial novel; don't see a lot of them about any longer though they more or less invented the novel. Indeed, there may come a time when even "writing" itself is completely different than it is now. But storytelling will remain and will always be engaging.

For me, the answer is simple. As storytellers we sit around campfires and tell stories when that's how stories are told. We write novels when people are reading novels. We write film and television when they are the primary means of conveying story to people. And with the video game industry now larger and more profitable than the film industry, if we want to continue to be storytellers to that audience, we will write video games.

Now I've been on my soapbaox for a bit, and I haven't even touched the implication you make that "virtual communities" are somehow not "real" communities, but I've gone too long as it is and that actually is a very complicated issue. I'll just point out one of the most significant developments in social experimentation going on right now; namely TwitchPlaysPokemon. A virtual community of tens of millions of people who in just fifteen days have collectively created enough narrative media to fill two major religions by playing a video game together. I encourage anyone interested in social theory and narrative structure to do some research and investigation into it.