Terms Of Service
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Terms Of Service
H. P. Lovecraft
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The reason con artists get away with what they get away with is, their victims are ashamed of their own blindness and their own gullibility, and they tend to just quietly go away.
Novelists who pretend to understand what keeps them scribbling are really just guessing. A profound, unmet childish need to be acknowledged? Maybe. It hardly matters, though. The termite that asks itself why it keeps chewing risks becoming sluggish and inefficient, as does the writer who grows self-conscious in the middle of chapter five.
It's no accident that most self-help groups use 'anonymous' in their names; to Americans, the first step toward redemption is a ritual wiping out of the self, followed by the construction of a new one.
A sociopath doesn't warm up their environment, doesn't make it cozy. They don't have to; when they're not performing, when they're not manipulating, when they're all alone, there's nothing.
We want to believe that we're invulnerable, and that people who get tricked deserve it. Well, they don't. And someday the arrogant types who mock the gullible are likely to get their turn to wear the dunce cap.
A true nature is a gloomy monolith, sort of like that old black rotary phone that I had to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Grandpa on. But novelists, damn us, still need true natures - so we can give them to our protagonists. And so readers can vaguely predict how they'll behave when we trap them in 'situations' that they can't IM their way out of.
Uncertainty doesn't make life worth living, quite, but it does make striving and gambling worth attempting.
The success that Americans are said to worship is success of a specific sort: accomplished not through hard work, primarily, but through the ingenious angle, the big break. Sit down at a lunch counter, stand back up a star. Invest in a new issue and watch it soar. Split a single atom, win a war.
I've come to learn that the determined and gifted and genuine sociopath has far more power to deceive than we realize.
What is it in people, or just in people like me, that would rather let a lie go by, would rather wish it away or minimize it, than point it out and cause the liar embarrassment?
In fourth grade, I learned that reading was serious business, not just a pleasant way to pass the time, and that like medicine or engineering, it had a definite, valuable purpose: to foster 'comprehension.'
There are two sides to me. One is the writer. That's a savage person who looks at everything as a story and, you know, wants to use real life in his books. The other part is the Midwesterner, who, you know, wants to say nice things about people and be polite.
I say 'here's the thing' a lot, both to alert people that I'm about to say something important and to give myself a moment to figure out what that important thing might be, because my head is so often completely empty.
The least sexy city is Los Angeles. And it poses as the most sexy. As you grow up, L.A. is being sold to you as home of the bikini-clad party girls. And then you get there, and it's full of very goal-oriented, yoga-obsessed careerists.
Realize that the game of life is the game of, to some extent, being taken advantage of by people who make a science of it. Whether they are in government or personal life or in business, they're everywhere.
In the age of networked everything, life moves sideways and covers lots of ground while barely touching the earth.
Statistics on the dangers guns pose to the health of their owners and those who live with them suggest that I'd be safer selling my guns than reserving them for 'Tombstone II.'
In a world that's smarter than it used to be and, in some ways, smarter than it ought to be, stupidity has a way of making us seem all the more human.
In America, to be ID'd - sorted, tagged, and permanently filed - is to lose a bit of one's soul. To die a little. This sounds like a subtle, poetic notion. It's not. In American legal and cultural tradition, one essential privilege of citizenship is not having to prove it on demand.
I love reference books, especially collections of memorable quotations, world almanacs, and atlases. Facts to me are like candy or popcorn, small, tasty delights, and I like to gorge on them now and then.
Everyone his own cinematographer. His own stream-of-consciousness e-mail poet. His own nightclub DJ. His own political columnist. His own biographer of his top-10 friends!
One of the saddest things about publishing is how quickly it ages what it touches. The frenzy involved in getting books on shelves, and in putting the word out that they're there, moves at a speed that is not the speed of writing, let alone of reading.
I'm a novelist, a critic, an essayist - I tend to see politics as a subset of cultures rather than the other way around. It's a human enterprise, a tool or a technology revealing our collective inner self.
Yes, in the commercial world there's room for both McDonald's and Whole Foods, but in the realm of politics, we're told, it's either Filet-o-Fish or line-caught salmon: only one can prevail - and which is up to you.
A writer who isn't writing is asking for trouble.
Ask Jeeves! Who ever used that thing? College freshmen to find out who Goethe was - that's it.
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