Jonathan Franzen Is Fine With All of It

On the topic of Taffy Brodesser-Akner profiles, this one is great too:

Oh, he said, there was also the new novel he wanted to write, which was coming along in the initial thinking-about-it phase. He had three character names picked out. “Everything is subject to negotiation, but once you get a name,” he grinned with his lower lip over his upper teeth, his head quivering in delight. He didn’t finish the sentence.


“I’ve never been a big fan of society structured predominantly along lines of consumerism, but I had made my peace with it,” he said. “But then when it began to be that every individual person also had to be a product that they were selling and liking became paramount, that seemed like a very worrisome thing at a personal level as a human being. If you’re in a state of perpetual fear of losing market share for you as a person, it’s just the wrong mind-set to move through the world with.”

I think that's an interesting way to frame our current world.

Franzen thinks that there’s no way for a writer to do good work — to write something that can be called “consuming and extraordinarily moving” — without putting a fence around yourself so that you can control the input you encounter. So that you could have a thought that isn’t subject to pushback all the time from anyone who has ever met you or heard of you or expressed interest in hearing from you. Without allowing yourself to think for a minute.
It’s not just writers. It’s everyone. The writer is just an extreme case of something everyone struggles with.

I largely agree with this.


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?