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Is the well-being of future humans even worth fighting for, if all millennials are assholes? I started reading passages aloud early on, in 2013, when I started writing.INTERVIEWER Your various chapters, as I read them, follow a surprising, slyly circular design—you often start with an observation that looks true, even self-evident, and then complicate it, such that the opposite of that initial observation is ultimately just as compelling, maybe even more true. Did you see that circular design as echoing the way narcissism operates, or perhaps is said to operate? At the first event, I started with “The narcissist is, according to the Internet, empty,” which I thought was a funny line, the Internet calling people empty, and two people started crying.
Often an editor helps to lay bare the structure that will let the idea happen, rather than being told to the reader.
But in this book, at least in its final version, I wasn’t working in scenes but rather channeling kinds of Internet and academic language that aren’t really my own, and kind of sculpting that language like material.
Not a linear argument, in the sense of a line of reasoning, but an argument as in two people or groups shouting at each other, but in my head.
The dumber the disagreement, the more I want to kind of explode it and discover what it covers up, find better language for what life is really like.
The word was everywhere—this diagnosis of everyone’s ex, condemnation of the personal-essay trend, fear of the coming selfie apocalypse.