I was at an author’s book reading last night and it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten how annoying people can be at lectures and things. So, I’ve arrived at the 92st. Y to hear this reading and immediately I am devastated that other people have showed up. They’re all pushing to get in and casually dropping the author’s name in conversation as they do so just to prove to the other people, which are touching them because it is so crowded, that yes, they know what’s up when it comes to Orhan Pamuk and they are seriously legit in general and they are also seriously legit about listening carefully to the reading. Also everyone either look a) like a literal manifestation of “intellectual”, b) Jewish or c) both. (OK! Listen, they did look Jewish. Plus, I’m half Jewish so I can say things like this and also David Foster Wallace does it. [I actually think this a really interesting quotation as an aside]. In A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, he writes about his experience on a cruise ship. While he is waiting to board he notices “A lot of the people waiting—Caribbeanish clothing notwithstanding—look Jewish to me, and I’m ashamed to catch myself thinking that I can determine Jewishness from people’s appearances.” Then he footnotes this: “For me, public places on the U.S. East coast are full of these nasty little moments of racist observation and then internal P.C. backlash.” He is right and I am also right with my description so let’s all move on).
ANYWAY so all of these people are bumping and jostling and we finally get to our seats and the thing begins. Here is the first incredibly annoying thing: People nod their heads when they are listening because they want you to fucking know they know. They know what he is talking about and they can’t help but agree. Not only do they agree but luckily there is a question and answer session so they can beyond agree; they can show how much more than know, and this can apply to any question/answer session where the person speaking appears moderately important to the audience. There are two types of questions here and I’ll break them up because I’m rambling:
1. The Fucking Stupid Question. For example, last night someone asked the novelist, who had just come out with a five hundred page novel, is the novel dead? Yes, yes it is dead, but I am doing my utmost to revive it. That’s why I wrote this one million page square shaped thing. I’m thinking, now correct me if I’m wrong, that we could possibly use it as some sort of digging device to try and find the novel, which has been encased in tomb and thrown into an abyss. And I say “abyss” because I’m a novelist and also because I can tell, from you intelligent question, that you understand vocab words like that.
2. The Did You Notice How Smart I Am By My Literary References Question: For example, “When you wrote about X in your new book were you alluding to Dante’s inferno? If so, how do you feel about incorporating Western literature, perhaps even ideologies, in your work? Do you feel this compromises the integrity of your novel’s message? Like, I don’t even know what the fuck I just wrote. I don’t even know if it makes sense. And you know what? People who ask that type of thing, they don’t know either. And if they do know, then there is no point to them asking the question. Honestly, what do they think is going to happen afterwards. Pamuk will come down from the podium and be like, "You, you are fucking brilliant. Do you have your PhD? I am so glad you told me. Let's hang out. What's your skype? Do you skype?"