George Saunders on Jangly Sentences and the Intentional Fallacy

Well, this made my morning. I love George Saunders!


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Positive Ain’t Where I Live

This is my first blog post in a very long time, and I’ve been meditating on how to open back up to writing, to sharing publicly, to engaging after a tremendously difficult year. Should I go with something funny to break the ice? Should I start with the story of the really hard year and get that out of the way? Should I begin with something boring and quotidian and slowly build up to the big stuff? But I realized that whatever I write is going to be confusing until I make one thing clear: Life is hard.  And all the good and fun and fascinating and transcendentally joyful things that come along with it ride on that foundation, and everything I write and think and know and do in the world rides on that foundation. In this world of wild of wisdom, that’s our starting point.

Sure, I say a lot of positive shit, and I do a lot of positive shit, and I can even put a positive spin on some really negative shit, but I’m never going to forget where I came from or what brought me here. And readers will stand a better chance of understanding me if they’re aware of that.

The one thing that most baffles me is how many people there are who don’t know that life is hard. I struggle, daily, to make sense of it, and it always comes back to startle me. There are many, many people in the world who simply do not know. And when you mention truly difficult experiences to them, you’re met with anything from bemused oblivion to outright contempt. They either don’t believe you, or they resent you for being negative. But worse than the people who have no clue, are the people who think they’ve suffered and survived hard times and give themselves an awful lot of credit for it, but when you look deeper what you find out is that their “struggle” was a basic quarterlife crisis, and that their daddy was the one who actually swooped in to fix it all with sound advice and financial support. These are not my people. I have neither time nor tolerance for them. I don’t wish them harm or suffering, but I don’t wish to give them audience either.

I believe in the hard times, I believe in the gifts they bring. But what I believe most is that it’s the serious work you do to turn suffering around that shows you the sincerest beauty of life. The wisdom comes to you through suffering, not at the threshold of suffering, and certainly not from mere proximity to suffering.

I don’t believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You are already more than strong enough. The things that nearly kill you are simply opportunities to flex. But let’s be frank about the fact that there are things out there that might nearly kill you, and the trick isn’t in pretending those things aren’t there, it’s figuring out how to deal with them.

So that’s where I’m coming from. It’s not a popular perspective, but it’s mine and I’m going with it.