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.
The strange anthropological lesson of social media is that human beings, if given a choice, often prefer to socialize alone.
The fictionally correct have all the answers, and that's what's wrong with them. They're artistic technocrats. There's no dilemma so knotty, no question so baffling, that it can't be smoothly neutralized by dialing up the right attitude adjustment. Poor old Hemingway. If only he'd known.
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.
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.'
I have very specific advice for aspiring writers: go to New York. And if you can't go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests.
To young people born under the weird planet of the SAT, intelligence was equated with agility, with raw acuity. It produced a certain sort of person of which I was a typical specimen: the mental contortionist, able to rise to almost every challenge placed before him, except the challenge of real self-knowledge.
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.
Cross the wrong state border with your gun, or wake up one morning to new legislation or a new presidential executive order, and suddenly you're the bad guy, not the good guy. No wonder some gun owners seem so touchy: they feel, at some level, like criminals in waiting.
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