Interview with Dan Brown

Original article here.

“I got great advice early on: if you read your reviews, the good ones will make you lazy, the bad ones will make you insecure, so just do what you do, you’ve proven that you know what you’re doing. There’s a portion of the population who will wait for my novels and say: ‘Oh my god, I love that.’ And there’s a portion that will just go: ‘Oh my god, not again, not that guy, I hate that guy.’ That’s OK, you write for the people who love you and the great thing about books is if you don’t like mine, there’s a million others published every year and you can find one you do like.”

Does he ever suffer from writer’s block? “The cure to writer’s block is to write. Write something bad that nobody will ever see. But that process will show you the way back to what’s good. I throw out about 10 pages for every one that I keep.”

He insists he is not a political person but admits he is “pretty horrified” by the 45th president. He adds: I think he’s a profound threat – less of a threat to the republic than he is to the honour of the presidency. The republic will survive: there are enough smart, levelheaded people on both sides of the aisle to keep the ship afloat. But he’s certainly damaged the reputation of the presidency and, to some degree, the country.”

Given Brown’s vast following, I suggest, he must have Trump voters among his readers? I do,” he says. “It’s fascinating. You realise you really can’t be political. For me to say I’m not a fan of Trump to you publicly is probably professionally not that smart. But at some point you just say, ‘Well, that’s how I feel.’”


Please stop telling me to leave my comfort zone

Original article here.

On the inside, I was feeling defeated and helpless. In accordance with the self-improvement mindset, I rationalized these feelings as stemming from my own inadequacy. If I felt I was juggling more than I possibly could, I clearly had to hustle more. “I just need to work harder,” I told myself. “I’m out of my comfort zone. It’ll get better. I’ll adjust.”

The idea of using anxiety to enhance performance gained traction in the face of the economic deregulation of the 1990s and the resulting competitive pressures. In 2009, the well-known British management theorist Alasdair White repeated established wisdom when he wrote that “in understanding and managing performance, the key is the management of the stress” and described anxiety as a tool to assist in performance management. Yet a 2017 paper at the University of Leicester found that there was no empirical evidence to support this idea. “Nevertheless,” the author wrote, “despite all the evidence to the contrary, the notion that stress is ‘good’ for performance is still being peddled by management textbooks”.

Katharine Hamnett

Original article here.

People are the most powerful canvases – you can’t not read what’s written on a T-shirt. The slogan – three words, and lettering you can read a long way off – there’s no filter which stops it. Once you’ve read it it’s in your brain.

It makes sense to make your own clothes when you’re 10% longer than you’re supposed to be. It was hard to get clothes my size, so from the age of 12 I was making them. I should have learned to make shoes, too, actually.

The fashion industry isn’t doing enough about climate change, it’s dedicated to making a profit. Doing things in a cleaner way costs more money. We need a neat piece of legislation that says we only allow goods into our economic blocs which adhere to the same environmental and labour standards as we have inside them. It’s simple.

Having your own place is the secret to a happy relationship, because then you don’t have to put up with another person’s shit taste. The most successful relationship I’ve ever had started with a pact: we had to be totally honest with each other, even our darkest most paranoid fears. We’d confess, and not play games.

Getting old is a licence to kill. You become more sure of yourself, more confident in your views. There are some dodgy bits: you still feel 25 inside as you get older, and sometimes I look at myself and think: “What the fuck happened?” I loathe exercise – but now it’s do it or die.

I used to be a compulsive liar, people could never ask me a straight question and get a straight answer. When I was on the train to see my parents in Stockholm as a teenager in the embassy brat pack, I’d assume a different nationality from the station each time. Now I’m a compulsive truth-teller. It’s a lot more fun.

Robert De Niro doesn’t use social media

Original article here.


I understand why people use social media, but I don’t. No way! I don’t watch much TV or go to the movies either. To me, they’re just another distraction. And I have enough of those to worry about without all that stuff as well.

I prefer movies to theatre. I suppose I’d do a play if I could find a really great new modern one. But I love movies. You can do so much more with film and you can create an illusion. Films last, they are there forever, like a little piece of history.

Donna Zuckerberg

Original article here.

“It is without doubt that social media has allowed this to happen,” she says of the toxic moment we’re in. “It has created the opportunity for men with anti-feminist ideas to broadcast their views to more people than ever before – and to spread conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation. Social mediahas elevated misogyny to entirely new levels of violence and virulence.”


In her book, Zuckerberg explains that political and social movements have “long appropriated the history, literature and myth of the ancient world to their advantage. Borrowing the symbols of these cultures, as the Nazi party did in the 1940s, can be a powerful declaration that you are the inheritor of western culture and civilisation”. And the study of classics, of course, remains very much the preserve of elites.


“Classics are wrought with histories and narratives of oppression and exclusion,” says Zuckerberg. “By quoting Marcus Aurelius – as Steve Bannon is known to often do – Red Pillers perpetuate the idea that they, white men, are the intellectual authority under threat from women and people of colour.” While universities make progressive attempts to broaden the canon so students aren’t simply reading one dead white man after another, “the manosphere rebel against this. They see themselves as the guardians of western civilisation and the defenders of its cultural legacy.”


Zuckerberg digs deep through the most popular and excruciating message boards, blogs and threads – so that, I joke, we don’t have to. She uncovers the community of pick-up artists (PUAs) who use, say, the poems of Ovid to legitimise their most nefarious “techniques” to sleep with women. “PUAs, as one example, use famous seducers from history and reposition them as intellectuals so they can enforce a belief that women’s boundaries are permeable and that consent is a flexible concept,” she says.


Her research, on which she set herself a limit of an hour a day, led her to essays advocating rape, posts offering advice on how to dehumanise, trick and control women, and reflections on the case against female education. “Sure, it was upsetting,” she admits. “I made a rule that if something really got to me, I’d stop right there for the day.”


With regard to the White House, how far does she think the manosphere proliferates offline? “It’s an exaggeration to say the Red Pill community are writing national policy,” she says. “But on some level, they seem to believe they’re influencing policy.”


I’ve known so many alcoholics.

I’ve loved all of them, and wanted them to get well.

Who are these people?

Intelligent, funny, beautiful, charming; the life and soul of the party.

Why do they drink until they can’t stand up?

Why do they drink until they abuse their partners?

Why do they hit their kids so hard?

Why do they drink until they touch their kids?

Why did life break my mother?

Will it break me?

Why wasn’t she able to ask for and receive help?

What was she so afraid of that hadn’t already happened?

Why are some born to live full and happy lives and others to suffer?

Why me?

Why not me.

Chrissie Hynde

Original article here.

Hynde’s clean living also extends to her having been a vegetarian since she was 16. “Back then, I was living on what the English called ‘cheese salad’,” she laughs. “I can eat in thousands of places now!” So many good social changes have happened in her lifetime, she says, not that you’d notice this today. “The ongoing discussion about how shitty things are now annoys me – come on. Obviously, there’s some bad shit in the world, but there always has been.” Positive changes get forgotten far too quickly, she continues. “Smoking killed more people than two world wars and nobody’s said since the ban that it’s great that so many people have stopped. Stop fucking moaning about things! Do something about it or shut it!”

This extends to her feelings about women in music. “The idea that women couldn’t be in the music industry 40 years ago – not only did I prove that wrong, but I just disagree. In music, you can do whatever you want. The only person who ever tried to stop me was me.” Surely she was treated differently to men in the industry in the 70s? “I was a chick and it was a novelty, sure – but this is showbusiness. Novelties are what showbusiness runs on. Jimi Hendrix didn’t have to set his guitar on fire. He played pretty fucking good without the theatrics. But people liked it.”

She was never discriminated against either, she says, then pauses. “I think a lot of guys didn’t want me in their band because I was a girl. Maybe. But so what?” As for the controversy about the gang-rape in her book: “It was just total bullshit. All of a sudden, I became this rape apologist. I thought, ‘Fuck you all!’ I don’t talk about it [feminism]: I am it. I fucking do it.” She’s never “taken a penny from a man”, she adds. “I’ve never had anyone help me get to the top, so to be suddenly this anti-feminist…” She shakes her head. “Go fuck yourselves.”

She wants to move on, but doesn’t quite yet. “I wasn’t saying I was a victim, but I was saying I was a bit of a fucking idiot. I mean, you don’t walk into a bikers’ clubhouse, with a sack full of Quaaludes, all padlocked up and you find out you’re the only person there. Surprise, surprise!” We talk for a while longer and she asks me not to include a few of the things we discuss: she worries about some of her tamer, topical statements becoming the only things people ask her about in the future.

And this worries her today. “We’ve now got to a point where even people who are very outspoken, know their own mind, who aren’t afraid to be criticised, who don’t care what people think, are putting a sock in it because it’s not fucking worth it any more.” She went to see Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse on tour recently, she says, and noticed how they were restricting themselves. She’s not advocating general rudeness, along the lines of people who troll – she doesn’t like that – “but the idea of doing it anonymously, it means most people can dish it out, but they can’t take it”.

Hynde can take it, clearly. “Anyway, I told my story [about the rape]. That was my story. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the book. Let’s move on. I don’t give a fuck.”

I ask to see Hynde’s studio. “Yeah, sure!” She’s bouncy after her rants, which never seem directed at me personally, despite my questions. Hundreds of canvases lean against each other on shelves and teeter against the wall. Some lovely abstracts sit drying, full of colour, light and noise. By the door, there’s a black-and-white photograph of her parents, Bud and Delores, in front of the house her father built. “We didn’t get along,” she explains. “It was during that time in the 60s when no one got along with their parents. Mine were very conservative and the only way I could deal with it was just to split.”

Did she feel guilty? “No! I never thought about it. I kind of feel guilty now. I think, ‘What did my mother think? I just disappeared.’” Even after she got famous, she didn’t stay in touch beyond the call of duty; they came to see her on tour “eventually”. “I just needed to go to another continent to do what I wanted to do,” she says, all matter-of-fact. “I could be bitter about that or see it in another way – that’s how I fulfilled my destiny. So now I can actually say, ‘Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it so hard on me that I just pissed off!’” She smiles, a little sadly. “I know they’d be offended by that. I don’t want to offend them. But that’s what it was.”

Hynde likes being 67. “I find it really interesting, getting older, because life starts to make sense. I didn’t get famous until I was quite old – 27 – so maybe that’s part of it too.” She also thinks being alone gives her perspective – she’s been single for a long time. Her last marriage, to artist Lucho Brieva, broke down in 2002; she also points to a painting of a man in her room – “some arsehole I don’t hang out with any more”. “You have to have a very strong sense of yourself to be alone,” she says. “It’s hard work and I don’t recommend it. It’s not like you can have a lovely moment sitting over a cup of coffee discussing the ordinary pleasures of everyday life.” She picks up a paintbrush. “You’ve got to find an outlet. And if I was in a happy relationship, you wouldn’t be looking at these paintings.”