I think this whole transition with the ads is really cool, and I like that you're doing it. However, seeing people make it their business to know what exactly you do with however much money you make kind of irks me. Nerdfighters can be so enlightened and caring, but does it ever frustrate you how intrusive they can be, analyzing every statement you make and now even analyzing your money?
No. I see our business as being owned by Nerdfighteria more than it is owned by me. If I have an unofficial board of directors with 200,000 passionate, caring people on it, that’s fine with me.
A. O. Scott wrote a brilliant and troubling review of the TFIOS movie; Hopper’s essay is a kind of response to it, and one that I found very encouraging. It helped me to think about what books ought to do, and what they can’t do.
Ok, so in this video John mentioned that both he and Hank had outstanding punishments and he proposed a challenge - if nerdfighteria could loan a million dollars before vlogbrothers got to its 1000th video, they’d to the punishments, if not, no punishments.
In the meantime, John made this six-minute long video, which nerdfighters decided was not exempt because it was not “educational”. So in this video, he accepted his punishment. And in this video, Hank gave him the chosen punishment: eat a gross meal Henry came up with. So he did that here.
So, they still each owe a punishment!
As we have researched and looked into everything last night, this seems to be the general conclusion. One punishment owed each!
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"It's a metaphor" I have no doubt that you completely understand and stand by this statement that the act of putting an unlit cigarette in Augustus Waters' mouth is in fact a metaphor. But for some folks, we don't see it asa metaphor, we see it as situational irony, or a simple statement. Please explain how it is a metaphor.
Well, a character in a novel saying that something is a metaphor is not the same thing as the author of the novel saying that it’s a metaphor. Gus’s intellectual grasp often exceeds his reach (he calls a monologue a soliloquy, and misuses quite a few of the bigger words in his vocabulary). But I do think the cigarette is a metaphor, albeit a different one for us than it is for him.
Gus’s idea is that the cigarette is a metaphor for illness, and he keeps it unlit and in his mouth as an expression of his power over illness. “You put the killing thing between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Gus’s thinking here is that HE has the power. This is why he tends to use the cigarette when he’s feeling nervous or powerless. (He’s also using the most famous commercially available carcinogen to make this statement, so obviously there’s a connection there in his mind: Humans can prevent cancer by not smoking; cancer is something we can have power over; your job is not to give cancer the power to kill you; etc.)
But of course Gus is wrong about all of this, or at least almost all of it. You may have SOME control over whether you die of cancer (you can choose not to smoke), but in most cases humans don’t have control over illness. “You don’t give it the power to do its killing” imagines more agency over illness than we actually have, because in the end much of the fault is in the stars, not in ourselves. So to us, the unlit cigarette is a metaphor for our false perception of control, and our urgent need to feel in control. It’s no coincidence, then, that when Gus’s life is spiraling out of control and he finds himself powerless before fate, he tries (and fails) to buy cigarettes.
What college did you go to? What field did you study? My dream is to write as great as you someday!
I went to Kenyon College in Ohio and I double-majored in Religious Studies and English.
Most of my Religious Studies classes were about Islam. I am especially interested in narratives about Islam’s spread out of the Arab world into Central Asia and West Africa in the centuries after the Prophet’s life. My thesis was about how the Uzbek people came to identify as Muslim, and how their conversion narratives are so vastly different from the “Islam spread by the sword” story that we tend to hear in the West.
For my English major, I wasn’t as focused, but I read a lot of 19th century British female writers, because that was the main interest of one of my favorite professors. But I also read a lot of American literature and ended up writing my senior thesis on this weird little book Mark Twain wrote about Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, one of the most interesting and important religious sects to emerge in the U.S. in the 19th century. But I also wrote a lot about Keats and Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot and Toni Morrison and James Joyce and many others.
None of which has worked its way into any of my books, so…
I was a reasonably good elementary school student (although certainly not the best in my class), and then a not-very-good middle school student, and then a poor student for much of high school. (I failed my junior English class, and had to write essays about The Bluest Eye and Twelfth Night over the summer to get a D.)
Some of this had to do with intellectual challenges: I was a bit behind the curve when it came to abstractions. Like, I could not handle the idea of the equation x + 2 = 4, because x is not a number, so how is that even possible? My struggle with abstractions was also seen in my study of literature and anything that couldn’t be, like, memorized. (I’ve always been a pretty good speller, for instance.)
Some of my troubles in school also had to do with what in retrospect were social and mental health challenges. But I was very lucky to have teachers who saw a lot of potential in me and refused to give up on me, even when I was defiant and annoying and set off fireworks outside their bedroom windows. (Do not do this. It is not cool. It is just annoying.)
That said, I think it’s an oversimplification to say that I was a “troubled child” or whatever. By college, I was engaged and interested in many of my subjects and became, as my favorite college professor once called me, “a solid B+ kind of fellow.”
I don’t think it’s fair to see some kids as merely smart and others as merely troubled, or to think that kids who are performing poorly in school are simply miscreants/stupid/whatever. (It’s also unfair to portray kids who perform well in school or who have expansive vocabularies or whatever as inherently untroubled.)
Of course, none of this should be an excuse to give up. It can be really hard to try to stay engaged in school/learning/anything, especially when you don’t have the kind of support I was lucky to enjoy. But it’s also worth it. Learning is hard, and learning how to learn is hard, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It really is something that we have to do for a lifetime—or, more optimistically, that we get to do for a lifetime.
Hi John, I listened to your earbiscuit last night where you talked about reconciling your belief in religion and God with the pain and suffering in the world. As a teenager who struggles to understand why things are the way they are in the world, I was wondering if you could explain your views on suffering and unfairness and the arbitrariness of it all and how you still manage to follow a faith?
Well, a lot of people a lot smarter than I am have spent a lot of time writing about the problem of evil. The problem is called, in religion circles, theodicy, and this wikipedia page has a pretty good introduction to some of the major theological (and atheistic) responses to it.
EDIT: That was meant to be a private response and now I can’t figure out how to make a public response private? Anyway, yes, the wikipedia page on theodicy is pretty darn good!
WILL THERE BE A MOVIE FOR LOOKING FIF ALASKA?!? I WILL DONATE MY KIDNEY IF YOU REPLY
I don’t know if there will be a Looking for Alaska movie. I don’t own the movie rights and will never own them (I sold them to Paramount way back in 2005).
The brilliant writer and filmmaker Sarah Polley has just been signed to write an adaptation of the book and hopefully direct it. I am a huge fan of Sarah’s. She is fascinated by ambiguity and competing narratives and the way we imagine the other, so I’m hopeful.
This weekend 18,000 screaming fans—most of them teenaged girls—will arrive in Anaheim, California in hopes of seeing and meeting their favorite stars. But instead of cheering for Jennifer Lawrence or One Direction, they’ll be chanting the names of Hannah Hart and Tyler Oakley. The event is called VidCon.
A highly insightful article about the unique and powerful and exciting world of YouTube.