good Cult of Smart interview

I’ve done more podcasts than I can count at this point and won’t try to round them all up. But I did want to call your attention to this interview in Business Insider, which I think is a good primer on the general themes and ideas in the book, as well as a vehicle for me to clear up my own thinking on an issue or two.

I am also briefly quoted in this Boston Globe piece that reflects many of the broad themes of my book.

Edit: Link fixed.

Edit Two: And here’s a good conversation I had with the EconoTalk podcast.

my piece in the Post

Today I have a piece in the Washington Post up about Trump’s attacks on Biden’s intelligence at the debate, and how they are emblematic of the Cult of Smart. I am happy with how it turned out and proud of it.

Should Twitter discover it (and they may well not) they are liable to get very upset that I am being published by a major publication, a privilege they seem to think I lost during my troubles (my bad behavior) three years ago. I don’t think getting upset would be constructive. People in the industry should know better. Publishing me is not a comment on my character. It’s just the business of media.

To clear something up: you are entitled to get mad at the Post for publishing me if you wish, but you can’t do so under the theory that they have broken some sort of otherwise-intact embargo. It’s simply not the case that they extended an invitation no one else would have. I get asked to publish or pitch all the time, including by prominent places. I have consistently turned these opportunities down because I have wanted to avoid tapping into all the negativity that surrounds my writing at this point. Why did I accept the Post‘s offer? Because I have an obligation to St. Martin’s, and this was too big of a promotional opportunity to turn down; and because I’m unemployed and struggling to pay the rent, and could not turn down the money. That’s it.

Look, the goal now is the same as it’s been since January: promote this book to satisfy my responsibility to St. Martin’s and to myself, get a job in the normie world, and disappear. I don’t know if this is possible at this point. As I’ve said in this space before, with each rejection on the job market it becomes more likely that I will be forced to start a Patreon or a Substack simply to pay the rent. I would prefer to avoid getting back into “the conversation” but I’m kind of running out of options here. In any event: I am grateful to the Post and hope that this piece finds an audience.

I am trying to avoid returning to professional opinionating but it’s tough sledding

There’s not much news to report from me; the book continues to pop up here and there, most prominently the Wall Street Journal. I have been given no information about sales figures and will not speculate.

Currently I am trying to find a job in the normie world. Many other people are as well and I am fortunate to have a little nest egg to live off of for now. But some sort of income will have to come in soon. (I applied for unemployment benefits from New York State on June 29th and still have yet to be approved or denied.) Part of my feelings of pressure to get a job is that I would like to avoid returning to professional opinion writing out of financial need, for reasons that are complicated. Perhaps the simplest thing to say is that I want to write out of organic personal motivation, not out of financial necessity. And, more, the fact of the matter is that there’s just a ton of negativity surrounding my writing, much of it my fault, and I’d prefer to avoid bringing that negativity into the world. However fair or unfair that’s the reality and if I can prevent creating new internet drama I’ll do that. It’s just that the job market is not cooperating.

Look things are tough all over and I don’t mistake my situation for remotely uniquely unfortunate. For my housing rights group I work on a hotline every week and I talk with tons of people who are in far worse shape than I am. I recognize my advantages. But I knew I needed a new job far before I was actually fired by Brooklyn College – thank you union contract – so I’ve been applying steadily since January, in all kinds of industries and sometimes outside of New York. And there’s the issue that we’re in an employment depression and I’m competing against millions of others, and there’s the problem that if you Google me you find out that I did something really unforgivable three years ago. I have taken to noting my mental illness in my cover letters and my recovery because I want to demonstrate that I have worked very hard and am in a new era of my life, one where I’m medicated and stable and still dedicated to recovery. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not.

Writing for money would have to be a crowdfunding deal. Publications do occasionally still ask me to pitch, including some fairly big ones, but those requests are few and far between. I generally assume that I am not welcome at places where my work used to appear. Luckily this is a new era as far as getting paid for your writing. I have no idea if I could earn enough on Substack or Patreon to live, but I feel pretty confident that I could earn four figures monthly. What would I write about? I would feel compelled to write about politics, including a lot of culture war stuff, because frankly that’s what people want to read from me. That’s a fact that I’ve had to accept over time. And you know I would do my best and I think I would have stuff to say. It’s just that the book was, among other things, a way to get away from culture war and idpol/political correctness/whatever. We knew we were leaving money on the table by not selling the “lefty attacks identity politics” book everybody expected me to write but the whole point of the book was to reflect a new era, to express a different life, to change my fate.

A lot of this, I guess, is bound up in questions of redemption or whatever that are very confused for me. Some people have interpreted my book’s release, and my subsequent attempts to publicize it, as a “comeback,” but I’ve never thought about it in those terms. I guess I just don’t see any connection between a book getting a critical reception and its author having to be redeemed. I have not asked people to forgive me not because I don’t think I deserve blame but because I don’t want to impose on people in that way. I wrote the book, in part, because I was (and am) under a student loan debt burden, and I am promoting it because I owe it to St. Martin’s and their people. And of course I want the book to sell. The book and me are separate entities; the day I submitted the final manuscript, in my mind, we ceased to have a relationship.

Anyway, all of that’s yap yap. The point is that if I don’t come up with a job soon I’m going to have to start a Patreon or Substack. If I do, it will have a lot to do with my financial situation and nothing to do with an assumption that anyone has to welcome me back to “the conversation” or whatever the fuck. Most of the chatter I’ve seen about me resurfacing has not been sincere. (Someone on Facebook complained that I had only been gone three years – as if, had it been four years or five years or ten, he would have welcomed me back with open arms.) Social media became purely about exercising social dominance over others a long time ago and the internet does not forgive. I will not wait for a forgiveness that the current culture of professional opinion writing, thanks to Twitter, is simply incapable of giving. But one way or another I might be getting back on the horse.