Tom Wolfe on writing

Robert Cole [Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities]: Let me turn to your work. You've described yourself as a chronicler. What is that exactly?

Wolfe: Balzac enjoyed saying, "I am the secretary of French society," meaning a secretary who takes notes, not like the Secretary of Labor or something . . . He keeps tabs on what is happening in society, in the sense of social mores as well as just "society" with a small s. If I'm working well, I'm first and foremost bringing the news.

That was Nietzsche's expression when he said "God is dead." He said this is not a manifesto for atheism. He said, I'm just bringing you the news. I'm bringing you the news of the biggest event in modern history. God is dead, by which he meant, of course, that educated people were beginning to have no faith in God any longer. This was the 1880s. He predicted that in the twentieth century would come the rise of "barbaric nationalistic brotherhoods," leading to "wars such as have never been fought before." In other words, he predicted Nazism, Communism, and the world wars. Not bad, no matter what anybody thinks about his overarching take on life. In the twenty-first century, he said, would come the total collapse of all values.

He said if that happens, it will be worse than the world wars. He said the psychological devastation when people come to the point where they believe there is absolutely no meaning to life will be horrifying

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