Chuck Klosterman, author of Killing Yourself to Live; Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; and Fargo Rock City; was in Pittsburgh last night for a signing of his latest book Chuck Klosterman IV. I really haven't laughed that much in a long time. They could have charged admission and it still would have been a packed house.
I had the opportunity to ask the question: If you are interviewing someone and find that he/she is really not that interesting, do you have any tricks to spice things up?
In his response he said everyone is interesting to some degree. If someone is boring, finds out what makes them boring. I thought this was brilliant.
As you would expect from Klosterman (pronounced with a long "O"), he made a lot of cultural observations. One that I found to be particularly funny/true is that it is getting increasingly harder to tell if someone is the "coolest person around" or the "dorkiest person around." It is indeed a fine line in this hipster-rich generation.
The reading that he selected from his new book explains why he thinks it is important for everyone to have a nemesis and an archenemy. He says, "We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies. Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything."
In case you are confused about what the difference is between a nemesis and an archenemy, Klosterman explains:
"You kind of like your nemesis, despite the fact that you despise him. If your nemesis invited you out for cocktails, you would accept the offer. If he died, you would attend his funeral and—privately—you might shed a tear over his passing. But you would never have drinks with your archenemy, unless you were attempting to spike his gin with hemlock. If you were to perish, your archenemy would dance on your grave, and then he'd burn down your house and molest your children. You hate your archenemy so much that you try to keep your hatred secret, because you don't want your archenemy to have the satisfaction of being hated.Klosterman suggests if you are still confused between the distinction, just ask your girlfriend to explain it in detail:
"...women have always intuitively grasped the nemesis/archenemy dichotomy. Every woman I've ever known has had at least one close friend whose only purpose in life is to criticize her actions, compete for the attention of men, and drive her insane; very often, this is a woman's best friend . Every woman also has a former friend (usually someone from high school with large breasts) whom she has loathed for years (and whom she will continue to loath with the intensity of a thousand suns, even if she sees her only once every ten years). This is her archenemy. Women intrinsically understand human dynamics, and this makes them unstoppable. Unfortunately, the average man is less adroit at fostering such rivalries, which is why most men remain average. Males are better at hating things that can't hate them back (e.g., lawn mowers, cats, the 1986 Denver Broncos, et cetera). Most men fail to see a world beyond themselves; if given the choice, they would connect themselves to nothing. But greatness cannot be achieved in a vacuum, and great people know that."It's like he is inside my head! Granted, my nemesis is not a former best friend from high school, but he really does hit the nail on the head for a description of my personal archenemy. I'm not really comfortable commenting on the size of her bust, but "the intensity of a thousand suns" is probably a close estimation.
P.S. Klosterman liked the dinosaur bones at Pittsburgh International Airport!