Transcript: Bret Easton Ellis and Eric Weinstein on The Portal podcast episode 7
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
Eric Weinstein 0:09
Hello, you found the portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein and today we’re here with a fabulous author who many of you will know Bret Easton Ellis, famous from less than zero in American Psycho. And now the book white.
Bret Easton Ellis 0:21
Welcome. Thank you for having me, Eric.
Eric Weinstein 0:24
So I don’t know exactly how to approach this. But one of the one of the frames that I have is that we’re sitting here in a very unusual city, that many people don’t understand how important it is and what makes it so unusual. And one way I might frame that, is that because Los Angeles is the home of the entertainment industry, there’s a weird way in which this is the only city in the world in which I could make the argument that everyone some somehow partially lives here, whether they know it or not, they’ve consumed the street scenes which are used as backdrops for movies and TV and they have an idea What the ethos of the places which sort of seeps into the screen writers mindsets, no matter who they are. And in any way that LA is different, it does broadcast itself to the world. Does that resonate with you? And can you add anything?
Bret Easton Ellis 1:13
Well, I think it maybe resonated that way for me, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, a lot more. I think. the entertainment industry is not centralized, just to Los Angeles anymore, or at least that’s the way we look at entertainment. It seems to be this kind of global thing, and not wholly concentrated in Los Angeles where it used to be, though now you, you might have to say that it is because Disney is the entertainment business. Disney now owns everything that’s the conglomerate that is going to produce an inordinate amount of content for the rest of the world. So maybe it actually has come Back here and is centered here. But you know, it’s strange. There are some, the the entertainment business or the notion of the entertainment business is now this global thing, whether it’s China, whether it’s India has a massive has the biggest entertainment complex in the world, the highest grossing movies. I mean, the biggest,
Eric Weinstein 2:23
you know, but that’s a different consumer base for Bollywood is very different. So if you’re in Indonesia, for example, or if you’re in East Africa, you’d be much more likely to run into somebody. I mean, famously, Raj Kapoor and you know, some of his songs are known by all Russians. Right. But that hasn’t had the same impact, I think. I mean, I think you could take the biggest films like a show lay, and people in the US have never even heard of they haven’t. That’s correct.
Bret Easton Ellis 2:51
But I think it’s because la has been so central in our minds to the entertainment business since its inception. In the 20s, or, or before that, that we that’s where all of our associations are. They’re all but when we think about the movie industry when we think about the entertainment industry that it’s just been around for so long that we always think that la we connect with that. And I also think that it’s um it has a lot to do with the way la looks as a kind of
Paradise, paradise, a kind of authentic Eden like
little location. And of course, we’ve seen so much of it in so much of our of the content we’ve consumed over the years, we’ve seen its roads, we’ve seen its hillsides, we’ve seen its beaches, we’ve seen its deserts, that that might be one reason why we’re, we connect la with the business of entertainment,
Eric Weinstein 3:56
my man I think you just to riff off what you’re saying. If I Just thought about street names. You know, why is it that Mulholland shows up in Tom Petty’s free fallen? Or is the title of a famous David Lynch film, you know, Sunset Boulevard, all of these streets, you know, only New York might have in some sense as iconic street names, which are sort of projected out through the industry. So that’s one indicator to me. That, you know, if I if I thought about the streets in Houston, I have no idea what the name of important streets in Houston might be.
Bret Easton Ellis 4:32
No, nor do I. Yeah, I mean, we’ll look. So much of the talent that creates this content, of course, lives here. And they reference everything about the place and their work. And, you know, look, I have to say, as someone who grew up out here, and someone who has written about this in about three of my novels were Holy, holy. at Los Angeles, it is the most creatively suggestive place that I’ve ever lived in. I’ve lived in New York, and I’ve lived in Vermont, and I’ve lived in Virginia. And I’ve spent a long time in England and in Paris. Nothing really compares to Los Angeles in terms of how is activated my mind and made me want to write. And I still feel that way. I’ve always felt that way since I was a teenager, there’s a sense of possibilities and a sense of freedom here because of the constant mobility and especially the freedom associated with being a young person in LA, and having access if I wanted to, to be at the beach, and then an hour later be at the mountains, and maybe an hour and a half later be at the desert, that this whole thing was so available to me. And I have the mobility to get to all these places, and that activated a kind of freedom in my mind. That’s not what wasn’t only physical, but it was also creative. And it’s very hard to explain that to people. I mean, when I talked to writers that I knew who grew up in New York or grew up in the suburbs, I don’t know if they really can access that. And I think about that along. It seems to me that in somehow, in some ways,
Eric Weinstein 6:23
that huge number of different environments really defines the place. And because la doesn’t have what I consider to be a good general description in the world, we don’t think about it the way we think about Paris, for example, or, you know, even New York. People very often don’t realize that this is like, you know, the homeless in part of the RAND Corporation or that there’s an oil field that partially defines the city. It’s not a very easy to understand place, and I thought that in part, you know, just as you’re talking about the natural environments of Los Angeles, also, the To go back and forth between Skid Row and Sunset Strip, and to see the sort of ways in which the, you know, the illusion of the Hollywood Hills and the dark underbelly make this place just far more generative and, you know, dark. It’s one of these places that that fits the description, a sunny place for shady people.
Bret Easton Ellis 7:25
Well, that’s what I thought about a lot when I was growing up out here in the 70s. And particularly in the early 80s. When, for example, Venice is a is a good place to start. I mean, Venice in the 70s was a slum dark, very dark place. You didn’t go to Venice after night. You didn’t even go to Venice during the day. But I remember they started opening a few restaurants there are a few art galleries. Remember 72 Market Street was one of the first very first restaurants very upscale kind of piano bar restaurant in a kind of derelict alley. And there was something kind of very Los Angeles about that very thrilling ride off the beach. And, and Los Angeles really does have the kind of imagination that allows that to open there and then flourish into other restaurants began opening. I remember, Wolfgang Puck open Shin wam, on on I think Main Street, and then everything kind of starts to flower out of that. But that was not unusual. Because I remember, a lot of times there would be, especially as a club kid and go into a lot of clubs. You go to these really cool chic clubs in the sleaziest parts of downtown in the lower lower reaches of Wilshire Boulevard. And there was just something kind of fabulous about an environment that allowed all of this to kind of coexist and You know, Melrose, for example, was a place a strip that I spent a lot of my adolescence on. And there were very high end stores next to, you know, discount clothing stores next to vintage sunglasses stores next to the CDs bar imaginable. And the fact that all of this could coexist was really thrilling to me. And you know, it just didn’t exist anywhere else that I’ve lived in the world. And it’s something that I still appreciate about the city though, of course, LA. I think like all places now to a degree and I don’t want to grossly generalize about it. But you know, we’re sitting here in Hollywood basically, in a newish high rise, and all around us is massive construction. Yeah, there are high rises going up all around. clang all around coal. right by the arclight Theater here, and Sunset Boulevard, the Sunset Boulevard from my childhood is kind of gone and has become a corridor not unlike some of the canyons of Manhattan, not unlike the Wilshire corridor and a lot of ways there is massive expansion and massive building here. And also done on that on that kind of global style free zone that is so popular wherever you go now around the world where you’ll I mean, I know they just redid on Well, a few years ago, they redid the Bellaire hotels, restaurant and bar, which was one of the more fabulous enclaves here. very mysterious, you’d walk through a forest over a pond. I guess they were ducks or geese, swans, they were swans. And then you enter into this mysterious dark dark bar from out of the 30s and a very kind of charming conservative diner. room, very, very old school and when they read when they did the design redesign it basically looked like any airport restaurant in Finland or in in London or wherever it just that something’s happening and as someone who tours a lot I see it all over the place is kind of global style right taking over and the and the restaurant, the bar the Bel Air now resemble pretty much everywhere else as does if we’re talking about this spa ago in Beverly Hills with Wolfgang Puck recently felt he had to re redesign in the same anonymous global style. You know, kind of already black and white photographs. These futuristic like tiki torches, I don’t know. So the LA that I think you and I are referencing And that you can still find pockets around here is like, everywhere else, it seems kind of fading into the new, generic, global style. And
Eric Weinstein 12:14
in a way, I sort of agree with this. However, I’ve been coming here visiting in hotels, and there are ways in which the old weirdness of La keeps sort of, you know, like, like the rose in Spanish Harlem popping through the concretes. That sort of dark underbelly does recur. So I was just for example, at this is at the Saddleback ranch which has a mechanical bowl on Sunset Strip, right. And I was at a table in a lovely looking young woman says, you know, do you mind if I sit down? I sort of thought that was odd. Seating alone. She’s like, really quite complimentary, very friendly. I just turned to her and I said, Are you a working girl? And she says, yes. How would you like to go back to you know, hotel? And I said, Why are you doing this? And she turned to me and she said,
Bret Easton Ellis 13:08
Well, I just got my real estate license. But unfortunately, this month is a little slow. And I just thought, well, that’s a conversation that’s not so easy to have anywhere in the world. No, it’s not. And it reminds me a lot of Hollywood and it reminds me a lot of a lot of actors that I met out here when I was casting a couple of big projects. That Yeah, that is very much an LA thing. This sort of gay for pay hookup culture, right. That is big among actors out here in terms of a you know, the bartending gig didn’t work out. They’re auditioning tomorrow they, you know, they really need some cash. And yeah, la operates. But LA is always operated that way I wrote a novel about in less than zero. There is ways that kids can make They pay back their drug dealers and I’m one of them is prostituting themselves. And I had heard stories when I was at Buckley, about a couple of brothers I knew who if not exactly having sex with older men were, you know, a little Tz, maybe they strip maybe they’d put on a little bit of a show not necessarily have sex with, but there’s always been this kind of gray area between sex money. Well also class class listeners, you know, also I was talking to a very big mogul, huge mobile. And I was in a conversation at cocktail party, and someone asked me, where do you think the best looking people are? And I said, Well, I think I was thinking Italy is Sweden. And then this mobile who’s over listening said, Ah, it’s LA, Los Angeles. This person’s very intelligent and Good taste insanely wealthy. And I thought about it and I now believe that’s true. So this intersection of money sex whoring is, it almost feels like an inevitable thing. And I’ve written about this twice. And I’m just kind of realizing this now, or remembering this right now in this moment, not that I, you know, I don’t think about this all the time, is that both of the narratives of my two la novels less than zero, and then 25 years later, I wrote a sequel to a called Imperial bedrooms, where we kind of figure out where everyone’s landed after they were 18 both centered around the set this the central metaphor of prostitution in a way and that and beauty and money and that these were the things that seems so suggested to me about LA. I don’t know means what it ties back into the entertainment into It ties back into exploitation right? and exploiting beauty and youth and a certain kind of handsomeness if you’re a man and a certain kind of beauty if you’re a woman, and that also been for so many people, their, their calling card is what they really depend on. I remember talking to a very good looking actor and someone that made a joke about Oh, it’s not gonna be fun to see you get old and just in this bro. And he was devastated. absolutely devastated completely. And that, um, I don’t know, that kind of mentality really becomes the emotional basis for the town in so many ways. So it’s not it’s not strange that that happens because there is that that intersection of you know, beauty money exploitation is just you know, it lends itself it lends itself to War.
Eric Weinstein 17:05
Li really does in some sense live its new war at a level that would be fictional somewhere else. I mean, I think about so there’s this very strange coincidence that you and I came from essentially the exact same mill you We both graduated high school in 1982. Yes, we were both at the same sort of private school mill you. I believe that we knew people in common, although I forgotten who they who they might be. And I very much had the sense that when less than zero debuted, that you would privatized my childhood. And that it was this. It was this period, which if somebody hadn’t written about it would never be believed. And it the reason I’m trying to get at this, I guess, is that I think it had an importance that we didn’t understand while we were living. through it. So I wanted to try some theories with you because I think that you are in some sense, the poet laureate of whatever this firmament was, which is sort of Los Angeles, Gen X, and then I’ll tie it back, if successful. to, to what I think its significance is for us now, because I don’t I think it’s underrated as a sort of a point of departure with the past. So I guess what my theory is, is that if you look out at this backdrop behind behind this, imagine a neutron bomb went off, which was the divorce bomb. And it started with no fault divorce in 1970 with Ronald Reagan who himself was divorced, signing this thing into law. And if you look at a graph of like divorce rates, per, you know, whatever thousand women, it’s got this weird sort of it’s declining, declining, declining, and it just skyrockets for the entire 1970s before it starts was going to decline again.
And we lived through this. Yes. And while I’m asking, you remember that suddenly like everybody’s parents were on the rocks that suddenly the parents disappeared. that there were like children supposedly have privileged roaming the streets and that it was really dark.
Bret Easton Ellis 19:24
A Well, that’s a lot. Certainly remember. A lot of divorces becoming much more aware of them as I entered into junior high school. My parents marriage was very strained that by the time I was 15, and I realized that they were going to split. My sisters and I were however relieved because there was so much tension in the house caused by numerous things my including my father’s alcoholism. So that was The divorce wasn’t the problem. The marriage was the problem. Okay, so that was so I the, the darkness. And I have to say as a teenager, I wished that I had and I did to a degree enjoy this meal you much more than I did. But I was an alienated kid and I was haunted. One of the reasons I was so alienated was I was gay, which was very even living in liberal Los Angeles in 19 8081, even when it seemed gayness was in the culture and announcing itself in specific ways with whether it was David Bowie or prince or American Gigolo or Calvin Klein advertisements. You still weren’t out as a teenager. And so that alienates you and you begin to see the world in a slightly darker place, or I think you begin to see the world as it really is. You see through the facade of that. You see through kind of the poses, everyone is making an order to get Through and you really see the lie of high school in so many ways when you’re gay, and you’re standing on the sidelines, and no song is about you, and no movie is about you, and you have to kind of reprocess everything. So that was a bit of the darkness of my la experience. Divorce sure. But I think that for me, it was it was a being gay and being a writer. I didn’t know anyone else that was writing a novel. I hadn’t written one already when I was 13, or 14. And those two things really did separate me from the rest of the crowd. It’s not to say that I didn’t participate. I went to parties. I even had a girlfriend. I went to the beach, I had my group of close male friends. I danced at parties
Eric Weinstein 21:49
when we were at what point always are 667 Yeah.
Bret Easton Ellis 21:55
And it was nothing that ever I ever agonized over it. was something I just kind of accepted and said, Okay, this is another thing that I’ve got to deal with, how am I going to navigate through this and it really was never something that tortured me or I felt I had to, like, tell other people or come at anybody. So I had a very even keel acceptance of that. But it does separate you, you are only 4% of the population. There isn’t a large pool of you know, other people like that. So that was that was my burden, in a way but I also did there, there was a kind of darkness in LA in the late 70s. And into the early 80s. I felt it I saw it in music. I saw it as a kind of it was minimalism, and it was a kind of numbness that was being explored in a lot of the art and a lot of the music, certainly in part of the punk scene and in the new way. I’ve seen but it was a numbness that had a feeling as well. It was numbness as ideally This is beautiful and I completely That to me was what influence less than zero. This notion that numbness was a feeling and that numbness was something that you could enter into and and play with and try to express in some ways. And that was where I was at in my late teenage years in LA. That was what was on my mind all the time. And that’s what influenced the style and the tone of lessons here if that makes any sense. Well,
Eric Weinstein 23:37
this is the weird thing about it. I’ve never heard anyone say this numbness is home to me. Like, there is a weird way. I found myself driving the Ventura freeway after college, and I’d gone to some party that hadn’t quite worked out and was unclear what the address was and whether somebody was squatting in somebody else’s, like had all of these weird characteristics, and the emptiness just washed over me and I think Tom Petty was playing on the radio. And I just felt I’m totally numb. I’m completely alienated. And I feel completely home.
Bret Easton Ellis 24:19
That is what I felt. But I do think that might be very specific to our generation.
Eric Weinstein 24:31
I think our generation is weirdly, the key to a lot of what we see going on in general, but because our generation is also invisible, and because this place had very different characteristics, I do see that there’s a little bit you know, the portal theme here has to do with trying to figure out how do we get out of all of these mysteries that were trapped within and culturally and in part, My belief is that la pushed out A lot of this kind of nihilism to the world. It couldn’t easily travel. And so you were talking about music before. I remember being very cued into this band x. Yes. And x, I thought was going to be huge. It was a huge mistake on my part of mine too. And how could it not be? They were witty. They had these weird harmonies, I think that happened in fourths between john doe and Xen, Billy zoom, Billy zoom was ej Boehm. Horace was the drummer. Yeah, but they get so do you remember the song? their big hit regionally? Was the song Johnny hitting run Pauline or set him off the Los Angeles LP right. Now this song? Did you remember the lyrics how it goes and vaguely you gotta remember to sterilize hypo right shoot a sex machine drugs about serial rape. He’s kind of raped 24 women in 24 hours and the last one was cooperated. This thing is so off. It’s so dark. It’s so completely wrong. And it felt normal for Los Angeles at the time. And it was like this massive miscalculation that first of all, no fault divorce hadn’t happened nationwide, like New York, it doesn’t happen until I really late, right. And so there was something about this period that was highly regional, but also was being broadcast everywhere, even in kind of cryptic ways. And I think that your book, probably less than zero probably looked kind of like wildly weirdly exaggerated to the outside world. I don’t think it was that exaggerated.
Bret Easton Ellis 26:46
Well, look, certainly there were things in it that I wanted to do as a writer. I certainly did not see a 12 year old girl get gang raped, which happens near the end of the book, and where it’s treated as Just as natural as stubbing your toe or something to come across something like that, and Isn’t
Eric Weinstein 27:06
there something about where people are hanging out with a corpse? I mean,
Bret Easton Ellis 27:09
well, now that was based on something that I had heard you kidding me? there? There. There was a story going around that there had been this person who Oh deed in an alley. Hmm. I think somewhere along Melrose, this rumor went around in 1981 82, and that kids just were brought to see the body of another kid. And people had heard about it and someone would meet someone at a party, because of course, remember, there was no cell phones and and then people would come over find the space and just gawk at this dead body. And that is a scene in less than zero. But, um, overall, I really did try to make it seem as realistic as possible. And almost as if it was dreaming realism, almost as if it was reportage, that clay, the narrator of the book was really describing the world he was a part of, but not necessarily describing what his emotions were. And all of the things he was feeling during that time. You understood that he was very detached and alienated because he never talked about himself. And he just described what his friends would say. He just just read what he would see what you’d be seen. And I think part of why the book works for people is that this voice never varies, as the book gets darker, and more violent and nightmarish in a way. And so there, you know, I guess that’s what I was aiming for when I was writing it to find that kind of accumulation of power by resisting hyperbole and then describing everything in a very flat minimal way. And of course writers in the past had done this but transposing that into As a contemporary teenager living in a big city was something that I hadn’t seen before. Teenagers in who are narrating novels were usually very emotional. Look, going back to the few that there were, whether you were going to Judy Blume, or whether you’re going back to the granddaddy of them all The Catcher in the Rye. I wanted to do kind of the anti Catcher in the Rye in that way. But I think I drifted away from your question, which was kind of about, I mean, first of all, getting back to x. They were a part of the reason that they didn’t fully work as a band was that they didn’t have hits. They kept each subsequent studio album from Los Angeles to I guess, without toys. Yeah. To under the Big Black Sun. And then I think it was the ain’t love grand Was there stab at MTV, kind of a commercial rattler. The story then after under the big black So yeah, I thought that was my favorite of the of the of the three records that had been even more so than Los Angeles. There’s the you see that the songwriting was kind of moving away from the really kind of rough speed rock of Los Angeles and entering into a kind of more thoughtful kind of songwriting, but for whatever reason, they never really broke and I think, I think that they were a huge influence on less than 01 of the epigraphs. less than zero is from x. So I was obviously thinking about them, but I was also thinking about Led Zeppelin because Led Zeppelin is also the other epigraph in less than zero, but exaggerated, I don’t know, look, as I said to you earlier, I really ran with that story I heard and I also want new parts of from a couple of boys who were living on their own, actually in Beverly Hills, who were not staying out of Malibu with their, their divorced dad couldn’t deal with them. And they got an apartment in town, a 17 year olds or the father rented it for them. And I often wondered how they had such nice clothes, how they were able to go to this place or that place. And it was interesting because it Look at that they knew a guy named Ronnie love Levine, who was murdered by Joe one of the billionaire’s boys club. Isn’t Lavina 11
Eric Weinstein 31:36
wrong? It was 11 write one letter this I should know this. This was my high school.
Bret Easton Ellis 31:39
And so I got to know Ron Levin through these kids were all 16 and I remember this just goes to give you an idea of what my adolescence was like. We would congregate because we all had cars at Ron lemons and have drinks in wrong lemons living room and then Ron Levin would pour us all into his convertible Rolls Royce. And we would all he would drive us to flippers, which was a roller rink, kind of bar, disco that’s on the corner of La Cienega, and Santa Monica Boulevard that is now a CVS. We, by the way, this is a weeknight. This is a school night. And so we would go with Ron to his booth, Ron must have been, I guess, 4847 maybe. And he was gay, very definitely gay. And he would have 616 year old boys sitting with him at a booth. flippers was all ages. By the way, there were a couple of clubs around town that were all ages. He didn’t need to be 18 to get into something.
Eric Weinstein 32:43
They were just short stuff. I left this town when I was 16. And when I think about all of the stories that I had in clubs and bars,
they have to be 16 and earlier and it doesn’t make any sense to me.
Bret Easton Ellis 32:57
Um, look, I guess the drinking age was 18 in LA, it didn’t move to 21 until I think the mid 80s it was always look I got into it. I when I was 16 in LA, I got an everywhere I got into bars, I was ordered drinks, I could get into the whiskey on a weeknight. I never all my friends had to I never remember having any problems with getting carded, or anything, anything along those lines, right?
Eric Weinstein 33:28
Like somebody would always know somebody The place was totally fluid and the way I want you to keep keep
Bret Easton Ellis 33:35
it Sorry about that. There’s nothing else about the loving story. It’s just it gives you an idea and maybe there was a little cocaine involved. But that just gives you an end that was supposed to be 1980 1981. That kind of just gives you an idea and and all nobody was damaged. None of us were triggered. None of us felt we had to go to the police. None of everyone just
Eric Weinstein 33:56
felt tip. Okay, but true, but how many funerals? Did you go to Back in the day, I have to tell you,
Bret Easton Ellis 34:01
I don’t know, I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t I mean, look, I mean, compared to now in terms of
Eric Weinstein 34:08
emergency rooms. I mean, maybe funerals wasn’t that much, but there will there. This was not cheap. It wasn’t that everybody was fine at the end of it.
Bret Easton Ellis 34:19
No, but I do think comparatively, there was a kind of Gen X resiliency, that’s and strength, which is what I want to get to. Okay, but I do I think there is and I think that we were not wimps. Let’s just put it that way. You know, I sure I knew people, you know, you have to understand drug problems. They, I, we didn’t really know what that was in 1981 or 82. I didn’t have friends who had outsize drug problems, and I really never heard of rehab,
Eric Weinstein 34:56
but people were doing amazing quantities of drugs and then going on to Yale and Princeton and Stanford
Bret Easton Ellis 35:03
worse or or UCLA where a lot of them went, but um you know, the notion that no one believed you could get addicted to cocaine in 1982 no one really believed that Look, I don’t know of anyone who’s been addicted to cocaine either but back in ice school look the other thing that I gotta say is that and by the way 11 stories finished that’s I just wanted nothing else well ultimately happened wrong loving got murdered by Jelani, which is a whole other story, but um, but
Eric Weinstein 35:34
we don’t want to lead over that we’ve just had. Quentin Tarantino released once upon a time in Hollywood. It’s the story leading up to the Manson murders. Were with an alternate ending.
Unknown Speaker 35:47
Eric Weinstein 35:49
I guess for me, I was thinking back to this very. I don’t know whether Joan Didion’s writings move you but they’ve moved me a great deal.
Bret Easton Ellis 35:59
She was Perhaps the biggest influence on lesson zero and my writing, okay.
Eric Weinstein 36:04
So when I read, I think it’s the White Album where she’s talking about how the 60s end spiritually with the murders on cielo drive. And she writes with this just exquisite prose, and it’s so it’s so perfect for this within a city that thinks about earthquakes and, and Canyon fires. She says, you know that the rumors spread like wildfire is in the Hollywood Hills or something like this is just dripping with this gorgeous analogy. And I thought about that. And then I thought about how how that gives way to the 70s. And the 70s is this period. That’s like the golden age of serial killers. Yes. And then you end up with like, this very weird concept of privilege, which is one of the reasons that the millennials concept of privilege absolutely doesn’t work for me, where you have like these very privileged schools. And you have a murderous club of investors who, somehow the kids are just not happy with their station in life. And, you know, they’re these schemes maybe to kill parents and, you know, you get them in Mendez brothers. And I get the feeling that her feeling is that things ended with the murders on cielo drive and our storyline just getting started in some weird way that 60s versus the 70s is a big shift because the 60s had this horror and idealism fused together. Yes, in the 70s that sort of the idealism just drops out, but the horror keeps going.
Bret Easton Ellis 37:41
Yes. I think you said something about that’s very interesting about living here. Maybe you didn’t say it, maybe I’m taking what you said was less about how I think me and my peers Were very aware that we were living in a in a particular time. That was a kind of movie. And that was youth culture of the early 80s really seemed to be centered in LA. You saw it in all of the movies from Fast Times to valley girl to the music that was being made to the go Go’s being thrown out there. There there was this sense that we were at the red hot center of youth culture in Los Angeles, in say, 1982. Certainly, look, let’s have
Eric Weinstein 38:32
some echo of like, Jim Carroll on the opposite coast.
Bret Easton Ellis 38:35
I guess so. But there was something more interestingly, Concord addicting about Los Angeles or something, you know, the darkness and the beach and whatever. I mean, it was this ying yang thing. And so I’m very being very aware of that, of course, ads. I don’t know a kind of artificiality about The way you interacted with people and the way you behave. Now I’m saying this not on a completely literal level, I’m saying this just an overall sense of a costume, your car, the decor of a nightclub that you would walk into and be very aware that you know, this was the plays just the staginess. This really goes back to what you first talked about la as this stage as movie sets, Sunset Boulevard, cruising around Mulholland Drive going up to Milan to get high, the beach, the beach to a huge part of your Southern California childhood. But that’s also not to say and to move it out for a little bit. But you said this about the East Coast. I felt that time for the East Coast wasn’t necessarily the late 70s complete. I think it comes in. Well, for me, I felt I was never more in a movie. That was during the yuppie years of the late 80s in New York, right? before the crash of 1987, and that to me, and even afterwards, the crash didn’t really change or alter the way New York operated. But 8788 89 Manhattan, to me was something as evocative as the roaring 20s or the swinging 60s of London.
Eric Weinstein 40:18
You were very aware when was Gordon Gekko?
Bret Easton Ellis 40:21
Eric Weinstein 40:22
Okay, so you’re moving with the party you see from my trajectory was I’m in the same firm with you in Los Angeles. Then I go to college on the east coast. And suddenly it occurs to me that the East Coast has not gone through this they are having, right. People are getting drunk on cold duck for the first time. And I’m thinking that’s so cute. Right?
Bret Easton Ellis 40:45
Because drunk and cold duck in ninth grade. But anyway, I mean, I mean, yeah, I mean, I wasn’t conscious of wanting to chase the scene, but I don’t know how you felt but I felt great. Up here, which really now in retrospect was kind of glorious. Growing up as a teenager here in LA is like, fantastic
Eric Weinstein 41:07
is the worst thing ever. This is so interesting for writers you’re able to do. So
Bret Easton Ellis 41:10
look, I wrote less than zero, which is a complete note that it was it kind of, yes. But there there is also, I mean, I gotta tell you, Eric, that so many people who read lesson zero so many kids loved it, because they wanted to move here and want to be part of that. So weird thing. It we thought it was so cool.
Eric Weinstein 41:32
And it wasn’t supposed to be in some weird way. But when you have death and sex and money, people react and respond magnetically, even if it’s the most unhealthy thing.
Bret Easton Ellis 41:45
Well, that’s the late 70s. Here we are in the in the late 70s and into the early 80s. But um, I I completely lost my train of thought we were all talking about Oh, yes. I mean, less than zero was dark. there was darkness around my, the years that led up to me writing it. But I also when I was living here, I know what I wanted to say. But it had to do with the fact that in so many ways, I feel that we were lucky to grow up out here. Yes, it had its disadvantages, and its darkness. But looking back, I mean, there, there were things about it that I loved. And maybe I loved them at 17 and 18. And you missed those two years of the massive freedom that one would have, we weren’t living out here in 17 and 18, where you graduated at 16. And then you went off or did you stay here?
Eric Weinstein 42:39
No, no, I was. I was I was 16. I turned 17 and Philadelphia. Okay. And then I was in Boston. And what I found was that I mean, just to be to be honest about it. I I’ve stayed away from the city really for 37 years, because I just Thought it was the blackest, darkest, most seductive hellhole
Bret Easton Ellis 43:05
which it is, which is which it
Eric Weinstein 43:07
is, and it can be and it was generative. I mean, and so that notion of repulsion, and fascination, and home and total alienation. It’s been impossible to talk about. Because it’s all these things that usually come bundled, you know, like home and support and meaning and that bundling didn’t happen and what I start you know, if I think about the title of this film that you probably remember the decline of Western civilization about like Darby crash and the cramps and the germs, all that kind of stuff. That seemed like overblown and in many ways, I actually think, Well, whatever the thing is, that is unraveling the American tapestry was really present and visible early here. And that is where I’m going Gonna try to get to and see if you’re willing if you’re if you’re not, that’s fine too. One of the things that people may know me for is coining this phrase or pushing it out the intellectual dark web, which people don’t. I’ve never heard with all the commentary and almost all the commentary on the on the IBEW is bad commentary, because it’s a commentary at trying to figure out who are these people without union cards? And why are they commenting on the world? So they’re always trying to figure out some way of getting rid of this thing. It was very much two things. It’s an LA phenomena that nobody has understood. And it’s a Gen X phenomena to an extent, because Gen X is invisible to both boomers and millennials. Millennials think that Gen X is the boomer they did, they did. And the idea that there is this in between generation that’s not large enough to chant things and devote things into reality. But it’s extremely generative, very robust and has this completely I don’t know how to say it. You couldn’t pick two more different circumstances a tom pets gets kidnapped in New York, I guess in 1979. And the milk carton kids start up. And suddenly, almost overnight, all the kids who we’re used to playing in the streets with no adults in sight, or brought indoors and things really change. And somehow the millennials are brought up in that world. Whereas as far as I can remember, I play back so many scenes from the 70s. And I can’t see grownups the moms in particular apps, and maybe the dads have been absent a long time. Yeah. But like the moms are somewhere else.
Bret Easton Ellis 45:43
But where were they? Because I would say most of my friends mothers didn’t work. So where were they? Were they up in their bedrooms? Were they out having lunch with their friends?
Eric Weinstein 45:54
Well, do you remember? I mean, I remember some moms but sometimes mom was getting high with the kids. I remember Was particular mom, there were moms who were looking for Mr. goodbar. Your moms were trying to find some self actualization and that the women’s movement promised maybe there’s some new thing to do, but everybody was having a hard time finding what that was right.
Bret Easton Ellis 46:15
I think getting back to one thing you said before we move on to that is that the real darkness for me had to do with the Manson family. And the Manson Family haunted my childhood and my adolescence, it still haunts my notion of Los Angeles. So if I had to choose something that I fixated on, and honestly became obsessed by, were the Tate labianca murders and the Manson family. And that book that Vincent Bugliosi wrote about the case of Helter Skelter was kind of like a strange Bible for me, and it became a kind of a dark touchdown. Yes, they’re there. I still saw. And I was still in a group of people who were trying to have fun when I was in adolescence in LA, and especially when we were free with our cars, and basically free from our parents, and had that kind of sense of, I don’t know ascendancy or being able to go anywhere we wanted to eat, it erased some of the darkness. I mean, I there, there was a lot of opportunity to have fun out here. But I also have to say and this I think connects more with what, in a way what your trajectory was. I want to get out, huh? I did not want to stay here. Oh, so you okay, I wanted to get out. And I knew at 14 I wanted to get out. And I had to wait for the plan to happen. Because when I was 18, boom, I was going to go as far away from here as possible. I did ultimately Feel, I think what you felt I felt like, beneath the facade of beautiful teenagers, and, you know, lovely setting and nice houses, that there was a darkness that was encroaching upon everything. And it really, I really didn’t notice it much more strongly after I’d left for a year, and I came back after we actually left for five or six months and came back after I went to college for my first term. But that was always the plan. I remember seeing so many movies that took place in New York, even if they were dark as hell. I wanted to go there. And I remember seeing Woody Allen’s Manhattan for example, and then that’s where I’m going to be, I’m going to be in that world. I mean, now, that world nauseates me but at the time, I was 14 or 15. That was the goal and I was going to go to college back east and then I was going to move to New York. All of my friends stayed out here. All of my friends were going to get into the film business because that’s what LA is, I mean in the search If you live in a certain area of LA is a company town, and you end up you know, working for the company, which is the entertainment complex. And that is what happened. My four closest male friends all got into the business, really. And that was what I was supposed to be doing too, because we were all making movies and writing scripts when we were teenagers, and all of our father’s mind excepted, were somehow involved in the industry. And that was going to be the next move. And it just, I was writing novels, and I was working on less than zero when I was 17 1816 1718. And I knew I had to go I don’t know if you must have felt that to some degree in order to I mean, I don’t know if the escape was your choice, but the escape from LA was certainly mine. I only applied to colleges back east. And, and so so I knew senior year. That this was going to be over at a certain point. And that summer of 82. I just could not wait for it to Well, that’s the thing.
Eric Weinstein 50:06
I mean, that that.
We we were we were living through a something that I think hasn’t been understood or digested in terms of its importance. And I think that if you think about,
Bret Easton Ellis 50:20
well, it’s being resisted. It was I talked about it all the time. Yeah. And it’s been resisted. People don’t want to believe that this happened and that we were okay.
Eric Weinstein 50:31
They were contradicts it contradicts what I’ve called the gated institutional narrative that there is this thing where the New York Times is talking to the political parties is talking to the universities, and they’ve settled on this thing that’s completely wrong. It’s a narrative. It’s a narrative and the narrative has been cracking. And we have this funny thing which I heard you talking about being an anti anti trumper where the idea is that you have tried And the Trump voters. Yeah. Then you have the anti Trump voters who are the people who are completely deranged by any mention of Trump. What do you ever he said? My partner, my boyfriend.
Bret Easton Ellis 51:10
Yeah, your boyfriend is a millennial is a millennial and he as he is, he has had Trump derangement syndrome since the election, and yet, Eric, he is losing that. And he is just simply becoming
Eric Weinstein 51:31
an anti Trump. Well, because because well, no, so I don’t think that that’s fair, sir. My belief is that if you are an anti anti trumper I am an anti anti anti Trump er that is I against Trump, right? But mere mention of his name doesn’t send me into paroxysms I don’t write. I’m not apoplectic with rage when he said something that’s been carefully constructed to set everybody off who Perry’s certain behavior pattern. Right. And so what my belief is, is that I’m going through a very private weird little mini hell, in which I intellectually can’t stand the guy, but I understand him very well. Yeah, I understand why it works. I predicted this in some weird way. I wrote an essay on kayfabe I don’t know if you’ve
Bret Easton Ellis 52:18
I do yes. Yeah. That you were one of the people actually suggested he could win. It was a you
Eric Weinstein 52:25
Yep. Why Okay, I just had two more Quran on the program. Yes, sir. Press. Really ballsy. I thought everyone was lying. about their feelings about Trump and
Bret Easton Ellis 52:35
when they were asked about it, public well,
Eric Weinstein 52:38
because you you need it. You needed to say how horrible he was. If you were part of the institutional mill you or if you needed to keep a job and make sure that you weren’t on the wrong side of your clients. And what has been going on? What I find very frustrating. I mean, you have to appreciate the main stream has no positive interest in the show me or anything that my group is doing whatsoever. Right? Yeah. And it’s, it’s not just I mean, it’s the fact that we have this very negative view of CNN and NPR. Now, not what they’re supposedly standing for. Right, right. So this in this narrative, you know, I guess what my take on it is, is that the dominant I don’t even know how to say idealism of a time is usually a false narrative that’s hiding how people can make money during that period of time. Right. So we are the world is a portrayal of concern about Africa, the poor in Asia, what can we do to uplift people, but really, it was a story about if we don’t break our bonds to our fellow countrymen. If we don’t Make sure that we can not have to take care of Appalachia and the poor in the south and the downtrodden in our inner cities. We’re not going to be able to make money the way to make money is to move operations overseas to keep your you know, your country. With its headquarters, wherever it’s tax advantaged, that there was some process by which globalization was the betrayal of your countrymen.
Unknown Speaker 54:28
Eric Weinstein 54:31
that thing was portrayed as the Davos idealism. Yeah. And the Davos idealism is cratering. Yeah, because it was a wealth transfer program, posing as a philanthropic effort, right. And so the reason that nobody wants the Clintons nobody wants the Democratic Party, nobody wants the sanctimonious nonsense about, you know, our thirst for justice and our hatred of oppression is that this is a search for a constituency that’s large enough to get people away. Who can continue to keep people making money? Who have been figuring out how to make money and Trump? The reason I’m anti Trump is is that he’s taking lots of ideas that are actually originally wholesome. And he’s giving them this shitty, kind of mean spirited, nasty spin. Like, for example, there’s nothing wrong with restriction ism, whatsoever. There’s nothing xenophobic about restriction, right? The desire to want to keep a border is not a xenophobia currently, I completely agree. Okay. So when he tinges it with hints, you know, he’s playing around with something, he knows what the inference patterns of the left are. So he’ll say something, and the left will say, Oh, my God, you’re really saying that, you know, you think all Mexicans are rapists, and then the rights fault? Is that
Bret Easton Ellis 55:51
Pardon me? I mean, whose fault is that? I mean, that’s the left’s fault for taking the bait or overreact. No,
Eric Weinstein 55:57
it’s not that they figured out a means of keeping people in line. Whereas as you start to explore something that will stop the money making the transfer of wealth from whoever it’s like forced transfusion, right? The institutional left, I believe, figures out how to transfuse one group to supply blood to another. And what what the left is supposed to be is something, you know, more wholesome and more decent. As you start to question the transfusion. You start to get this question like, Surely you’re not suggesting that we should close our borders to the downtrodden? That’s right. And Trump is saying, Yeah, I’m not scared. I’m not going to you’re not going to back me off by just saying that. Surely you weren’t saying you know, that’s a menacing tone. And for that many people love him because you remember the scene in Reservoir Dogs of Tarantino, where you’ve got, I guess, It’s Steve Buscemi, and can’t remember the other actor with a train fare who the rat is and Mr. Blonde comes in. And Mr. Blonde is the psychopath who shot up the jewelry store, right and they can’t figure out who they can trust the only person you can trust is the psychopath because the psychopath isn’t under control. Well, Trump came through as Mr. blonde. And the one person we know isn’t under institutional control is Donald Trump because he wouldn’t never say those things. Okay, so now we’ve got a new paradigm where the only trustworthy person is the least trustworthy person. Which I’ve been trying to map this out. And the problem with it is you can’t wake people up because they’re dying to get back to the process of making money by betraying their fellow countrymen. They really the globalization thing came to an end, there’s no new idea about how to make money, right and the pyramid schemes are collapsing. Right?
Bret Easton Ellis 58:03
So what’s going to happen?
Eric Weinstein 58:05
Well, that’s what I’m, that’s why you’re on the portal, sir.
Bret Easton Ellis 58:11
Well, look, getting to that. Getting back to what you said in terms of, well, Fred, the name of the book is about preference versus
Eric Weinstein 58:23
public private truths, public lies, right?
Bret Easton Ellis 58:28
I knew a lot of these people I wrote about them in white, I write a section of the book is about the mood in Los Angeles, in the months leading up to the primaries, and then to the election, and then after the election, and it is a cast of my usual entitled characters, even though this is a work of nonfiction. And many of these conversations play out in the Polo lounge or it’s spargo like they do in my la novels with irate rich people who cannot believe that things did not go there. Way, which is also something that’s less than zero and imperial bedrooms. So even though White is a nonfiction chronicle of whatever, a certain kind of the arc of a Gen X, or I see it, it starts out in the late 60s, early 70s with me as a child, and then I’m standing, you know, with my dick in my hand in the summer of 2018. Going, I can’t say this. I can’t express myself this words freedom of speech. It just, it seems to be and I’m much more upset about it. And my millennial boyfriend who’s used to rules he’s used to all the rules that have been was maddening. I can’t live like I know, I can’t live like this either. But anyways, so I, I knew these people in Los Angeles, I knew the Obama Trump voter. I knew many of them who are making that jump. So and I just sensed something different by looking at everything than my millennial boyfriend who was already, you know, printing out his Hillary t shirts and you know, Can’t couldn’t wait for the head. No, he’s a burden of work either burning. He was a Bernie guy, Bernie Sanders guy and he held his nose voting for Clinton but anything But Trump because Trump drove him insane. And there was just no fucking way that Trump could be elected president. So that was all gonna be. But you know, so I didn’t, and I and I write about this and white. People said, Don’t tell anybody. I’m going to vote for Trump. Don’t tell anybody. I’m voting for Trump. And so I wasn’t completely surprised when Trump won. But in but what surprised me and this ties into what you were first asking, what completely surprised me for the next two years leading up to now is how so many of my smart friends became infected by Trump.
Eric Weinstein 1:00:54
Well, look, no, say more of what you mean by
Bret Easton Ellis 1:00:57
that. Well, look, all of our narratives were We have been forced to deal with Trump. I talked about this in an interview that I gave with Washington Post, where I, even if you don’t want Trump in your life, he’s in your life. And you have to have an opinion about him, because everyone else is talking about him. Either people loathe him to such a degree that you’re sucked into the conversation. And I believe it’s the same with people who love it. And I, I know you’re what was that huge exhale? What was that about? I
Eric Weinstein 1:01:30
look, no, no, I, I’m with you. I’m with you. I want to write an Eliza program. I swear I could write a small program that generates his tweets. Like, for example, before Trump, I had a simple idea, which is that if I wanted to win an election as a Republican, all I would have to do is to talk about the nuclear family. And every educated person would say, you mean nuclear, not nuclear. And then they’d lose It was like an automated reaction, that there was a class thing that says correct anyone who says nucular? Okay. Well, that’s a pretty simple program. Yes, you win the correct pronunciation of the word nuclear. And you lose an election because you’re a dick. Alright. So Trump is going to hit this thing over and over again. It’s uh, the left is programmed to say certain things to defend certain things. And, you know, if you have to make the point that there is absolutely zero connection whatsoever between Islam and terror, there is no connection whatsoever. Zero.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:39
It’s an illusion.
Eric Weinstein 1:02:41
Okay. Somebody can hit that. I mean, all day long every day. I remember reading an issue of DBQ put out by ISIS, where their point was, I think it was called, they had an article called, why we hate you why we fight you. And they said, You’ve marginalized all the people In your society who point out that there is an aspect of fundamentalist jihadi Islam that just hates you because you don’t believe in all of the way we do. And because that couldn’t be said.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:03:13
Like they couldn’t be set. I mean, that’s why they’re the break ik was a general
Eric Weinstein 1:03:18
said, There There was once upon a time a heuristic. That said the best way to have a multicultural society is that you have to have some load bearing fictions, like all religions are equally problematic in all ways. There’s no way that’s true. Jane Jane’s are not equally problematic as Jews, Jews are more problematic than Jane’s and I’m able to say that because of George Soros, okay. As a result, those heuristics hardened into dogmas because they were necessary to keep our society operated. We have to believe at the moment That a jury of 12 people knows how to convict somebody based on guilt even though that DNA evidence shows that that’s not a real rubric. Okay. Well, I mean, it’s a heuristic. Maybe it maybe it works some of the time. Right? Okay. So as these sort of heuristics have been breaking down in these heuristics of the left, or on top of the ones that are necessary for civil society, they the desire to maintain this complex of ideas, like trade is always good. No, trade is not always good for all people. That’s it’s beyond moronic, right? Right. But it’s only recently that you have economists like Brad delong saying, actually, it’s a, you know that what you’re optimizing is a social Darwin. Darwin is function, which trade is good for you based on the cube of your wealth. So the richer you are, by the cube of your wealth, trade is good for you. Right? Well, Brad delong has also said And why are those everybody complaining about the trade deals we inked since they helped people in Mexico as if like, American voters are gonna vote to help Mexican peasants. I mean, it’s great if Mexican peasants are helped, but I just don’t see the lowest echelons of American society having as their top priority helping Mexicans with their vote. I mean, None of this makes any effing sense.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:05:21
But then why aren’t they deprogramming themselves? Because they’re what’s not going to move them forward, say in the New World Order. And that’s the problem with Trump Trump presented something extremely new into the conversation, and the left couldn’t deal with it. The media couldn’t deal with it. I always felt that they had kind of dealt with them in a neutral way and just reported what he did without all this hyperbole. I don’t know if you would have won necessarily
Eric Weinstein 1:05:50
because a smart honest people had to be objected from the institutional layer.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:57
Terrifying But well, no, no,
Eric Weinstein 1:05:59
no, no. writing about is universal expulsion of people who will not go along with the gated institutional. My theory about this, if you haven’t met it is that we grew very quickly in a very stable way that was totally anomalous post World War Two to about 1972. And every single institution that you see, has an expectation of that kind of growth continuing. And so what happened is, is that all of those institutions when they went pathological, they became Ponzi schemes, and you needed to have a group of people in that institution who would not reveal the Ponzi scheme. And so effectively, our expert class has been selected for as the people who will not blow the whistle on the fact that they’re lying. Right, right. And so you can get this at Harvard or you can get this at Stanford, maybe the University of Chicago is something of an exception Hollywood, while Hollywood is right, exactly, Silicon Valley. And so all of these institutional things are suffering from the embedded growth obligation, disease or ego. Right. And so these egos have turned. Like, the institutions are not interested in hearing how to beat Trump. Because it’s easy. It’s easy to be Trump it is. But the only problem is, is that if you beat Trump in the way that’s easy to beat Trump, you will not service the people with second and third homes in the Hamptons. Right? Right. And so those people are saying, well, I wasn’t thinking of spending that much to beat Trump. Right? No, no, that’s really yeah, that’s what the issue is, is that right now I the exciting part is I want to retake the institutions. Do you really want nine conservative supreme court justices, if you do if you if that’s if that’s what excites you? I highly recommend talking about reparations, for slavery. What Why don’t you tell some some sort of child Holocaust survivor that they need to pay reparations for slavery that goes,
Unknown Speaker 1:08:08
Oh, I mean, this is insane. We got some, you know, it is insane and self.
Eric Weinstein 1:08:16
I’m used to self hating Jews. We’ve had that as an issue forever, right? The self hating American. Oh man, you know, just suck it up, man. Yeah. Okay, so you were born with white skin. What do you want? It’s like watching people. It’s like watching a teenage girl on a cutting episode. You’re not responsible for every bad thing this country has ever done. We’re not going to write all wrongs. It would be absolutely unjust to go after every past in justice. And like, Are we going to get rid of the Arch of Titus in Rome because the Roman sect, Jerusalem commemorates you can see they’re carrying off like this giant menorah they stole our stuff, man. All right, let’s tear down the Arch of Titus. Let’s burn The Merchant of Venice, or how deep do we want to go with this madness?
Unknown Speaker 1:09:13
Bret Easton Ellis 1:09:15
it needs Well, look, I think part of why I’m very sensitive about this. Is that because I am a Gen X or I think boomers like my parents, like my mom, my stepdad were parents born. My father was born in Nevada and my mother when Elena when they were born in the, you know, technically nylund they’re silent, but my mom completely relates to boom, right.
Eric Weinstein 1:09:47
So, technically, you’re the last
Bret Easton Ellis 1:09:49
Boomer Yes, I am. But I know, I know. I know
that you are. But Trump in terms of the chart, right, right, right. In terms of chart so yes, my parents, my mom and my stepdad are silent, but they really Are boomers. But I don’t? I’m going to disagree with your
Eric Weinstein 1:10:04
Yeah. I think that what we don’t understand is that we settled on a narrative in which the boomers are the problem. The Silent Generation really begin to the problem. And we are letting the silent generation off just as we are not paying attention to Gen X. And I believe, sir, that you are the last of the boomers, but that you are spiritually Gen X and that you figured out you almost started really defining Gen X, I forget who it was, who wrote the book, Gen X, you’ve probably not done it. Right. Right. I think that you what I remember from this is that a few years either way, was really important. Right. And I believe that the silence are the first generation to wrestle with the problem in 1972 73 that the country won’t wake up to, which is that our growth pattern changed for structural reasons. It wasn’t about some bad decision. It wasn’t About the gold standard, it wasn’t about the Arab oil embargo, something really structurally changed, okay. And in my telling of the tale, the silence try to figure out how to restart real growth. It’s like the engine has gone out, they’re going to try to restart the engine. It doesn’t work. The boomers look at these efforts, and they say, Hmm, that doesn’t work. But it’s good enough for redistribution, and to play games with fake growth. So why don’t we help ourselves to fake growth and we’ll just grow our slices of the pie as if the pie were growing. And I’m sure that that must mean that somebody else’s slice isn’t growing, but that’s really too bad for them. And so the silence start a lot of these problems. The boomers continue it Alright, the millennials confuse the Gen Xers for boomers because it right to them Boomer means older than millennial right? And the only generation and this is the thing that I find fascinating that I think really has a good hope of restarting sense making is Gen X. I
Bret Easton Ellis 1:12:02
agree. I completely agree with that. And I do know that whenever I attempt to do it millennial thinking shuts you down. And so that is what I that is what I’ve come up against on this last book tour I’ve done earlier this year, and I’m going back out on the road in the fall millennial hysteria and overreaction to my talking about millennials in any kind of critical way. And even being somewhat sympathetic to them. completely white and sympathetic, Brett. Oh, completely. You
Eric Weinstein 1:12:34
and I are both hanging out with tons of millennials. Yes. And we’re having some success. We’re having some like, I don’t understand this thought pattern and the millennials. This is another thing that I believe in you. You please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m fairly disagreeable. Yeah. I think the millennials are starving to know what actually happened and I harshly what I try to tell them is you’re the Superman ancestors, the silence and boomers who, like I think Bill errs, you know, was the head of the Weather Underground. And he gets his job as a professor, whereas people I know, they say the slightest wrong thing and they’re out, right? Like, okay, you were, you were a leading terrorist, and you can have a job as a professor. That world in which 25 year old men, you know, could take down a home and immediately build a second home and yeah, everything just turned to gold. It’s like, well, it’s not really that they were doing anything so clever. They just, they were in a stream that was moving really fast and you got to dry creek bed. Right? And yes, a few of you are going to do something so brilliant that you can do something against that. You know, I mean, like Ariana Grande is not hurting for money. Okay. However, the idea that you could have In the financial sense beta to a process where you could just like go to law school or open a dry cleaner or, you know, start some new nonprofit and you can have a perfectly fabulous life, that thing died. And the millennials have the sense of like, Okay, well, this is all hopeless. And maybe we’re not really that good. Oh, yes. And my point is, look, man, these other guys could have three Martini lunch punches, everything still worked out. Yeah.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:14:30
There is this sense of and I talked about it in, in my book, I talk about all the things I’ve noticed and I’ve marked down with living in close proximity with a millennial, a key millennial for the past 10 years, and the things that I’ve noticed about him and that I’ve experienced, and I started to write about this, actually tweet about it quite harmlessly, and under the hashtag generation Because I was so surprised how offended he was, how overreacted. He was bordering, I felt on hysteric about just the normalcy of the world and the way human beings are with all of the contradictions and all of their flaws. As I said earlier, he and I’m not saying that he puts it out there, but there seemed to be I found a lot of rules, that rules offered a kind of pathway, a narrative that wasn’t there otherwise, and that all of these rules about what you can say what you can’t say how you can express yourself, how this is sexist, how that is racist, was a way of kind of controlling a world that they felt was had just abandoned them in a way that there was no way to make money that the economy was was this
Eric Weinstein 1:15:54
thing they can do to you, which is what they
Bret Easton Ellis 1:15:57
are doing. So it is now happening. And I see it in the reaction to this book, which is critical of a lot of ways of thinking. And I think you and I are pretty much aligned on what the problems are right
Eric Weinstein 1:16:10
now. Are we? Let’s explore that. What do you what do you see is because I have a different take the rules thing, for example, maybe I’ll try that and see whether
Bret Easton Ellis 1:16:17
Eric Weinstein 1:16:20
I think people have not understood the role of Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication starts off with a good idea, which is that maybe there’s a way in which speech that is particularly damaging has a physiological impact on us our cortisol levels spike, we’re going to fight or flight. There’s all sorts of fighting words as part of our legal structure. What if we call that violence Okay, now we have to have non violent communication. So then you have all these rules about what it is that constitutes violent versus non violent communication and speech becomes violence and then the entire concept of free speech goes out the window. Furthermore, you haven’t abandonment I think if you’ve probably looked at the gender ratios of teachers in schools My guess is that you’ll find that it has changed quite considerably being dominated by one gender rather than a mixture of the two. And as a result, you have the sort of thing that I don’t think people have really understood which is then in part there’s a way of boys will be boys was used to disguise a lot of behavior which I would have called toxic masculinity had that term not been polluted and turned into something metastatic and unusable right there. Really I went to an all boys school and man I saw some stuff that would absolutely curl your toes. On the other hand, we’re now using it to mean somebody makes the joke in the elevator third floor women’s lingerie, okay, careers over Yeah, what? That’s insane.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:17:50
Look, my problem isn’t necessarily with the things that you’re talking about. kids getting bullied for example. No, that shouldn’t be happening. It’s a part of Life I look back on my life and I think what if I hadn’t been bullied? What if I had been bullied? Um, I would look just as much as anyone else I knew any other boys. I knew. Yes, I was. And but it? I don’t know. I mean, was it traumatic? Did it help me become a writer? Did it make me want to become an artist? I certainly don’t think I would have been a writer if I’d been captain, the football team or the prom king. Certainly things that happened to me that were painful, helped create an artistic persona and help my voice as a writer. All the stuff that you were talking about, fine, maybe there should be a big fix for them. I don’t know. I mean, I also think that life is really hard. And basically how you toughen up is that you go through the hardships that build you into a person that can deal with life’s everyday hassles and the pain that inevitably comes to all of us. What worries me is how this affects the arts. how we deal with art, how we, how we let it into our lives. And that is the most worrying thing to me in the last five to 10 years, seeing that art must be a certain way that there has to be rules for the art to be accepted to the community that outlaw art. I don’t know where it is anymore certainly was a big part of the world that I came of age in. And certainly it was something that I wanted to explore as the writer of less than zero or the right of American Psycho, to books that I think because of sensitivity editors that they have no publishing houses would never be allowed to be published in American mainstream fiction. So that lawlessness and that kind of recklessness that great artists, traffic in is really being minimized because it’s it isn’t following a set of rules. And I talked a lot in in the book about how aesthetics don’t really matter, that ideology has become the aesthetic, and that what people want is kind of an affirmation. They want a lesson. They want to learn something, and they want it to be very, very explicit. ambiguity, metaphor. I really don’t know if anybody traffics in that anymore in terms of, you know, communicating with millennials. So, that is the thing that has bothered me the most. The other things that you’re talking about, yeah, and people shouldn’t be in pain, but being having to include certain things in your art for it to be palatable, or for you to make money or for someone to publish it, or for it to be shown in as many places as possible. That is, that’s a problem and being told what you can or cannot say in something you create is also about problem, the list of rules now being handed out to artists about what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable as a writer, and as a public person who has a podcast and writes essays, you know about entertainment and about the world that I’m a part of. And getting attacked is crazy. I it is the insanity that you’re talking about. I recently wrote a piece for Italian Vogue, about the differences between fashion in 1999 when I published a large novel that took place within the fashion world called glamour, drama. And today, and so I thought about I thought, Well, okay, well, they’re paying quite well when no one else pays well, and I can riff on this for a couple thousand words. And so I wrote about how mysterious the fashion world was in in the late 90s. And how its exclusivity was what it made. What made it so alluring. It’s um, it is It’s its lack of inclusion is what made people want to be a part of it so, so badly compared to now where you can see the Met Gala streaming online, and everyone can be interacting and throwing out comments while I see in close up the inside of the party in the dresses, right as they’re happening.
Is that I don’t know, is that exciting? Is it more exciting to not know exactly what’s behind the curtain? And of course, I’m writing this as a Gen Xer. I’m writing about this in a way that is really conforms to my sensibility. I also talked about how the models the women and the men were really quite extraordinarily beautiful. And they were, they were goddesses, and they were gods and we looked up to them because they weren’t us. They weren’t us and that’s why we were so drawn to them. These women were otherworldly, these men were otherworldly. And there was something about that, that I think Thought we don’t have any more where we need models that look like us that we have to be more inclusive of, you know, body image and that we have to accept and that and that the modeling world and the fashion world is trying its best to do that. And you can see it in shows where you know, they have whatever buck to eat
whatever it is not, not people who conform to normal, not even normal.
Eric Weinstein 1:23:32
But let’s be clear about it. Model bone structure is almost like a mutation completely is that what we traditionally think of is something that is extraordinarily rare. It does particular things for clothes that normal normal humans don’t. A friend of mine is a supermodel and at some point I said to her I never realized it but you’re really a mutant. Yeah, and her response was, yeah, I’m all legs and no torso and her hands are like desert Edward Scissorhands. Like, just just the way that Mike Michelangelo had to distort. The David. Somehow these people are actually distorted.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:24:16
I got blasted for writing this. Yeah, absolutely blasted by millennials. Huge, a huge controversy about this piece. Now I think part of the problem was that it was translated into Italian. And then someone wanted to translate it into English. So when you’re translating the dalliance back into English, it’s a whole other can be all these other meanings. But basically, the beef was, I don’t believe in inclusivity in the fashion world. Well, I meant I meant exclusivity was what made it so erotic and alluring. No, that’s they read it as I’m saying that inclusivity I don’t believe in inclusivity mean that I’m a racist. That I am body shamer. And it was so remarkable to me that that’s the message that they got out of an older man talking about what he liked about in the late 90s, about fashion that moved him to actually write a novel set in that world, a complete distortion of really what I was saying, based on this emotional idea of being excluded themselves. And it’s just such a remarkable way to to reread something so that it conforms to your view of the world. I certainly didn’t have that when I read things that I didn’t necessarily agree in. When I was
Unknown Speaker 1:25:45
that age. Can I push back on this slightly?
Unknown Speaker 1:25:47
Eric Weinstein 1:25:48
So the way I read it, is that they might have actually had a point and then they missed the point, right? So one of the costs of having Fashion be mysterious, aspirational and dare I say transcendent is that it does remind us of our merely mortal nature. There was a period of time where, you know, you would show people without makeup, and just how completely plain and ordinary they were right. There are all sorts of faces that lend themselves to being turned into something that cannot be as canvases on which to be painted, let’s say and that there is something powerful about deconstructing fashion. If I if you remember, someone when I bring up sometimes is Jennifer Lopez is famous Versace dress. Yeah. I am sure that adhesive is somehow lurking in the background. But the idea of having adhesive on your boobs and having the fabric somehow stick, you know, all sorts of contrivances. That’s much later less exciting and alluring if I know how the magic trick is done. So the idea of a magic show in which the audience demands to know how every trick is done is a very weird thing. Because some of us want to be fooled. We want to be seduced. But we also are shamed in this process. Because of our own very plain nature. One of the things that I have to deal with is that I have moles all over my face and some some percentage of every YouTube video that I’ve ever done. comments and you think the guy would have some money, you need to have the moles removed? Why is that guy wearing a wig? Right? Yeah, that’s clearly a weave. No, but nobody his age has hair like that, you know, whatever. And the shaming is incredibly powerful. On the other hand, the transcendence is incredibly powerful. And the number of people who can see both of these things, which is, yeah, they have a point and they’re also creating a huge negative externality and costs But they’re not taking into account. We are in some sense in some sort of awkward waking up that there has been a very dark side to fashion to the models to the way in which we eroticized children very often these women are recognized when they’re 12 when they’re 14, and we have been complicit as a society in the, you know, erotic ization of children for a great deal of time. So what what astounds me is not that they push back, but that the quality of the pushback is so shitty.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:28:34
Well, it it’s, it’s just a reflection of their way of thinking. It is pure ideology. I don’t send someone I mean, look, writing anything is kind of, you know, I don’t say an act of magic or an act of willing disbelief in terms of, you’re creating something out of nothing, and I’m creating this idea about My memories of the 90s and what I was attracted to about fashion and contrasting it negatively to what I feel fashion is now where I just, it’s not as interesting because it’s, I guess more inclusive in terms of letting you see the strings and everything but letting you see the strings and letting you see how everything is made is really endemic to this culture. Now it’s it’s in every Wikipedia page. It’s in connecting all the Marvel movies and all the backstories to all the characters this generation that there is no mystery in terms of that they don’t want mystery. I think mystery frightens them and makes them feel whatever unsafe ambiguity makes them feel unsafe and it confuses them. So I don’t know is it really shitty? The thinking is shitty, I guess it is to a degree. It also was overly reactive to me. And it and of course it is because the minute something is posted
You want to get your voice out there. So you post something 20 minutes?
Eric Weinstein 1:30:04
Well, that’s true. But like I would say that, for example, I always ask this question do people want to be seduced? If you if you believe that you don’t want to be manipulated, you’ll never have the experience of being seduced. Because seduction is in some sense a willing manipulation, usually on to people’s part, right. And so, when when Jennifer Lopez was trying to seduce the world at scale with this dress that miraculously stayed on her body. We wanted to be in the audience. And I’m sure you know, one of the beliefs I’ve had about gay men is that in some sense, very often gay men are like magician’s assistants or consultants. they very often take great pleasure in seeing how the trick is done. without wanting to be completely like the heterosexual men are just sitting there in the audience. lapping it up. Right. And the gay men are like, Oh, you know, did you see her makeup was fabulous. Like they’re actually thinking about the construction, the craft. You know, there’s sort of a different eye
Bret Easton Ellis 1:31:10
out an outsider. I
Eric Weinstein 1:31:11
yeah, man bit of an outsider, you’re not being carried away like women also will say, oh, did you see I love the way she you know, she wears her false eyelashes, right? Like, whereas men are like, if they’re heterosexual, they’re sort of believing the whole thing,
Bret Easton Ellis 1:31:24
right? I can’t imagine living in a world where I didn’t want to be seduced daily, right? That’s what I want to be. I want to be seduced all day long. I want to be seduced by every book I pick up I want to be seduced by Why else would I drive to a theater? Why else would I drive to the arclight pay a ticket and sit in a dark, empty room unless I want to be seduced? I want to be seduced by my golf feed. I want to be seduced by everything. And I do think there’s a push back on that because giving into seduction is being out of control. It is an out of control and but that’s the pleasure that
Eric Weinstein 1:32:00
You I think you’ve made this point before it has to do with this crazy loss of trust. And in a world characterized by loss of trust, I do understand the desire to worry about, well, you weren’t careful and you are shaming and you’re having a negative effect over here. Right? Whereas in a world of higher trust, people say, you know, like in Silicon Valley, the concept of pitching people say pitch me. Mm hmm. You know, because the VCs who have the money are used to being seduced, you know, like, Oh, your pitch was insufficiently manipulative and insufficiently seductive, you’re gonna have a harder time with your company. If that’s how you do things. Let me show you how to be and orient things so that you’re more likely to succeed because that way I’m more likely to make money with my investment. I think that there’s some aspect where this desire for radical transparency has to do with people who move feel very cut out of society.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:33:04
I think it has to do because people don’t read anymore. I think that’s to do with people don’t read fiction anymore. I think it has to do with a kind of strange lack of empathy, even when everyone says, you know, warm fuzzy things to each other, which to me increasingly is just virtue signaling and acting out, you know, feeling virtue isn’t being virtuous, as I write in the book are two very different things. I think it’s I think it really is down to people don’t read anymore, and that someone can find more meaning in cuphead, which is the giant new video game that are all the kids are playing, and that they’ll never be reading they’ll never know the mysteries of the HP Lovecraft or whatever. I do think that something has been severely minimized in terms of experience and in terms of a breath experience and I don’t care if I sound old. I’ve always sounded old. I sounded old when I wrote lesson zero. I mean, I was an old man at five. But you
Eric Weinstein 1:34:07
said he wouldn’t choose novels again? I wouldn’t.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:34:10
I absolutely would not. What would you choose in a world? A web series, a TV show a miniseries, I choose it. I do think they’ve replaced it. I think adult literary fiction has slid down. We’ve lost about 13% of the reader since 2013. That is a lot. That is a best bad business. And that’s, that’s over loss of a billion dollars in sales. That is suggestive of something and I also don’t meet anybody anymore who reads serious adult fiction, serious meaning quasi literary to literary adult fiction. I’m not talking about, you know, obscure writers that are only taught in academia. But it is something that I don’t know I am of, I really do believe that reading that kind of long form. Friction encourages empathy and encourages you to step into other people’s shoes. And to see the world from three or four or eight different angles rather than your own. Oh, but I think just the That, to me is the purest example of getting that experience more than theater more than listening to a record more than going to a movie because it is not a passive experience. It is an active experience of actually putting yourself in the shoes of the character and seeing the world through the way that they look at it. And it’s just that you can’t get that in any other kind of medium. And if that’s going on, I mean, I don’t know. I mean, what’s, what’s replacing that? Well, I
Eric Weinstein 1:35:42
don’t know that there is and that’s one of the things I wanted to get to, which is, if we are in fact losing the capacity, as I’ve said, For semi reliable communal sense making that we can’t make sense of the incoming information in any way where we can communally kind of agree on Well, what just happened and what Should we be thinking about about how to how to approach how to approach that, if we don’t have a Canon where I can reference a line or two, you know, to get a really complicated thought, in my own tradition, we’ve lost canned humor where a lot of like, let’s say Talmudic teachings were contained in a joke. And you would just use the punch line and nobody told the joke, once everybody knew it, you just use the punch line to say, well, that’s a super subtle principle, you know, like, well, in terms of referencing one line, the idea is that does protest too much, me thinks is a complicated concept. I don’t want to have to explain it from scratch. But if I can point out that somebody is falling out, you know, Alan Dershowitz seems to be protesting too much at the moment. Right. And I don’t want to have to say more. Right. If we don’t have common literature, common cannon, if we don’t have the time to sort of take a more Strauss Ian view, which is what is the what is the writer really trying to say that can’t be said in the book If we believe that transparency is always the answer, and that sunlight is always the best disinfectant, is there any way of waking up into a different era so that this thing that is Suffusing our culture
doesn’t take the whole enterprise down?
Bret Easton Ellis 1:37:19
Sometimes I think I’m old, sometimes. And I am, I am old. And I think that this is the natural state of things and that we are just moving forward on this trajectory. And that bit by bit, you kind of get you can fight I suppose, in an unnatural way to try to stay on that trajectory, but it’s moving along. And you know, that golden world that surrounded you is moving on to younger people and to sexier people and to more vibrant people and I think so. Sometimes, and I don’t believe this is true about reading, I sometimes think that oh, this is what it means to become somewhat obsolete in terms of a pop culture world in terms of being a member of the pop culture world. And it and it just goes this way and people are left behind. I think a lot about why the Quentin Tarantino movie struck a chord among so many middle aged men I know is because it’s really an exploration of that of being, you know. So all of this is a roundabout way of saying that maybe people are figuring out and the trajectory that we’re on is the one that they want to be on. But I just don’t know if it I don’t know if it is and I don’t know if
I don’t think we’re ever going back to
Eric Weinstein 1:38:52
that. I don’t know that I want to go back to the previous world.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:38:55
Yeah, no, I don’t think I do either. And I am I just I just wished it to the green. I think it’s it’s, as with you that that, I guess a little bit more empathy, critical thought, and that this notion that you can see two things in it in a sentence or in an opinion, you know, Fitzgerald’s famous dictum about the only smart people are the ones that can really see both the beauty and the horror in a rose. And if you if you you need to be able to see both to be an artist or to be a person in the world. If you just see one or the other, whatever, and I don’t see that
anymore, and it is
that’s what I miss. I mean, I don’t really want to necessarily go but the look watching watching the Quentin Tarantino movie, I mean, I wouldn’t I don’t know if I wouldn’t mind going back here to all that With 1969, just in terms of a certain kind of fetishistic level in terms of clothes and decor. And,
Eric Weinstein 1:40:07
Mommy, I think that there is a Golden Age of Hollywood. I think one of the things we’re missing is we developed this idea of critical thinking. And it turned out that there was a parallel theory that never got developed, which I’ve called critical feeling, which is how do you get your feeling to be responsive and adaptive, as opposed to reflexive and kind of right, and that the group feel is this very weird thing that the millennials traveling? My theory about this, I don’t know whether you’ll bite on this or think it’s silly, is that maybe Generation X are the so called Magic negros to
Bret Easton Ellis 1:40:47
the millennials, the millennials
Eric Weinstein 1:40:48
are a larger cohort, maybe they’re going to mean more. Nobody from the 1930s, who was born in the 1930s ever became president of the United States. Maybe the idea is Is the Gen X has a different role and that the millennials are hungry to be inducted by something older, something more established to be recognized. The boomers are weirdly not going to do it the silence are almost spent. Yeah. And I wonder whether our problem is that we were angry like, I don’t think generation was really works. Because what it does is it sets us up oppositional, we’re taking their nonsensical energy. Right, by the way, is completely maddening. And I think it’s very strange that I grew up in a very threatening world. real physical. Yeah. And I’m more worried about Twitter than I ever was. In the world where people were wrapping their cars around telephone poles are ending up being in the cedars, er. Something about this world is weirdly dangerous because there are no normal rules. It doesn’t know when to stop it’s willing to take away your ability to earn to destroy your reputation to move your privately Life into the public sphere. And it doesn’t seem to have any empathy. I wonder if the real trick and this is like the hardest thing to even imagine is to realize that these are damaged kids and now damaged adults, and that our grid is supposed to serve them. Maybe we’re supposed to lose twice lose wants to the baby boomers in the silence. We’re supposed to lose again, but we are supposed to take up our place, helping them become a better version of themselves. I think most of my audience is millennial and I bet yours is to
Bret Easton Ellis 1:42:32
a great deal of his millennial and I talk about the demise of a lot of things I talked about the demise of reading, I thought I talked about the demise of American cinema, which you would think would not be interesting to them at all, but they’re there. And certainly I have a large millennial following despite how often millennials attacked me this past spring, with the publication of the book. They were definitely there at the readings. They were definitely there at the signings, and a lot of them were there when I gave a talk at the Peter Thiel, the open foundation about a month ago. So there is that audience and I agree with you on a certain level. I do think they want to learn, and they do want guidance. I think they’re hungry for it to a degree. But they are overly sensitive about how people see them. And that is a very interesting, and I think a new thing in terms of shame, because the the guiding principle, or one of the strongest signifiers in the millennials, I know is shame. Shame is a huge motivating factor to be shamed, and that is something that I I don’t know I can’t relate to and I don’t think Gen X can really relate to that. That as much either it’s not as it was never as powerful, motivating, but how you express yourself in terms of being online in terms of how people talk about us,
Eric Weinstein 1:44:10
or us. I think that what we don’t understand is is that we’re not is another theory, feel free to shoot it down. I’ve watched the very strange interactions between millennials from a perspective of a Gen X, or what they’ll often say is, that was a little rapey. Yeah, and if you use the word rape to a Gen Xer, it’s like, boom, you’ve just dropped a bomb.
Unknown Speaker 1:44:36
But like rapey,
Eric Weinstein 1:44:37
like, I would never use the word rapey.
And then another one of them will say, Yeah, you’re right. It was a little bit rapey. But and then they go on. And so the idea is that they’re trading there. They have an agreement, which is like it’s normal for people to say things that are kind of rapey and racist and kind of kind of like you He’s trying to get into dangerous territory, just, I’m signaling to you, you probably don’t want to go there. And then he’s like, thank you very much. I didn’t want to go there. And then they all go on their merry way. Very often what we do is say, What did you say? Like we’re back on our heels, because we’re not part of this agreement. And we have an idea of like, there was nothing wrong with what I said, Don’t you dare talk to me that way, or no, no, I absolutely didn’t mean it. I promise you, I promise you. So we don’t understand that. It’s relative to an agreement that we’re not part of, to warn each other to back off and give a quick apology and then keep moving on. And I don’t even agree with it. Like from their perspective. If I’m showing them a George Carlin routine, and they say, that was a little racist. Um, we’re now at a weird impasse where if I continue to say, I think that routine is actually quite important, and you really need to look at it and pay attention, try to figure out what he’s saying. Now we’ve escalated. Wow, you I get Your warning shot, and you declined it. Now I’m going to have to call you out as really a bad person. And now I’m going to have to potentially use my high leverage position as a reporter for a famous newspaper to actually ruin your life. Like, we don’t understand that that’s not what they’re hoping for. They’re hoping for this sort of, Oh, yeah. What was I thinking? I would never want to point to somebody to that George Carlin or to the ambiguity of irony. that’s missing. Sure. The ambiguity of irony, and ironic irony, and being ironic was, you know, a key a key part of our generation.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:46:44
And it was a way we express ourselves and it’s a way that we dealt with things, a lot of it in our, in our novels, in the music that we listen to. Very rarely was music, this declaration Myself, and how I’m feeling, at least as a Gen X are growing up in the late 70s and the 80s. But that lack of irony
Unknown Speaker 1:47:12
Bret Easton Ellis 1:47:14
takes away shading, and takes away a humanity. Because nothing is exactly as it seems. And if you want to look at the world in that way, and then every little thing that you don’t like becomes racist or rapey. And you’re not able to place it within a context and taking the totality of it and look at it from three or four different angles. And you’re it’s just pure reaction to, I don’t know, a litany of rules that you’ve been told you have to follow. I’m not doing it. I mean, I’m just not and I don’t apologize to them. And I don’t say anything. No, but I just don’t say anything. If people I mean I didn’t. I’ve never written an apology to anybody and I’ve never defended myself to any of these people either because the arguments just isn’t worth responding to. On a certain level you’ve you’ve taken, you deconstructed to a degree where there’s an ounce or so of sympathy. But I also think they should know better. I think I’m giving people way too much credit for this, pulling up their pants and understanding what it means to be an adult. And that you what
Eric Weinstein 1:48:26
I’m trying to get them to entertain the idea that for example, if you chase injustice with greater injustice, you have not gotten rid of injustice, you have a problem of the old lady who swallowed a fly, right? I’m trying to figure out how to get through to their minds. What I see now maybe there are ways in which I’m wrong. I’m open to that. But I’m not open to the idea that suddenly every everything has been wrong and one generation has suddenly figured it out.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:48:55
I have to say something else, please. As we I realized that I do. really care? Yeah, I care what millennials think about me. And I really don’t know if I care what I think about them. The overreaction to the hashtag generation was, which I thought was a perfect example of a kind of snarky Gen X way of looking at millennials was intended as comedy. And it was 10 minutes something to
Eric Weinstein 1:49:19
talk about. Exactly. I got all chuckle at
Bret Easton Ellis 1:49:21
it, I write but still it too. And then when I did take it a bit seriously, more seriously and expanded on it in my book and realized that I was sympathetic as well as annoyed. Right. Um, I just, I don’t know, I think that the reaction to that was endemic, of jet of, you know, millennial thinking, and that it is,
Eric Weinstein 1:49:48
I don’t know, it’s problematic. And but I also realized, I’ve got other things to worry, that’s fine. What I’m worried about is we’ve got a generation that is now going to probably use this high leverage positions to arrange a lot and, and cancel and well canceling. You know some of us can afford What? Yeah, what worries me is I see this as eroding the outer layers of our civil society, they’re about to get to core structure. And it’s gonna keep going. And I don’t think it’s cute. I think now I think it is absolutely capable of getting us into war. I think it’s capable of getting us a president that would be dictatorial as a as an overreaction to their nonsense. Yeah. So I don’t think nothing is riding on I think a lot is riding on it. And I have two contradictory impulses. One is to say, what is it that you’re actually trying to say maybe we can work to try to understand you better, and the other one is cut that shit out? No, of course. And so I don’t have the indifference. I think that you do. I think what I have is I have two contradictory impulses, one of which is to say I bet you’re saying something and I’m just not getting it. And the other is, you’re wildly out of control. And you need to see a different path.
Bret Easton Ellis 1:51:06
Of course, Boomer youth, millennial youth Gen X youth. I know which one that I am probably most impressed by on a certain level in terms of, I’m shocked in terms of a kind of a level of clear headed. I don’t want to say adulthood, but just a way of dealing with the world that is wildly different from millennial and Boomer. And I think that’s interesting that you think that there could be a moment where Gen X might step up to the stage and announce itself forceful in a way that perhaps we have are doing as well. I mean, you and I
Eric Weinstein 1:51:50
were modeling a conversation which we have a couple of different disagreements. Yeah, I think it’s polite. Both of us are capable of taking our sabers out of their shields, but There’s usually no reason to not never. And and what I do find is, is that I just think what I was hoping to do here a little bit is to talk about this context in this firmament, which I think has been invisible, that we’ve have a boomer millennial story, there’s a very important role of Gen X that has been ignored your your, your work, I think has been probably the best example of it, to be honest, I find it almost impossible to read because it’s so it’s so right. And that what, what we do next is we have to think about the long term longevity of our society. I’m very worried, for example, that some of these millennial females need to start families, even though they’re pretending that it doesn’t really matter one way or the other, whether they have families or not, I think it’s going to be incredibly destructive if we don’t have people invested in the longevity of our society through somewhat normal structures. Now, I could be wrong in that maybe the idea is, is that a family is an outmoded concept and the people don’t need that Just to be fulfilled. But I do think that if we don’t actually have adults in the room, and we don’t become those adults and strong and caring above, you’re just what you’re dealing with a bratty child. We’re too cowed by these bratty children, we actually have to say, Hey, I’m really sorry, but you have to stop throwing a temper tantrum. And if you have to go to your room, go to your room, but you’re out of control you we can’t have the New York Times becoming the agent of like individual destruction, as it destroys the reputations of people who fall out of line of the orthodoxy that that thing is a threat to our society, writ large.
Anyway, I don’t know whether you agree with me on that
Bret Easton Ellis 1:53:42
note. All right. I think I I completely agree. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:53:46
readily agree. It’s been fantastic having you here and you’ve been through the portal with Bret Easton Ellis. I hope for those of you who are listening on Apple or Spotify, you’ll subscribe to the program and hold Hopefully we’ll be putting it out on YouTube as well. So make sure to subscribe to our channel and we’ll see you next time. Thanks very much
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday