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All Plans Will Fail

October 26, 2011

DBC Pierre once thought he was special, that he would do great things, but people reacted against this attitude, so he worked hard to get rid of it. He had to lose any idea that he would do something valuable before he could do anything valuable (such as writing Vernon God Little).

After overcoming his conviction that he was special, he found that everybody else had taken on this attitude. A generation without a conscience had emerged from free market capitalism, with the slogan: YOU ARE SPECIAL.

This led to his latest novel, Lights out in Wonderland. Capitalism works, he told Jennifer Byrne at the Ubud Writers Festival. It does what it was designed to do, funnelling wealth upwards to the richest 400 people on the planet. But they have run out of things to do, hence the book’s obscene banquet, featuring endangered species such as tiger cubs. The 400 are eating everything around us.

So much carnage results from involvement in our own certainties, he said, echoing Chris Abani’s observation in the preceding session that our main problem is our concern with purity (link here). Pierre believes that humanity is still just as thick as ever, and that all plans are going to fail because we are in charge of them.

His comments on writing might be extreme, but they do capture its frustrations and difficulty:

  • Words are like rats – you leave them overnight, and when you come back to them in the morning they’re all over the place.
  • You never learn to write. Rather you learn to write the book you are currently writing.

I did not expect to enjoy this session, having stopped reading Ludmilla’s Broken English because of the unrelenting darkness and cruelty, but I found Pierre engaging and thought-provoking, and will now attempt Wonderland.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2012 10:50 pm

    Very aptly said, Bryce. Nicely written article. I also wrote something on the same lines @ http://hoodasaurabh.blogspot.in/2012/02/plans-will-fail.html. hope you find my article interesting.

  2. Bryce permalink*
    February 29, 2012 12:08 pm

    DBC Pierre, with his bleak view of humanity, is making an extreme statement. In practice, if we learn from the failure of our plans, we are more likely to make better plans in future. I think this is what you are saying in your blog post.

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