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In which John Green answers real questions from real nerdfighters on a range of issues from why writers use symbols to whether there are more stars or grains of sand on earth.

The Art Assignment:

More stars than grains of sand:
Good morning, Hank; it's Tuesday. It's question Tuesday, the day that I answer real questions from real Nerdfighters; let's get right to it.

Why is Hamlet's father also named Hamlet?

Just some old-fashioned Shakespearean doubling, by the way that'll be discussed in detail in next weeks CrashCourse Literature.

Do you think the TFiOS movie is actually good or do you feel obliged to say that because it's based off of your book?

That's a good question; to be totally honest if I didn't like it I would still try to find nice things to say about it, like "Oh, the set design is amazing" or "Man, that Ansel Elgort sure looks good in a Rik Smits jersey." But, in fact, I actually love the movie. Now I might be wrong. I am not at all objective, but, yeah, I love it.

Do you think people who read are more empathetic than those who don't?

Yeah, there are actually studies that show a correlation between empathy and reading, at least when it comes to literary fiction.

Where do you stand on elbows?

I don't; I only stand on my feet. I'm not very coordinated.

I don't watch your videos, why should I? 

Look, I don't want to criticize anyone but that is a terrible question Tuesday question because if I answer it, you definitionally won't hear my justification for why you should watch my videos because you don't watch my videos. But this brings up a bigger question: How do you get to the people that aren't inside the camera? Maybe there's no one inside the camera; maybe I'm just staring into the void. Oh god, I feel an existential crisis coming on.

Thoughts on the ocean?

I don't know, the tide goes in, the tide goes out. What does it even really matter anymore?

Are there more stars in the universe or grains of sand on earth?

Well, see that's an interesting and beautiful question that makes me grateful to be able to apprehend the universe. Suddenly I've been lifted out of my funk! I think there are more stars. More stars than there are grains of sand on earth and there are a lot of grains of sand! Anyway you can find more info in the dooblydoo.

How are you enjoying participating in The Art Assignment?

Oh, it's so fun; it's the most fun I've had in a long time. It actually reminds me of the early days of Vlogbrothers because there's this tight-knit community, like, doing projects together and responding to each other's work; it's just really, really awesome.

How excited are you for the Divergent movie in two weeks?

I am "already-bought-my-tickets-for-opening-day" excited.

What are your predictions for this years IndyCar season?

How did you guys find out that I'm a secret fan of IndyCar? Anyway I think the Indie 500 is gonna be won, for the second time, by Tony Kanaan and I think the series title is going to go to Will Power, and yes that is his real name.

Can you say DFTBA in French?

I can try. (in a terrible stereotypical french accent) D-F-T-B-A (laughs).

Why do writers use symbolism?

OK, let's say that you have a headache and you want to tell someone about it and you say "I have a headache" and other people are like "Yeah whatever, everybody gets headaches". But your headache is not a regular headache; it's a serious headache. So you say "my brain is on fire" to try to help these people understand that this is a headache that needs attention. That's a metaphor, right? And you use it so that you can be understood.

Now let's say you want to take those same imagistic principles but apply them to a much more complex idea than having a headache, like for instance, the yearning that one feels for one's dreams. Then you can see the dream but you can't cross the bay to get to the green light that embodies your dream. And you want to talk about how socio-economic class in America is a barrier, a bay-like barrier some would say, that stands between you and the green light and makes that gap unbridgeable. Now you can just talk about that stuff directly but when you talk about it symbolically, it becomes more powerful because instead of being abstract, it becomes kind of observable. So I think that's why, all right, what's the next question?

Who has the best butt: you or Hank?

I don't think either of us has the best butt; the best butt I've ever
personally seen is actually Wil Wheaton's. Wait, did I just think that or did I say it out loud?

Have you ever dreamed to be a pizza?

Mmm, no that's one of those dreams that seems initially promising but in fact I think would be a horrible nightmare. Like just imagine smelling like pizza and knowing that you would taste like pizza but then also knowing that if you eat yourself, you will die and ergo not be able to ever eat pizza again.

What are you most excited about right now?

What a great question! That's something I should ask myself everyday. I think right now it's The Art Assignment, but I wanna know what you're most excited about, so let me know in comments.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.