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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hello and Welcome to another edition of "I sign my name over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again". It's a fascinating television program in which one person signs their name over and over and over and over and over again. 


This has to be coming to an end because the Anthropocene Reviewed book goes to press very soon and they need all of the sheets signed and at the printer in Virginia so that the little machine that shoots them into the binding process while the book is getting bound can have papers to go into it. 


I am down to like the last 15,000 signatures but that is still a lot. Just to state the obvious. 


It's 6.5 percent I think of the amount, the total amount I have to sign but my hand hurts. I am very grateful for this work and I feel really, really fortunate to be able to do it but also I am ready for it to be over, if we're being honest. 

 Preorder the Anthropocene Reviewed book


I think this is the last time that I will be doing this. It's definitely the last time that I will be doing it at this scale. But if you live in the US or Canada please preorder a signed copy of the Anthropocene Reviewed book. I am sorry if you don't life in the US or Canada because then you can't preorder a signed copy due to the vague reason of international copyright law and how international publishing in English works. So, I'm sorry if you don't live in the US or Canada but if you do preorder a signed copy, if.... if you want.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

No pressure, you don't have to. It's also a podcast. You can just listen to the podcast for free if you prefer. Although I think the book is better. 

So, I've got a... ahhm.... I've got a big... ahhh... I've... I've had a major innovation in the field of livestreaming which is that I can now see my own livestream comments. Ahhh. I feel like.... I feel like this is a major thing because now you can leave me a comment and I can see it. 

 One Direction / Fandom (2:30)

So... So, there... there I am seeing somebody.... Vienna (?~2:34) just asked are you a fan of One Direction? Well, if you've read my book "Turtles all the way down" you'll know that I'm at least familiar enough with One Direction to be able to put a lot of One Direction references into a book. Ahhh... I do like the music of One Direction and I have long been fascinated by the fandom because I am interested in really productive fancommunities and what they can accomplish and the challenges that the face, the risks that they run but also the productivity that they have when they are organized well. 


You know, Hank and I have really a whole careers, our whole life have been fascinatied by... by fancommunities that just get a lot of stuff done and we been lucky to be part of many of such communities and so I would say that I am a fan of One Direction but more than that I am´like a person who is fascinated by fandom. 

 What are your thoughts on "Jeopardy"? (3:41)

I have not seen the program in a number of years. Unless you are referring to like the concept of "Jeopardy" in whih case I feel that I am in it constantly and all the time without seesing. 


That's... That's how I feel about "Jeopardy". 


 (04:00) to (06:00)

Everything is far more precarious than... than we believe it to be and we have to find a way to go on in the face of that precarity that's what the ANthropocene Reviewed book is about. I spend the last three years trying to write about the phenomenon of... ahhh... of... of Jeopardy and... and how we persever despite the perpetual precarity which we find ourselves. 

*long sigh*

I got so much signing to do. 

 How is the book different form the podcast? (4:26)

"How is the book different from the podcast?" asks Hafsa. Um, so, the book is 80,000 words long and I think about 20,000 of the words are new, so it's approximately that different. There's several reviews which are not on the podcast, um, some of which are expanded from vlogbrothers videos that I've made over the years, some of which are just new writing, some of which are expanded from Art Assignment videos I've made over the years or just things that I've written over the years. It's a big collage in a lot of ways, and then, all the reviews are changed, because they're expanded. I wanted them to be able to respond to the curent historical moment, not all of them, but a lot of them, so some of them that were written in the before times have been changed to reflect the change in circumstance, and, uh, yeah. I mean, it's just different when you're writing print than when you're writing, for, for, for your voice. It's an inherently different enterprise, so, that's what I've been doing for the last year, mostly the last year and a half, um, but especially the last 10 to 12 months is working on answering that question. How do you do some of what I was trying to do on the podcast, but without music....

 (06:00) to (08:00)

...without, uh, the briliant pauses that the editor of the podcast, Stan Muller puts in there, how do you do it with text, um, but, and now I'm having this surreal experience of figuring out how to turn the text like back into an audio book, because there is going to be an audiobook because there is going to be an audiobook, but the audiobook will have like a slightly diferent set of reviews.

I think it might have all of the reviews that are in the printed book, but it'll have a couple of reviews that aren't in the printed book, because there are some things that just did not work outside of audio, and I really, well, like them, or I, I want to try to find a way to make them as good as I can make them with, with the stuff I've learned since. I mean, that's the biggest way it's changed, is that, uh, the way that I think about a bunch of stuff has changed in the last year, of course, I think this is the case with everyone, but also, I've learned, I've learned a lot of stuff in the last year from people sending me emails with poems or people sending me emails asking me if I had considered this or that uh facet of this question, or people writing to Anthropocene Reviewed (@anthroreviewed) on Twitter, or whatever.

So, the book is, you know, it's both very similar in the sense that most of the words that are in the book uh, were in one episode or another of the podcast, but also very different in the sense that, you know, I spent the last year doing little except trying to write it, and also trying to, you know, like, make it through a plague. Um... which... has been challenging.

 "Is it just me or are the Sharpie sounds soothing?" (7:43)

Allison says, "Is it just me or are the Sharpie sounds soothing?" Let's just listen to them for a second, Allison. Let's just, let's just listen to like, ten of them.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Wasn't that lovely?

Isn't that lovelier than anything I could say out loud anyway?

I have come to really like the sound of Sharpie on paper, which is good because if I didn't like it I would have had to like, I don't know, I guess I would have not done this in the first place. But, there's just a nice rhythm to it, uh, my signing, it takes as long as it takes and the rhythm is the rhythm.

There's something kind of comforting about that, like, there's not much I can do to speed it up, but I did a livesteam on Tuesday that was like, four hours long, where someone pointed out to me that if I could find a way to speed up the process by just one second per sheet, them I would save 70 hours over the course of 250,000 signatures. So I could have reduced this from like, a 460 hour project to a 390 hour project, which, would have been a pretty significant cost savings and also I would be done.

So on the one hand, I love that it takes as long as it takes and I have my way of doing it, and there's a rhythm to it, and I just have to get like, lost in the flow of it. On the other hand, I can't stop thinking about how I could have saved 70 hours by just speeding up by one second.

One of the lessons from that is that if you, um, if you do anything, this many times, uh, it gets very, um, it gets very... time-consuming. There is no, uhm..

"Just a little fun fact to make you feel old."

Addison says, "Your first book came out before I was born and now I have read almost all of your books. Just a little fun fact to make you feel old."

Well, you've succeeded, Addison. I feel very old indeed.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

That's extremely strange to me, I mean, one, I never imagined that my books would be in print, like, for this long, let alone that they would be read by people who weren't born when, when they were published?

My first book came out in 2005; my second book came out in 2006. Uhm, and then I started making vlogbrothers videos and things slowed down significantly, so my third book came out in 2008, then 2012, then 2017, so... I've given you a chance to catch up, Addison, by, by slowing down my writing process as we built, uh, Crash Course, and the Art Assignment, and SciShow, and other Complexly things, alognside making vlogbrothers videos and trying to write but um...

Yeah! Thank you for reading my books! It doesn't actually make me feel old because I, I'm always aware of the fact that I'm old and it's been a very, I'm a long, long ways down the river from the writing of, um, of, of Looking for Alaska and, and really all of my novels, but especially Alaska, Katherines, Paper Towns, feel very very distant to me, feellike, um, I mean, all three of those books were written by somebody who wasn't a father, um, and, just had a very, yeah, it was a very different person, different way of looking at the world. Different way of looking at writing and books, honestly.

And, I'm, I'm really happy if those books can be... useful? I'm really happy if like, they can mean something to, to people in, in their "now", and just really, really grateful because I did not, it's, yeah. Utterly, utterly unexpected. I mean, I, I remember when Looking for Alaska, when I first sold Looking for Alaska. So the reason -- I, I worked at Booklist Magazine first fives years before my first book came out.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

And Booklist Magazine is this review journal that reviews like, 400 books every two weeks, and so, I just did like, data entry there mostly, but I did, but I did end up reviewign a lot of books as a freelancer, but when you work at Booklist, you just see so many books come and go, like I would review, I would review books that I thought were extraordinary, that I thought were really, really special, and within a couple years, you know, they would basically be out of print.

Um, even if they were, you know, really good books, and even if they found a good audience, because, it's kind of the nature of books. There's a, there's a lot of them, and um, most of them, even those that are, that are useful to people for a time, are not useful to people for a long time.

And I think that's okay..? Like, I think that it's important to understand that like, um, books exist to be uh, to be read, and to be responded to and when they stop being, uh, helpful, or, or useful to readers like, that's fine. Readers move on and they read, they read other stuff and that's okay and that's not like, uh, that's not, that's not bad, bad news, because the point of writing isn't to like, make something that lasts forever; the point of writing is to, like, make a gift for people and connect with them however you can, whenever you can. I think. That's what I think, anyway.

But, but I remember when I first some Looking for Alaska, I went to New York City. I'd never really, like, been to New York before as an adult. I went once as a teenager but I've never really, like, spent any time in New York, and I met my editor, Julie Strauss Gable, who's still my editor all these years later, and who edited the Anthropocene Reviewed book.

And she said, what are your, what are your goals for Looking for Alaska? And I said that I would like it to make it to paperback. Because a pretty big percentage of books that are published don't ever come out as paperbacks. Like, they're hardcover books and then they don't sell well enough to justify a separate paperback edition.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

And so that was my, I mean that was really my only goal for Looking for Alaska and then I also, I guess, like I hoped that it would be good enough, or do well enough, that I would get a second book deal, and a chance to write another book, and, everything else that's happened has just been strange and lovely and the thought that somebody can read that, read them, who wasn't born when they came out, is super strange to me, but also, yeah, it's just really lovely.

And it doesn't make me feel old, so don't feel bad.

I already, I'm keenly aware of the fact that I'm old and out of touch and that my first novel now reads like, um historical fiction with the entire plot, um, spinning around, of all things, a payphone. (laughter)

I'm talking about oatmeal. (?)

 "What is your process for writing?" (14:52)

"What's my favorite process, what is my process for writing?" asks Morgan Stern.


I don't know.

It depends!

I wish I had a process. It sounds lovely! Whenever I hear writers talk about their process I just feel like overwhelmed with jealously. 'I want a process.' I want, like a, I want to know what I'm doing when I do it. I want to...

I mean really my process is that I, I, I, I start trying to tell a story, and then well, I guess it's different this time because this is my first book of nonfiction.

With this book, my process was that I wanted to, well, I'll tell, I mean, the truth is, I, I knew I didn't want to write a novel. Like, I came home, I talked about this in the introduction to the book, but I came home from the tour for Turtles All the Way Down, which was this big, month-long tour around the country, and, there's this, there's this writer, Allegra Goodman whose work I like a lot and she was asked once, "Who would you want to write your autobiography?" and she answered, "I seem to be writing it myself, but since I'm a novelist, it's all in code."

 (16:00) to (18:00)

And I think, one of the things that made the, um experience of publishing Turtles All the Way Down challenging for me, and it was a, I don't want to sound ungrateful because it was a lovely experience and I'm so grateful that the book, you know, like, got good reviews, and that people have been so kind to it and, and have, have you know, it, that it has found a lot of the people I hoped it would find and that they've responded to it in the way that I dreamed they would respond to it, so...

It, it's not that it was an unpleasant experience, but it was a challenging experience for me, and one of the reasons was because it sort of felt like people [thought that they] knew the code, and I had invited a lot of these, um, a lot of these questions by having a life, a public life as a mentally ill person, and then by writing about a person who, who had, had a mental illness.

But, um, it was, it was pretty tough for me to be asked, over and over again, questions as if I were the protagonist of that novel, or as if I like, shared the, the world view of the protagonist of that novel. It felt like, a little, it felt a little destabilizing. It felt like people were, and maybe this was my fault, but that like, they were struggling to read the novel as a novel instead of like, read it as some kind of a, a highly coded autobiography that they felt like a responsibility to try to decode.

And I realize that like part of the, there were a bunch of problems that were causing that, none of them were the fault of, of readers, or, or even like the media people who asked me like, what I felt like were pretty, some, some, invasive and at times inappropriate questions, like, "Do you get panic attacks when kissing?" that kind of thing, um...

But, I've decided while promoting that book that I didn't want to write a novel.

 (18:00) to (20:00)

That I wanted to not write in code, and that I wanted to try to grapple for the first time with what I thought, and with and, try to, try to write from my own perspective about my actual self and my experience of being in the world, insofar as I could.

And to abandon the code, at least, at least for a while. And, but I didn't know how to do that. I didn't know what I was, what I was going to do, exactly, but Hank and I would often talk when we were on the road, we would often talk about the strange and super fast way that the five star scale has taken over critical analysis?

And how like two or three decades ago, it was utterly unheard of for a book to be rated on a five-star scale, and now books are rated on a five-star scale, you know, over a million times a day, and not just that, but that, uh, you know, people review restaurants and they review the bench where The Fault in Our Stars was filmed in Amsterdam and they review their haircuts and they review public restrooms and... all of this stuff.

And this five-star scale has become ubiquitous not because of humans or anything that humans need in terms of, um, understanding the quality of an experience or of a good or service -- it's, it's because of machines. For algorithms. For, for algorithms, a single data point is super, super helpful.

You know, when I, when I reviewed books for Booklist, I reviewed hundreds and hundreds of books over the five and a half years that I worked there. And it, not only did I never review a book out of five stars -- it never would have occurred to me to, because in a 175 words review, you can just say far, far more than any single data point could ever convey.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

And, and yet, we sort of like, adopted this way of analyzing experience really really quickly and without any um, you know, without much consideration, which is how a lot of like, the technological adaptations of the last 20 years have happened.

So we were just, we talked a bunch about that and we read like, silly Google Reviews of the places we drove past, and, uh, from that, I started to get this idea of wanting to write these, these ahh, essays about different parts of life, and different parts of my experience, and, because the other thing that we were thinking and talking about is that, deep down, reviews, um, they may claim a kind of authority or a kind of objectivity, uh, a sort of like 'above it all, this is good' or 'this is bad' or 'this is mixed', but what they really are, is, is highly, highly personal memoirs. Right?

Like, "This was my experience of reading this book," or "This was my experience of eating at this restaurant."

And, and that, that fascinated me. This relationship betwen the overall critical discourse; wanting to have an opinion that exists outside of yourself, but at the same time, being so completely dependent on your own highly personal, uhm, you know, deeply, deeply uh, insular experience.

Uh, so, yeah, after that, I had actually like, years earlier, I'd sort of like, written, uh, some things that were sort of related to this, that were sort of in this, in a similar vein, and so when I got home from the tour, unfortunately, I got really sick.

I, uh, all at once, without any warning, I got this disease called "labrynthitis", which caused my balance to fail completely and I just started v-vomiting everywhere and I had to be hospitalized...

 (22:00) to (24:00)

...and there's a lot of things when your balance fails, um, that can be very wrong with you, but even like, I got really lucky, and even the lucky version of it isn't, isn't that great, because I still, like, I still have bouts of vertigo and it's, uh, it's, it's terrifying. It's awful.

It, it, it consumes, you know, you can't, you can't be anything else. It's hard to do anything else when you, when you cannot -- don't have a sense of balance. Uhm, that's not a metaphor. Like, literally. (chuckle)

Uh, and so, as I was recovering from labrynthitis over the next like, six weeks of mostly being in bed, I uh, I was thinking more and more about this idea and when I, when I started to get better I dug up these old essays that I'd written.

Um, one was about Canada Geese, and one was about Diet Dr. Pepper, and I sent them to Sarah, to my wife, and she read them and she was like, "Yeah, I mean, there are things that are good about this, but what's missing from it is, is you, like, you're, you're sort of like, pretending objectivity and you're acting as if you're an observer of these phenomena when, uhm" -- and this is something that she said to me that really, really stuck in my mind and that ended up in the book --  she said, uhm, "In the anthropocene, there are no observers; there are only participants."

And so then I started to rework the essays to acknowledge that I am a participant in these systems, and that, you know, in some ways, I have benefited from them and in some ways, I have been harmed by them, and, and these systems are not neutral, and that I am not neutral in observing them.

And once I started to do that, the essays began to make a kind of sense to me that they hadn't made before, and they began to be able to like do something that tey hadn't done before.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

So, as usual, Sarah, um, you know, Sarah and I collaborate really closely on, on our work, and we always have, you know, for the last amost 20 years, so, I'm really really greateful to her for, uh, helping me see a way through into making, making the essays work, and then I started making the podcast with my longtime collaborater, Stan Muller, and with Rosianna, and now it's going to be a book! Just three short years later. That's a little bit of a condensed version of what happened, but that's the, that's the basic outline of it I guess.

Alright, I'm gonna stack these sheets.

Ohh, I've got an unopened Diet Dr. Pepper that I'm pretty enthusiastical about, speaking of Diet Dr. Pepper.

Then I'm gonna look at the comments, and then I'm gonna keep signing, because that's what I've been doing for like, 12 hours a day, every day, and, the rest of the time is spent working on the actual book.


 "Most books signed in a single session is 4649." (25:15)

(reading a comment) "Most books signed in a single session is 4649." (chuckles) No. I've signed waaaaayy more than that, just, we don't have to talk, we don't have to talk to the Guiness people though. I don't, it doesn't make, it wouldn't make me feel very good to, uh, I don't think that, I don't know that it would feel very good to get that Guiness World Record.

Uh, I feel like, um... yeah. I feel like that would be weird. (siiiiiiip)

 "What's labrynthitis?" (25:47)

Chris asks, "Dumb question: what's labrynthitis?"

It's like a disease of the inner ear. Um, usually, it's caused by, you get um, you get like a little viral infection, like uh, like, just like a cold or a little flu or something.

And then...

 (26:00) to (28:00)

...something goes wrong.

And your inner ear stops working, usually on just one side. And the good thing about it is that unlike a lot of inner ear disorders like Meniere's disease, which very commonly becomes chronic, or certain kinds of like, vestibular neuritis, it does usually get better.

It just, you kind of, it's pretty common to have some long-term occasional vertigo, which I have in my case, so like if I get, if I get a little bit of a cold, I usually also get pretty vertigo-y, which is unpleasant. It feels like I'm, it feels like being, uh, super, like when you're super drunk, you know? And like, the room is spinning, but all the time, and you know, you're uh, you're, you're, you're, you're, you're, you're, yeah, you can't sober up, and also, it's not your fault. You know?

Like in the past, when I've gotten drunk, and gotten dizzy I've been like, well, you know, at least I did this to myself, so. (chuckles)

Jordan (user) said it better than I can -- "vertigo is all the drunk and none of the fun of intoxication". That's exactly right.

Um, yeah. It is a very metaphorically resonant name -- "labrynthitis -- but it is still a really crappy, actual, um, illness to have. Lots and lots of people actually, when you start talking to people about this, lots and lots of people struggle with chronic vertigo, and man, it's, it's it's tough, like, I, it's hard. I mean I, you know, it's hard, and also once you know it can happen, it's hard to get it out of your mind that it can happen, so even when it's, even when you're not experiencing it...

 (28:00) to (30:00)

you still are conscious of the fact that it could happen at any time and you really don't want it to happen while you're driving or when you're insied of a store, or something -- admittedly, less of a concern over the last year than it usually has been, but yeah. It's pretty, it can be quite serious. I, I don't, I don't recommend it.

 "Is there a way to reply to someone's comment?" (28:22)

"Is there a way to reply to someone's comment?"

I don't know, Hudson. I'm so bad at Youtube Live, as you can probably tell.

 "Just got here. The number of boxes in this room is out of control." (28:28)

"Just got here. The number of boxes in this room is out of control." Oh, this isn't even all of them. This is just a selection. I built this box for but I didn't want it to be, so, my worry with the box fort is that if it was too high, and one of them like, came crashing down and it hit my head and killed me on a live stream, that like, that would just be embarrassing, I mean, in addition to like, the loss for my family and everything , and the, the, the the the, just the disappointment of not getting to, uh, uh, go on, there would be just the absolute, unadulterated humiliation of it, so I decided to not build the box fort up any higher than that.

I feel pretty secure with the level that it's at, but uh, yeah, hopefully, hopefully we'll be okay. I'm almost -- I mean, I'm almost done; I'm almost done -- I only have like, 22 hours of signing left, so, I just gotta, I just gotta do this. There's no, there's, there's nothing else to say about it except that it has to be done. It's gotta happen.

Um.... uh, yeah. Okay. Biddoo, biddoo biddoo... I'm looking for questions that I can answer while I sign. But...

 (30:00) to (32:00)

 Oh! Sabrina and Friends is here. I just watched your video. I thought it was really good! I just watched it like, right before I went on, right before I did this!

Maybe Youtube was like, "Oh, I saw that you were watching this video, so I'm going to recommend to Sabrina and Friends that they come to, uh, to this!" But anyway, hi.


"Can you wear a brace or anything for your hand?" and, uhm... "Have you ever self-published?"

 "Do you sign Kindle copies?" (30:32)

"Do you sign Kindle copies?" I can't. I can't. I can't sign e-books. I sometimes, I've signed e-book readers, but I cannot sign e-books themselves. I also cannot sign the audiobook, and I cannot sign the international edition of the book.

All of these are disappointments to me.

I would like to be able to sign every copy of the book that goes to readers, because like, part of, part of doing this is trying to understand, and trying to say thank you in some small way to people who are preordering the book, and people who preorder the e-book or the international or who lives outside the U.S. or Canada and people who pre-order the audiobook -- I can't say "thank you" in this way, by signing a book, so I guess I just have to say "thank you" by saying "thank you."

It's such a weird thing in general, the process of writing a book, because there's just, you know, because there, somebody has to have a certain amount of faith in you and your work to pay for something that they haven't read a review of that, um, they don't know if they're goign to like... I guess the Anthropocene Reviewed book is a little different; like, if you like the podcast, I hope you'll like the book, but, even so, it's still an act of faith by the reader.

Like, buying a book is always an act of faith unless you've already read the entire book, and so, I don't know, I've always wanted to try to find ways to say, "thanks". 

 (32:00) to (34:00)

Like I remember when Looking for Alaska first came out in 2005, there were like, 85 people who listed it as one of their favorite books on MySpace. And so, I just went through, and said "thanks!" to each of them? And I, I would still like to find a way to do that, but without, without MySpace.

And I mean, that's one of the strange things about writing and reading, like I feel as a reader, I often feel like I can't adequately express my gratitude to the, to the books that have helped me, and like, the the the, because for me, like, writing, reading really does help, help hold me together and helps get me through and, and helps me, and I guess, try to engage more deeply with consciousness and I find it hugely important to me, and there is no way to thank, you know, thank the writers that I'm grateful to, or no way that I know, anyway.

Like, how do I thank Paige Lewis for their book Space Struck, which has meant so much to me and which has been so useful to me, especially this year, and has given me language and form for talking about things that I find so difficult to talk about and so difficult to even understand inside of myself.

You don't say "thanks" by like, giving that person a $1.20, or whatever their royalty you know, is for the, for the book sale. I mean, I guess that's one way of saying "thanks", but it feels utterly inadequate, especially for a book like that, that, you know, really has, has meant a lot to me.

But then, as a writer, I, I also feel the same thing. Like I can't fully express my gratitude to readers, who would loan my work however many hours of their "one wild and precious life". It's an incredibly generous thing to read somebody else's work.

 (34:00) to (36:00)

And so yeah, I, I nevre know how to parse that um, I guess that shared debt. I don't, I don't, I don't know what to do about it, and I think I've been signing in part to try to bridge that gap or to say "thank you" somehow, but it's, it's also inadequate, and maybe that's the lesson -- is that, is that everything is inadequate. Like, you know, everything's inadequate.

 "Have I ever self-published?" (34:29)

"Have I ever self-published?"

Not really, although I did, I have published a few things for charity that were not published through traditional, um, means, I guess, including uh, like a zombie apocalypse story about corn, um, and a couple other things.

And then I've written things -- I've written a lot of things over the years that, that didn't end up getting published and, I don't think I'll ever publish any of that stuff.

For me, I think everybody's different and I don't think there's any one right way to, to write, or to share your writing, and I think, I used to have a lot of strong opinions about this stuff, but as I get older, I find myself with fewer and fewer certainties, and more and more suspicious of those who do have a lot of certainties.

But... I, I, I think there are lots of good things about self-publishing. There are a lot of advantages for me of working with a publisher, mostly because I've worked with the same publisher for the entire 16 years since my first book came out. I've had the same editor; I've been able to work with some of the same people in the sales and marketing part of things, and so I just feel really comfortable there, and I feel like they make my work a lot better.


 (36:00) to (38:00)

Like working with Julie, my editor, there just makes my work so much better. It's very hard for me to imagine what writing -- this pen is dead -- what writing a book would even -- to the graveyard of pens you go! -- what writing a book would even be without Julie, because I've never really written a book without her editing it, so...

But that's, that's all extremely particular to my experience, and of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

I can't remember the other question, but I liked it! But it's gone now.




Oh, Princess Shorty has just discovered the Youtube emoji section. This is a big moment for you.

Um... Okay.

 "Is there a way to read your Zombie Apocalypse novella." (37:15)

"Is there a way to read your Zombie Apocalypse novella."

I'm sure there is. Like, I'm 100% sure that somebody has, uh, released a PDF somewhere. It's not good. So, um, it wouldn't be the best use of your time, but I'm sure it's out there, somewhere.

Uh, there's like, one page of it somewhere that I still like. I never like anything that I've published, but I always have a certain affection for the stuff I've had to abandon for whatever reason -- for the stuff that never, never came out. And, um, there is one page of that zombie apocalypse story that I still really like, near the beginning.

 (38:00) to (40:00)

But I'm able to like it in part because the rest of the story is so bad. That's what allows -- that's what I think gives me the freedom to um, feel the way I do about it.

I always, you know, I've always wanted to be -- oh my god, I can't separate these pages -- I've always watned to write, um, like, big books, adventure books, where big things happen to people. Like in An Absolutely Remarkable Thing or A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor. And that one page of the zombie apocalypse novella about corn is probably as close as I'll ever get to that experience, so, yeah, um, I don't, I, I would really recommend The Anthropocene Reviewed book over Zombiecorns, but I think Zombiecorns is free and freely available if you just Google it. I might be wrong, but that's, that's my, that's my guess.

Oh, I see that I've unleashed a lot of emojis -- oh goodness, oh my gosh, okay, um... all right. Gosh, gosh, gosh.

Yeah, Rachel calls Zombiecorns, "Um, fun," which I think is pretty good. That's a pretty good description.

Okay. Choochoochoo...

 "My favorite Amazon India reseller is listing your book to pre-order; will I get it signed?" (39:32)

"My favorite Amazon India reseller is listing your book to pre-order; will I get it signed?"

N--- probably not? I do not know your favorite reseller, but there is a different edition for the exports -- for any book that goes outside the US and Canada, and there has to be a different version for legal reasons, and um, for reasons that involve the actual physical mechanisms through which those books are printed, I cannot sign them.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

Soooo, um, yeah. So probably not, and I'm sorry about that, and I really wish I could sign it, but um, the signed edition is only available -- so far as I know -- in the US and Canada. Um... I really, I would really like publishing to change this, like, just as a business, I would like them to change the way that they think about, uh, regional publishing, because like, the world doesn't work like that anymore? You know?

Like, you and I are having this conversation even though you're in India and I'm in the Midwest of the United States, and we need to change the way that publishing works, and the way that the copyright works, so that we can reflect that reality, but it hasn't happened yet. It is an ongoing frustration and I'm really sorry.

I know there are good reasons for it, and I also... I don't want to get into a debate about it.

I think that if you order it -- especially if you order it from Amazon -- it will not be signed. But I might be wrong.

I really don't know how to get a signed copy outside of the US or Canada; I have asked a bunch of times and I have been told -- everything that I have been told, is that it is not possible.

I might be wrong.

But... that's what I've been told.


Okay, let's answer another question that does not involve.... my friends at trillion dollar companies that lie about whether or not my books are signed... um... yeah. 

 (42:00) to (44:00)

But I can't, yeah, so, um, lots of uh, trillion dollar companies often lie, and hopefully, they offer refunds, would be my comment about trillion dollar companies.

Um, okay.

(reading a comment?) "There's certain private corporations--" Yeah, I mean, so the thing to remember is that, private corporations don't exist to do anything other than to make money. They do a lot of moralizing, and they try to justify that they, they do whatever they need to do by way of explaining their business model to do something to make it about something other than making money but like, no, like, private corporations, like, for-profit corporations don't do anything, except maximize profits.

Like, that's, that's the nature of what they do. Um... so, I think that's true for publishing companies as much as it's true for car companies as much as it's true for goods distribution networks. The only time that's not true is when companies are either not set up to make a profit, or do not, um, generate profits.

So, um, yeah, in general, I try to remember that. Companies are in the business of getting us to consume as much as we can.

Um... okay.

 "Will DFTBA have signed copies?" (43:40)

"Will DFTBA have signed copies?"

Probably not? At least initially. I'm sorry about that, but that is also a function of the way things are going.

 "How is the signing going overall?" (43:51)

"How is the signing going overall?"

Um, my hand hurts a lot. It's going okay.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

I have this, I have a uh, the ligament that goes from this bone to this bone (gesturing along his hand), is strained, and, uh, it hurts. So that's the main thing, is that, that, that hurts like every time I make that motion -- that was not a very good signature because I was trying to make a rhetorical point.

But, um, yeah, it, I, you know, it was a little more fun when it didn't hurt. But, I still feel very lucky to be able to do it. I have about like, I don't know, 17 hours to go, about? So I can finish it, I know I can finish, the truck comes to pick it up over the weekend, so I need to finish, so that's why I'm in my basement right now doing this.

So I can finish; it'll be okay. I'm glad that I'm not signing 260,000 sheets, just 250,000, because I think 260,000 might have been impossible, but, in general, I think we sort of psych ourselves up to do what we have to do, and so, that always means that the last part is hard.

Like whenever I go on a really long road trip, it's always like the last hour that you really want to be home, so that's actually why I decided to do the livestream, because I've been down here since 7:30 this morning signing, and I was like I just really want to, I just want it to be different. I want to be able to talk to some people, so thank you for uh, thank you for keeping me company while I do this ridiculousness.

But in general, I don't know, like I feel pretty good, like I feel like my signature is holding up okay, which is always --

 (46:00) to (48:00)

-- my big worry is always that like, the pen will get hard to hold, or my signature will start to look really, um, nervous and jittery and exhausted and so far at least, it's holding up okay, I mean, I think probably the last 10,000 signatures on average have been a little worse than the first 10,000 signatures, but that's also to be expected.

It's really nice to have, it's, it's really nice to have a, the Sharpie colors that I love, so Sarah found a way to, um, Sarah found a way to order obscure Sharpie colors in bulk, instead of just having to get them as a part of um, like, mega Sharpie packs, so right now, I'm signing with Navy, which is a really beautiful color. It looks like this (shows signature to camera) That's actually a pretty good signature, too. So it's like, it's got some purple; it's got some really deep grey, and some black as well, and I really like it, and the other color I really like is called "Intergalactic Indigo."

So Sarah got me 25 Intergalactic Indigos. This is Intergalactic Indigo. Here, you can see, you can see the difference. So... this (left) is Intergalactic Indigo, and this (right) is Navy, and you can see -- they're both beautiful colors. Rich, and a little multitudinous.

So, that, you know, obviously, Sharpie color doesn't matter very much, but when you do something, 250,000 times, the little things matter --

 (48:00) to (50:00)

, and it just makes me actively happier -- like, I talked about this a few weeks ago on vlogbrothers (siiip) -- that like it's just actively happier to sign with purple sometimes, because there's a little joy in color, and I feel that way right now about Navy and Intergalactic Indigo. They are just the right amount of -- they really have cheered me up significantly.

 "Will you be preordering Philipp from Kurzgesagt's new book Immune?" (48:30)

"Will you be preordering Philipp from Kurzgesagt's new book Immune?"

In fact, I have read it, and I have blurbed it, and not only have I read it and blurbed it, I also quote it in The Anthropocene Reviewed book. So yeah. So there you go.

I really really like Philipp's book about the immune system. So, for those of you who don't know, Kurzgesagt is, uh, was founded by a guy named Philipp Dettmer, who is also a friend of mine, and if you've ever watched a Kurgesagt video, you know what a great writer he is, and he has written a book about the immune system, which is you know, one of the most complicated, maddening facets of the human body, and it's, it has all of that Kurzgesagt genius for being able to shift perspective, and being able to zoom in and zoom out, and find, you know, figurative ways of approaching really complex topics so that they become comprehensible, and it's just packed with fascinating information about the immune system.

And overall, it made me feel much better about my, my body. Like it made me feel like my body is working really hard to hang around, and it's got good strategies for doing that, that have been developed in some cases over tens or hundreds of millions of years, and it's actually a pretty cool body.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

So I really, I love the book, and there is an essay, or there's a chapter in it, well, there's a number of chapters about viruses, and one of them, I quoted in my review of viral meningitis, in The Anthropocene Reviewed book. So, yeah.

So I actually had to like, because I think Philipp is still finishing the last edits on the book, I had to check with him to make sure that the language of that sentence wasn't going to change, so that I could quote it, even though the book isn't out, so.

And he was, he was very nice. He got that fact checked very quickly, which I really appreciate.

 "Every time you say 'Kurzgesagt', I think 'Kierkegaard.'" (50:53)

"Every time you say 'Kur-' 'Kur-' 'Kur-' -- oh crap -- every time you say 'Kur-'" -- now I can't say it -- "'Kur-'" -- oh my god... "Every time you say 'Kierzgesagt' -- 'Kur-'" -- no, I still -- you think 'Kierkegaard'.

Yeah, I'm referring to the Youtube channel -- it's also called "In a Nutshell" -- but it's, um, it's got a German language name -- Kerz- Kerzgesagt. I did it. I got back. I got back to it. Um, sometimes I get stuck on words like that, but then I got back to it, so, um...

 "How many more sheets to go?" (51:26)

"How many more sheets to go?"

I think about 15,000. So, yeah. Whooooofff.

 "What are you reading now?" (51:38)

"What are you reading now?"

Well, I'm listening to an audiobook, um, by Barbara Tuchman, called A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. It's really good. It's about the calamitous 14th century in Europe, which was, I think, it's safe to say, pretty calamitous in Europe, and let to, um, you know, like, led to the modern world in a lot of ways.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

Things started to break down that would shortly have big impacts. And that's been a really fun book to listen to, and then I just really Philipp's book.

I'm reading another book that's coming out soon, called (Re)Born in the USA, by Roger Bennett, the host of the podcast, Men in Blazers, and that's really good.

And I've also been (sigh) I'm trying to like, so I read different things in different places, you know? Like I, there's books that I read when I'm down here that I read via audiobook, and then there's books that I read in the living room when I'm just reading in like the evening or whatever and then there's books that I read at night before I go to sleep, and I'm trying to remember what I'm reading upstairs -- oh, it's a book about the Romanovs(?).

I mean, it's hard to write a bad book about the Romanovs because the truth is so frickin' bananas, and so it is extremely enjoyable, because it just tells the true -- and completely bananas -- story of the weirdest royal family -- I think -- in world history. So yeah.

I've been reading and then I've also been reading about smallpox, because I'm writing a new mini-season of The Anthropocene Reviewed, so there' will be new podcast episodes starting in -- that's not a very good signature, I'm going to add a spiral to that -- there will be new podcast episodes starting in ... April? And so, I'm, I'm writing right now about the smallpox vaccine, the story we've kind of inherited about the smallpox vaccine, and what really, what really matters about the story of the smallpox vaccine.

 (54:00) to (56:00)

-- where are the real, where we should be centering the story. Traditionally, we've centered the story around Edward Jenner and his use of the cowpox virus to innoculate against smallpox.

Which is extremely important, and was a defining moment in the history of medicine, and in the history of public health, but also, was not really the critical thing, when it came to addressing smallpox. And we know that it wasn't the critical thing, because the deadliest century -- Edward Jenner developed the first cowpox innoculations for smallpox in1796, and you know, by the middle of the 19th century, vaccinations were quite good -- quite, quite certainly not as safe as they are now, but they were still very safe, and um, very effective, and yet, the deadliest century of smallpox in human history was probably the 20th century, when we had a vaccine that was safe and effective for the entire century, so, you can't really...

I don't know the extent to which you can say, like, the center of the story of the smallpox vaccine, happens in 1796, when the deadliest century for smallpox in human history was the 20th century.

So, I'm just trying to figure out how to write about that, and what my perspective on it is, and then, of course, like, it's also a highly personal thing --

 (56:00) to (58:00)

-- because vaccination is not of abstract concern to me at the moment. Sarah and I got our first shots just... a few days ago, and so I wanna have a way to write about that, and write about the experience of trying to understand what it means to be inoculated against an ongoing pandemic.

And, I think smallpox, is -- I guess I'm thinking smallpox might be a good way into that, like a good way to frame contemporary concerns about vaccines, but also the contemporary hopes around vaccination and the hope that vaccination has provided to a lot of us, and has certainly provided to me.

I, you know, we obviously, a lot of people worked really, really hard to make this possible, but it's the middle of the story, not the end of the story, and we do not want to look back at Covid, and say the deadliest period of Covid was after we had the vaccines.

And, at least, based on historical precedent, it's, it's very likely, it's very possible, and perhaps even likely, that we will say that.

So, I'm trying to think about all that stuff and trying to figure out how to frame it and work it into an essay for The Anthropocene Reviewed and then, yeah. So I'm reading about smallpox, which is pretty devastating reading.

 (58:00) to (1:00:00)

I mean, it was... it's an incredible accomplishment by our species to have eliminated that disease from humanity, but what a, what a terror, like, the word that people use around it over and over and over again is "dreadful".

And you realize that, "dreadful" meant something else, in the 18th and 19th centuries -- it meant like, "something that filled you with dread", and this profound, deep, terror, around smallpox is really... it, it definitely has, it just resonates in a deep way, with a lot of contemporary experiences around infectious disease, I think.

So yeah, I'm just thinking about that, trying to figure that out.

 "Deadliest century in absolute terms or per capita?" (58:58)

Catarina says, "Deadliest century in absolute terms or per capita?"

In absolute terms. There was a lot of population growth in the 20th century, but it's important to remember that that population growth was driven primarily by the fact that we had more food and fewer of us were dying of infectious diseases... and a little bit... yeah. Those were the main two reasons.

So, yes, few -- percentage-wise, more deaths in the 18th century, at least in Europe; we don't have good or great stats even in Europe for what really caused deaths in the 18th century, and we have terrible stats in most of the rest of the world.

 "I almost feel bad ordering a signed copy." (59:49)

"I almost feel bad ordering a signed copy."

Logical Waste, please do not feel bad ordering a signed copy, because the thing is, I have to sign these regardless of whether you buy them. (chuckles)

 (1:00:00) to (1:02:00)

So, the nightmare scenario is that I sign them and then you don't buy them. So please don't feel bad; please feel really really good and know that I want you to have a signed copy of this book.

I mean, yeah, I've worried about that, but like yeah, it's not just that all the preorders will be signed; every copy that goes into every bookstore the first week the book comes out will be signed, so... there's gonna be plenty of signed copies available, so it's not like I'm only signing preorders, and you're gonna make me sign an extra sheet because of your order. I'm gonna sign it anyway, and I would loooove to sign it for you.

I would write "Logical Waste" right here, on this one, if I had any confidence that that was actually going to get to you -- but I think there's only a 1 in 250,000 chance that that was your actual signature page, so we're just gonna, but just know that if you get a copy signed in navy, that I signed it during this livestream. Maybe. Could've also been anytime in the last four days, 'cause I've been signing in navy or intergalactic indigo that whole time.

But you will know that it was at the end, and if you get green, you will know that it was at the beginning. That's basically how it works.

 "Did you get along with Hank when you were a kid?" (1:01:29)

"Did you get along with Hank when you were a kid?" asks Steven.

Uhm... uhm...! Tsk. You know, I, kinda? I was... 14 when I went to boarding school -- Hank was 11. I mean, he was in 4th or 5th grade when I went to boarding school.

 (1:02:00) to (1:04:00)

So did we get along when we were kids? I, I remember us getting along. I remember us fighting a lot, like, normal brothers do, but we did not have really much of a relationship in those years -- in those critical years for Hank -- between the ages of 11 and 18.

I always liked Hank, and in some ways, I always looked up to him, even though he was my younger brother, because he was steady in a way that I wasn't steady, and he wasn't a problem for Mom and Dad in a way that I was a problem, and, he was, ah, you know, he was just like a good, smart, sweet, level-headed kid, and yeah.

We definitely had a lot of arguments, we had a lot of fights and stuff, but I think we got along in the broad, in broad strokes -- it's jsut that we weren't very close, because, you know, I was gone, from the time that he was in middle school, and then we, but it was a weird thing, because we continued to like each other a lot.

Like he was the best man at my wedding, and I was the best man at his, and we were very close in the sense that we had a ton of respect for each other, you know, intellectually, and loved to have big conversations about stuff that really mattered to us.

Like Hank and I have never really talked about everyday life together much? I think because we just enjoy having different sorts of conversations -- conversations about the stuff we really care about, and also frankly the stuff that we don't get to talk to other people about very much --

 (1:04:00) to (1:06:00)

-- and of course, now we talk a lot about work, because we work together and we also have a lot of trust built up, work-wise, because there's nobody that I can trust quite like I trust Hank, because I've known him, you know, my whole life.

But the big reason we started vlogbrothers, back in -- when we were originally having the conversations together in 2006, the conversations were us talking about the fact that we only ever communicated via instant messenger, or occasionally, occasionally, occasionally via phone, but almost always by email or instant messenger, and we wanted to be closer. I think I, especially, wanted to be closer, because I felt like, I felt a little bit like I had abandonded Hank, during this really critical time in his life, and I hadn't fulfilled some of my obligations as an older brother because I'd been so caught up with my own problems.

And my problems were real, and you know, I think I had to be caught up in them. But I still felt bad. So I think that was the initial reason why I proposed making a collaborative video blog in the first place, was that I thought it would be nice to get to know Hank, you know?

And in that sense, it was extremely effective! (laughs) Because I feel like it worked! Like we are much, much closer now and I feel like I've made up for those years when we were teenagers when we didn't know each other well, because I had a, just, I had a separate life.

 (1:06:00) to (1:08:00)

Just I was having a separate life I was living somewhere else, and my friends were people he didn't know, and, and so on, but now we've, we've been able to get really close as a result of having this shared project and I think that's something that a lot of adult siblings need or benefit from -- certainly not universally -- but I think it can be really helpful to have a shared project, a shared site of focus so that you're not always talking about yourselves, or you're not always talking about what's happening in your life, you're also talking about this, this third thing.

Like Donald Hall has this essay that I write about in The Anthropocene Reviewed book called "the third thing", where he talks about how in a marriage, a lot of what really happens is not looking at the other person or gazing deeply into their eyes. It's the experience of your gaze intertwining with your partner's gaze around a third thing: a, a site of shared contentment or joy whether that be, I think most commonly it's children but it can also be, you know, he talks about how it can be the Boston Symphony Orchestra, or it could be 18th century furniture or, you know, there are all kinds of third things.

And in a way, which third things you end up having are not as important as, as the pleasure of sharing them. And so, I think for Hank and I -- we're obviously not in a marriage -- but like for Hank and I, that, that same idea has has been important that when we have a shared site of work -- a shared project, a place where we're collaborating -- is when we feel most, most connected to each other, and we have occasion, you know, we have reason to talk. And sometimes I feel like you need a reason -- you need an excuse, for lack of a better term.

 (1:08:00) to (1:10:00)

Of course, vlogbrothers is now much, much more than just an excuse for me to hang out with my brother, but it is still that at its core. I still make videos for Hank, and I still feel like he makes them for me, and I think that's part of what makes the channel work for other people, is that they know — that they know that I watch every video Hank makes and he watches every one I make.

 All right i'm gonna stack again -- oh my god, there's still so many left -- what time is it? Oh boy just, just gotta, just gotta keep going. That's probably maybe till 7:30 or 8. Okay, but the pen is holding up pretty well and I'm in mostly good spirits. Can I just, it just keeps happening, like the rest, like the rest of this year. It just, it just keeps happening.

I do feel bad -- somebody, some people were saying in comments about how frustrating it is to live in a country where vaccination rates are like 2% or something and to see, you know, like young (chuckles) -ish -- I guess I'm not young -- middle-aged, relatively healthy people like me getting vaccinated, and I know it is. I know, I know it's frustrating. I can imagine how frustrating that is and i'm really sorry, and it is very, it's not fair, I guess is the main thing that I want to say. Like, I know it's not fair.

 (1:10:00) to (1:12:00)

 "Why do you refer to Europe as though it is a country?" (1:10:00)

"Why do you refer to  Europe as though it is a country?"

Uh, well, Europe is a made-up construct, like even more than most continents are made of constructs, but it is also real -- like a lot of made-up constructs -- because people believe in it. So, uh, yeah. Europe has long thought of itself as a thing, and so as long as it has thought of itself as a thing, it has been a thing.

But there are certainly different communities within any community that keep better records than other communities, so you're right that I probably should not have said "we don't have great statistics about European death rates" -- I should have said "we don't have great statistics about death rates outside of certain European communities". That's a good point.

 Hank is John's brother? (1:10:50)

"Hank is John's brother?"

It's true. It's true. It's true.

This is a great question from Mismanaged.

 "Do you have any wisdom regarding the mental aspect of physical injury?" (1:11:02)

"I practiced judo and suffered a shoulder separation a few weeks ago. My mental health suffered remarkably since. Do you have any wisdom regarding the mental aspect of physical injury?"

I don't have any wisdom, about anything. I'm just an animal flailing about trying to continue  as best it can. I'm just I'm just a monkey wearing pants, flapping around with no idea what I'm doing 24 hours a day seven days a week.

That said, I have experienced physical injury that interrupted my exercise that I find really helpful. It's super weird right because you, I mean, one of the things about when you have something in your life like judo or like running where you get a lot of, you know, there's a lot of work, right, because it's also your identity, to some extent?

 (1:12:00) to (1:14:00)

Like if you're really if you're a highly experienced athlete, or if it's a big part of your life, it can also be part of your identity, like when people ask you who you are, you might answer well, "I'm, you know, a college student and a mother, and I practice judo."Like it might be one of the top three things you say about yourself.

So suddenly this is taken away by being hurt, and that's like a hit to not just like your ability to function in the world, because you rely on judo, you know, for your health, and you get all these mental health benefits from exercise, which I also do and I think is, a lot of people who exercise experience big mental health benefits... so all that's taken away from you which is not great for your mental health because it's hard to figure out a way to be active especially because there's a way that you like being active and, you know what it is and you can't do it and so doing other things is frustrating.

Like yes you can maybe stand up, do a stationary bike where you stand up and don't move your shoulder, but maybe you don't like doing that. If you liked doing that, you would have become a cyclist, not a person who practices judo. And so it's a hit to, it can be a hit to your identity while also being a hit to your ability to, you know, move your body in in ways that  help your brain feel good.

I realize that I'm creating a mind-body dichotomy there which doesn't exist our brains. Our made out of meat and there is no line between the body and the mind, so sorry for, sorry for failing to break down that distinction, but it's very powerful in our culture that we are set, our minds are separate from our bodies. It's very hard for me to remember --

 (1:14:00) to (1:16:00)

-- that the body is all the time deciding what the mind will think and the mind is all the time deciding what the body will do.

But anyway, but then the other thing about it is that it's not just about like, who you are and how you think of yourself it's also sometimes like a lot of your social life, you know, like for me, it's a lot of how I interact with people. Like I work out with my with my friends on Zoom every Saturday, and it's not just that I enjoy working out -- I also enjoy like talking to my friends and getting to catch up with everybody and making little jokes as as we exercise and everything.

And so that's taken away from you too! Or can be, which is really, really difficult. All of this, none of this is like wisdom or advice this is just an attempt at empathy.

I guess the only advice I have, if you can find a way to to move as you rehab, do. I find that helpful anyway. What I like to do is run, and when running is not available to me because of an injury --  I have a broken toe right now -- I mean I wouldn't be running anyway, because, well because I spend 16 hours a day on this couch -- but even if I even if I weren't spending 16 hours a day on this couch signing my name over and over again, I still wouldn't be able to to run because I have this broken toe.

It's horrifying by the way. It looks gangrenous.

But I still think it's important to try to find ways to move your body, so like I can't run, but I can do uh, you know, I can do like squats and I can do some weight stuff, and I can do, it's not as good, I can like put on boxing gloves and punch the heavy bag.

 (1:16:00) to (1:18:00)

I probably shouldn't say that to you since you have a separated shoulder; that's not going to help at all. But you can maybe maybe still move other parts of your body in ways that will help you feel engaged and everything?

Then the social part for me like, I just have to, I just have to get over myself and call my friends, which is really hard. Like, it's hard for me and it gets harder if I don't do it. I don't know if this is true for other people, but if, it's almost like, the longer I go, the longer I go without reaching out to people, the harder it gets to reach out? But then, of course, the more I need to reach out. This self-repeating or like vicious cycle that I really struggle to get out of, because it just like it requires a lot of effort and energy to reach out to friends and yeah.

But that's what I would really recommend, is like try to reach out and and chat with your  judo buddies if you have them even though you can't practice judo right now. I wish I had more, I wish I had more wisdom. But I'm just like a fish that's out of water, flailing, trying to get gills to go over my water. it's a snow, water to go over my gills.

"It's a snowball effect," says Marion, which is exactly the term that I was looking for thank you. Okay. All right.

 "How many languages do you speak?" (1:17:47)

Kim asks, "How many languages do you speak?"

Just one. I don't even speak that one very well. I don't.

 "Do you have any advice on how to do that outreach?" & how to do hard "easy" things (1:17:50)

"Do you have any advice on how to do that outreach?"

Yeah, I think that you've gotta, like, so --

 (1:18:00) to (1:20:00)

So, when I have to do things that are hard for me but I see other people do easily, I often get really down on myself, and I get really negative and angry with myself, and I'm like, "what the hell is wrong with you?" "Why can't you just reach out to this friend? Why aren't you better at text messaging?" "You freaking idiot." "You're the worst."

And that's so unhelpful? Like, the fact that something that's hard for you is easy for other people is not relevant, because it's not -- because you're not them. You're you and it's hard for, it's hard for me, so like maybe it's not hard for other people to, for instance, like, send a bill in the mail, but maybe it's hard for you. If you get mad at yourself and you just like, get into a shame spiral, I'm never gonna get, I'm never gonna be able to put a stamp on that letter and put it, and, and put it in a mailbox.

But if I can instead -- this is what I do, I don't know, I don't know, if this will work for other people, and also if you're concerned about your mental health don't, like, please reach out to somebody who's a professional and if you don't feel comfortable doing that, reach out to a friend or a family member and say "hey I'm not feeling great and I would like you to accompany me on the journey to get some help," and in my experience 99.9% of friends and family members will say "yes" and the 0.1% who are unavailable, it's okay, and you can ask someone else.

But yeah, like, I am I cannot provide mental health advice. I'm not an expert at all. I can only talk about, I can only kind of refer to my own experience I think . But for me, I try to break that stuff up into little, little, discreet tasks so it does, like, so instead of getting mad at myself about the fact that it's easy for everybody else to send letters, and it's hard for me to send letters, I just say "okay, let's break up this mailing-a-letter business into its constituent parts and then we'll do them one at a time."

 (1:20:00) to (1:22:00)

So, I've got to write an address on the envelope --  that's excruciating, but I can do it -- and now I've done one part. And now I've got to put the stamp on, and that's the second part. And then I'm going to have to walk it, then I'm going to have to drive to a mailbox or walk it to my mailbox or whatever, and that's the third part. And those are the constituent parts. And I'm going to do them one at a time.

And after I do each of them, instead of saying like, "a normal person could have done that much faster, you idiot," I'm going to say "Hey! Great work! I know that was hard, and the reason I know it was hard is because you've been trying to do it for two weeks and you haven't done it and now you did it so that was awesome! I wonder if you could do the second step, since you're, since you're doing it."

And then I do the second step and I'm like "That was great! Amazing! I can't believe you got that stamp on that letter -- you're freaking killing it today! Go walk that out to the mailbox now! ? " and it's done so I think for me it's mostly about like, not being an to myself, at its core, but still encouraging myself to do stuff to like try to break out of some of those cycles.

I also think you can't like expect -- I can't anyway -- expect for it to happen all at once. I gotta be a little patient with myself on that front.


Oh man... my hand really hurts.

 "Hank is posting his TikTok drafts?" (1:21:33)

"Hank is posting his TikTok drafts?"

That seems like very bad news. I'm going to try not to worry about that. I'm going to try not to freak out about that. Okay.

 "Can you ice your hand?" (1:61:55)

"Can you ice your hand?"

Yeah, I ice it pretty regularly but I don't wanna, I don't wanna ice it right now, though.

 (1:22:00) to (1:24:00)

I don't really know why, but I just feel like it doesn't feel, it doesn't feel like it would work right now. Maybe it would. Maybe I, maybe I shouldn't base my physical therapy routine primarily on vibe, but here we are.

Now you guys got me freaked out about Hank posting his TikTok drafts. I don't have any TikTok drafts for the record. When I make a TikTok, everybody sees it. The thought of making a TikTok draft -- I don't even understand like, how would it happen. Isn't the only way that you make a TikTok is that you have an idea for a TikTok, and you think about it for a long time and then eventually you say, "I'm gonna make the TikTok" and then you make the TikTok, and then you tell Peyton(?) who does the TikTok captions that you've made a TikTok and, and, and can they can they caption it for you? And then it, and then it becomes a TikTok. If there's another way to make TikToks, I genuinely don't know what it is.

Like I've never been on TikTok and thought to myself like, "oh I need to respond to that immediately." I always feel like there's a lot of, there's a lot of people out there who are going to be the, like, the hot take population on TikTok is is high enough -- it does not need, it does not need my voice added to the crescendo.

Sometimes I do think like, like every, I would say like every like, 40th or 50th Monday, maybe, maybe more than that -- maybe every 20th Monday -- I think to myself -- I didn't think it this week because I didn't make a vlogbrothers video this week -- but I think to myself, "You know, you make a video every single Tuesday!" And I feel like that right now. I feel like I'm like --

 (1:24:00) to (1:26:00)

"oh my god, you have to sign so many more of these. Like, it's it's both almost over in the sense that I've done 230-some-thousand, and like, not nearly over in the sense that I have so many left to go."

That was a really, really, really, really good spiral, like, like really, really good, (shows his spiral) like the whole live stream was, was building toward that spiral. I don't even know what I didn't like about the signature when I made it that I felt like I had to add a spiral to it because now I look at the signature and it looks fine, but thank goodness that I paused to make that spiral because I like it so much! I might take a photograph of it.

When I do one like this, this is maybe the -- this is a very weird thing, but when I do one that I'm like, this pleased with, I sometimes want to keep it. One, I'm like, I want to hoard it, like, we all have this impulse, right, that like, we, yeah, yeah I'm gonna keep it. I'll tell you what I am gonna do, I'm gonna put it on top of the stack so that I can look at it again -- isn't that the saddest thing in the world?

But I'm not gonna hoard it. I'm not gonna hoard it. I'm gonna give it away. That's that's the whole point of this exercise — you can't keep the ones that you like. (laughs) Ooh.

 "Do you like Hank's TikTok?" & John's love for Hank as a person (1:25:39)

"Do you like Hank's TikTok?"

Yeah! I mean, yes! And I'm very glad that it's him and not me, both, I both love Hank's TikTok -- he's probably my favorite TikToker -- he's certainly in my top three -- and at the same time, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that seems like a lot of work, a lot of pressure, a lot of responsibility."

 (1:26:00) to (1:28:00)

You know, yeah, it's a hard thing to navigate being in a, being as popular as that in a space like that that's changing all the time and, you know.

I've, I, I've had somewhat analogous experiences, enough of them to, to not think that what Hank is doing is easy. So, I, I'm a big admirer of Hank's work in general, and I think that the way that he uses that platform is really lovely, and it, you know, it brings out, it, you know, I, I really think that Hank is a force for good on the internet, and I admire his ability to continue using the the tools of the social internet, even though I know that he's got to be affected by some of the more toxic elements of it. I, I couldn't keep doing it.

I, I wanted to, and I knew that it would be good for my career too, and I just couldn't do it, man, so yeah, I admire, I admire Hank pretty much in every way. I really, really meant what I said in a vlogbrothers video the other day. That we don't let the fact that Hank is younger get in the way of him being the "wise older brother", and I look up to him, and I have a lot of admiration for him, and he works incredibly hard, and doesn't, I mean he's not, he's not motivated by money, and he's really, he really is motivated by, by a deep sense of wanting to make the world suck less for people.

 (1:28:00) to (1:30:00)

And I just, yeah, I find that extremely admirable. I don't, I don't think, yeah, yeah, I really like, I really like Hank. I'm not just saying it. Yeah, he's pretty great.

Oh man, my hand hurts...

 "Who are my other favorite TikTokers?" (1:28:22)

"Who are my other favorite TikTokers?"

Ah, I don't think I know anybody by username, I mean that's one of the weird things about TikTok, you know, like it's just kind of like, I have they're, they're most of the TikToks I watch are like, educational people in the educational TikTok space, which from what I can gather, is not like the the white hot center of TikTok. But that's that's where I, that's where I tend to mostly hang out.

Oh, there is an account I really like that I think it's called Sink Reviews, and it's sort of like The Anthropocene Reviewed but it's only for sinks and I love it.

Admittedly like, I'm biased toward highly in-depth reviews on a five-star scale but Sink Reviews is excellent, so that's definitely one of my favorites. But I'm mostly, mostly though, yeah, I'm on the sort of more educational science communicator, history teacher side of TikTok? I mean one of the weirdnesses of TikTok is that it is so highly personalized that, for instance, like, I used my daughter's computer or something maybe it was an ipad that, that she uses sometimes, to go to TikTok, just because I was trying to see what, I was trying to see something on my phone.

 (1:30:00) to (1:32:00)

And the TikTok that like, opened up with me not having a username or whatever, like, the sort of like, natural background TikTok was so different from my TikTok that I couldn't, and I was like, these things have like 25 million likes?

Like these videos are getting viewed a hundred million -- and I've never seen any of them, like I've never seen any of this stuff. And it wasn't, not that it was bad -- it was like people dancing and like people doing extremely complex trampoline moves and diving off of uh, you know, like extremely high pool diving boards and uh, you know, it's not, not like, I, I'm not opposed to any of that stuff. I mean I would not myself jump off of a high diving board but like, I, I 100% support people who want to live that dream.

It's just like I was, I was fascinated by how profoundly different it was, and how quickly TikTok is able to build a feed that really is just for you. You know, like occasionally I'll get, if I go to, if I watch my For You page on TikTok occasionally I'll see videos that are like clearly for 43-year-old guys in Indianapolis? Which is even more, like, distressing and strange that there are people out there creating for midwestern dads? (laughs) And that TikTok is sophisticated enough to like, get that to me?

I don't know, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's both the glory and the terror of contemporary internet discourse, right --

 (1:32:00) to (1:34:00)

-- which is that we've handed over so much of our of our personal information to these companies that they're able to make stuff that's just for us, which in a way is, is joyous because we get to see, you know, exactly what, you know, what we're desirous of, but in another way is, is, is pretty worrisome, I think.

And it also means that, that, it means that there's room for highly niche creators? Which I think is, is, you know, is largely good news that people, you know, can, can make a living sharing the, you know, sharing the results of their woodworking hobby or, or whatever.

So yeah, I have I mostly have just extremely mixed feelings about it. I, I've, I've benefited so much from the internet, both like directly professionally but also indirectly in terms of connections to people and, and being able to learn stuff I, I would have never otherwise learned, that it feels disingenuous to be entirely negative about it. But I am really worried about what these highly personalized media feeds are doing to us, and how they're making conversations across some of those divides more complicated, or even at times kind of impossible, and yeah.

I just feel deeply unsettled about the whole thing and, and I guess more than anything uncertain. Trying to really embrace my uncertainty, because it's all i've got right now.

Okay. I'm gonna, I'm gonna, everybody, everybody, everybody be nice in comments. Be nice to everyone else.

 (1:34:00) to (1:36:00)

Odd Imagine says, "props to the mods."

  "props to the mods." (1:34:04)

and I agree. Thank you mods. Thanks for being here, even though I didn't give anybody a warning that this was gonna happen. Okay.

 "So am I going to go on a book tour?" (1:34:24)

"So am I going to go on a book tour?" asks Assem(?).

Which, what, what a great question. Yes, kind of, kind, am I? Kind -- Yes? So actually, that may be I, I don't know how this is going to work yet, so I don't want to over promise, but that may be the way that people outside the US and Canada can get signed books.

I am going to go on a book tour; we're gonna, basically, we're gonna work with different independent bookstores around the US to set up events that are virtual, but that will still be super fun. We did this for Sarah's book when it came out and they were really lovely events, and so I think we're going to do something like that. I don't yet know exactly what it's going to be, but it's not going to be people gathering in physical spaces. It's going to be, it's going to be digital, but we are going to try really hard to make it still special and still fun  and interesting and to feel different from a regular live stream, so that it actually feels like a celebration of the book.

I thought Sarah's virtual book tour -- despite being organized with almost no warning -- did a really good job of that that it, you know, Sarah made those events feel, feel special and feel different from a Zoom call. And so, that's kind of our aim with this. We don't, I still don't know exactly what shape it's going to take but that's the, that's the basic goal.

 (1:36:00) to (1:38:00)

I wish that, that I could do a book tour. I really, I've been thinking about this, because Sarah's book came out in April, which was just the worst time to publish a book because the pandemic was just taking hold. Most bookstores in the US were closed. It was, I mean, obviously it being a bad time to publish a book was not in the top 10,000 things that were bad about the time, but it was still bad, and, and it was still unfortunate because it's a great book, and I think it would have — and, and it's still reaching it's still reaching an audience — but, but yeah, it was just bad. It's really bad timing.

And then Hank's book came out in July which also wasn't great timing. Probably a little bit better, but still, you know, rough, and then my book's gonna come out in May, and so we all, all three of us have had books come out during this weird 14-month year, and I would really, really love — it's hard to even imagine what in-person physical events will look like on the other side of this, or how much a part of our lives in-person physical events will even be — but I would really, really love this —

— Into the garden of the dead pens it goes! Oh I way overshot that. That was way too ambitious. I brought way too much heat to that moment —

— Is this Intergalactic Indigo? We're turning over to, we're changing to Intergalactic Indigo —

I would really, really love to go on a tour with Hank and Sarah —

 (1:38:00) to (1:40:00)

— where we belatedly celebrate You Are an Artist and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor and The Anthropocene Reviewed book, and also just like celebrate being able to be in-person again? Being able to like, be with people and, and experience live events together again, so I don't know if that'll, I don't know if that'll happen or when that'll happen, but it's definitely not going to happen in May, when The Anthropocene Reviewed book comes out.

But I do hope it happens someday because I think, you know, it would be it, would just be really lovely to be able to celebrate all three of those books, you know, in the way that we would have wanted to and, and to just tour together. I miss, I miss touring with Hank, like being on stage with Hank is such a thrill, and performing with Sarah is one of my favorite things. Seeing Sarah with, you know, with an audience is so, is so fun for me. She's so, she just brings such a cool energy to those events.

Like she did this PowerPoint presentation on a couple stops of the Turtles All the Way Down tour about the art, the contemporary art, in Turtles All the Way Down, and honestly even thinking about it makes me want to cry because it was just such a, such a thoughtful way of honoring what I was trying to do in that book and also honoring the connection, you know, the, one of our third things, which is, which is contemporary art.

So yeah. I would love love love to be able to do that — that's the one thing I want to do on the other side, but I haven't talked to either Hank or Sarah about that, so I probably shouldn't be pitching y'all this idea before I've consulted with the people I want to make it with, but yeah.

 (1:40:00) to (1:42:00)


So for now, it'll be a virtual book tour and I've been to a bunch of those events — some of them are, have been really fun, and I, so I think it, I think it can still be good. It's not the same thing obviously as being in in a real space with someone, but we'll, we'll find ways to make it fun. Maybe i'll even get into costume. I don't know. Probably not.

I don't even know if I still have the bumblebee costume from The Absolutely Remarkable Thing tour. That feels very, very — so a long, long time ago, I dressed in this gigantic bumblebee costume when Hank's book came out and we were on tour, and I pretended to be a professor of like, the history of robotics? But I was also a bumblebee? And I was very resentful of the Transformers character Bumblebee for having, uh, in my opinion, you know, romanticized what it was really like to be a Transformer?

It was, it was the most complicated bit I've ever done on stage. It was like, it was a bit where the whole bit was 12 minutes long and like 9 of the minutes were spent explaining the background of the bit. It... it wasn't very successful, but I, I loved doing it every night nonetheless, and I really like I'm surprised, because I'm not somebody who loves performing like I don't, you know, I, I don't know, I don't know, that, if I if I hadn't written books, I ever would have, would have sought out an opportunity to like, perform in front of people?

But I, I, I'm surprised by how much I miss it. I mostly miss like, being on stage with Hank and that energy.

 (1:42:00) to (1:44:00)

Because he's so wonderful and unpredictable and everything, but man yeah, I also, I also do miss, yeah, I just missed, I think, I might just miss being in the proximity of other people, which — not something I ever thought I would have the opportunity to miss. But gonna get through it y'all. Just gotta keep going.

One of the things that I've taken away from my extensive reading about pandemics in the last, in the last year and a half, is that they do end — they really do. They often feel to people inside of them like they're not going to end, but they end anyway. The Spanish Flu was very much that way, yeah. So they do end. It will get better. I mean I think for, in, in some places it is getting better, but it will, it will get better.

All right, I gotta stack these sheets. (groaning) I still have a full range of motion and everything, so that's good. Like usually by the time I go to bed, I'm kind of like a little, like my hands a little bit in a permanent fist.

You know, that's actually not a half bad spiral either — that, there's I, I've been, been doing okay with spirals today. A lot of the spirals that I've signed over the last 250,000 copies are really —

Oh! this is much, how did that go so fast? Am I missing some? What time is it? Oh, it's just that time went faster. It's much more, it's much more entertaining when you're here.

 (1:44:00) to (1:46:00)


  "What's going on?" (1:44:04)

"What's going on?" Someone asked — that's a great question. Let me bring you up to date on the situation, with the livestream, and also just the situation with, with me in general.

My name is John Green. I'm one half of the vlogbrothers and I have a new book coming out called The Anthropocene Reviewed in which I reviewed different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale — but that's not really what the book is about.

Really, the book is, it's a memoir. About, you know, what it, what, what, what it feels like to have one little life run into the big forces of the anthropocene, and I am signing the entire first edition of the book. So I'm signing every copy of the first printing of the US and Canadian edition of the book.

You may be thinking to yourself, "How are you doing that?" The answer is, "well, slowly." Basically, I sign these sheets of paper — they're called tip-in sheets — and then I mail all 250,000 tip-in sheets to the printer, which is in Virginia, and then there's a machine at the printer that, while the book is, well each copy of the book, is being binded, it shoots this sheet in, right between the end papers and the title page, and that's where the sheet goes. So that's how, that's how each book gets signed. I sign the paper; the binder puts the sheet between the end paper and the title page.

 "How much does shipping all of these boxes cost?" (1:45:54)

"How much does shipping all of these boxes cost?"

I don't know, that's, I don't pay for that Penguin pays for that.

 (1:46:00) to (1:48:00)

I, I have no idea. I bet a bunch — but the cool thing, I mean, there's a lot of cool things about writing this particular book, because it's my first book of nonfiction, and also, because it's my sixth book, and so I know a lot more about how books are made than I used to, and so I've been able to use some of that inside knowledge to put a lot of easter eggs into the book.

Like for instance, in the first printing of this, of the book, like, there's the end paper — let me get you a book to show you what I mean. I bet I have one here; I bet, I bet, I have a bunch, hold on, I'll be right back.

Oh my gosh, I haven't stood up in so long. Oh my gosh. Does this have end papers? It does, okay.

So this is a, this is an Australian copy of The Fault in Our Stars, which is a book that I wrote, like almost 10 years ago. I think the Australians made this one edition of The Fault in Our Stars that like came out — I don't know, like, five years after the book did or something — and I, it's, it's actually quite a beautiful book; it's all foil-covered and everything, and it's got this quote from Marcus Zuzak on the bottom who's one of my favorite writers, but also he's Australian. So like, I think that they included this because he's Australian and they were like, "Oh people in Australia know [him]."

Anyway, so then you open up the book — that's the dust jacket, right, this is, and then you can take that off if you want — and then this is called the case. This is like, where the actual book, this is the actual book, and this is called the case. Sometimes the, the title is printed on the case; sometimes it's just a case, but usually on the spine here there's like, you know, the the name of the author and the book and everything.

So there's some cool things about bookcases, is that they've got these little, see that little thing up there —

 (1:48:00) to (1:50:00)

, that, that little band at the top and the bottom — you get to pick the colors of those bands, which is always something that i've enjoyed — but if you open up a book, any hardcover book, most hardcover books, anyway, you see this. This is, these are end papers.

Well before the actual, like, text of the book, they make these end papers and the end papers go on, go on both sides, and they're part of the binding process. They're not purely ornamental the way that, like, some of the stuff in books is now.

Like for instance, this page, this page where it's before the t-, so there's this page, and then there's the title — well, in this case, there's like a couple pages before the title page — but there, you, when you open up the book and you see the first paper page it just says the title, and then you open, you go another page, and there's like some nice things that people said about The Fault in Our Stars, then you have to go to another page before you get to the title page.

Now, it used to be that the reason for these pages was real, and very important, because of the way that printing used to happen, but now this is mostly ornamental. The end papers though, are actually, like, there's a real reason for them in the binding process. They're not, they're not just ornamental.

And I've always liked end papers. Like these particular end papers, you can see have these... asterisks? Snowflakes? It's hard to know what they are. They're abstract symbols. And, but so the way that the, the way that the tip-in sheet happens, is that here's the end paper, and then instead of this sheet being here, that's where... the signature page is.

Right. But because I, but because, like, we had more control over the printing and everything this time, these end papers in The Anthropocene Reviewed book are actually, like, taken from my circle drawings — for those of you who've maybe seen the fact that I obsessively draw circles — and then on this page, opposite the autograph, there's a review of autographs. (chuckles)

 (1:50:00) to (1:52:00)

Which, I, we had a lot of fun making. And there's a few things like that throughout the book where, like, because we, because I knew more about how the book was printed, I was able to insert little things into the book that I've never been able to do before. And that were a lot of fun.

So, yeah.

Anyway, thank you to Marcus Zuzak for saying nice things about The Fault in Our Stars and also for just being a great writer. I don't know if you all have read The Book Thief or Bridge of Clay, I Am the Messenger — but yeah he's a great writer.

  "Now I really need to pre-order it." (1:50:49)

Oh somebody said, "Now I really need to pre-order it."

Well, I mean, hopefully the like, four sentence review of autographs is not the main draw of the book, but we have tried very hard to make a beautiful book.

Zachary asks a critically important question —

Oh, Juliet says that they're stars. That makes sense. They're stars. They're stars. That does make sense. I hadn't, that hadn't occurred to me. I think it hadn't occurred to me because, like, The Fault in Our Stars is of course not about stars. (chuckles) That one time, I can't remember —

Oh, Zachary's question was, "What do I think about dust jackets?"

So one time, like, sometimes when you do interviews, especially when you do like interviews for movie stuff, like, you're being interviewed by somebody who, you know, like they're on, they host their local morning show, and like, they have like, 67 guests a day, five days a week for years and years and years, and it's not like they can read every book or watch every movie that they interview people about.

 (1:52:00) to (1:54:00)

And so I can't tell you how many times while promoting the Fault in Our Stars movie, I was asked some version of, like, "how did you get interested in astronomy?"

And I was like, "well, I mean, I'm getting interested in astronomy just by having to figure out how to answer that question, but before that, it wasn't like a natural inclination for me.

Zachary asked,

 "What do you think of book jacket, of dust jackets?" (1:52:22)

"What do you think of book jacket, of dust jackets?"

So, I love them, but I, I've been thinking about this because I was reviewing, in the, in the book, I review "half title pages", which are these, like, pages at the beginning of books that just have the title and the author's name, usually, or, or just the title, and no, usually no design. And I like half title pages, even though they're now mostly ornamental?

I don't know Julie was saying that she doesn't think they're entirely ornamental, but like from what I understand of the publishing process, like, they're mostly ornamental.

And dust jackets are the same way, like, is there a purpose to a dust jacket? Kind of, right, like sort of. It's beautiful, but it also sort of serves a function in the sense that, it's there to protect the case, or whatever, and to prevent the case from getting too... dusty? I suppose? But mostly, it's an anachronism.

But like, all of books are an anachronism, like, you know, the idea of, the idea of an auto- an autograph is an anachronism. And so I, I think that I, I think that I do like dust jackets, but I don't know that I would like dust jackets if I were, if I'd been born in the year 2005.

 (1:54:00) to (1:56:00)

Because I might have a very different relationship with, with text, and with reading, and I might not so closely associate reading with books, but I have really fond memories of the first, you know, hardcover books that I owned and, and I, and I, I like, I like that books are beautiful objects. Like I, I can't help but want like, I've, I'm just interested in the mechanics of, of making, of making a physical book and all the intricacies in it, and it also extends us back 500 years.

Like The Anthropocene Reviewed book is set in this font called 'Bembo', which is one of my favorite fonts despite not having a very good name, and the font itself was like created in 1930, but it's based pretty closely on a font from 1495 from Venice. And that, that's such an interesting time in world history because between 1467 and 1500 in Venice, Venice went from having no printing presses in 1466, to having over 400 printing presses in 1500.

By, you know, it very, very quickly things went from a situation where almost all books had to, had been written by hand by someone, to a situation where like millions of books were being printed — or millions of documents anyway — were being printed every year and Venice was right at the center of that. Venice really became the center of publishing, and it was in, in Venice that Roman, Roman type —

 (1:56:00) to (1:58:00)

— I, I might be wrong about this — but I believe it was in Venice that Roman type was invented, that like, fonts began to look less like handwriting and more like something else? You know, like type began to look like type, instead of to look like really neat handwriting. And it was in Venice that italics first emerged as, you know, as an alternative to Roman type, and, and, and it was at this time, that the, that the, the font that Bembo is derived from was first cut, and for a for a travel log — for a sort of memoir book about this this guy visiting Mount Aetna and...

Like I just, I, I, I can't help but love that there's a sense of continuity between that travelogue and the one that I've tried to write about, you know, traveling through this weird moment in history. And also I think about the other books that I've read that were set in Bembo, like Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

And so I just, I love, I love the bookmaking process so much and I love all the choices involved in, in bookmaking, aside from just the writing part of it. Like, I love the production part of it before I was a writer, or before I wrote Looking for Alaska, and before I was published, I worked as a production editor at Booklist Magazine, like initially I just did data entry there, and then eventually I was promoted to be a production editor and I got to learn about how, you know, like how magazines get made and the physical process through which they're produced, and the process of laying them out, and how how kerning happens, and how lines get justified so that they're same length on the left and the right —

 (1:58:00) to (2:00:00)

— and all kinds of stuff like that, that I just found completely fascinating, because it shapes your reading experience.

Like white shape, white space shapes your reading experience. Where there are space breaks and what kind of, you know, do-hickeys or lines separate the separate the paragraphs in a space break, like all that really does shape your reading experience. The font shapes your experience; whether it's a hardcover or paperback does.

And so yeah, I mean I definitely think you can get too in-the-weeds of that stuff and then it gets a little pretentious and navel-gazy at some point, but I can't help myself. I really like it. It's just something that I'm into, so I'm really, I mean, I'm excited about the book for a number of reasons, like I mostly, I mostly hope that the book is good and all the, a really great font doesn't make a bad book good, you know, like, but I'm hope, I, I, I have enjoyed being able to work with Julie again on, on making a book.

It's something that we've only gotten to do together six times, and so I feel really lucky to be able to do it again. And hopefully this isn't the last time, like I would, yeah, I hope I write more books but you never know; it could always be your last one, so, (I'm) trying to enjoy the parts of this process that are enjoyable.

And definitely, thinking about end papers is super enjoyable for me.

Okay, let's see other questions.

 "Do I have a favorite book?" (1:59:42)

"Do I have a favorite book?"

Do I have a favorite book? (groaning) 

 (2:00:00) to (2:02:00)

I don't really. I have books that I keep going back to, you know, but I don't know that I have a favorite book. Like, you know, one of the pleasures of being middle-aged that nobody tells you about is that, you, when you're 20, you can't go back to a book you loved 20 years ago and find that it has changed with you, because, you know, you're only 20.

But now I can do that, and it's fun to watch books that I've loved for a long time grow up with me, and change over time. I definitely have that relationship with Sula by Tony Morrison, Song of Solomon; I also feel like I have that relationship with [The Great] Gatsby; I, I guess I have that relationship with Catcher in the Rye, in the sense that it, it changes as I reread it, because I change. I think I, I don't think I knew what I loved about Catcher in the Rye when I was 16, and now I, I love the book less, but I understand what I loved about it more, if that makes sense.

I... There's a few other books like that, that I, that I, that I keep, that I keep going back to, and that I find a lot of joy in going back to, but I also love discovering new books and like, it's hard to say that they aren't favorites just because they're new, you know, like I didn't read Parable of the Sower until I was probably 36 years old, maybe even older, and I loved that book. And I, I've reread it a couple times in the intervening years.

 (2:02:00) to (2:04:00)

 You know, the, the young adult books that I, that I read when I was starting out as a YA writer like, If You Come Softly (Jaquelin Woodson), Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Those books still loom, loom very large for me and shape my thinking in ongoing ways. It's hard to pick, it's hard to pick one favorite.

Huck Finn is another book that I've gone back to a lot over the years. It's hard to pick a favorite. I love rivers, so I'm very, very fond of Huck Finn because it's a, you know, it's a Great American Mississippi River book, whether or not it's the Great American novel, it's definitely the Great American Mississippi River novel. Yeah. So... there's a bunch for me. It's hard to pick, it's hard to pick just one.

 "Does anxiety affect your ability to work?" (2:02:58)

Somebody asked if anxiety affects my ability to work, which it does. I mean, I have OCD, which is not technically classified as an anxiety disorder — and again, I'm not, not a psychologist, and not an expert in mental health, and I rely on the expertise of other people, of my therapist, of my psychiatrist, in order to understand and treat my mental health disorder, and I think it's really important to rely on experts — but, yeah, I mean, I, you know, there are times when my, it's, I, I think of it as similar to other chronic health problems.

I also have a chronic health problem in labyrinthitis, like ongoing, occasional vertigo and, you know, my brother has a chronic health, my brother has a chronic health problem, in ulcerative collitis.

 (2:04:00) to (2:06:00)

So for me, sometimes it's better; sometimes it's worse. When it's bad, it can be very bad, and I try to manage it. It's, it's more, you know, it's, it's usually well managed at this point because I have, you know, a good medication regimen and because I have a lot of tools from cognitive behavioral therapy and because I've had, you know, years of experience with exposure therapy, and all kinds of stuff like that.

But! It still gets bad; much of the last year has been really tough for me, because you don't, one of the ways that I've always managed my obsessive thought problem is by turning to people outside of me for reassurance and being able to see, almost a way that, you know, they always say to like look at the flight attendants when you're experiencing turbulence, and if they're not worried you don't need to be worried but, you know, in the last year I looked up and everybody was looking back at me the way that I had long been looking at them.

And I, that was part of what was, that's part of what's been hard about it. It's also just been hard because I think it's been hard for a lot of people. And so there have definitely been times when it wasn't well-managed when it affected my professional life, for sure, slowed down my writing, made it on some days so that I couldn't write.

Like when I'm sick — I mean, when I've been, when I've been sick in the past, it's not just that I can't like, write a novel; I can't read a menu, you know. Like I can't, I can't function.

 (2:06:00) to (2:08:00)

 Sometimes when I'm, when I'm really unwell, I can't, I can't get out of my, my thoughts and my, my dread and my fear enough to make it through a sentence in a novel let alone, you know, experience the pleasure of being distracted by a story or a movie or whatever.

So yeah, it can profoundly affect my ability to, to, to be in the world, and, and to, to be the, you know, to be the things I've got to be: a, a father, a spouse, a brother, a writer, a work colleague, etc.

And I think that's true for a lot of people with chronic health problems. I try to treat, I try to treat it that way and think of it that way, because I find that, I find that construction helpful. I know other people sometimes don't but I do.

And I mean, yeah, it's not, it's not, it's not, it's not an easy thing to live with, but I still have a really wonderful life, just as I think ulcerative colitis is a really hard thing for Hank to live with, but he still has a really wonderful life. And I, I think that's important to emphasize, because especially when you're inside, when you're inside of a period of intense unwellness, it feels so permanent, and it feels so entire — or, I don't know, I shouldn't speak for you — when I'm inside of those experiences, they feel so entire, they feel like they truly do circumscribe my consciousness, and it feels like it can't get better... and it's not just that the moment itself is so painful — although the moment itself can be very painful — it's also that, there's, I think William Styron referred to [it as] the, the foreknowledge that no relief will come. 

It's also that sense of foreknowledge for me that, I, I feel this foreknowledge that things will never get better.

And that, that's the lie.

 (2:08:00) to (2:10:00)

Like, I don't think, I, I think the pain is, is real and, and I think the pain is terrible and, and should be lamented and, and should not be minimized.

But the, the foreknowledge of permanence is a lie.

Like, it just is.

That part of despair is always a lie, I believe.

I mean, and that's maybe like, somewhat of a quasi-mystical or theological belief, or whatever, but I do believe it, and that has been my experience so far, that like things that, you know, most things that felt permanent prove not to be and if there's anything that like I've noticed about the universe so far it's that, you know, everything tends to end. (chuckles)

So yeah that's, that's the thing that I really have to fight against is that, that lie — that this thing that sucks is somehow permanent.


Oh, I think I'm gonna do it. I think I'm gonna get through this. I mean I still have to, you know, do all of tomorrow, but I think I'm gonna be able to finish, finish my goal for today, which will be really nice, so I'm gonna end the livestream, shortly go upstairs, maybe have a beer, and then finish off these last six— nope more than 600. Oh well, somehow I've tricked myself into thinking that it was either this (gestures) or this (gestures), but it is in fact both, so, it's like, maybe 900. So, yeah. Probably 900. But look at, look at, look at this hand. It's in great shape.

 (2:10:00) to (2:12:00)

But this is like, almost 5,000 that I've done today, between these three things.

I know some of you have just been waiting for the Lectro-Jogger this whole time. You've just been thinking, "I don't really care about watching this person sign their name over and over again. I'm just here for the Lectro-Jogger." and who can blame you? It is the highlight of every livestream.

Here it is. Here it is, folks. There it is, in all of its glory, the greatest piece of machinery ever created in all of human history, the Lectro-Jogger.

Let's take an up-close look. I feel like we don't actually get up, up close very often with Lectro-Jogger. Look at this beast. Look at it. Just look at it. It's phenomenal. It's got a, a solid wood casing and then it just does, it does this, it just (singsong-ily) bururururururu duru duru du.

1962. The greatest year of Lectro-Jog manufacturing. Here we go. All right. So here's how this works; you see these these huge stacks of paper so high that we can't even see the top of them?

So you take some of these papers — now look, look at these papers. This is no good. They're not lined up. How are they ever going to fit inside of this tiny box when they're all out of woozy woods.

Well, the answer is inside of the Lectro-Jogger; just watch this magic.

(Lectro-Jogger rattles)

And just like that, just like that, observe. Perfection. Actual perfection. A world where everything becomes more chaotic over time is suddenly and briefly a world where life gets more organized, and more sensible.

Oh, it's so beautiful. Let's do it a couple more times.

(Lectro-Jogger rattles)

 (2:12:00) to (2:13:48)


It is again completely perfect because the Lectro-Jog is perfect every. single. time. It's the — I mean, it's the single most reliable thing in the known universe. Even after 70 years of Lectro-Jogging or whatever, it's still out here Lectro-Jogging.

(Lectro-Jogger rattles)

Absolute, unadultera-- well I messed that up a little bit, but that wasn't the Lectro-Jogger's fault, to be clear — that was me. Other than that, unadulterated perfection.

They make, they put these little blue dots on the bottom so that I know which side to sign so that I don't sign upside down.

All right. So everybody got to enjoy the Lectro-Jogger. Now I'm going to go finish signing.

Oh, that's very bright, goodness gracious. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for enjoying the Lectro-Jogging with me. And, I don't actually know if it's called Lectro-Jogger or Electro-Jogger. They're available on eBay though; I looked up one last night just because I was like, "What if my Lectro-Jogger breaks?"

Thank you again for being here, and I will probably do another one of these over the weekend if I'm not done signing; otherwise thank you so much for helping me get through this.