September 23, 2020

Max Brooks: “Rousseau was an imbecile, with nature you don’t play games” | Babelia

Max Brooks (New York, 48) is not obsessed with the end of the world. Actually, the author of World War Zson of the illustrious Mel brooks, director of the cult film Young Frankenstein, and the even more illustrious Anne Bancroft, actress of innumerable distinctions, only exorcises demons when she writes. And, at the same time, she draws maps to her readers. And not just its readers. Brooks does not live in West Point, that is, the United States Military Academy, by any chance. She lives there because she also works, as a manufacturer of other possible worlds, actually, as. launchers about the way everything could end one day, for the army. “It all started with World War Z. By documenting myself, I discovered that they continued to imagine that the world worked as it did in the 1960s, that there was only one way to end democracy. I told them that there is never a single way. And now I teach the soldiers about all those other possibilities, “he says.

It’s right in what looks like an office at West Point. There is a blackboard to your right, and a stack of books on a shelf to your left. It has its Zombie: Survival guide, and shows it all the time. Zombie: Survival Guide it was his first book. She published it in 2003. She edited a second part six years later. Between one and the other, her first novel came out,. World War Z, or what could happen if the world declared war on the brainworms. “I always start from a real base. I don’t invent anything. To write that book, I used an oral history of the Second World War as a template ”, he clarifies. Research for years for everything he does. “My intention is to train through entertainment,” he insists. “I grew up with Star TrekAnd wasn’t that what I was doing? ”He says. “Terror, or the fantastic, offers you psychological protection so that the mind can explore any possible non-real situation, horrible as it may be,” he adds.

Max Brooks:

In his first novel in 14 years – except for the one dedicated to the Minecraft universe, The island-, Involution (Reservoir Books), returns to play with an end of the world within the world: that of an eco-sustainable community that a catastrophe leaves at the mercy of a handful of bigfoots. “Actually, what I do is play around with the idea of adaptation,” she says. Because it is about adapting what everything he writes about, he also says. “My life has been and continues to be a constant struggle to adapt to a world that is sometimes incomprehensible to me,” he adds. Literally incomprehensible. “I had dyslexia, the language classes almost killed me,” she says. “I did not understand anything. Luckily, my mother was one of the best mothers that should have ever existed. She discovered dyslexia in 1981, and studied it thoroughly and offered me alternatives. He said to me: If you are going to be a writer and calligraphy doesn’t work for you, why don’t you try studying typing? ”, He remembers.

That was how he managed to write his first story at age 13. “My mother was in charge of making audiobooks for me so that I could read everything that interested me,” she recalls. She went to an organization that read for the blind and got it for them. “I didn’t read for fun until I was 16,” he confesses, and that’s when he ran into Tom Clancy, an author he considers one of his “heroes.” “It was when reading a book of his that I discovered what I wanted to do. Clancy turned the fictional spy into a real spy. As a reader, it made you feel smart. And that’s what I wanted my readers to feel, “he says. That, and offer alternatives. The alternatives that his mother offered him when the world told him that there was only one way to learn. “That’s what I like about Minecraft. It shows you that there is no one way. That you can choose your path. And that you can fail and nothing happens, “he says of the video game to which he has dedicated a novel.

“Global education, so Prussian, still reigns even in the world of video games, where everything consists of moving forward and accumulating. We are now in a new era in which accumulating is not enough. You will not accumulate if you are not creative, because there is no one way to do things. Minecraft it’s about that. Of learning from failure. There is a generation out there that has not been taught to fail, “he says, and it is one that has quite a lot in common with one of the characters in his latest novel: Reinhardt, the intellectual coward,” a guy who pontificates without having the most remote idea “. “People like him have brought Trump to power. Make no mistake, Trump was elected because there are a lot of idiots who have not understood anything out there, “he says. “In the 90s we had so much wealth, power and peace in the United States, we were so bored, that a book like Fight club and it became a hit“, shoot.

All that is at the base of Involution, and specifically, at the root of Greenloop, the naive eco-community that suffers a massacre sasquatch -the classic bigfoot, “One of the monsters that terrified me the most as a child, the great ape”, he confesses – after the eruption of a volcano that leaves them isolated, which aims to live a utopia: that of an eco-sustainable existence that involves not losing a single one of your comforts. Its founder Tony Durant believes that it is because of the loss of comforts that utopian societies fail. “You cannot ask people to give up personal and tangible comforts in exchange for an ethereal idea. That is why communism failed. Altruistic suffering is fine in short crusades, but as a way of life it is unsustainable, “says Durant. And how do they get it? With technology. It’s possible. But what happens when that technology disappears? “They haven’t even thought I could do it,” Brooks replies.

“That is the mistake of contemporary science. We take for granted the comfort with which we live. After the Second World War in the United States, science tried to make a better world, today it tries to make a more comfortable world. How is it possible that the greatest invention of the 21st century was to be able to watch television on a phone when it should have been to find an alternative energy source that would end the oil wars? I do not understand the figure of Steve Jobs, it is terrifying to think of it. That’s what the novel is about, our excessive dependence on technology, and the city people who believe that nature is harmless, that you can see yourself as you see a painting, “he says. “Without knowing it, they are like Rousseau, and Rousseau was an imbecile, with nature you don’t play games,” he adds.

Built from the diary of one of the protagonists and newspaper articles, the novel returns, from another perspective, to shoot at the classic maxim of precisely Rousseau that says: “Man is a wolf to man”. What were zombies before are now great apes, deep down, each other, versions of the idea of ​​man. Brooks agrees, noting that perhaps one and the other novel articulate the idea of ​​the need to move forward together, not the opposite. “Cooperation is also one of the central themes of what I write, because if humanity has reached the top it is because we have all paddled in the same direction, and in the face of any crisis, such as the one we are experiencing right now, we must be especially clear: that we must fight together, not against each other, because the enemy is the crisis, not the other, “he concludes.


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